Retro recollections: Castlevania (NES)

Time, I thought, to really sink my teeth into my retro gaming collection. Where better to start than Konami’s classic Dracula-fest, Castlevania?

I’m not a big believer in the whole “pile of shame” concept — that idea that if you’ve got a lot of unplayed games, it’s somehow shameful or problematic. Sure, it probably does point to an investment of funds that could perhaps have gone in another direction, but ultimately, the games don’t care.
That being said, I’ve got more than a few games sitting around, and as I’ve stated before, I don’t like thinking of myself as a collector as much as a gamer to speak of. If what you want is shrinkwrapped and listed on eBay as “R@RE!”, you’ve come to the wrong place.
All of which leads me to a lazy, rainy cold Sunday afternoon here in Sydney, and a little time on my hands. Time I decided I’d spend playing through Castlevania on the NES. I’ve played Super Castlevania IV through countless times, but not the original, despite the fact that I’ve owned a copy for quite some time now.
A game with only two buttons, jumping and whipping, plus optional weapons activated by pushing up while hitting the whip button. How hard could it be?
Now, I could have made this easier on myself with the NES Mini, or perhaps an emulator, what with save states, but the cartridge was right there, so I figured I may as well just go for it.

Rihanna probably wasn’t singing about Castlevania. Probably. But then again…
About six hours later… and I’m done. Both with finishing the game, and mentally and physically.
Essential details:

  • Game: Castlevania
  • Format: NES, PAL version
  • Play time: About six hours
  • Number of deaths: 1,367. OK, maybe I’m making that up because I stopped counting after about 600 or so. But it’s in that kind of ballpark. Many, many Belmonts laid down their lives this day.
  • Primary cause of death: Dracula. Roughly 80% of the lives spent were on the final boss, because you don’t get to BE the final boss by being a pushover.
  • Secondary cause of death: Being knocked back into pits. Castlevania LOVES kicking you back into pits. If only Simon Belmont had arms that could grab ledges. If only…
  • Composers called James Banana: One
  • Other observation: I have serious Nintendo Thumb for the first time in many years. The NES controller might be a classic, but it sure ain’t a comfortable classic.

Yup, Dracula ate up more than a few hundred members of the Belmont clan before all was said and done.
Without spoiling too much for those who haven’t played (and I’m sure there are countless playthroughs on YouTube, not to mention speed runs and the like), the first form is tough, but once you suss the pattern, not too tricky.
That second form, though? DAMN.
I may have yelled out loud when it was all said and done.
OK, I totally did.

I may have also engaged in some celebratory singing
Also, I totally wasn’t kidding about the James Banana thing:

Next time, I think I’ll try something a little easier to while away a few lazy hours.
Maybe Winnie The Pooh’s Rumbly Tumbly Adventure.
I’m pretty sure that there’s no Dracula in that one.
Retro recollections are just random musings on retro subjects, usually whatever I’m playing at the moment.

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