Konami's Castlevania series is one of the most respected legacies in the videogame industry. Filled with lore and all sorts of characters, it's difficult to piece everything together, but at least Nintendo's given us a starting point with its Classic NES release of the original Castlevania. It looks primitive, but still packs a satisfying challenge.
In Castlevania, you play as Simon Belmont, the courageous vampire slayer who's been marked for death by the dreaded Count Dracula. Everyone's favorite blood-sucking fiend has been waiting 100 years for a rematch with his arch nemesis, and happy to oblige, Belmont enters his opponent's dwelling, a gigantic castle filled with six floors of evil creatures looking to plant our hero six feet under. It's nothing we haven't heard before, but the story to the first installment is the foundation upon which all of the other games are built.
Actually, the story's pretty disposable, as most Castlevania yarns are. You need to kill Dracula. To do this you have to go inside his castle and smash anything that moves. Period. The original is your standard side scrolling action adventure. There are six areas of the castle to explore, and you'll face numerous foes including Medusa heads, ravens, black knights, skeletons, fish men, zombies, ghosts, the grim reaper and the mummy, among others, and during your quest you'll find all sorts of cool weapons. Belmont can dish out the pain with his trusty whip, but you can also pick up daggers, a boomerang, an axe, fire bombs, and a watch (freezes enemies) - and those are just a small sample of items you can use. There are many others (the pork chop, for example), and they all do something special. However, what's especially cool is how the gameplay is just as addictive as it was eons ago. Deceptively simple, it's easy to take the game too lightly, and as a result, meet an untimely demise time and time again.
Despite its aged graphics, Castlevania still looks quite good. It's nowhere near the level of quality seen in Aria of Sorrow, but you won't wince when you turn on your GBA. The music is equally impressive, and the familiar 8-bit bleeps bring back fond memories of vampire butt-kicking.
Castlevania's such an old series that it's very possible that some fans have yet to play the original, so in the grand scheme of things, its release makes perfect sense. It's an action-packed adventure filled with all sorts of creatures and weapons to dispatch them with, and although it's based around a simple concept, it'll provide you with hours of enjoyment.