Review: Kid Dracula (GB)

Nobody parodies their own games quite like Konami!

Konami had already enjoyed some success creating a parody of their Gradius series of shooters with their Parodius releases, so they must have felt like they were on to something when they decided to do the same with their popular Castlevania series back in the early '90s. Kid Dracula basically takes all of the platforming goodness of Castlevania and builds a very unique adventure around it all, with the end result being a game that's easily as playable as any platformer available on the Game Boy system and one with enough charm and personality to keep you coming back for more.

Your goal in Kid Dracula is to traverse each of the game's many levels and reach the boss that's waiting for you at the end of each area. You'll explore locations ranging from a haunted clock tower to a creepy ghost ship and everything in between. You'll also have to deal with a constant barrage of ghoulish enemies that are out to stop you.

At its core, Kid Dracula is a fairly traditional platformer. That means you're going to be doing a lot of jumping from platform to platform throughout most of the game's many stages. But the fun doesn't end there; you'll also be able to unlock new special abilities for Kid Dracula by completing each area. These range from being able to unleash a flurry of attacking bats to actually changing into one of these creatures and being able to fly around for a short period of time. Other abilities are available too, and of course you always have your trusty power shot at your disposal should you feel the need to take out one of the creepy bad guys or bosses.

The control itself is perfectly smooth. If ever you needed responsive play control it's in a platformer and there's plenty of it to be found in Kid Dracula. The special attacks are also very easy to toggle through and execute, even in a pinch when the action is heating up. The many bosses you'll encounter also show a lot of imagination and their pattern-based attacks and movements will give you plenty of things to figure out when you take them on. Konami has included so much variety in the various gameplay elements that you'll be amazed what they've been able to accomplish on the humble Game Boy system.

There are some fantastic visual elements in Kid Dracula that are absolutely astounding, especially given that this is one of the earlier Game Boy releases. The down side is that there are also some areas in the game that look drab and uninspiring, although they do tend to make the visually appealing areas all the more impressive. The characters and enemies are also quite large and detailed, which further adds to the visual eye candy. There might not be as much variety as that found in the Famicom release of the same name, but in some cases the Game Boy release is actually even more detailed in certain areas.

Konami has long had a tradition of featuring top shelf musical scores in their video games and Kid Dracula is certainly no exception. Each track is extremely catchy and really puts the Game Boy's audio capabilities through its paces in each of the game's many levels. There's honestly not a bad tune in the entire game, and they seem to get better and better the further into the game you progress. While not quite as impressive as the actual Castlevania soundtracks, it's fairly close and a welcome addition to the Game Boy's library of musical efforts.

Conclusion

Kid Dracula might not be quite as lengthy or quite as diverse as the Famicom release, but you still have to give Konami a lot of credit for being able to cram so much platforming goodness into one Game Boy cartridge. Great visuals, a catchy musical score, and some of the tightest play control seen on the system all come together to form one of the most charming and playable platformers available for the system. The cartridge has become quite rare over the years, so you'll likely have to do some serious searching in order to land a copy, but once you give it a try, you're sure to find it well worth the time and money.

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