AKUMAJŌ DRACULA
( Castlevania )
Game Cover
Game Disk
悪魔城ドラキュラ
©Konami 1986
Release: 1986-09-26 (¥2980)
DiskCard KDS-AKM
Action/Platform game

American Version
country
Released in Japan (Cartridge) as
AKUMAJŌ DRACULA
( RV003 )

American Version
country
Released in America as
CASTLEVANIA
( NES-CV-USA )

European Version
country
Released in Europe as
CASTLEVANIA
( NEC-CV-XXX )

Akumajō Dracula is a side scrolling action game by Konami and the first opus from the critically acclaimed and celebrated video game saga known in the west as Castlevania. Every hundred years, a legend proclaims that Count Dracula and his minions will rise from the dead and will bring chaos and death to the land of Transylvania. And one hundred years ago, the prophecy fulfilled and Dracula was resurrected by his worshippers, but was stopped by the legendary vampire hunter Christopher Blemont. One hundred years has passed and Count Dracula returned to Transylvania once again. This time, Simon Belmont from the Belmont bloodline of vampire killers, takes up the challenge. Armed with his mythic and legendary whip, he begins his journey to the Prince of Darkness's castle. Dracula's lair is guarded by legions of demonic vampire bats, zombies, fish men, ravens, skeletons and other undead creatures. In addition to his trusty whip, Simon can pick up secondary weapons by breaking candles and other elements of the scenery (usually walls). These weapons range from the Stop watch (stops enemy's action), the Dagger (fast throwing weapon), the Axe (slow but powerful overhead attack weapon), the Cross, the Holy Water and so forth. The vampire killer can only carry one of these lethal weapons at the time and they all come in limited quantities - they can however be replenished by collecting little hearts scattered throughout the game. Other items are also available to help Simon in his quest, such as Crosses or Invisibility Potions, and two special items are particularly worth mentioning - the double and triple shots enable Simon to fire two or three special weapons at once! Each stage ends with an obligatory boss Simon must take down before advancing to the next level - they range from the mythological Medusa to Death himself who appears as a creepy Grim Reaper. Akumajō Dracula consists of six large areas and is single-player only.
Related
DraculaII-NoroiNoFuin(Fds) AkumajōDracula (Sfc) AkumajōDraculaX (Pce-SCDRom²) AkumajōDraculaXX (Sfc)
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Akumajō Dracula - MSX2 Although Akumajō Dracula for the Famicom Disk apparently hit the shelves first, a MSX-2 version was also released in Japan on October 1986 (picture on the right), and was also released in Europe under the name Vampire Killer. This MSX version is rather interesting - the graphics are a lot sharper than the Famicom version and both games share a lot in common. However, the game's structure is very different - for instance keys must be found to unlock doors and chests and shops are actually scattered throughout the game where the player can purchase weapons and items using hearts, the game's currency. Additionally, and unlike the Famicom version, secondary weapons come with unlimited ammo. Anyway, back to the Famicom version - it was released later in the US (1987) and Europe (1988) in cartridge format. The western versions are fairly close to the original Famicom Disk game and only a couple of items' names were edited - the Holy Water became a less controversial Fire Bomb and the Cross made out of stakes became a Boomerang. However, there is another major difference - the original Famicom Disk game had a save feature which gave players the ability to save their progress, and this option was entirely removed from the western version... This is, I think, fascinating - Akumajō Dracula is Akumajō Dracula - famicom cartridge version. notorious for its incredible difficulty level, but the original Famicom Disk, thanks to its save-feature, is a lot less frustrating to play overall. Why didn't Konami include a save features using a password system like Metroid? Especially for a game that was initially designed and ultimately tuned up with a save-feature in mind?... The game was also ported to several home systems of the time such as the Commodore 64 (1990), Amiga (1990) and PC (1990). Additionally, Konami re-released Akumajō Dracula in Japan for the Famicom on cartridge in 1993 (picture on the left) - this version is much harder to find than the original Famicom Disk game and a lot more expensive today. Interestingly this version also didn't have the save feature from the original Famicom Disk release, however Konami kindly included an additional 'easy mode' which greatly improves the game's playability in my opinion. Another version worth mentioning is VS.Castlevania, an arcade port for the Nintendo VS. System. Despite its name, the game is still single-player and is fairly identical to the Famicom version for one notable change - the difficulty level was dramatically increased and the game is incredibly challenging. Finally, Akumajō Dracula was also part of the Classic Nes Series for the Game Boy Advance released in 2004.

Teaser text from the American version:
Enter At Your Own Risk!
If you think it's scary on the outside, wait'll you see the basement. You're in for the longest night of your time. Ghosts, goblins, demons, wolves, bats - creatures lurking around every corner. As you descend deeper and deeper, they get thicker and thicker. Better stick close to the cavern floor - it's your only chance of finding a weapon or two. You're gonna need'em. Because when you finally meet the Count, you know he'll be going for the jugular. So keep your courage up and your stake sharp. And say your prayers.

Game Staff (Copied from the end credits) :

Produced by
KONAMI

Directed by
Trans Fishers

Screenplay by
Vram Stoker

Music by
James Banana

The Cast

Dracula
Christopher Bee

Death
Belo Lugosi

Frankenstein
Boris Karloffice

Mummy Man
Love Chaney Jr.

Medusa
Barber Sherry

Vampire Bat
Mix Schrecks

Hunch Back
Love Chaney

Fish Man
Green Stranger

Armor
Cafebar Read

Skeleton
Andre Moral

Zombie
Jone Candies

And the Hero
Simon Belmondo

Hairdow

You played the
greatest role
in this story

Thank You
For Playing

Akumajō Dracula I don't usually add a section about the game's credits, but Akumajō Dracula does need some explanation. All the staff's names are actual puns giving homage to classic horror stories and especially old horror movies. Anyone curious would have noticed that the title screen shows the edges of a film reel (picture on the right) which was a first homage to the game's roots and original inspirations. As mentionned, all the names in the credits are references to classic writers and directors, such as Terence Fisher (movie director of classics such as Dracula, Frankeinstein or The mummy), Bram Stoker (author of the original Dracula novel), James Bernard (music composer of the classic movie Dracula), and actors such as Christopher Lee (who played Count Dracula in Terence's Dracula in 1958) and Bela Lugosi (who played Count Dracula in the original Dracula movie in 1931). I leave to you to decipher the other names from the game's end credits!
If all the names from the credits are puns and pseudonyms, then who are the real people behind Akumajō Dracula? The game was apparently directed by Hitoshi Akamatsu (although it is hard to confirm) and the iconic music was written by Japanese video game music composers Kinuyo Yamashita (it was her first work at Konami and she also composed the soundtrack of other Famicom games such as Arumana no Kiseki, Majō Densetsu II Daimashikyō Galious and Moero Twinbee).


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Akumajō Dracula - Japanese Guide Book
Japanese guide book
Akumajō Dracula - Japanese Story Book
Japanese story book
Akumajō Dracula - Japanese Soundtrack
Japanese soundtrack


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Akumajō Dracula - manual Akumajō Dracula - Guide Book
Click on picture to enlarge

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The first thing that stroke me upon playing Akumajō Dracula for the Famicom Disk system was the music - right from the first minutes of play, the outstanding and familiar melody of the opening level sets the tone which tickles anyone with a nostalgic bone. After the pleasure comes the pain. Akumajō Dracula is a great example of tough 8-bit love - the stiff controls lead to countless cheap deaths and Simon's weak jump gets him to often miss platforms and fall into bottomless pits with distressing ease. Bosses are also of the worst kind and patience is a vital virtue in Simon's success. Graphics look overall aged and some of the levels are blocky and the color palette sorely lacks clarity in some occasions (although the contrast between sprites and background graphics is exquisite and really well thought out). But if you put Akumajō Dracula back in its original context, you get a true classic filled with the same spirit that was poured onto its numerous sequels. A piece of video game history that will bring genuine tears of nostalgic joy to the old school players among us, and tears of equally suffering pain to the others.




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