Many years ago, I had my Game Boy Advance (and I still do), one day I got an NES classic game called Castlevania; this was my first experience with the NES and my first experience with challenge, while I never completed it, I was good at it overtime and I could have beaten it had I continued to play it.
Years later for this review I’m going to review Castlevania, but not the western version, but the Famicom version known as Akumajou Dracula (悪魔城ドラキュラ Akumajō Dorakyura, officially translated Devil’s Castle Dracula), developed and published by Konami and was released in September 26, 1986…well the Famicom Disk System port, the Famicom port was released in 1993, 7 years later. Now the reason I’m playing the Japanese version because it has an easy mode, and yes, I was able to beat it.
You play as Simon Belmont as he’s tasked with going into Count Dracula’s castle and kill him, as well as battle a number of monsters including Zombies, Frankenstein, Igors, Mummies, The Grim Reaper, Bats, Ghostly Knights and the most irritating enemies of all…Medusa heads, swirling around and getting in your way…and killing you.
You battle enemies with your trusty whip, which you can quickly upgrade it, you can collect sub-weapons, Knife, the Holy Water, the Axe, the Cross and the Stop Watch. You can whip candles to collect these items, as well as hearts which are strangely not health, but ammo for the sub-weapons and collect meat for actual health by whipping blocks (that somehow isn’t filled with maggots).
Oh boy was this a tough nut, this was one of the hardest game I ever played as a child, the controls are stiff, moving and jumping can be far too intense in certain situations, the enemies come thick and thin, the igors randomly jump around and hitting you, the bosses…aren’t too bad, but them damn medusa heads, that infamous Stage 15.
I gave up and sold it, which I regret. But thanks to emulators I was able to play it again, only the Japanese version. It might be a hard game but it’s a good hard game. The easy mode is still challenging but beatable, I’d recommend playing the Famicom version for casual players, get enough practice and play the normal mode.
The graphics are fantastic, it shows the dank and creepyiness of the castle so well, when you get to other buildings like the clockwork room makes it an adventure. The music is a true classic, some very memorable hits like Bloody Tears and Vampire Killer.
Overall, I enjoyed the easy mode, the normal mode is OK, despite being hard and can be near impossible, I still deem it a true classic. It’s also a nice homage to the Hammer and Universal Horror classics, at least it wasn’t too Japanese.
You can get it on Famicom Disk System, Nintendo Entertainment System, PlayChoice-10, Commodore 64, Amiga, DOS, Microsoft Windows, Game Boy Advance, AT&T Wireless mMode Network and Virtual Console.