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Company: Unlimited Software / Konami
Year: 1990
Genre: Action
Theme: Horror
Language: English
Licence: Commercial
Views: 22728
Review by NetDanzr (2006-05-19)

Released for the PC three years after its NES appearance, Castlevania is the first of a long series of horror platformers. That is, the first to bear the name Castlevania. The game is a sequel to Vampire Killer, which appeared in Japan in 1986 for the MSX2 Home Computer system. This fact was apparent immediately for everybody who played the original games, as most sprites were directly taken from Vampire Killer, and only the backgrounds and music were improved.

In this game, you play as Simon Belmont, a whip-wielding vampire killer. You decided to finally lay Count Dracula to rest, and paid him a visit in his castle. Unfortunately, you seem to have run into a monster convention, as an abundance of enemies are blocking your way to the count (who is more than capable to take care of himself). Over the course of six relatively short, but hellishly hard stages, you will fight your way through bats, flying medusa heads, ravens, axe throwers and some stronger opponents, such as Frankenstein, Igor and the notoriously hard Grim Reaper. After you clear all these stages, you will be able to challenge Count Dracula himself, and trust me: it's not the kind of reward I would like to receive after the initial six stages.

The game itself is not much fun. Whip is not the most accurate weapon, and the considerable delay between two attacks will often cost you your life. In addition, the interface was still a little primitive: you could not change your direction in the middle of a jump, you were often pushed down from platforms when attacked and your reactions were slower than those of any monster. The main problem with the game, however, was the incredible difficulty. There were simply too many monsters, most of them incredibly agile, and finishing even the first stage was a reason to celebrate.

The NES version of the game was greatly improved by the music. The Vampire Killer theme song is still stuck in my head, as is the largely underrated tune from the third stage. However, exactly the same sound quality was used three years later for the PC version, and that is unacceptable. Overall, the PC version has not experienced any technological improvement over the NES version, despite the three years difference. Because of this, and because of the frustratingly difficult gameplay, I appreciate only the historical value of the game, not the little fun I had.

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