An excellent beginning to the series, though may be too difficult for most players.
Castlevania wasn’t the first I played in the series. It was actually Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest that introduced me to the Castlevania series. Since I was impressed with it, I wanted to find the original game. It took me awhile to find it; for some reason NES games that were out for over 2 years were difficult to find since stores wouldn’t stock them. I eventually found it in a pawn shop. Mind you, this was the early 90’s and the internet consisted of bulletin boards and EBay was still years away. When I did find it, I thought I found the Arc of the Covenant. It quickly became a prized possession.
For being an early generation NES game, the graphics held up well to later games for the platform. The music was decent with some memorable tunes that would make repeated appearances in later Castlevania games. The game play was simple, but the game was difficult. Consisting of only 6 stages, you would think one might be able to breeze through it. Well, this was probably the most difficult Castlevania I ever played. I have beaten others in the series several times, but I only managed to beat this one twice. The game was very unforgiving if you were hit, especially if you were on a moving platform, as you would fly off to your untimely death. The bosses only had to hit you a handful of times to kill you, and you need to start back at the mid point of the stage to fight the boss again. Dracula really pissed me off the most (no surprise there since he is the last boss). If you managed to beat him once, which was not easy I might add, he turned into another form, and you would have to fight him anew. The frustration factor is high with this game.
Aesthetically, Castlevania is solid, boasting graphics and sound that would age well on the NES. The difficulty will surprise people just discovering the game who had played later Castlevania games. It will also turn most casual gamers off because, unless you are some sort of Wizard, you won’t finish the game in a few sittings. Fans of the series will definitely regard this as a strong start to an enduring series.