Castlevania-thon 2014 – Back to Basics

Richter Belmont iconOK, so it’s been a while since the last time I played the original NES Castlevania, and I was a little out of practice. It took some time for me to get back up to speed and re-learn the best method of getting through the game, and even then, I wasn’t able to do a no-death run. However, I did manage to do a one-death run (got annoyingly knocked off the bridge before the clock tower), and since we’re nearing the end of October, I’ll be satisfied with that.

I don’t really have a whole lot to say about the original Castlevania. It still holds up as a solid game today, and it was a good foundation for a great long-running series. Replaying it almost feels like visiting a historical landmark. The gameplay, the characters and the music that we’ve come to be so familiar with, and that has resurfaced in so many subsequent games since, all began right here (and, I suppose, in the MSX game Vampire Killer). I guess this is true of many classic games, but it’s hard to think that at one time, the original Castlevania was the only Castlevania, with nothing in front of it or behind it.

Screenshot - Castlevania

It was also one of the first games I was exposed to on the NES. I was probably about eight-years-old and my family was living in an apartment at the time. We had some neighbors that had an NES, and they had a pretty good collection of games for it, too, including many standards like Super Mario Bros, The Legend of Zelda, Contra, Double Dragon, and Mike Tyson’s Punch-out. I wasn’t very good at any of them, but I remember one of the neighbors could get all the way to at least the Grim Reaper in Castlevania.

When I eventually got my own NES and subsequent Nintendo consoles, I remember renting other Castlevania games over the years, but strangely, I didn’t actually start buying them until after the turn of the century. I don’t know what took me so long.

Anyway, I now move on to Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest. It’s not one of my favorites, but not necessarily a bad game, either.

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2 thoughts on “Castlevania-thon 2014 – Back to Basics

  1. Jason X

    The original Castlevania is impressive for so many reasons. One of the biggest would be the fact that it was, essentially, the beginning of the series, and yet it got so many things absolutely right from the get go. The level design, the music, the enemies. Sequels and spin-offs would refine the formula in the coming years, but absolutely none of the extra frills are necessary to enjoy the core Castlevania experience.

    How many franchises can say that about their (sort of) first game?

    1. Nester

      I agree. The original Castlevania is one of those classics I can pick up anytime, and I always enjoy it.

      I think the key to Castlevania’s gameplay lies in how timing-based it is. Your attacks have just enough lag to force you to use some skill, or else you leave yourself vulnerable. And that’s why it feels so satisfying when you’re successful at it. This is a core element that both the classic games and the metroidvanias have in common.

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