|Action, Adventure, Platform|
|North American Release Date(s)|
December 31, 1998
|Japanese Release Date(s)|
March 11, 1999
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Castlevania is an action-adventure video game developed by Konami's Kobe branch for the Nintendo 64 video game console. It was released on a 64-megabit cartridge in North America on January 26, 1999, in Japan on March 11, 1999, and in Europe on May 14, 1999. It is commonly dubbed "Castlevania 64" since it shares the same title with the original Castlevania video game.
Castlevania is the first 3D game in the Castlevania series. The player selects one of the games protagonists to control: Carrie Fernandez, a young orphan gifted with magic powers, or Reinhardt Schneider, the whip-wielding heir to the Belmont clan (the series' trademark protagonists). Carrie and Reinhardt set out on a quest to stop Count Dracula's impending return to power after a century of dormancy. The characters travel to and explore Dracula's grand estate in their mission to defeat the count and his hoard of undead minions.
Plot[edit | edit source]
Dracula reawakens in 1852, after a century of enforced slumber, as a result of humankind's descent into vice and wickedness. Two young heroes sense his return: Carrie Fernandez, a girl gifted with magic powers, and Reinhardt Schneider, heir to the ancient Belmont clan of vampire hunters. The two set out to storm the Count's castle in the Transylvanian province of Wallachia and vanquish him.
As they penetrate the castle walls, an aristocratic vampire appears to warn Carrie and Reinhardt that "all who oppose the Dark Lord will die." The two then come upon a decrepit villa, where they meet the elderly vampire hunter Charles Vincent, beautiful yet unwilling vampire Rosa, demonic salesman Renon, and young boy Malus. Beneath the estate's maze garden lies a subterranean path to the castle's center, where Dracula's servants (Actrise and Death) attempt to waylay the heroes by pitting them in battle against their loved ones (the Fernandez warrior and Rosa).
Carrie kills her vampirized kin while Reinhardt beats Rosa in combat. The heroes then climb several of the castle's towers before confronting Actrise and Death atop the Room of Clocks. With their defeat, the heroes climb the Clock Tower to the Castle Keep.
Endings[edit | edit source]
If the hero took sixteen or more "in game" days to reach the second chamber on the stairs to the Castle Keep, Vincent will have arrived before them, been defeated by the aristocratic vampire assumed to be Dracula (in reality Gilles de Rais), and turned into a vampire (thus triggering the bad, non-canon ending). The hero will then have to battle Vincent. Without Vincent's intercession, the hero will not discover that Malus was indeed Dracula reincarnate - not simply possessed by him - and receive one of the non-canon endings in which the hero rescues the boy. In Reinhart's ending he and Malus ride of into the sunset. In Carrie's ending, while the two are brought back to the village on a horse-drawn carriage, Malus tricks Carrie into a binding contract to marry him when they grow up.
If the player took fifteen or fewer days to reach the second chamber on the stairs to the Castle Keep, they will arrive before Charles Vincent (thus triggering the good, canon ending). After fighting de Rais disguised as Dracula, they will encounter Malus - who transforms into an adult - and defeat him atop the Clock Tower. After his defeat, Malus will regain the form of a child. Attempting to dupe the hero, he will pretend to have no recollection of the battle, but Vincent will arrive and douse the boy with holy water. Vincent explains that Malus was not possessed, but was in fact Dracula reincarnate. Malus then transports the hero to an alternate realm to battle his true form, a centipedal dragon named Drago. After Dracula's defeat the player will receive one of the canon endings: In Carrie's ending she places a nosegay upon her stepmother's grave. In Reinhardt's ending Rosa, who sacrificed herself for him atop the Room of Clocks, is revived and her humanity restored.
Position in chronology[edit | edit source]
Castlevania was present within the series' chronology from its original release in 1999 until 2002, when a timeline published on the official Japanese Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance website omitted it - as well as several other Castlevania games - from the series' continuity. In 2006, series producer Koji Igarashi stated that "These games were taken out of the timeline [...] not because I didn't work on them, but because they were considered by their directors to be side projects in the series". Since the 2002 removal, the events of Castlevania have occupied an ambiguous place in timelines published by Konami of Japan, Konami of America, and various gaming publications. The most recent English language timeline, distributed with preordered versions of Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin in North America by Konami of America, includes the 1999 Castlevania but does not describe the game's plot. Some of the events and characters from the prequel/remix Castlevania: Legacy of Darkness which contain a version of Castlevania 64 are referenced in Castlevania Judgment, in the form of the man-wolf Cornell. According to IGA characters from different eras of Castlevania's timeline were brought together by magic to save the timeline from being destroyed. Judgment was first intended to be a non-canon entry to the series, but IGA went out of his way to explain how it fits into the timeline with the final release by adding time travel into the plot.
Development[edit | edit source]
While in development at Konami Computer Entertainment Kobe (KCEK), Castlevania was originally known as Dracula 3D early in development. United States news media referred to the game by this title as well as Dracula 64. When the English name was revealed to be simply Castlevania, fans and media alike nicknamed it Castlevania 64 to differentiate it from previous games bearing the same title.
In September 1997, the game was approximately 10% finished and was 20% complete in February 1998. In October 1998 the game was featured at the Tokyo Game Show; several levels were playable and the game was a hit with the crowd. Later that month, it was revealed that KCEK decided to drop two of the planned four characters from the game "in favor of focusing the programming team's development efforts and moving completion of the game forward." In January 1999 a Japanese release date was set for March 4, 1999 and Castlevania won the "Game of the Month" award at IGN.com. On the 18th, it was announced that the U.S. release date for the game would be January 26, 1999. On that date, the game shipped as planned and was available the day after at a MSRP of $49.95. The character artwork was designed by Yasuomi Umetsu. The Villa's exterior is based on one of the façades of the French château d'Azay-le-Rideau. Dracula's castle was based on Mont Saint-Michel.
Several elements of the game were designed to allude to past Castlevania titles: Carrie's alternate costume is an homage to Maria Renard's dress in Devil's Castle Dracula X Rondo of Blood, Reinhardt's alternate costume is an homage to Simon Belmont's outfit in the first Castlevania, and the Behemoth boss in the Castle Center can be crippled, a reference to the crawling Behemoth first featured in Rondo of Blood.
Critical reception[edit | edit source]
|Metacritic||78 out of 100|
|GameSpot||8.2 out of 10|
|IGN||8.2 out of 10|
Castlevania received generally positive reviews. It has an average of 78 out of 100 on Metacritic.
At the release, most critics considered the game to be a good transition to the series, despite lots of gameplay changes. GameSpot praised the graphics, audio and gameplay, saying "The developers have done a fantastic job of capturing the atmosphere and spirit of the series, while providing a well-balanced, challenging gameplay experience that's filled with pretty visuals, awesome (though limited) music, plenty of secrets, and some incredible bosses (just wait until you see Death... whew!).", while IGN highlighted the sound better than the graphics, saying "Outstanding sound effects with lots of bass. Good music, even if it's a bit simple at times." and Game Pro said "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."
The camera and the controls however were very criticized. Game Revolution said that the camera almost ruined the game, saying "(..)the camera is barely tolerable. Acting like a 7 year-old on Pixie Stix, the camera will occasionally just go nuts, running around the character. Getting a good view of the action is almost impossible, so players find themselves just making due with a bad camera angle. This, of course, often leads to death." and "(...)the control itself is a little frisky(...)Most of the control problems are found in the speed of the character. Moving close to an edge in order to jump to a lower platform is tedious - you end up mastering the lemming dive before you are able to do it with some degree of success." about the controls. IGN stated "Control feels too float at first and the camera can be painful."
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