LTTP: The 8 Bit CastleVania Trilogy

I’ve aways loved the music and lore of the Castlevania series but I’ve actually never beat any of the games except Portrait of Ruin on DS. I own almost every game in the series and I’ve made it a “goal” to play through them in 2018 and I always start from the beginning of a series so on with the 8 bit games!

My collection, CIB and in great shape!

Uh shit…These games are really hard for very aggrivating reasons.

I started with CV1 on NES but quickly switched to the FDS version so I could save. The game holds up incredibly well for 1986 even if we were living in a post Super Mario world. The music in particular is incredibe and my favorite part of the game. The movement is slow and methodical but the gameplay feels great. I found the levels themselves to be quite easy but I did have significant difficulty with the bosses. Like most games of the era I died alot while learning the patterns but once you get them down the bosses are a breeze.

Overall I enjoyed the game and I was excited to continue on!

Onto the black sheep the series.

I started with the NES version of CV2. I knew of it’s issues going in (Thanks AVGN) but I figured if I got stuck I could consult a guide. At first I thought the “open world” nature of the game was offputting and I didn’t like how special attacks like holy water or the axe were purchasable upgrades instead of dropping throughout a level. Eventually it grew on me and the RPG like progression felt rewarding. Running around every town and talking to every NPC was standard for the time but it’s incredibly boring today.

This game deserves all of the hate it gets. The game is quite boring and consists of walking around aimlessly finding parts of Dracula’s body. Purchasing items is fine except it requires lots of grinding to purchase them. The game itself is quite easy except you’ll never be able to figure out how to progress without a guide. To me the game felt like a boring loop. Thankfully the OST is killer again and kept me going. After running around aimlessly for a few hours I decided to checkout the “patch” for CV2.

I HIGHLY recommend playing the game this way. It add’s an in game map, the abilitty to save at any time, retranslating the terribly vague NPC dialog and several other “fixes”.

Even with the patch and a walkthrough I found I was just bored. I decided to give up on CV2 and watch a playthrough of the rest. I’m glad I got to experience the game but I’m also glad I stopped before I hated it. It turns out even the final fight with Dracula is incredibly easy. You wont even get hurt CV1 was hard and fair. The only difficulty in CV2 comes from the frustrating progression.

The Favorite

Time to get into the big one, the one everyone names as their personal favorite of the “classic” Castlevania series before it turned into " Metroidvania"

The linear gameplay of the first game is back and it’s incredibly welcome and as a nice change to the formula there also branching paths, recruitable characters to play as and HOLY SHIT THAT MUSIC.

I didn’t even bother starting this game with the NES cart because I knew I wanted those extra sound channels from the Famicom version. I played the translated Famciom version to get the english text and that banging OST.

I can’t go on enough about how much I love the music in this game. I have it on vinyl and I even keep it on my phone.

My personal favorite track is “destiny”.It reminds me of an intro to a Slayer song with some G-funk synth thrown in. I think DR Dre was a CastleVania fan.

Cv3 has a great start. The music kicks ass, the linear gameplay is back and the recruitable characters are a nice change to the formula. I was really enjoying myself to start but eventually the game started to agitate me. The platforming was ramped up and the game is worse for it because the game is a TERRIBLE platformer. The stairs are incredibly frustrating in this series so sections comprised entirely of staircases with a thousand flying fucking assholes boil my blood. Sections where the screen starts scrolling and you’re forced to quickly jump platforms, fight enemies and climb stairs are madenning.

I’m sad to say but CV3 broke me. I can’t stand the staircase sections and I’m not having any fun. I dropped the game for a week and came back to it this morning and within a few minutes I turned it off. I’m on tilt with CV3 and I don’t have any interest in playing it anymore. I love the lore, the art and the music in this series but I can’t stand the gameplay in the 8 bit games. Maybe im just burnt out after playing the 3 games consecutively.

I’m generally not a big fan of the 8 bit era and the first 3 Castlevania games reminded me of why. Poor gameplay coupled with crippling difficulty just doesn’t create a fun experience for me. I’m VERY excited to finally get into the 16 bit era with the CV series and continue on but the 8 bit games just weren’t for me. Maybe you need nostalgia goggles to fully appreciate them.

Im curious to hear your opinions! Let me know why I should pick CV3 back up and finish it or am I best to just leave them and move on. I’m going to give the series a bit of a break then move into CV4, Rondo and Bloodlines.

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Everything after III/Legend of Demon Castle is way easier. Well except The Castlevania Adventure/Legend of Dracula 1 on Game Boy, which while I love it you really had to be there at the time to appreciate it. Belmont’s Revenge is superb and very fair though.

III does have a very good endgame.

Sounds like you’re playing it on an everdrive with the translation, but I think save states don’t work with it on the everdrive? You could skip stages with passwords though, and also see all endings by cheating that way too :wink: Also that means the music won’t be quite right, but it’s pretty close (like better than FDS audio which is still ruined), just make sure the expansion volume is set to low too.

II was pretty amazing in the 80s though, having a full world to explore gave it a sense of place unlike any other game except maybe Goonies II. I managed to work out the stupid riddles as a kid lol.

I love reading these type of threads. And those CIB copies are beautiful.

I had all three back in the day. Like has been said, II was better at the time when there weren’t as many games like it. But even then, I thought the original was a lot more fun to play. I wouldn’t expect many newcomers to take to II. I loved III’s different characters and branching paths.

The first GB game disappointed me as magazines hyped it as “NES quality” and pics looked really nice for a portable game. In motion, it turned out to be slower than CV1. Minus the hype, it was still solid for a portable game, though.

I also recommend checking out Kenseiden on the Sega Master System. It has a similar vibe to Castlevania (and Konami’s Getsu Fuuma Den) although I liked it even more than the 8-bit Castlevanias. There’s also a direct rip off on SMS called Master of Darkness. I think it’s more generic than Castlevania but it’s worth checking out. We still need an SMS thread here.

Classicvania is so much better than Metroidvania imo, those suffer hard from repetitive level-design and lack of challenge. I’m thinking of framing the Castlevania 1, 2 and 3 box arts in posterform and hangin them in my kitchen (I have a large empty wall there). To this day Castlevania 1 and 3 are 2 of my all-time favorite games. I also have some pretty hard nostalgia for Castlevania II and even with its problems I can still play that game and have a ton of fun. The music especially never gets old.

Nice looking CIB set there. I would love to own lots of Konami silver box games. I do have a very nice copy of Castlevania 2, which I stumbled into on CL for a bargain price.

Co-sign on classicvania.

One Metroid clone was a nice change of pace. SOTN is a bland design but at least was draped in excellent graphics and music. After seven bland Metroid clones (nine of counting the PS2 games which are basically top down flat bland versions of the same thing) it became a nightmare.

I only own 4 CIB, mint, NES games and they are CV1-3 and Metal Gear! I lucked out finding them at a local gaming store for well below ebay prices.

Those are the original print CV1/2 as well (black round Nintendo seal), likely a 3-screw CV1.

And you have the ‘win a trip’ edition of CV3 haha.

Ooo are these the good ones to have? I don’t have much knowledge in regards to NES/fami collecting but I do know you basically wrote the book on it, especially Konami!

Those are some crispy looking boxes. And Portrait of Ruin Is my second favorite of the metroidvania type games. It’s marked as the weakest of the three on the DS, but I felt it had a nice balance of being straight forward, with some exploration of a metroidvania game.

I assume it’s not a hang tab/5 screw? Therefore it’s likely the second edition of CV1, but from 1987.
Looks like a first run CV2. And I think a second run CV3.

Those copies of CV1 and 2 are my personal preference copies, hang tabs suck and the 5-screw CV1 has a misprint on the end of the label lol.

Something I highly recommend doing with CV3 is to take the fastest path to Sypha and stick to her. She all but breaks the game. Her spells are crazy strong and you can make most stages easier by ripping through them with Trevor then swapping to Sypha to take the boss out with the fire spell. She also makes Dracula all but trivial with the lighting ball.

Alucard, conversely, is the worst.

I’d say t play the Japanese version since it’s actually easier/more balanced, but you’re already doing that.

Easier, but nor more balanced IMO. Grant having throwing knives is a big one, but basically enemies get tougher as you go along in the NES game, like in almost every other NES game, whereas Akumajou Densetsu they’re harder at the start but stay the same level, so it has less of a normal curve.

The NES version also has quite a lot of graphical tweaks which improve the game in most cases, though the statue boobs have been censored.

If it wasn’t for the music I’d call the NES version the better game myself.

It’s more balanced in that enemy placement has taken into account the damage values associated with them. It’s one thing to put bats in a lot of different places where you may get hit, but it’s entirely another to make those same bats deal 4 bars of health instead of just 2. Enemies do a set amount of damage all the time, but in the US version the damage you take just increase until it hits 4 bars (for Trevor) for literally everything, which throws off the game’s balance.

I mean, it definitely makes it easier but it’s designed that way. I’m hoping maybe knowing this along with my other advice might help OP out with not giving up on the game.

I don’t blame you for dropping the games. I stuck with it as a kid and eventually beat it, but it drove me mad and was the first (and only?) time I threw a controller. At the time I kept trying to work out why there was so much platforming when the character moves so slowly, climbs stairs slowly and jumps low (and again, slow as heck). That was when it occurred to me that stiff/bad controls senselessly plagued and hampered the fun in a lot of NES games.

I own all three games (US CV1 cart, PAL CV2 CIB and JP CV3 cart). Oddly enough the only one I’ve actually beaten is CV2 (I got the worst ending lol). I don’t think it deserves the hate really, even though it definitely has more than a few issues. It’s still a great game imo.

I should really get to beating CV1 though. I’ve gotten pretty far into it but got stuck on one of the bosses, which as you say are the actual difficult parts of that game. Maybe I’ll give it a go tonight.

I played the Japanese version so if anything I’m giving up on the easier game lol.

I don’t think of it as “giving up” it’s more just that I’ve had my fill. I’m glad I got to experience the games but I just wasn’t having fun anymore. I have limited spare time and a backlog to last a life time so I really think it’s just more of a time management thing. When I was younger I would have plugged away at this for as long as it took but my few hours of gaming a week just don’t allow that, unless I’m having fun.

Its not that I don’t like difficult and/or unfair games it’s just that these ones didn’t click with me like megaman, ninja gaiden or contra have.

They are a bitch! I found the lead up to the bosses to be quite difficult too. Most games give you a means to refill your resources before a boss but not CV1. It punishes you into the ground on that final stretch before a boss.

Hehe yeah I distinctly remember the lead-up to the Frankenstein monster boss. Those damn dragons almost always took off some health hah. And then the boss itself is a pain in the ass because of the hunchback’s seemingly random pattern.

I still think the leadup to the Grim Reaper fight in CV1 is one of the hardest sections of the game/series. Axe Throwing Knights are okay, but the randomness of the Medusa Heads makes the corridor extremely tough to get through without taking damage, and I seem to recall that the Grim Reaper takes a quarter of your life bar with every hit (4 hit death even at full health)!

Have only beat CV1 once because of that insane section. Thankfully Dracula himself is much easier.

Castlevania 2 ment a lot to me at the time. I think it was a product of its time. Castlevania 1 was hard af when you were a kid. Not only did you have to contend with the time limits and limited lives. I am not even sure if continues were a thing on that game. It’s been a while. I can say that C2 was so cool at the time because it was so vastly different. It felt like this cool RPG and I really dug it. Zelda 2 was one of my favorite games by the time I got a hold of Castlevania 2 so I was really into it. Now that I think about it most sequels at the time, departed from the previous games. I think Mega Man 2 was the only game I can remember playing at the time that didn’t take a weird turn from part 1 to part 2.