Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Castlevania (1987) - Nintendo Entertainment System

Ouch, that kicked me right in the nostalgia!
Note: I intended this to be out for October and Halloween, but I got sidetracked by life and it's a few days late. Sorry for all the Halloween-y references!

I've had a tradition now for quite a few years. Every October I play through Castlevania: Symphony of the Night in its entirety. Last year I kind of overdid it playing multiple speed runs of the game, so I made the decision that I wouldn't play through SOTN for October 2014.

I wanted to play something in my spare time this October, though, and I made the decision to go with something from the NES-era. Now in a shocking turn of events, you won't believe what game I decided to play... Castlevania!

I couldn't help myself! Castlevania is like the epitome of Halloween. It's a video game set in Transylvania at the turn of the 18th Century, which features bosses based on Universal monsters! The bosses include The Mummy, Frankenstein's monster, a vampire bat, Medusa, the Grim Reaper, and Igor. And most importantly, The Count himself! These are the kinds of images I thought of as a kid whenever October rolled around and the cool winds of Autumn started rustling the leaves from the trees.

One thing I didn't remember in my sentimental reminiscence is how damn hard this game is. I've been getting my ass handed to me every step of the way! To be honest, although I did play Castlevania as a kid, I actually more often played its sequel, Castlevania 2: Simon's Quest, made infamous by the Angry Video Game Nerd. As a result, I'm no damn good at Castlevania. That's half the fun, though!

This first boss is driving me... batty! Hey-ohhh!
It's kind of like I'm playing Castlevania for the first time. I remember a lot of things; the music, basically everything from the first stage, the basics of the gameplay, but by the time I made it to the third stage everything started getting hazy. I remember fighting the bosses, but it's like I've never seen some of these stages before.

One other thing I'm enjoying is seeing all the familiar enemies from later in the series, in their original 8-bit glory. I didn't even realize how many of them have carried forward in the series over the years.

With all this good does come some bad, though. For example, the controls leave a little to be desired. They are clunky, and jumping can be a downright nightmare. When you jump in either direction, you're basically committed to that jump. There's no way to control how far you go. It is a set arc, so once you go for the jump, you better hope everything works out.

I can't do much complaining about the game, though. And honestly, it's almost 30 years old and a pretty early NES release. Everything from the games aesthetic, gameplay, and that incredible soundtrack make it an absolute must-play for any and all gamers.

It's time to wrap this boss fight up! Hey-ohhh! (I kill me.)
Castlevania is one of my favourite video game franchises of all time, and I truly hold it near and dear to my heart. It makes me kind of sad to know that Konami has moved on with the remake of the series with Castlevania: Lords of Shadow, released in 2010, and that the franchise will almost certainly never return to its original roots. The series, however, has spawned many sequels and must have one of the highest ratios of great games in any franchise history. There are a lot of amazing Castlevania games out there to play and this game started it all.

You can pick Castlevania up on the Wii U, Nintendo 3DS, and Wii Virtual Console services and physical copies certainly aren't difficult to find on eBay. Make sure to check it out, whether it's for Halloween or not!

Hope you enjoy,