Castlevania (1986 video game)
North American NES box art
|Platform(s)||Family Computer Disk System, NES/Famicom, Arcade, C64, Amiga, MS-DOS, Windows, Game Boy Advance, Mobile|
Castlevania[a] is an action-platformer video game developed and published by Konami for the Family Computer Disk System video game console in Japan in September 1986. It was ported to cartridge format and released in North America for the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) in May 1987 and in Europe in 1988. It was also re-issued for the Family Computer in cartridge format in 1993.
Players control Simon Belmont, who has entered Castlevania to defeat the vampire Count Dracula. It is the first game in Konami's Castlevania video game series, and was developed in tandem with the MSX2 game Vampire Killer, which was released a month later and follows the same premise, but features different gameplay mechanics. Castlevania was succeeded by two NES sequels and prequels, Castlevania II: Simon's Quest and Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse. Super Castlevania IV, which follows the same setting, was released in 1991 for the Super Nintendo. A remake of the game for the Sharp X68000 home computer was eventually re-released for the PlayStation as Castlevania Chronicles in 2001.
Castlevania was positively received and financially successful. It is considered an NES classic by PC World, while Nintendo Power and Game Informer ranked it in their list of best video games ever made.
Castlevania uses platform gameplay and is divided into six blocks of three stages each, for a total of 18 stages. Simon can move, jump, crouch, climb stairs, and use a magic whip as his primary combat weapon. When the player presses the button to crack the whip, there is a short delay before Simon actually does so. The player begins the game with four lives and five hearts, and must complete the current block of stages before a timer runs out. Simon has a health meter, which decreases whenever he is attacked by an enemy or projectile; if Simon's meter is fully depleted, he falls into a pit (even from an upper screen when there is ground on the previous screen that he walks up the stairs from), he gets hit by a moving spiked ceiling (which always instantly defeats him regardless of his health), or the timer reaches zero, the player loses one life. Hidden food items restore health, and bonus lives are earned at certain score thresholds. A boss character must be defeated at the end of each block in order to advance to the next one (and before advancing, an orb must be collected after defeating the boss); the ultimate goal is to defeat the Count at the end of Stage 18, triggering the collapse of his castle.
Throughout the game, the player can find and use various backup weapons. However, only one such weapon can be carried at a time, and it is lost if the player loses a life. Backup weapons require hearts for their use, which can be found or taken from defeated enemies. Other hidden items include point bonuses, temporary invincibility, whip upgrades (3 levels total), instant destruction of all on-screen enemies, and double/triple use of the backup weapon.
When all lives are lost, the player has the option to continue from the start of the block in which the game ended.
Castlevania was directed by Hitoshi Akamatsu. An admirer of cinema, Akamatsu approached projects with a "film director's eye", and said the visuals and music for Castlevania were "made by people who consciously wanted to do something cinematic". With Castlevania, he wanted players to feel like they were in a classic horror film.
It was originally released for the Family Computer Disk System in 1986. Due to its success in Japan, it was released in cartridge format for the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) under the title of Castlevania in 1987 and 1988 in North America and Europe respectively, and rereleased in cartridge format for the Japanese Famicom under its original title in 1993. The international name of Castlevania was the result of Konami of America senior vice president Emil Heidkamp's discomfort with the religious connotations of the title Akumajō Dracula, which he believed translated as "Dracula Satanic Castle." Castlevania was one of the first major platform games on the NES and a part of an unofficial second wave of video games for the NES. Its release coincided with the 90th anniversary of Bram Stoker's Dracula.
The player-character Simon was originally named Peter Dante, a vampire killer who was a grandson of Christopher Dante. At the time, whip attacks were planned to be in multiple directions, an idea later seen in Super Castlevania IV. Other sub-weapons were planned, such as garlic, wooden stakes and an item that transforms the player-character into a werewolf, but they were not included in the game.
A game also titled Akumajō Dracula was developed for the MSX2 simultaneously. It was released a month after the Disk System game. It was released in Europe under the title Vampire Killer where it was the first game in the series to be released. The MSX2 version featured different areas and a different structure.
Versions and re-releases
A ROM version of the game was released for the Japanese Family Computer in 1993. The port omitted the name registration screen from the original Famicom Disk version (as well as saving) and included an "Easy" mode.
In 2002, Konami released the first three NES Castlevania games for Windows as Konami Collector's Series: Castlevania & Contra.
In 2004, Castlevania was released for the Game Boy Advance as part of the Classic NES Series published by Nintendo. The mock ending credits of the game, which are mostly puns on the names of veteran horror movie stars, were removed in this version.
The original game was included as one of 30 games featured on the 2016 NES Classic Edition.
The game is included in Castlevania Anniversary Collection, a compilation released as part of Konami's 50th anniversary.
Since its original release, Castlevania has received generally positive reception. Japanese gaming publication Famitsu gave it a score of 34 out of 40. It sold impressively and was considered a classic by Retro Gamer and IGN.
It was rated the 22nd best game made on a Nintendo System in Nintendo Power's Top 200 Games list in 2006. In August 2008, Nintendo Power listed it as the 14th best Nintendo Entertainment System video game. Game Informer ranked it the 48th best game ever made in 2001; the staff noted that its gameplay set a standard for the industry. IGN ranked it 19th on their list of the best NES games; the second and third Castlevania games were ranked 25th and 5th respectively. It was praised for its difficulty, gameplay, soundtrack, and visuals. GameZone ranked it as the eighth best Castlevania game. Robert Workman (an editor for GameZone) felt that the game had aged well and was a great value on the Wii Virtual Console. IGN's Lucas M. Thomas noted the relative realism of Castlevania's weapons versus "glowing flowers that let you throw bouncing fireballs." He also praised it for feeling scary while also not taking itself too seriously. The combination of these elements and others caused him to credit it as a "unique and wonderful" game and a game that made an impact on later Castlevania games. Retro Gamer called it one of the most enduring video games ever made. It attributed its quality less so to unique gameplay and more so to its more adult atmosphere and challenge. In his review of the Virtual Console version, IGN's Mark Birnbaum personally enjoyed its difficulty and design but noted that people who were quick to become frustrated would enjoy the Super NES sequel Super Castlevania IV better. 1UP.com's Kurt Kalata praised its level of difficulty and its realistic visual design. In Japan, video gaming magazine Famitsu scored Famicom version game a 34 / 40. Game Informer's Tim Turi claimed that the original Castlevania made the series a "legend" and called it the "essential Castlevania experience." IGN wrote a piece that discussed the idea that this game as well as other Castlevania titles were overshadowed by the 1997 Castlevania: Symphony of the Night which it's considered the best title in the series. It cited this game's absence from IGN's top 100 games of all-time as well as the absence of the second and third Castlevanias from Game Informer's top 100 games of all-time list. It suggested that the reason this is the case is because of the NES games' high learning curve and difficulty level. It also felt that Symphony of the Night's influence on the series after its release caused people to forget about the NES games. It praised the Virtual Console for allowing players unfamiliar with these games to experience them more easily. IGN's Lucas M. Thomas included its 25th anniversary in a list of forgotten anniversaries which took place in 2011. He felt it odd that Castlevania had so many titles before its 25th anniversary and only one title during 2011.
- Known in Japan as Akumajō Dracula (悪魔城ドラキュラ Akumajō Dorakyura, lit. Demon Castle Dracula)
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Japanese: 歴代の「悪魔城ドラキュラ」シリーズから選ばれた登場キャラクターを操作して、仲間たちと悪魔城に乗り込み、宿敵ドラキュラ伯爵に立ち向かおう。 English translation: Take control of past protagonists from the Castlevania series to brave the Demon Castle alongside friends and defeat the ancient enemy Count Dracula.
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