Castlevania (known in Japan as "Devil's Castle Dracula") is a 2D horror-themed action-platformer developed and published by Konami for the Nintendo Entertainment System on May 1, 1987. Originally released for the Famicom Disk System in Japan on September 26, 1986, Castlevania is the first installment of the long-running Castlevania franchise. The player takes control of heroic vampire hunter Simon Belmont, heir to the mighty Vampire Killer whip, who must battle through a decrepit and unholy castle in the year 1691 to destroy the evil Count Dracula. The story of the Belmont clan, the Vampire Killer whip, and Dracula's countless resurrections have grown with subsequent installments to the Castlevania franchise.
It is often incorrectly assumed that the MSX2 version of this game, known as Vampire Killer, is the series' first entry; this is because Vampire Killer was the first Castlevania game to be released outside of Japan.
Simon's primary weapon is the Vampire Killer, which starts as a short-range leather whip. It can be upgraded to a flail-style chain whip with increased damage by collecting a whip power-up. The chain whip can be further upgraded by collecting a second power-up to extend its range. Simon can only crack his whip straight ahead to attack enemies with it; however, he can whip while jumping to strike at mid-air targets.
By collecting Hearts, Simon can use one of five sub-weapons that can be found by whipping candles or as item drops from defeated enemies. 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 Simon. 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 a standard of stiff movement for Castlevania protagonists. Simon moves at a fixed pace and cannot change his direction in mid-air after a jump. His slow speed is further reduced while climbing stairs, which can leave Simon extremely vulnerable to projectiles or fast-moving enemies. There is a slight delay during jumps between the button press and the corresponding on-screen action; this delay forces the player to be very deliberate while jumping because it requires a particular timing. The restrictive nature of Simon's jump was changed in the Super Castlevania IV remake, allowing players to alter Simon's direction while in mid-air.
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.