If somebody were to name the most famous 2D platformer franchise, the most common responses would be Mario Bros, Sonic the Hedgehog or maybe Megaman. Lurking just outside the window however is Castlevania, one of the oldest series still enjoying new releases today. The original Castlevania was released by Konami on the Nintendo Entertainment System in 1987.
Overcoming frustration and learning how to deal with a difficult section to the point where you can beat it every time and progress further is an immensely rewarding experience, it’s what makes Castlevania such a good game and the essence of why we enjoy challenging experiences.
Castlevania’s atmosphere is a fusion of the 2D action game with gothic spookiness, so it can’t be called a pure horror game, despite drawing upon gothic imagery throughout. However, encouraging a new player to take things slowly provides ample time to build some measure of suspense. Music plays a huge part in creating the game’s atmosphere; the brief intro builds tension as Belmont approaches the castle gate, before giving way to the opening blast of Vampire Killer, the catchy and iconic level 1 song. The theme of the whole game is summed up here: a foreboding build up, then straight into the action. In keeping with the gothic atmosphere, the boss theme sounds like classical music through the NES soundchip, which works surprisingly well. That same boss melody is worked into the stage 5 music, Heart of Fire: the perfect example of the feel of a classic Castlevania game.
Come then ye children of the night, those vampires aren’t gonna slay themselves.