(Konami, January 1999)

Here is the first ever CastleVania game done in the dreaded 3D. Now I know some people that liked it and thought it was one of the best action games for the N64 while I know others that totally hated and wanted to burn the cartridges and go over to Japan to kick the Konami developers right in the nuts. OK, the game is a huge departure in the long running series but the game is still loaded with lots of monsters to kill and puzzles to solve if you want to slay the evil Count Dracula. If you're a true hardcore fan of the horror series than you don't want to miss this game.

After another 100 years of enforced sleep, the undead Lord of Darkness: Dracula is ready to raise again in the middle of the 19th century and only two warriors dare enter the house of horrors to try and stop him. In both missions you have to travel across ten different levels (levels 4, 6, and 7 differ between the characters) in either the day or the night. Here are the two vampire killers:

Reinhardt Schneider is a lone descendant of the Belmont family and has been training for this day when he learned of his doomed bloodline. Although he is trained to be an Vampire Killer, Reinhardt is bound by faith and he cannot let one women kill herself during the game, even though she's a vampire. He uses the traditional whip weapon to hit enemies from a distance (the whip can also be powered up) plus you can even use a small sword for close range attacks.

Carrie Fernandez is a young spell caster and is actually easier to master so she's better for beginners. Her mother was killed by an angry mob who thought she was a witch, now she enters CastleVania to prove her magical power isn't evil. Carrie will encounter a powerful witch named Actrisce during the game who will try to get Carrie to serve under Count Dracula but will she listen to her? The cool thing about Carrie is she uses fireball attacks than can even be charged up by holding down the button for a stronger burst (you can also power up your shots too). Her short range of attack is her hand rings but they are not very powerful though so it's a trade off.

The graphics are really sharp looking especially in the empty Mansion (level 3) and in Castle Keep (level 5) plus the bosses are not huge but they animate great too like the freaky giant minotaur in a empty coliseum that returns to life to try to kill you. Sadly, the first level looks the worse in the game because of the trick use of fog or darkness and it may turn people away from the game too early.

The music was also a mixed bag because in the first level there is no background music at all and in some of the other levels the music is fairly low key. However, the opening intro was simply awesome because it features the castle of Dracula in 3D with lightning in the background and eerie moody music. Then you'll see a young boy playing an violin and it sounds incredible. The sound effects were well done with all the trademark monsters sounding like they should (like the howling of werewolfs).

The game's camera has three different setting here; Normal, Action, and Battle. It's up to you to set it to the right setting during game play but sometimes the camera will be on a fixed angel so there can be little you can do. Jumping is definitely the most challenging part of CastleVania so learning the camera and the controls is very important. Yeah, the controls are a little confusing at first but after a few plays you'll get use to all the buttons and what they do and the different options here help.

There are some people who will compare CastleVania 64 to the acclaimed CastleVania Symphony of the Night for the Sony Playstation but both games are so great in their own way that there shouldn't so much complaining about the fact that CastleVania 64 is in 3D instead of 2D. Despite the somewhat boring first level, the game easily becomes more in depth level by level, plus there are two characters to choose from and each adventure is differs with two endings for each too. After I finished the Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, CastleVania was the next great game I played. I personally think this game was way better than other horror games like Resident Evil in my opinion because of the better control and storyline too (well, at least there is none of that lame voice acting). CastleVania is a very deep action game and a great choice for adventure seekers who have an N64.

*Gamepak needed to save
CastleVania overall rating: 84/100

For 1 player only
Rated (T) for Teen
graphics: 8/10
sound: 8/10
gameplay: 7/10

(Ryan Genno) 2007