Castlevania is, pound for pound, my favorite series ever. Each and every title to grace the series on a major platform has yet to dissapoint me, it's the one series that always delivers. Castlevania was the game that started the entire series (here in the U.S.), and has a special place in my NES library. It's a tough game, and most modern day gamers probably couldn't get through it, but it introduces us to the excellent gameplay found throughout the Castlevania series. Many people complain that Simon cannot turn around in mid-jump, and that this is a serious flaw. I look at it as another aspect of the game, that makes it more challenging and interesting. The game holds many nostalgic memories for me, who could forget first playing Castlevania, seeing Simon stand at the foot of Castlevania as the gates open... for the very first time. Now it's one of the most overused plots in the entire industry, but back then.. it was something special. Konami struck gold with this game, and it spawned more and more great games and continues to do so to this day, with the recently released Legacy of Darkness and the upcoming Castlevania Ressurection and the sequel to Symphony of the Night. Some games are great, some games are legendary, Castlevania is one such game (man do I sound sappy or what? OK, into the game breakdown already..)
The graphics in Castlevania sport a very gothic, very cool look. As a kid, watching my brother play Castlevania gave me nightmares, as most of the enemies are stereotypical monsters found througout Transylvania. In most Castlevania cartridges, the graphics are slightly messed up to where Simon looks like an orange blob and the graphics periodically screw up, but that is more a problem with the coding than with the actual graphics. Compared to the later NES installments, Castlevania doesn't look too sharp. Simon is wearing an ugly orange suit (see the reviews index), but most of the enemies and surroundings are done quite well. The levels are diverse, and there are different color schemes for each. One real plus is that Simon is a much larger sprite than the main character in most games, being almost as big as a SNES character. All in all, though, the graphics are done very well, and add to the atmosphere of Castlevania tremendously.
Graphics Rating: 86
The main part of any game, and the best part about Castlevania. Castlevania plays like no other game on Earth, many companies have attempted a cheap knock-off (8-Eyes) and failed miserably. It's something you have to play a little while to understand, but I'll try and explain it anyway. Simons main weapon is a whip, the whip attacks in a straight line and can be strengthened by power-ups, which also make the whip longer. Most of the difficulty is attributed to difficult jumps, and Simon cannot turn around in midair, unlike just about every other game. This means you will have to think before you jump, you will in turn become a much better player playing Castlevania. You also can get special weapons, such as holy water, the cross and the dagger. Each of these has thier own unique function and adds another edge to the gameplay. You can use these weapons according to how many hearts you have, hearts are credits towards using your special weapons and are found everywhere in Castlevania. Different special weapons take different amounts of hearts, but you should have no trouble running out of hearts if you try and get every one you see. Also, if you use a certain weapon enough without getting another weapon, you will get a double stone, and then if you do the same again, a triple stone. These powerups are very effective, and let you use your special weapon 2 to 3 times at a time. The bosses in Castlevania are all well-known ghosts and monsters, besides maybe the giant bat. You will fight Medusa, the Mummies, Frankenstien, the Grim Reaper and finally count Dracula himself (who looks much too cartoony and is a son of a bitch to kill). Overall, the gameplay is done quite remarkably.
Gameplay Rating: 96
The sound of Castlevania is perhaps one of the biggest factors that makes it such a classic today. If you've ever played any Castlevania game, you should know that they don't play around in the music department. Castlevania games always have the best music of any game at that time, and Castlevania 1 is no different. This is the game that first introduces us to tracks that have been remade in countless incarnations of the Castlevania series. The music is so good that the tracks get thier own names. The first levels music, 'Vampire Killer', can be heard in almost any CV game you buy. But it has some 'sleeper hits' too, such as the level 3 music, 'Wicked Child'. You just gotta hear this to believe that it's coming from an NES. The sound effects are no slouch either, in fact they're some of the best around. The crack of the whip has always been a delightful sound to my ears.
Sound Rating: 97
Castlevania has the same storyline that has been exploited by just about every game of the series, what makes it significant is that it's the very first time this story has been told to us gamers. Dracula has awakened from his 100 year sleep, and of course it's up to the Belmont of the century to stop him from wreaking havoc on all of transylvania, who just happens to be Simon Belmont. Simon must make his way through Draculas bigass castle, A.K.A. Castlevania, find Dracula and destroy him, all without any help besides his trusty bullwhip, sound simple enough? At the end of the game, Dracula puts a curse on Simon, which prompts Castlevania 2.
Storyline Rating: 85
I've played Castlevania many times since I first beat it way back when. Sometimes I'll go on Castlevania binges, where I'll play the game a lot in a period of a few days. Still to this day, when I play the game, it's still a bitch to beat before I get a little practice. It's good play value in the first place that makes games have good replay value, and Castlevania has it. If you're ever bored with nothing to do, Castlevania is a good antidote.
Replay Value: 80
Castlevania is a great game, put simply. It may take a little experience with the game to see it's true beauty, but believe me it's there. I would recommend this game to anyone who doesn't already own it in a heartbeat, especially to those who enjoy other games in the Castlevania series. It takes more than a great game to start such a fantastic series as Castlevania.