NOTE: When possible, the game's official manual or official documentation from the game maker's company or Nintendo is used — with spelling or terminology presented as is, despite some translation errors.
SPOILER ALERT: Some of the categories below may have a question mark to conceal important or secret revelations in the game. If you would like to see the unknown revealed, a rollover option or external link will be attached to the question mark.
James Banana is an alias
U.S. - 1987
Action, Horror, Platformer
Ratings/Suitable For Age Group?:
E for Everyone (Fantasy Violence)
(Scary imagery for younger audiences)
Yes. The arcade version is called: Vs. Castlevania.
Port To Other Game Systems:
(Nintendo 3DS) Virtual Console as a digital download from the Nintendo eShop and
included in the (Switch, PS4, XBox One, Steam) Castlevania Anniversary Collection.
Part of Franchise:
Original title (first) in The Castlevania series
Castlevania II: Simon's Quest (NES)
Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse (NES)
Numerous sequels and re-issues based off of this title
Included in NES Classic Edition (Direct Port of NES) and
on the Nintendo 3DS Virtual Console (as a download from Nintendo eShop).
Cartridge becoming harder to find and is going up in value (at least, in the St. Louis, MO metropolitan area).
Add'l Game System Peripheral Needed To Play?:
1 or 2 Player:
Number of Reserve Players:
Start with 3 Players
Yes. The Power Level Indicator.
Yes, but will begin at start of Level.
2D and Horizontal/Vertical (Retraceable/Freedom to Backtrack within a Stage [until the previous shut door, which marks the Stage's beginning])
Number of Levels
6 Levels, broken up into 18 Stages (3 Stages per Level)
Begin at start of a Stage
Upon death of Simon, play stops and resumes from beginning of current Stage.
Yes. It is shown at the start of a Level.
No, but after completion of game, a faster and harder version of game starts up after Ending Credits.
Magic Whip (default)
Money Bags (currency for points)
Treasure Chest (bonus points)
Crown (bonus points)
Moai (bonus points)
Small Heart (worth 1 - allows Simon to use Weapons)
Large Heart (worth 5 - allows Simon to use Weapons)
Morning Star (powers up Magic Whip up to 2 times)
Cross (mass destruction)
Invisibility Potion (allows Simon to pass through enemies for a few seconds)
Double Shot (allows Simon to be able to use 2 shots of a special weapon at the same time)
Triple Shot (allows Simon to be able to use 3 shots of a special weapon at the same time)
Pork Chop (restores 6 cells/bars to your life meter)
The Count! aka Dracula
Person/Place Being Saved
"To destroy forever the Curse of the Evil Count." (according to the manual)
Additional Secret Codes
Trivia/Little Known Facts
In the actual manual to Castlevania, the names Dracula and Simon Belmont are never used. Dracula is referred to as The Count! However, in the ending of the game, Dracula is named in the credits, while Simon is referred to as Simon Belmondo.
Speaking of the credits... Castlevania is remembered for its ending that plays like the rolling credits from a movie. It's no secret that the game was heavily-influenced by "monster movies" from an earlier era. Many of the game's bosses come directly from so many of those titles.
These creatures from Universal Studios and Hammer Films are immortalized, but Konami doesn't forget about the actors and actresses (as well as, at least, one unusual person not known for acting... possibly) that portrayed the fond roles. Konami pays a fine homage while playfully changing parts of their names.
More about the movie monsters that Castlevania chose to feature... there were some famous snubs. Probably the most glaring absences include: the Wolfman, the Creature from the Black Lagoon (although, the very similar-looking Fish Men appear as lesser enemies), the Bride of Frankenstein and the Invisible Man (an Invisibility Potion lets Simon disappear for a few moments... perhaps this is a nod to him).
On a side note, Nintendo, which was well-known for its watchdog tactics of censoring material to keep things family-friendly and non-offensive, had a lot of decisions to make with Konami and Castlevania. Religious imagery was, typically, targeted vigorously; however, the dilemma of a game steeped in Christianity made it near-impossible to enforce all questionable references.
As a result, a mixed bag of inconsistency happened.
Most of Van Helsing's church-based weaponry was kept out of Belmont's reach, or was simply renamed: a cross-like projectile became known as a Boomerang (not the "V"-shaped ones that many of us are familiar with) and a vial of blue-colored liquid that may or may not have been holy water became a more generic Fire Bomb.
However, the evil-destroying rosary, known as a Cross; actual crosses appearing on coffins in Level 5 (more specifically, Stage 14) and even on the Count's, and the appearance of the Grim Reaper may have all, inexplicably, escaped the censors... or perhaps a blind eye was turned for these instances.
Also, note the changed title from the Japanese translation meaning "Demon Castle Dracula" to a more neutral name: Castlevania.
Although the idea of a cross being on Dracula's coffin lid goes against most conventions in vampire folklore, there it is. (Circled in bright green)
Notice the inclusion of three crosses prominently-placed on the coffins on Level 14 of Stage 5. (One is circled in bright green.)
The Grim Reaper or Death is a major character that was allowed to remain.
Which cross is which? The actual rosary Cross and the cross-shaped Boomerang are potent weapons against evil.
The box art for Castlevania is modeled after Frank Frazetta's The Norseman (1972). Frank Frazetta was an American artist who excelled in the fantasy, science fiction and comic book genres. His influential pieces ranged from book covers and movie posters for the Conan series to the John Carter and Tarzan series. See the comparisons below (↓):
Simon Belmont was a member of the cast of a Saturday morning cartoon that featured Nintendo video games. The show, called Captain N: The Game Master, aired between 1989 and 1991. Simon Belmont was satirized as little more than a vain caricature.
Castlevania's Simon Belmont represented, err... misrepresented on Captain N: The Game Master.
Some early Konami games (like Gradius) contained the famous Easter Island Moai statues. These Moai statues were sort of like an unofficial symbol of Konami, not unlike the Yashichi symbol found in early Capcom titles. Hidden Moai statues can be found in Castlevania upon the second replay of the game.
Castlevania is well-known for its soundtrack, and although its composer(s) was/were hidden and concealed under the pseudonym, James Banana, his/her/their music has lived on through various sequels of the series. Level 1's theme, titled "Vampire Killer," has been featured in whole or in part in Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse, Super Castlevania IV, Castlevania: Dracula X and many others. The song has even been featured in other Konami games.
"Vampire Killer" ↓
On November 15, 2019 — some thirty plus years later(!) — Simon Belmont was commemorated by Nintendo. The Castlevania hero was molded into his very own amiibo figure. Simon is compatible with a number of titles on Nintendo's roster of Switch and 3DS games, and can be played directly in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.