Castlevania

Regardless of how you feel about the controls, you'll still love the game's rich story line and bewitching gameplay. Castlevania provides a hot time in the N64's dead town tonight!

Look who�s popping up on the retro hit parade for the Nintendo 64! After seeing what The Legend of Zelda has done to shore up Nintendo�s game library, Castlevania, another blast from the past, is making the jump from 16-bit to 64-bit. But is it a smooth jump?

Belmont�s Stakes
In a gorgeous rendition of the old Castlevania tale, you choose to play as either Reinhardt or Carrie, vampire hunters who want to do a little exploring--and a little heart-staking. Reinhardt carries a whip (and a vestigial sword that�s pretty useless) to snap apart enemies and to break open pots, coffins, and other obstacles. The lovely Carrie takes a more feminine approach, doling out death with fireballs and a pair of handheld rings that are just as useless as Reinhardt�s sword (unless you�re close to an object that can be felled only with pin-point accuracy).

Sight of the Living Dead
Castlevania�s scenery is like a travelogue of the undead. Graveyards, dilapidated castles, and haunted rose gardens are among the game�s environments--all perfectly created to heighten the game�s sense of tension. To further the mood, Castlevania is heavily populated with enemies like skeletons, werewolves, two-headed dogs, vampires, and more. To aid you in your ghoulish crusade, a number of helpful items from past Castlevania games are littered throughout, like crosses, axes, and Holy Water vials.

And you�ll need all the help you can get. Castlevania is an extremely challenging adventure that gets progressively harder. Factoring in all the difficult falls, leaps of faith, and power-draining mini-bosses, Castlevania is probably one of the toughest thumb-busters available for the N64--the gameplay is demanding even when set on Easy.

All You Need Is Blood
Graphically, Castlevania is a two-edged sword. On the one hand, it throws out some stunningly huge bosses and some excellently designed undead characters. On the other hand, the exterior environments around the castle are shrouded in a mood-inducing fog--whether it�s daytime or nighttime--that quickly becomes an eyesore.

The sounds play a minimal part in Castlevania. Most of the time, the stages are sonically bereft, but you will get a crescendo of music when battling bosses or when a new gameplay element appears. Fortunately, the lack of music doesn�t hurt the game--after you hear a wolf howl, you�ll realize sound effects are quite enough.

Castlevania�s control set is so basic, a werewolf cub could handle it: You use one button to whip your enemies, one button to alternate between weapons, one button to jump, and one button to change your camera angle. However, Castlevania could�ve used a few maps for its bigger levels, and its targeting system should�ve been more finely tuned like The Legend of Zelda�s.

No Hassle Castle
Is Castlevania fun? It depends on what kind of game you�re looking for and how much energy you want to spend playing it. Fans of the old Castlevania will marvel at this version�s familiar sites and environments and will appreciate the dedicated tack of the gameplay. Novices will be chilled to the bone at the thought of replaying a huge level after an untimely fall (fortunately, there are numerous save points). Castlevania�s a 3D platform spectacle that definitely warrants a good look from N64 owners everywhere--you won�t find better hauntings than this one.