Castlevania (known in Japan as Devil's Castle Dracula) is a 2D action horror platformer developed and published by Konami for the Nintendo Entertainment System on September 26, 1986 in Japan and May 1, 1987 in North America.
Originally released for the Famicom Disk System in Japan a year earlier, Castlevania is the first installment of the long-standing Castlevania franchise (it is often incorrectly assumed that the MSX2 version, named Vampire Killer, is the first due to it being the first Castlevania game released outside of Japan).
The player takes control of heroic vampire hunter Simon Belmont, heir to the mighty Vampire Killer whip, who must travel through a dark, unholy castle in the year 1691 to search and destroy the evil Count Dracula. The story of the Belmont clan, the Vampire Killer whip, and the countless resurrections of Dracula had grown with subsequent additions to the franchise.
Simon's primary weapon is his Vampire Killer whip, which starts as a short-ranged leather whip but extends to a morning star ball-and-chain by collecting two power-ups. Simon can only crack the whip straight ahead of him.
By collecting hearts in single and quintuple increments, Simon can use one of five subweapons that he can find from candles or enemy drops. The Dagger is extremely weak, slow, and is more of a hindrance than a help. The Axe is thrown in an upward arc, useful for taking out enemies hiding or flying above you. The Holy Water is a short-range "firebomb" that can stop enemies in their tracks while doing constant damage. The Cross is a boomerang that covers the entire distance of the screen when thrown. Lastly, the Stopwatch stops all regular enemies in their tracks at a cost of five hearts. All the weapons but the Stopwatch can also be upgraded to a double and triple shot, allowing multiple uses of the weapon at the same time. This initial incarnation of Simon also set the standard for unagile Castlevania protagonists. He moves at a single slow-but-steady pace, cannot change direction mid-air after a jump, and suddenly wears cement blocks on his feet while on stairs. There is a slight delay during jumps between the button press and the on-screen action. The delay forces the player to be very deliberate while jumping, because it requires a particular timing. This sort of movement changed in Super Castlevania IV, where you could alter the direction of your jump to the left or right while in the air. You'll never be lacking for something to whip, as enemies will continually respawn as long as the you stay on the same screen.
Ports, Re-Releases, and Recreations
The original NES Castlevania had many ports and re-releases to various computer systems, game consoles, mobile devices, and arcade hardware. Shortly after the NES release, the game was adapted for use in Nintendo's PlayChoice-10 and Vs. arcade systems, with the latter including multiplayer (where players alternate after each life). The NES release was also ported to the Game Boy Advance by Nintendo on October 25, 2004 as part of the Classic NES Series, released on the PC in November 15, 2002 as a compilation of NES Castlevania and Contra games (dubbed Konami Collector's Series: Castlevania & Contra ), and released on the Wii as a downloadable Wii Virtual Console title on April 30, 2007 for 500 Wii Points ($5).
In the early 1990s, Castlevania was ported to the PC, the Commodore 64 (both by Unlimited Software) and the Commodore Amiga (by Novotrade). In February 5, 1993, the NES version was released in Japan (prior to that, it had only been released on the FDS), sacrificing the saving and name registration for a new "Easy" mode, which gives Simon more time, damage protection, lives, and knockback protection from being damaged. The game was ported to mobile phones three times, each with improved graphics (one in 2002, one in 2004, and one in 2005).
Castlevania, along with having many ports and re-releases, has also had many recreations spanning a variety of game consoles. While they share the same story (as well as some content), they are considered completely different games due to their inclusion of a variety of new gameplay elements and content.