Together Retro Game Club: Castlevania
Presented by: Fastbilly1, Marurun, & Racketboy
New To Together Retro? Check out the introduction to the club
How fitting that on a day many dedicate to horror shenanigans, dolling out candy, and costuming, we of together retro embark on one of the first horror adventure titles. That’s right boys and girls; the next title for together retro is none other than Konami’s original Castlevania. Join us as we travel to Transylvania and through the castle as Simon Belmont to rid the world of the villainous Dracula. So grab your whip, your bag of hearts, and your crucifix, its vampire hunting time.
Originally released in 1986 for the family computer, Castlevania has been a staple of the action adventure genre since. Loosely based on Bram Stoker’s classic novel Dracula, Castlevania puts you in control of Simon Belmont, a vampire hunter from the infamous Belmont clan. As Simon you travel throughout a twisty castle full of monsters, secrets, and lots of hearts hidden in candles. Denizens of the night are at every turn and you only have your trusty whip and the occasional secondary weapon to dispatch them.
The game is liner and there are only seventeen stages (plus the final boss fight with Dracula) but it has a difficulty level that is as timeless as Ninja Gaiden 2s. Using a more gothic art style than Ghost and Ghouls, Castlevania was one of the first console games that many gamers considered “mature.” Unlike Ghost and Ghouls, which is a tad on the goofy side, Castlevania is sullen, moody, and dark. Browns, grays, and purples are the basic colour pallet, and while those are common place now, back in the 80s this was mind blowing. On the NES Castlevania had two sequels, Simons Quest and Dracula’s Curse, but after the first title was released, its slot in history books was filled as one of the best NES games of all time.
Well the original on the NES and Wii Virtual Console are the two versions most of us will end up playing, but it has been ported to a plethora platforms. Other worthwhile versions are the Gameboy Advance NES Classic line cartridge and the Castlevania Vs arcade game (over the Playchoice 10 offering since there is no arbitrary time limit). To be honest most of us do not have enough experience to make a justified opinion on some of the ports, but I know to stay away from the Pc version.
Remakes, Clones, Sequels
The series only kept the linear style for a few other titles, most gamers nowadays know it for the Metroidvania style brought main stream by Symphony of Night. However there are over twenty five titles released in the series, many of which are considered some of the greatest games of all time, granted those early 3d ones are considered some of the worst… The Belmont family has become a standard in Konami’s library and have even appeared in a few offshoot titles such as DreamMix TV World Fighters and Kart Racer. There is also a feature film and radio play in the books to be released in 2008 and 2009 respectively.
Since most people already have a favorite NES emulator, or use NesterDC, I am going to take this time to bring up a lesser known emulator. For those of you using a GP32 you already know this, but those out there using a Palm Pilot, say a Tapwave Zodiac 2, you may not know of the bit of coding by Yohann Magnein (yoyofr) known as Little John. Little John (or the offshoots Little John Palm and Little John Zod) started as a NES emulator for the GP32. Borrowing from several opensource NES emulators, Little John arrived early on the scene, was fast, and quickly became the defacto standard for GP32 gamers around the world. Sometime after the GP32 scene started to drift to the GP2x, Little John moved onto the Palm Pilots, Smartphones, and the Zodiac. I keep bringing up the Zodiac mainly since it is the one I use daily and it supports NES, SNES, Genesis, TG16, Gameboy, Wonderswan and Neogeo Pocket all with fairly decent compatibility (heck it runs Chrono Trigger on a Zod2). Castlevania runs as well as it does on a PC on both the GP32 and the Zodiac through all three versions of Little John I currently have (LJ32, LJP, LJZ). And trust me, on the GP32’s clickety clack joystick, your going to need that save state button.
For the PC, we like NNNesterJ, namely since it supports Kalleria, however UltraFCE is a very popular choice, and who can forget Nesticle. They are all drop and play emulators with very little configuration needed.
However if you are clever and would rather play it on a portable or even the Dreamcast, check out the racketboy links below. If you need assitance setting up any emulator, please post your question in the Emulation section of the forum
How To Play / Controls
Together Retro Discussion / High Scores
Instead of posting in the comments section of the blog, we will be using the forum for all of our discussion in order to keep things more organized. So play some Castlevania and talk to us about your thoughts and play experiences in the forums. We want to know your tactics, your strategies, your successes and your failures.