There’s something wonderfully nostalgic about horror movies from the 80s. That feeling is amplified when combined with video games from the same era. The graphics, the digitalized music — it just makes me yearn to be a kid again. As I’ve been covering other 80’s horror video games, it seems only fair to talk about one of the truly best games of the decade. Castlevania for the Nintendo Entertainment System.
8 bit Dracula
Developed and published by Konami, Castlevania introduces players to Simon Belmont. Players go on an epic adventure in this action-platformer in search of Dracula. In each stage of this game, players go up against mini-bosses and various monsters. Players can defeat these monsters with Simon’s trusty whip — the Vampire Killer — and other weapons. Once you’ve defeated the game once, players are taken back to the first stage, where the villains are noticeably harder to beat now.
The graphics in this game are largely impressive. The detailed background and various monsters make this a real delight to play. Each stage has a distinct flavor, making this fun to play over and over. The music and sound effects are typical of the time and can be a little draining after a while. There is variety in the score making each level unique in its own way. I especially love the scenes where Simon is at the top of the castle, and that haunting crescent moon can be seen in some shots. Dracula and Simon both look pretty great in the game too. They’re both distinguishable, even if Simon just looks like an average sprite compared to how creepy Dracula is.
An affordable game
This game was originally released 34 years ago (1986 in Japan, 1987 in America) but it’s relatively easy to find, and it’s still affordable. Cartridges will run you around $25, while a complete set with the box and booklet could set you back $100+. You can also play the game on the Nintendo Switch, as it is a part of the Castlevania Anniversary Collection.
If you’re looking at this game as a possible investment piece, your best bet is to get a complete set and hang on to it for a few years. Like I said, this isn’t a rare game. But it is highly regarded by fans around the world.
A lasting legacy
I don’t know if Konami would have guessed the impact this game had on pop culture. Castlevania has seen numerous spin-off games, a Netflix television show, comic books, action figures, and more. At conventions, fan-made art and other items can be found in artists’ alleys. Cosplayers have even brought many of the characters to life with impressive (and sometimes larger than life) costumes.
Konami themselves have created some other timeless games, including another horror favorite, Silent Hill. While I don’t associate the family-friendly nature of Nintendo with horror games, Castlevania is one title I’m glad NES has in their extensive (and impressive) library. This is one franchise that’ll be here for the long haul, and I for one am grateful for it.