September 8, 2015
NES30 #15: Castlevania
Akumajou Dracula was a horror-themed platform game released by Konami for the Famicom Disk System in 1986. The following year Nintendo of America licensed the title and released in for the NES under the title Castlevania. It was an immediate hit, and led to 38 sequels and spin-offs and counting.
The reasons for the game's success were pretty obvious: Castlevania is a remarkably strong game. It's graphics and appealing and crisply designed, the sound and music are great, and the gameplay - while fairly punishing on the novice player - is well developed, easy to understand and fairly addictive.
The horror theme of the game included a variety of iconic end-of-level bosses. It may have been Dracula's castle, but to reach that villain Simon had to defeat Medusa, a Mummy, an enormous bat, Frankenstein's Monster and the Grim Reaper. Few genre archetypes were left out in the process.
So: great graphics and sounds, distinctive visuals, a neat horror theme and addictive gameplay. One of gaming's longest-running franchises began here, and even replaying it today it's pretty clear why.