Castlevania is an essential landmark from the 8-bit era of gaming
The game has you playing as Simon Belmont through six linear levels, each leading up to a final end boss. This is a completely typical action platformer from the 8-bit era, but the high difficulty and gothic atmosphere sets it apart from other games like Super Mario Brothers. You can defeat enemies by whipping them or using another power that can be replenished by hearts scattered throughout each level. There's a lot of strategy involved in Castlevania, especially during the extremely punishing end bosses. The final two (including one against Dracula himself) will definitely cause a few headaches if you don't enter them with a clear strategy already in mind.
The graphics and sound still hold up well today, and the only aspect of Castlevania that hasn't really stood the test of time is the notoriously stiff controls. Jumping just doesn't feel natural, and the game definitely would've been less frustrating with smoother controls. Either way, Castlevania is fun enough to justify the (sometimes massive) amounts of frustration that you will experience. This is a fantastic video game that ranks up there as one of the finest, and certainly most challenging, platforming titles ever made. Castlevania is a truly essential masterpiece from the 8-bit era.