Feature: A Guide to Hunting Dracula
Posted by Thomas Whitehead
The old-school way
So far this week we’ve listed our top 10 Castlevania games, while also launching the Nintendo Life Book Club with the horrific Simon’s Quest novel. A common theme across the series is the quest to defeat Dracula, mostly by trekking through his unfeasibly huge castle. Should the unlikely ever occur and the world looks to you to hunt down the Prince of Darkness, who better to guide us than the Belmont clan, whose experience of whipping monsters apparently passes from generation to generation?
We’ll be keeping it simple, however, as fighting Dracula and his minions will be difficult enough without worrying about potions, spells, tricks and modifying weapons. We look to the oldest of Belmont clans, first seen on the NES and SNES, for vital tips on the battle ahead. Although times have changed since the Belmont family smote Dracula on a regular basis, we reckon the old vampire is pretty traditional, seeing as he’s lived for hundreds of years. We don’t expect to see solar panel power generation and 50-inch TVs where we’re going, to put it that way.
The one thing that you absolutely must not forget is, you guessed it, a whip. We’re not talking about a normal Indiana Jones style whip – we’re not just swinging over pits here – but a special monster whupping whip. This will need to have some magical qualities, as occasionally you’ll find an item to power it up: track down a wizard, witch or someone similar to ensure that your whip is compatible with these power-up items, and in no time it'll be exploding beasts on contact.
We’re not talking about a normal Indiana Jones style whip – we’re not just swinging over pits here – but a special monster whupping whip.
Your attire will need to be suitable for the occasion as well. Forget about your modern, 21st Century clothes, if you want to honour the Belmont legacy your clothing will have to be made, almost exclusively, of leather. You may look a bit like Conan the Barbarian, albeit with a less impressive physique, but the sight of these clothes may be enough to prompt bad memories for old Drac. You’ll also need sturdy, but comfortable boots: the comfort is required for the long trek ahead and the large amount of platform hopping, not to mention the fact that if you make contact with an enemy you have to be ready to leap backwards, though try not to do this straight into a pit.
See object, whip object
We mentioned earlier that you need a strong, perhaps even magical, whip for this adventure. This is also important as you don’t just whip the monsters of the night, but walls and candles as well. Candles? Absolutely, Dracula likes the ambient glow of candles and, besides, he can’t afford the electricity bills in a piece of real estate such as his castle. Amazingly, if you whip these candles they may disintegrate into useful objects. As well as power-ups for your whip, you'll find special weapons including axes, flasks of holy water, throwing knives, and boomerang-esque crosses. You may also find hearts — not real organs, we hope — that give you the energy required to use these weapons. Throwing an axe isn’t as easy as using a whip, clearly, and when you run out of ‘heart’ energy you’re unlikely to be able to summon the strength for these extra weapons.
Trudging through Transylvania and then Dracula’s labyrinth castle can be a tiring experience. Throw in some injuries from assorted monsters and you’re going to need sustenance to give you energy to move on. Unfortunately, your retro leather ensemble doesn’t include a matching bag, so you can’t carry a few energy or granola bars around with you. Fear not, as Dracula’s castle and grounds don’t, for strange reasons, include a pantry or fridge-freezer: maybe it’s the lack of electricity supply. As a result of this he stores his favourite food, pork chops, within the walls themselves. While these chops may be a tad grubby, and no doubt cold, vampire-hunting beggars can’t be choosers.
Remember, Dracula is the boss
It seems that there is no unholy monster worth the name that doesn’t commit itself to laying down its life in honour of Dracula
An amazing fact about the Prince of Darkness is that, when it comes to evil monsters, he is the master. It seems that there is no unholy monster worth the name that doesn’t commit itself to laying down its life in honour of Dracula. In terms of minions we have re-animated skeletons, strange hunchbacks, the bone remains of fire-breathing beasts, evil knights and medusa heads that fly at awkward angles. You’ll be facing them all, so work on those whip skills so that, preferably, you can whip in any direction.
Those are just the minions, but you’ll also have to face a number of larger monsters before you reach the man himself. These include various oversized versions of the minions, such as giant skulls, but also the likes of Frankenstein and Death. The Grim Reaper, who we mistakenly thought was the big daddy of them all, actually fights on behalf of the Prince of Darkness. We can only imagine that Dracula is an expert networker, winning over the creatures of the underworld with charm and charisma. Who knows what the real secret is, but we'd like to find out.
The final showdown
We’ll be honest with you, your chances of making it to the end of this quest are pretty steep. You’ve faced off against hundreds of monsters, including the Grim Reaper himself, so you’ll be pretty hard-pushed to make it to the top of Dracula’s castle. If you do, you’re in for a tough challenge: for one thing you have to fight Dracula in at least two forms, depending on how creative he feels. You’ll take him down, and just as you’re ready to throw a triumphant fist in the air, he’ll re-appear in a more grotesque form. Keep alert, and victory can be yours.
He’ll be back
If we’ve learnt anything from the trials of the Belmont family, it’s that Dracula is never truly dead. He’ll be back, through some nefarious black magic, and he'll need to be defeated before he causes too much trouble. If you've conquered this quest once, your clan are now responsible for hunting Dracula in years to come, so get ready to pass your wisdom to future generations: they’ll need to do it all over again.