Review- The Japanese company Hamster released the first and only home port of Konami’s arcade coin-op Haunted Castle in a commemorative PS2 edition which includes a cool vinyl soundtrack CD of the game, a promotional DVD, a guide-book and a game card.
All the goodies probably sound awesome but the sad truth is that aside from the soundtrack, the rest of the goodies are cheaply done. The only real plus of this edition is the game itself which was never released on any home console, and the great vinyl soundtrack CD which looks great and features one of the better and most underrated Castlevania soundtracks ever.
The color guide book is thin and has no artwork, while the DVD includes a bunch of unexciting TV commercials, some really sad video effects created to play along with a couple of themes from the game and a half-assed video-walkthrough which only covers the first 4 levels of the game. The Castlevania game card is decent, but it just features the artwork of the NES cover which has been seen and printed one million times before (and after).
About the game itself, it’s a straight action platformer in the same vein of Akumajou Dracula for Sharp X68000. In other words, this game has the typical flavor of early Castlevania days which are now sadly long lost but never forgotten!
Haunted Castle is a competent entry in the series and one you should play if you never had a chance before to experience it because it can still provide some genuine fun as well as moments of challenge and frustration.
The graphics include big sprites although they lack a bit of frames of animations (and I can confirm the original arcade game also had this limitation) while backgrounds look nice except for some graphical effects like the infamous mist in level 2 which has zero transparencies and will most likely remind you of the glorious Mega Drive days.
As already mentioned, the music is particularly inspired and greatly enhances the experience while gameplay is simple, straightforward and probably slightly slow compared to the newer games in the series (forget about dashing, flying, controlling the direction of your whip etc) as this is Castlevania: Back to Basics.
Bottom line:In the end, If you are a true Castlevania fan, Hamster gave you the opportunity to play one of the long lost Dracula/ Castlevania games without having to hunt forever the ultra rare arcade PCB. My only regret is that the packaging could have been much better. 7/10