Castlevania (NES)

Game Review

Castlevania Review

USA USA Version

Posted by Marcel van Duyn

Just like Dracula, it keeps coming back to life...

Konami, admittedly following the lead of others such as Nintendo and Capcom, sure likes to remind us it was making awesome games way back in the 1980s. "Hey", it says, "remember how great Castlevania was on the NES?" We sure do, Konami and, oh look, now we can buy it again on the Wii U! It's one of many retro games that keeps giving, again and again (and again).

If you've played almost any other "classic-style" Castlevania game, you'll be quickly reminded that the game that started it all is a lot clunkier than those that followed - Simon cannot yet change direction in mid-air while jumping and cannot jump onto stairs or drop off them, meaning he must slowly traipse up or down. Also, being hit not only knocks him back, but briefly stuns him as well.

On top of that, the enemies in Dracula's castle are ferocious, and you'll have to look out for things rushing at you and projectiles flying at you all the time. And we haven't even mentioned the bosses, which take quite a few hits and are almost impossible to dodge - your only hope at escaping most boss fights unharmed is finding the Holy Water sub-weapon - along with a Double or Triple shot power-up - and simply "stunlocking" them to death before they can get a single hit in.

Despite the difficulty, defeating Dracula is not an insurmountable task - if you get good enough and master the game's rigid mechanics you can fly through each level with ease, outsmarting all the enemies and vanquishing the dreaded Count. It's all about practice, but actually getting to that level of proficiency can turn into the obsession of a lifetime - some Castlevania fans are still trying today!

Graphically and musically, the game still holds up by modern standards — the Wii U GamePad screen, as it does with various 8-bit games, can show the title in its best light. Dracula's castle looks appropriately old and decrepit, from the entrance hall to the ramparts and all the way to Dracula's room. The soundtrack also features nothing but catchy tunes that have gone on to be remixed countless times in later games; Castlevania's reputation as a series with excellent music was set in motion by the tunes you're presented with here.


Although it's now over 25 years old, the original Castlevania is still a classic title everyone should try at least once. It'll take you a long time to beat if you're playing it for the first time, but the Virtual Console's save state feature can help make life a little easier. Although subsequent entries in the lineage have improved on the formula, Simon Belmont's legendary début remains an 8-bit classic and is well worth experiencing.

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User Comments (37)



Azikira said:

That tagline made it sound like it was going to be a negative review, but I am happy to see that it is still regarded as a great classic game. :3



darklinkinfinite said:

That's great Konami, really but how about, I dunno, Castlevania Bloodlines, 64, or Legacy of Darkness maybe?



sleepinglion said:

I still never tire of this title.
I bought the NES cart,
the PSX remake,
the Wii VC, 3DS VC and now Wii U VC versions because it's just a blast to play.
Do you kind folks know what the holdup is on the original Contra?
It's a Konami classic from the same era that never seems to get a VC release.



IceClimbers said:

Unrelated, but Nintendo just posted a survey to Facebook. Some of the questions included "What's your favorite Nintendo character?" (which had Samus Aran, Fox McCloud, and Captain Falcon as possible answers among the others), "What's your favorite Nintendo boss?" (which had Andross, Mother Brain, and even Giygas as options alongside Bowser and Ganon), "What's your favorite way to travel in a Nintendo game?" (which had the Arwing as the first possible choice), among others. The best question was number 22: "Is your body ready?". Nintendo, I love you.

They may be hinting at some Metroid, Star Fox, and F-Zero awesomeness. If all 3 got announced at E3 for Wii U alongside Zelda U, X, Smash Bros, SMT x FE, and Hyrule Warriors, I will die of happiness.



WaveGhoul said:

It saddens me that the Castlevania series for some odd ball reason completely escaped my childhood, which to me is a total oddity considering i was always a big fan of horror movies growing up. Anyhoo, thanks to the Wii's VC and a few carty' purchases on ebay i have experienced and beaten all of the 2DVania's.

The original Castlevania is good stuff indeed,and in ways i enjoyed it more than III because it doesn't demand a butt load of your time, it's linear and is another example of a perfect pick up & play nes title.



Urbanhispanic said:

It's still a game worthy of having that classic status. Yet, to this very day, I STILL cannot beat the Grim Reaper!



darklinkinfinite said:

@Urbanhispanic there's a super easy/cheap way to beat him. Get to him with Holy water and hit him with it as soon as he materializes and just keep pummeling him with it. He won't be able to escape and you'll probably beat him without taking any damage



Expa0 said:

A great NES game to start a great series. What I'm really looking forward to is Castlevania 3 Dracula's Curse since It's my favorite classic style Castlevania.



HappyHappyist said:

people complain about games like this being "NES hard." they really aren't that hard if you have a decent amount of patience and reasonable intelligence. in reality, this game, Ghosts n' Goblins, and Battle Kid are not nearly as hard as the internet has portrayed them to be.
blue blue.



shredmeister said:

Ok, this game is hard. It took me two months to beat it when I was a kid. But after so many times, I have it nailed and I can beat it in 15-20 minutes. It is my favorite 'classic' Castlevania. Symphony of the Night is a completely different animal, but I love it just the same.



GraveLordXD said:

@shredmeister tell me about it, I think some of the best music in video games came from castlevania the original bloody tears from castlevania 2 is one of my favorite tracks in any video game
Edit: now that I think about it vampire killer does come close



ogo79 said:

i beat this game by my second attempt.
but with a year of practice of defeating holy diver first. by the time i beat holy diver, castlevania 1 for nes was a walk in the park lol.



GraveLordXD said:

@shredmeister have you herd of someone named Smooth McGroove on you tube ? I just found out about him the other day he does game music Acapella after seeing some of his work mind=blown
I suggest everyone go check his work out and be prepared to be amazed and probably scream holy $#%& out loud y'all can thank me later if I knew how to post the video here through my phone I would
And Merry Christmas everyone!!



Urbanhispanic said:


thanks! You know...I may have tried that strategy before but never got the correct timing of whipping and using the holy water. I will definitely try it again; I've since downloaded it to my Wii years ago and have my save state on the 5th stage.



darklinkinfinite said:

@Urbanhispanic you know, its been a while since I've done it but I don't think there's any whipping involved. I think you just toss a holy water and toss another before it dissipates and repeat.



yunkeltt said:

I have unfinished business with alucarD. Many moons ago I died at the hands of the Guasha, but I will resurrect to finish this game.



Urbanhispanic said:


I'm going to try it this weekend. I would like the satisfaction of beating this game after all these years. I've beaten Simon's Quest and Dracula's Curse so I gotta go for it to complete the trilogy.



Gashole said:

The best (and I've found the only good) way to beat the grim reaper in this game is having full life, using the Cross, and having the "III" icon for throwing three in rapid succession. With all of that, I BARELY beat him.



Urbanhispanic said:

@tj3dsXL I'd have to disagree with you there. I have played the NES game and the one for the GB. The second GB title is WAY BETTER hands down than the first one.



tj3dsXL said:

@Urbanhispanic COOL ! Nes Castle Vania II has come out today on the 3ds V.C. ! Its not the 2nd gb one your talking about ,,but ive never played this Nes CV II so im going to get it 2nite ! I thought of your reply when i saw it/and was hoping it was the second gb title but i'll get that one too if it hits the VC !!! thanx bro !



Urbanhispanic said:


Yes I have.....many years ago when it came out for the NES. But I didn't get into it as much and haven't played it again until it was released for the Wii VC. I played the hell out of it and liked it. It's still a hard game and writing down the passwords sucked but eventually I worked my way and saw 2 of the 3 possible endings.



Urbanhispanic said:

Speaking of the GB titles, while I liked Castlevania Adventure, I felt it was too slow paced, a little unforgiving in some spots and very short. I guess that's why I liked the sequel better as I felt it fixed the issues I had with the first one.
(BTW, the remake of CA, Castlevania Adventure: Rebirth is awesome and worth checking out on WiiWare.)

I'm a big Castlevania fan and if you can beat NES CV 2, I'd suggest you take on CV3: Dracula's Course (hopefully they will re-release it.)



ghasfarost said:

This month having so many Castlevania games arriving at the eShop, pushed me to finally start my Castlevania backlog. I am halfway this game and just loving it although it is clunky, it is very fun and challenging! I look forward for Castlevania II and III, then IV and X, and later on the great GBA games

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