Castlevania for the N64 is one of my favorite N64 games. It lived up to all of the expectations I had for it, but didn't exceed them. If you are a Castlevania fan, you should definately give this game a whirl, if not, you might still like it.
Konami is the master of atmosphere, as I've said so many times before, and it's proven once again in Castlevania. When you turn the game on, you see a boy (Who looks like a girl) playing his violin. You later find out this boys name is Malice and.... well I dont want to spoil the surprise. You choose your character, either Reinhardt Shneider or Carrie Fernandez, and then you see a cool graphic of the Necronomicon book opening up and you start the game. You start out in a forest beside the graveyard, take a few steps forward and lightning blasts out of the sky, knocking down a huge tree as it bursts into flames, right in front of you, VERY cool indeed. After about 15 minutes, I had Reinhardts controls down and I was enjoying the game. The cinema cut scenes, IMO, were more memorable than those in Zelda. This game is filled with those "Cool parts" that you tell your friends about when talking about games. It left a huge impression on me, but after I beat the game, the feeling was gone.
Konami gave Castlevania a sinister feel about it in the graphics. I've heard many, MANY people complain about the graphics but I honestly don't see what they're saying. The graphics are better than a first generation game, but are not up there with Zelda or BK or anything. I think the graphics carry that age-old Castlevania feeling, and I for one think its good that it doesn't have bright, colorful graphics. A big complaint of mine, though, is that Reinhardt looks ridiculously buff and top-heavy. Its funny sometimes when playing as him just to watch him run. There isn't a hint of Nintendo fog in this game, except for the graveyard where there should be fog, it gives it a nice touch. The monsters are all crafted amazingly well, and the bosses will have you saying to yourself "Whoa! Kick ass!!". The castle seems well thought out, and has a lot of details. Overall, the graphics could have been better, but I liked the way this game looked and felt satisfied, myself. Graphics rating: 85
2 things should give you the idea that this game has top-notch music: 1. Its a Konami game 2. Its a Castlevania game All of the music is done in grand Castlevania fashion, something about it makes you want to keep playing. Great new tracks, and remakes of Castlevania classics like Wicked Child. However, the original songs seem better than the remakes, Castlevania for the N64 kind of dulls them down. Still, I love the new tracks like the Giant Ox music, and Draculas music. The sound effects are done well, too, the sound of the whip craking has never been better. Many sound effects sound perfect, like the sound of the skeletons falling apart after you whack them. Konami did a great job on the sound of this game. Sound rating: 93
This installment of the Castlevania series takes place in the 1850's. Dracula has awoken once more and everyone in the towns surrounding Transylvania is dead or has become a vampire, except 3 people:
Reinhardt Shnieder: The hier to the Belmont bloodline knows what he must do, pull out the old trusty Belmont whip and tear his way through Castlevania to reverse the situation. I, personally, was kinda pissed that his name was not Belmont, but I guess thats just nitpicking.
Carrie Fernandez: A small girl who is the descendant of Sypha Belmades, of earlier Castlevania fame. Her family is all dead and she, for some reason, decides to go fight the count and restore the countryside, though she's only 12 years old.
These are your 2 playable characters, the other guy who is still alive is Charlie Vincent, a proffesional vampire killer and wacko, he'll help you on your way to Dracula. There is a considerable amount of storyline during the game, moreso than any of the previous installments, but you'll have to play the game to find out about that. Storyline rating: 79
The gameplay, basically, is just like Castlevania only in 3D. It feels very much like the earlier games in the series, when you're playing as Reinhardt. Deathtraps await you at every turn. Its a little easy, but with 2 characters to play through the game with it makes up for it. I love it, but its not without its faults. What would make this game a lot more enjoyable is a good targeting system, like of that in Zelda, its sometimes hard to hit the enemy you want to hit when there are numerous enemies flying around, sometimes it gets near impossible. That aside, fighting the bosses is a treat, they come just the way I like them, oversized and a good challenge to beat. The giant ox is a cool looking new character to the series, while the final Dracula will knock you out of your chair he looks so awesome. Real-time video is integrated quite nicely into the game itself, and it never feels as if its taking too long and getting boring. The level layout in Castlevania is good, theres lots of tough jumps to make and lots of unnessissarily tough enemies to kill. You wont get bored until you finish the game with both characters. Gameplay rating: 88
Konami made a good attempt at giving the game some replay value, but I never really felt compelled to go through it again. For one, you have two characters to play with, each with 2 levels of thier own and different bosses, which is a good way to keep you playing longer. Also, there are 2 hidden special crystals, that go into effect when you erase your file after beating the game. One changes the characters costumes, one makes the game much harder. The only reason I would replay it is to go back to all of those cool parts in the game. Replay Value: 71
Overall: 88 Castlevania for the N64 is a great game. Is it my favorite Castlevania game? No, but its up there somewhere around 4th or 5th favorite. I was expecting this game to be given great reviews, and was surprised to see it given some mediocre scores. If I were you, I would at least rent it. You may also prefer Castlevania Legacy of Darkness, which contains this game with 2 more playable characters, and overall improvements (I've never played it unfortunately).