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Video Game / Haunted Castle

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Known as simply Akumajō Dracula (the same name as the original Famicom Disk System game) in Japan, Haunted Castle was the first arcade-only game in the Castlevania series. The protagonist, Simon, has to save his bride from the reawakened Dracula. It is an original adventure, but there are quite a few unusual features in this game that never got reused:

  • The subweapons are different.
  • The main weapons are different; you don't keep your whip but rather you upgrade through two other weapons in the course of the game.
  • Simon is actually out to save his wife and Damsel in Distress, Serena, in this game, whereas he's just saving the world in general in the other versions of this story.

There's been a recent trend toward reusing the mostly unique music from this game in other Castlevania games—"Don't Wait Until Night" was featured (in a remixed mash-up with "Heart of Fire") in Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow, "Underground Melody" also known as "Den of Worship" in Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow, and "Cross Your Heart" (also labeled as "Crucifix Held Close") in Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, and two of the boss themes appearing in Castlevania: The Adventure ReBirth. It was re-released in 2006 as part of the Oretachi Gēsen Zoku series for PlayStation 2, 2016 as part of the Arcade Archives series for PlayStation 4, and 2019 as part of Arcade Classics Anniversary Collection for Nintendo Switch, Steam, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.

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Haunted Castle provides examples of:

  • All There in the Manual: A 1989 text guide in the Konami Best Selection video series names Simon's lover "Serena" (as opposed to "Mina" from an earlier Japanese gamebook), and confirms that the player character is Simon (albeit not explicitly a Belmont, though the reused FDS/NES and MSX artwork gives no reason for the player to believe that he isn't one).
    • The 2019 Arcade Classics Anniversary Collection later confirmed in the in-game bonus book that the protagonist is indeed Simon Belmondo, a "descendant of the Belmont clan and heir to the Vampire Killer whip."
  • Alternate Continuity: Nothing in the game or directly related materials indicates this, but some published series timelines consider Haunted Castle to be a mere retelling of Simon's first encounter with Dracula (similar to the MSX, SNES and X68000 editions). The addition of Serena changes the plot enough that it is simply left out more often than not.
  • Bribing Your Way to Victory: You can add to your Life Meter by inserting additional credits, either at the start of the game or in mid-game. However, this can only be done up to three times, and you lose one continue (out of three) each time. This gives you more life to have before seeing the continue screen and having your score reset to 0 as a result, but a single Bottomless Pit is all it takes to lose all of the stored-up health.
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  • Cartoon Bomb: One of the subweapons.
  • Damsel in Distress: Simon's bride.
  • Difficulty by Region: There were three variants of the game's overseas release. Version M is the most difficult, where a single bone throw by the skeleton enemies in the first stage takes out half of the player's health gauge. Versions E and K, a later releases, fixed some of the cheapness from Version M, but is still considerably harder than the Japanese releases (Versions N and P).
  • Early Installment Weirdness: For starters, subweapons appear far less frequently than any of the games that came before or after. Also, the first one you find is a Bomb. It's functionally identical to the Holy Water but looks out of place in this series' setting.
  • Excuse Plot: Why the Damsel in Distress is there.
  • Fake Difficulty: Moreso than most Castlevania games of the time. Very few gamers have the skill or patience needed for this game.
  • Haunted Castle: Not the Trope Namer, but obviously an example of one. Though less of the ominous scary kind, and more of just a platformer filled with all manners of monsters.
  • Lohengrin and Mendelssohn: At the start of the game, Mendelssohn plays over Simon heading out with his newly-married wife — only to veer off key when Dracula flies in and whisks her away.
  • Long Song, Short Scene: The high score table BGM, which is unlikely to play completely. It was finally remixed and used prominently in the WiiWare game Castlevania The Adventure Rebirth.
  • Make My Monster Grow: Dracula's second form is to become so large that his head takes up a quarter of the screen. He doesn't even go One-Winged Angel while doing it.
  • Nintendo Hard: Oddly for both the Castlevania series and arcade games in general, this game has limited continues in the original release. And that's without talking about the difficult-to-dodge obstacles and the frequent rate of death—the game is near-impossible without cheats or extreme patience. The PS4 rerelease mitigates this by giving the player infinite continues.
  • Oddball in the Series: Hoo boy. It makes Castlevania II: Simon's Quest look perfectly normal:
    • This is the only non-pachislot Castlevania game made specifically for arcades besides the later Castlevania: The Arcade.
    • Instead of Holy Water, the Bomb is used in its place, with the same effect. There were plans to include Holy Water as a subweapon, but only the graphics remain in the rom.
    • The Pocket Watch costs only two hearts instead of the traditional five, making it less impractical to use.
    • The player gets only one life. On the plus side, the player can extend their only life by adding more credits, up to three times. However, each of those credits takes away one of your three continues, and if you fall into a pit with your quad-size lifebar, your game is done.
    • Moreover, this and Castlevania: Bloodlines are the only "classicvania" games to limit the number of continues allowed. At least Bloodlines has Password Saves.
    • Simon can wield a sword instead of a whip in this game, making it the only Castlevania game in which a Belmont has something other than a whip for their main weapon.
  • Save the Princess: Or in this case, save Simon's bride.
  • Shout-Out: The Stained Glass Warrior boss is probably taken from the film Young Sherlock Holmes, where a character saw a knight come to life from a stained glass after being drugged.
  • Visual Pun: The third stage's BGM is "Bloody Tears". In the middle of the stage is a portrait of a woman crying bloody tears.
  • When It Rains, It Pours: Halfway into Stage 1, it starts raining hard, cutting out the music.
  • Whip It Good: Subverted. Simon's third-tier primary weapon is a sword.

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