Pros: Hours of zombie killing before zombie killing was cool.
Cons: Abysmal graphics when compared to modern games.
I can still, vividly, remember throwing holy water at vampires before the sun started to creep into the sky. Likewise, the eerie music that would usher in the night always ran a chill up my spine. Armed with a small arsenal of weapons, I set out to troll through swamps, battle the undead and collect hearts [the currency used in Castlevania]. While I am in my NES mode I might as well throw it out to the masses that I did have to use the Game Genie to actually complete the game. That is so lame to admit given the rudimentary tasks needed to beat the game but when this was out, well, it was considered cutting edge for a couple reasons. What reasons you ask? First off there were more than a couple ways to play the game. I preferred to sit outside a town until the creepy music started playing; then I could attack the undead and collect hearts needed to level up. Most of my friends ignored the little hearts and went for the big ones – I always saw those as tougher to obtain and a little riskier.
At this point I have to add one thing; this was the very first video game that I completely fell in love with. Even though people laugh when I say that I am sure that everyone has some game title hidden from view that they drag out and play when they know no one will bother them. Sure, I love the kid games like Spyro The Dragon and the Metal Gear Solid series but in the middle of the night when the house is completely empty, that's when it's time for some Castlevania action.
When I was trying to explain this version of the game to someone they gave me a blank stare. It wasn't exactly free roaming because there were only a couple different ways to move from screen to screen – and in most cases you were limited to going left or right with the exceptions of the castle areas and when you were in towns and went in to 'stores' to see merchants. Now, I have to give fair warning about these kinds of things – there aren't a lot of flashy graphics to this game so there are a lot of repeated pieces of scenery and more than a few glitches where your character will get stuck in a wall or between levels when navigating a town scene at night. Sometimes you are able to move him out of this kind of a situation, other times the music gets stuck and you have to turn it off and start over. You also have to contend with game freezes; this is nothing like a modern game – freezes would just happen. Game saves were important but it wasn't like being able to save a game to a memory card, oh no, this was a code that you needed to write down correctly if you wanted to go back to the same point in the game.
The object of the game is to collect five pieces of an 'artifact' needed to break the curse on the Belmont name, more to the point to free Simon from the clutches of Dracula. As you might guess you need to travel to five places and battle through five 'bosses' to obtain the relics. There are a lot of curses thrown around so you have to take it with a grain of salt. Simon's family gets cursed, Dracula curses him, Simon needs to break Dracula's curse. It can get a little confusing.
One of the most interesting things about the game and completing it is the time factor. While not exactly new, when this was released it wasn't common knowledge that the quicker you completed it the "better" the ending you would receive. I had no idea that time mattered the first time I played it; I went from town to town and spent a lot of time soaking in the graphics – feel free to grumble a lot when I say that, I'm cool with it. The various outcomes of the game are directly correlated to how long it took you to find the five parts of Dracula's body and return them to the castle to face him. When I played it with the Game Genie I opted for unlimited health and unlimited garlic or holy water. That made it a lot easier to get through scenes but you still had to deal with nasties in the forest or glitches in the game that would freeze or simply not work at all with the Game Genie in place. Once you started playing the game with the Game Genie you had to commit to using it until the end of the game – if you tried to play without it you could almost be guaranteed that a save code wouldn't work or your game would die / freeze / reset.
Graphics: As mentioned, you aren't getting anything mind blowing with the game. There are still things that stand out for me though like the vibrant blue glow that some of the buildings would take on when you were in a town at nightfall or the floating eyeballs that would make their way across the screen while you were trying to avoid the cavern zombies. There's no Easter eggs or hidden content, nothing that is going to make you want to give up your PS3 or X-Box and certainly nothing that anyone under the age of 30 will appreciate. I've already said my peace about the glitches that can happen in certain spots in the game; the one that happened to me repeatedly was in the town of Aldora. When I would go from the second level to the third level I would always get stuck half way inside a wall. I needed to avoid that or I would have to reset it and start over. No matter what I tried, nothing worked.
One of my personal all time favorites – the creepy blue hands that would come up out from between the stones in various graveyards about half way through the game. Swoon, I'd be remiss if I left out the blue gargoyles, they were pretty sweet too.
Music: Like the graphics, the music gets repeated a lot. It's like being in MIDI hell to listen to it now but it is part of the charm of the game and you sort of need to listen to it to get the cue that night is coming. For the most part there are five major tracks that repeat depending on what you are doing – you will get used to it and after a couple hours you won't pick up on it until there is a time change from night to day or day to night.
Interactions: When you are in a town you can 'converse' with residents there – you can also buy things or upgrade existing weapons. Actually, you aren't upgrading because you are buying something completely new. There are hooded characters that you will encounter through the game; some will give you things but most will offer to sell you things. These are not the same as the merchants that you run in to in the towns when you enter a building. There are some tricky ones though so if you see stairs in a room of a 'store' or building you need to go down to see the person there because they won't always be on the top level. There are no spoken words between the characters, everything is in text for on the screen.
This version of the game isn't for everyone; even some old school gamers cringe when I bring up this title. Personally this has a lot of great memories for me but when I pull out the NES and start undoing the cables for the PS3 and PS2 everyone lets out a groan because they know they'll have to endure hearing the repetitive soundtrack if they decide to stick around. There are plenty of glitches to the game so if you can get past that and have some fun with the old school feel of it, it is worth getting if you can find a cartridge that actually works. With the NES games its almost impossible to tell if a game is going to work or not until you put it into the deck and power it up. I know the one that I have is almost ancient but it will works about 95% of the time when you do the old "blow in the cartridge" trick that really blows the minds of anyone under the age of thirty.
^V^ ©Freak369 - 2011 ^V^
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