4 out of 5. The start of the Castlevania series still holds up today as a cerebral linear platformer. It's short, but its challenges will provide deep satisfaction.

How Metroidvania is it? Not a Metroidvania. It's a Classic-vania from before the Symphony of the Night team changed the direction of the series.
Primary Challenge: Melee Combat
Time to beat: ~3 hours
Review Info: This review is part of a broader review of the Castlevania Anniversary Collection on Steam. See the link at the beginning of the review for the main thread.

More Info

Developer: Konami
Publisher: Konami
Sub-genre: Linear Platformer Hybrid
Features: 2D Platformer, Melee Combat, Tricky Platforming, Level-Based
Difficulty: Brutal
Linearity/Openness: Level Based
Platforms: Windows, Steam, NES, Wii U, Switch, PS4, Xbox One
Release Date: 1986/09/26
Available Languages: English, Japanese

Store Links

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Buy Castlevania if you like…

  • Challenging Linear Platforming
  • Puzzle-like Enemy Placement
  • Excellent 8-bit Music
  • Short but Hard games
  • Classic Monsters

▼ Review continues below ▼

This Review was done as part of our review of the Castlevania Anniversary Collection.

The first Castlevania game stood tall with the giants of the era, being included with Mega Man and Mario on many lists of greats. Its offering was substantially different than its contemporaries though. Simon Belmont’s movements were slower, his whip attacks had startup lag, so gameplay had to be more deliberate overall. It created a more cerebral experience than the relatively frenetic platformer competitors of the time.

For the most part the gameplay that made it famous stands up to the test of time. Newer players might be frustrated by the committed jump arcs or locked movement on staircases – things that changed even in future Classic-vania entries. But if you take the time to get used to it there’s a good chance you’ll find the fulfilling experience that solidified this as a classic.

The first Castlevania is short and simple. It’d be understandable if someone prefers one of the later entries – particularly Castlevania III which is basically the same thing but with more content – but that kind of comparing really only matters when you can only choose one. Having it with the Castlevania Anniversary Collection let’s you enjoy it for what it is, or at least get a history lesson on the origins of the series.

4 out of 5

Final Score


Scoring system overview

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