Again within the early ’90s, Castlevania was largely recognized for being a console sequence, with three entries on the NES, three on the Sport Boy, and 4 whole throughout the 16-bit platforms (assuming, in fact, you think about the PC Engine to be a real 16-bit system). However early within the sequence’ life, Konami launched an arcade recreation, generally known as Haunted Citadel, which wasn’t a port of every other outing however moderately an unique title. It was a flop and didn’t see a lot distribution, being type of a “lost” Castlevania till the appearance of emulation within the late Nineties. However Konami has been eager to maintain it in circulation lately, together with it as each a part of the Arcade Classics Anniversary Assortment in 2019, and as a separate launch in a part of Hamster’s Arcade Archives sequence.
The story in a lot of the different Castlevania video games usually revolved round Simon Belmont (and buddies, if relevant) looking down and beating up Rely Dracula, as a result of it was the nice and correct factor for vampire killers to do. In Haunted Citadel, Simon will get a bit of additional motivation together with his spouse being kidnapped by the nefarious vampire actually seconds after strolling out of the marriage chapel. The goofy method wherein the traditional Wedding ceremony March track turns bitter because the clouds go ominous and Simon’s woman good friend is swiped away, leaving him inhis iwhite tuxedo trying mildly irritated, helps set the off-kilter tone of this extremely irritating entry.
The fundamentals of a Castlevania recreation are in place – you journey by means of six levels throughout the land, finally ending up in Dracula’s fort, whipping skeletons, zombies, bats, and different assorted creatures, most impressed by traditional Hollywood horror movies. However quite a lot of it simply feels fallacious. Take for instance, Simon’s design. As a muscular, leather-clad barbarian-type, he really seems to be fairly near how he’s offered on the duvet of the unique NES recreation (and the title display screen of this one), nevertheless it seems to be awfully unusual in comparison with any of his console counterparts, particularly his awkward strolling animation. Motion is gradual and attacking feels flimsy. This has rippling results by means of the remainder of the journey, significantly since Simon’s sprite is so massive, making it exceedingly tough to kill the tiny bat enemies that stay a continuing nuisance all through the entire recreation.
In contrast to a lot of the different Castlevania video games, there aren’t any candles to whip, so weapon upgrades, subweapons, and hearts are dropped by particular enemies. However most important weapon improve drops are unusual, and when you miss any of them, you’ll be caught with the default whip for fairly some time. Nonetheless, it isn’t like every of the weapons are significantly robust, as a result of most enemies take a number of hits to kill. Castlevania followers will in all probability be conversant in the leaping hunchback enemies, and so they make an look right here, however in addition they take at the very least two whacks to eliminate and it’s almost inconceivable to clear them out with out taking harm, particularly since they usually assault three at a time. You’ll discover your power draining very shortly in Haunted Citadel.
There’s type of a cheat round this; whilst you solely have a single life, you’ll be able to insert a number of credit to increase your life bar a number of instances, plus there are checkpoints partway by means of every stage for while you perish. The unique arcade recreation restricted the variety of instances you might proceed, although this model permits you to proceed as many instances as you need. You shouldn’t really feel dangerous for cheesing it, as a result of there aren’t any precise well being restoratives, and it’s actually the one possible solution to see this one by means of to the top.
Ex-Konami staffer Masaaki Kukino has revealed lately that the title was accomplished in simply six months and there wasn’t time to stability it correctly, and it reveals. Arcade video games are sometimes designed to suck in cash however Haunted Citadel is particularly egregious in the way in which it hurls hazard after hazard on the participant, giving them little or no probability to reply. Even when you memorise enemy and entice placement, the awkward controls usually conspire to kill you. Merely put, it isn’t a lot enjoyable on a pure gameplay degree.
And regardless of how frustratingly designed and poorly balanced it’s, Haunted Citadel is definitely price at the very least one playthrough for Castlevania followers. Visually, it’s inconsistent, as famous with the awkward Simon sprite and another strange-looking enemies, however the background design is usually nicely performed. It predates the entire 16-bit console entries, and has a really totally different feel and look. And among the degree designs are fairly cool, at the very least in idea.
The primary stage begins at nightfall and shortly transitions to nighttime. It begins to rain, as a wall involves life and flings itself at you brick by brick. Then a torch is knocked over and units the bottom ablaze, forcing you to leap over its flames, earlier than getting into a mausoleum and preventing towards Medusa. The second stage begins in a foggy forest earlier than strolling right down to a subterranean canal, the place the river water is offered with an odd color biking impact. After reaching the opposite aspect, you emerge to a mountainside below a blood purple sky. The subsequent stage, the everyday fort entrance hallway space, has a weird part the place you’re warped away to what seems to be Grecian ruins the place you combat off harpies, solely to be warped proper again after they’ve been killed.
These are the highlights of the sport, and the remainder of the levels are a bit of blander. Nevertheless it’s nonetheless cool to see because it has many traditional Castlevania tropes however earlier than they have been totally fashioned – in any case, that is technically the fourth launch within the sequence, printed in 1988 after the MSX2 recreation and the primary two NES video games. For instance, whereas the whip has been tied to the sequence’ id for a very long time, on this recreation, Simon can really wield a sword. It doesn’t perform any in a different way, nevertheless it certain is a novelty.
There are subweapons like firebombs and a boomerang that doesn’t really return while you throw it, but in addition a cross that fires out a sequence of extraordinarily highly effective beams. A few of the concepts that have been utilized in later Castlevania video games pop up right here – like a big rock monster, haunted eating tables, and a knight made out shattered stained glass window shards. The soundtrack, too, is implausible. It was composed by Kenichi Matsubara, who additionally labored on Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest and different traditional NES Konami video games, and even contains the sequence’ trademark “Bloody Tears” tune. The synth high quality is stellar for a late Eighties arcade recreation and almost each monitor is implausible, plus a few of them have popped up in later video games.
However what units this standalone Arcade Archives launch other than the Arcade Classics Anniversary Assortment? Effectively, not a lot. Each variations have been ported by Hamster, so the emulation is principally an identical. Each variations allow you to tweak the problem settings a bit, too. That launch contained the American and Japanese variations – the American model is considerably tougher, with enemies inflicting way more harm. The Arcade Archives launch contains these two in addition to the European model, which is nearly the identical because the Japanese model however with an English title display screen. The Arcade Archives model additionally has extra show modes, permitting you to customise the scanlines and such, and tweak issues like enabling or disabling continues.
There’s additionally the same old Hello Rating and Caravan modes present in different Arcade Archives releases, permitting you to publish your rating on-line. Because of these choices, it’s very barely higher than its Anniversary Assortment counterpart… however that model contains beforehand unseen supplemental paintings, plus seven entire different video games, making this one a far weaker worth total.