The first Castlevania game on the Game Boy leaves a lot to be desired. The game follows the adventures of Christopher Belmont, who is supposed to be Trevor Belmont's grandson from Castlevania III. The usual slaying of zombies, bats, medusa heads, and vampires follows.
As this was an early release on the then new Game Boy handheld the game suffered from horrible blurriness. So to compensate for this Konami made the main character move incredibly slowly. It feels like you're walking though mud, each painstaking plodding step forced out at a snail's pace. This alone probably turned a lot of people off from this game.
As Christopher you are armed with the Vampire killer whip. There are no secondary weapons in this game, no daggers, boomerang crosses, or holy water. Instead you get two powerups, the first to a chain whip, the second allows you to automatically shoot fireballs. The decision to remove the secondary weapons takes a lot out of the game and combined with the utter slowness quickly makes the whole thing a boring chore to get through.
All of which is too bad as the actual game is designed rather well. There are lots of tricky jumps and platforms and such that would be pretty fun if you could take them at a decent speed. The usual zombies and bats attack you as well as giant exploding eyeballs, ghostly suits of armor, etc. Instead of the Dragon Bone pillars there are these giant frog heads that shoot ricocheting balls of electricity (you will grow to hate those things quickly.) Bosses are pretty easy, and actually somewhat generic for a Castlevaina game. The first is just an oversized suit of armor, The second is a series of leaping frog/dog things that are easily beat, the third is a giant winged bat demon. Dracula himself teleports around the room and shoots fireballs. Been there, done that.
Thing is upon reading other reviews of this game I've come across complaints that I don't agree with. Sure, the lack of secondary weapons makes the game boring, but not completely lame. There's a part on the third level that everyone complains about where a floor full of spikes chases you while you slowly climb on ropes, one screw up equals instant death. Yeah, it's hard, but it's not impossible to anyone who's dedicated. Even as a 13 year old I was able to do it. Another thing is when you get hit the whip downgrades one level, well so what? That was a convention used a lot at the time (like in say, Super Mario Bros.) So just don't get hit. Sounds to me a lot of people are making excuses for sucking.
There are a lot of problems with the game though, terrible plodding retarded slowness makes you start pulling your own hair out, pixel perfect jumps and crap over spikes and caverns while being simultaneously attacked by bats will have you torturing small animals in frustration, generic bosses are too easy, other normal things like jumping onto a platform from a rope is too hard. But overall the game comes off slightly above the sucking line, just above mediocre to "acceptable" I'd say. Even still I can only recommend this game to Castlevania fans who need to have the whole series, other people with less patience would be better off with one of the GB sequels.
Graphics: Pretty good, close to the Nes games in quality and style.
Sound: Generic thumps and bangs. The whip sound is very clear and distinct. In some areas the plodding music seems to make the game slower than it actually is.
Gameplay: Like regular Castlevania but in slow motion and a lot more frustrating.
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