Castlevania

The first trek into the halls of this castle still contains the age-old problems of the series
SeriousGamer - Staff Reviewer

Content at a glance:

Mild Violence: Bloodless violence against non-human enemies, enemies turn into flames and disappear, boss character is bloodlessly decapitated.

Spiritual Content: Supernatural creatures are encountered, player uses weapons like Holy Water against enemies and some items are possibly magical, Death is personified as the Grim Reaper and serves Dracula.

There’s nothing quite like a tranquil night in the countryside. Just think of it: nothing but the sounds of nature, nothing to block out the view of the moon, big, full, and bright. Nice night to be out for a walk…unless your last name happens to be Belmont that is, in which case, it’s usually time to go to work.Castlevania_NES_4

The Belmont family name first showed up way back in 1987 when the first game in the Castlevania series showed up; the first story that tells of the age-old struggle between the heroic vampire-hunting family and their equally age-old nemesis, the evil Count Dracula himself. For years, players scooped up the games to take part in this never ending battle. Hey, when your enemy never seems to want to stay dead, it makes it a little hard to hang up your trusty old whip. This first game saw re-makes for the GBA and now, most recently, the Wii’s Virtual Console, giving new players the chance to wander through the haunted rooms and cursed corridors of Dracula’s castle…Castlevania.

Is it fun? That depends on your definition of fun. Is it a good game for Christian gamers? Read on and decide.

Plot

It’s 1691 in Transylvania. For a century, the world has seen peace, thanks to the efforts of the Belmont family combating and thwarting the plans of the evil Dracula, who hungers not for blood, but the entire world.

Sadly, that peace doesn’t last forever. It’s been 100 years since his last defeat, and Dracula has again returned from beyond the grave. 100 years wasn’t enough time for him to re-think his life apparently, because he’s rebuilt his imposing fortress, Castlevania, and is preparing to launch another assault upon the world. With the immense power he possesses and an army of nightmarish creatures at his command, Dracula seems unstoppable.

But it’s far from hopeless. Simon Belmont, the next-in-line to the family duty, takes up the family’s tool of choice, a whip that somehow is fatal to Dracula and his minions, and aptly named the Vampire Killer. With whip in hand, Simon single-handedly storms Castlevania with the intent of reducing it back to rubble and sending Dracula back into the void from whence he came.

Castlevania_NES_2

Gameplay

Castlevania plays like a typical platformer. There are six levels in the game, each taking place in a different area inside Dracula’s castle. You control Simon as he makes his way past hordes of monsters and deadly traps to reach the count himself. You have to move fast though; each level is timed, so you have to hurry through each room as quickly as possibly and defeat the level boss before time runs out.

Your primary weapon is your whip. With a press of a button, you can send it flying at any monster or monsters that happen to be nearby. Your whip can be upgraded to make it longer by picking up a certain item. Speaking of items, whipping the candles scattered throughout Castlevania to make hearts appear. These hearts fuel any one of the special weapons you can find from defeating enemies or destroying candles.

And one more thing to mention; this game is H-A-R-D, hard. If you undertake this quest, you’d better bring a lot of patience because you will be stuck on the same level for hours even days at a time.

Castlevania_NES_5

Offensive Content

Violence

There’s not much to tell here. After all, this is an 8-bit game. There’s no blood to be seen when you take a hit or deliver a hit. You just flash and jump back slightly. When you defeat an enemy, they simply turn into a ball of flame and disappear. In the quite likely event you die, you’ll only fall over. As you can see, this game is quite a bit tamer when it comes to blood than any of the recent titles.

The only exception to this is a certain boss character’s head flies off his body upon defeat. Again, there’s no blood (think Jango Fett’s death from Star Wars).

Castlevania_NES_6

Spiritual Content

I’m tempted to just write Dracula, ’nuff said, but that wouldn’t cover everything, so here we go.

Yes, first and foremost, there is a vampire to deal with. While Dracula is the main enemy, the game doesn’t go into much with the ties to the occult associated with vampires. He’s never shown drinking blood either. If anything, he’s just there for the story.

A lot of the monsters you meet are supernatural in nature. Most are usually zombies, stone dragon heads that breathe fire, fish-men, and walking suits of armor. Other creatures include Medusa, walking mummies, and Frankenstein’s monster. Sounds like a cheesy horror film doesn’t it?

The worst of the monsters, besides Dracula, is Death. Towards the end of the game, you are confronted by the Grim Reaper, Dracula’s right-hand man. Death is portrayed as robed skeleton.

On the other side is Simon Belmont. I think it’s revealed later on that his whip is not exactly normal. For one thing, it can kill monsters. In this game however, the whip’s origins, magical or not, are left to assumption.

You can also find a number of items considered spiritual to help you in your walk through the halls of Castlevania. Some of these are a bit more close to fantasy than anything else. One item can stop time. Other items that you can find are religious icons such as crosses, jars of holy water, and a rosary that destroys all enemies on-screen.

Castlevania_NES_3

Commendable Material

Castlevania still depicts the age-old battle between good and evil. In this game, you’re not trying to join the ranks of the vampire as is common in most stories involving them. Instead, you’re trying to put an end to one.

Conclusion

Castlevania is still quite a heated topic for me. On one hand, the very presence of vampires, even though you’re fighting them, raises an eyebrow. On the other hand, you’re fighting to end the darkness rather than joining it. So, you might be left at a crossroads with this one.

In the game’s defense, it lacks the blood and bare-breasted enemies of more recent titles. And it also doesn’t use darkness to fight darkness. The line between good and evil is drawn and is not crossed.

On the other hand, in a world where things of the occult, such as vampires, are becoming more and more popular, it’s a fair question to ask whether or not we should come out and separate as Paul writes about. Plus, the inclusion of items like holy water as a weapon may be seen as offensive. Indeed, the very fact that vampires appear at all may be enough of a reason to leave this game alone.

However, you might find an interesting point to talk about with this game. Perhaps the inclusion of the cross can lead to a talk about what truly was defeated on the cross. You never know.

All in all, if this game offends you, I would not play it. If you find it too close to the likes of Harry Potter and Twilight, then I’d act on that. On the other hand, if you find this game acceptable, then so be it.




Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this Spotlight review are those of the reviewer (both ratings and recommendations), and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Eden Communications or the Christian Answers Network.

About this game