Castlevania – A Hard Game Done Right!

In the NES days, games couldn’t be that long because of the small memory size. Most game companies solved this problem by either making their games incredibly difficult but relatively short. Look at the original Super Mario Bros. and compare it to New Super Mario Bros. U for example. In the original Mario Bros. losing all of your lives meant you start all the way from the beginning while in New Super Mario Bros. U you just go to the last save point. Plus, 1-Ups are way more frequent in NSMBU. See the difference? However, there’s one problem with most of the games that dawn this structure. They end up being cheap and unfair instead of challenging. For example, Ninja Gaiden and it’s random bats right after jumps. Enter, the original Castlevania. This is a game known for its brutal difficulty. But the thing is… most of its difficulty comes from actual challenge, not just cheapness as well as a few clever tricks…

Castlevania Improved (USA)-0
A nice screenshot showing you what you’ll be doing in this game the most.

The game starts up with a nice-looking title screen and if you wait long enough… demos that contain Simon (the main character)… being knocked back and forth like a soccer ball…? For the story, Dracula put a curse on the Belmont family so Simon Belmont must go kill Dracula to remove the curse. A nice and simple story. Like I said, there are some things the game does to make the total playtime longer. For one, Simon is really slow and has an annoying jump. His whip is also really short-range until you get a powerup. This, combined with the fact that this game is super hard and losing all your lives means restarting from the beginning makes this a super difficult game! There are a TON of secrets in this game. Some of the secrets like a damage doubler item and… Wall Chicken are hidden in breakable bricks. But the majority of them are hidden in completely random places. It’s things like, “wait right here for a bit and some item will pop up”. There is usually a bit of a signal towards it but it’s still pretty hidden.

Castlevania (USA)-0

With the main mechanics out of the way, it’s time to talk about the stages!

Stage 1 –

Stage 1 is a pretty nice first stage. It does a good job showing you the main mechanics of the game. Really the only hard part of this stage I’d say is the lake section, since it has all those respawning enemies.
Stage 2 –

A huge step up in terms of difficulty. This is the stage where you’re introduced to the flying Medusa heads. These things will NEVER leave you alone.
Stage 3 –

This stage has the best music in the game by far. It’s SUPER catchy! Sadly this is the stage where the other most annoying enemy of the game is introduced, the Hunchback. This things jumps are so random. It’s sort of like the Flea enemy from MM1.

Stage 4 –

Yay, more fish people. The skulls in the first section look solid, but they aren’t. I’ve jumped into the water because I forgot that they weren’t solid plenty of times.
Stage 5 –

This stage is sort of a final test of all you’ve learned. And it feels like it. This stage is downright BRUTAL. And to top it all off, you get to fight death his goshdang self.
Stage 6 –

Time to fight Dracula. This stage does something really neat at the beginning of it. Remember the bat boss from the first stage? Well he’s back as a regular enemy now! But you know what isn’t neat? TONS OF HUNCHBACK SPAM!!! Seriously, this stage spams those hunchback enemies like crazy. Oh by the way, make sure you have the Holy Water sub item before you fight Dracula because you’ll need it.

And that was Castlevania! Sadly a pretty short article but there’s not that much to cover in this game since it’s so short. Thanks for reading and see you next time!

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