Famicom World

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I find myself popping this one in for no reason when I get in one of those Castlevania moods. There's replay value.


Intro (Storyline) 4.0

The third entry to the Famicom Akumajou trilogy proves to be the best. Taking the gameplay of the original hit and adding to it, Akumajou Densetsu (Legend of Demon Castle) ends up being a true gem in the entire series. Akumajou Densetsu introduces new features that we see in later games, such as Dracula X for Super Famicom with multiple paths and the latest Game Boy Advance titles (Harmony of Dissonance and Aria of Sorrow) with more playable characters. Seeing as how Akumajou Dracula II got mixed reviews it was only natural for Konami to revamp the original and build upon it. Let's see how this masterpiece turned out, shall we...

The story is set 26 years after the events that would take place in Castlevania Legends for the Game Boy -- Simon isn't born yet. The new Belmont, Trevor, is called upon by the people of Warakiya to help destroy Dracula, even though the Belmonts were banished after the fight with Sonia, due to the fear of their powers. Not showing any hard feelings, Trevor heeds the call and enters Warakiya to begin his adventure to stop Dracula. Though unlike Simon (his great, great grandson I believe), Trevor is not starting at Castlevania and instead has to take care of Dracula's Army around Transylvania. Because of this, he will need help, which comes in the form of three people.

Grant DaNasty, a pirate whose family was killed by Dracula and who previously fought Dracula but was beaten and transformed into a monster, forced to guard the Clock Tower.

Sypha Belnades, a magician with great powers, became a vampire hunter after having a bad life and wishing to fight the forces of evil, but she was turned to stone by the Cyclopes.

Then, there is Alucard (also known as Kid Dracula), the son of Dracula. He was awakened by Dracula to help fight Trevor, but Alucard, seeing his father's evil ways. He is more or less half human himself and like his mother. He rebels against his father to stop him. Previously, Alucard helped Sonia Belmont (Trevor's mother) fight Dracula and afterwards, hid himself away from the world.

These three are willing to help Trevor, but only one of them can join him during the game. Which one does so is your choice. If you wish, Trevor may also go alone, but it'll be a long and hard battle. The storyline is the best story for a Castlevania game thus far. With more than just a Belmont this time and the choice of using characters other than someone with a whip, there's definitely room for tons of fun here.

Graphics 5.0

This is perhaps the category which immortalizes Akumajou Densetsu. The backgrounds are impressive and layout scenes of spookiness, and an anything-can-happen feel. The marsh is one stage that has this; you can go onto a cliff and see foggy mists and thunder and lightning... shit...there are places where I live that have identical scenery. That's how realistic-looking it appears!

One of the stages I enjoyed the most is the Clock Tower. The animation in the gears and the pendulums were wickedly crafted. The enemies are a tad bit better looking, but similar to the other two games. Trevor and the gang look great enough. Trevor, by the way, has a pixilated face like Simon has in the other two Akumajou games and just like the dudes from Gryzor have. In this game, however, things happen quicker and a lot more happens; blocks fall from ceilings, bridges break, and there is all sorts of background animation like the gears in the Clock Tower.

Now, people just discovering the Famicom must realize that Akumajou Densetsu actually has WAAAAAAYYY more advanced graphics and better animation than Castlevania III. You see, this version has a memory mapper by Konami called VRC6. Anyway, this game’s color was dramatically changed and made it look like a basic 16-bit title more than an 8-bit one!

The intro itself actually runs more smooth with the clouds moving across the screen instead of staying still, backgrounds more lively, enemies more vicious (flea-men/Igor’s looked like gremlins, for example). The font of the game is the font from the first game (not the gothic style from the US version). The religious material is left uncensored, and the statues aren’t covered up. The Famicom’s version of Castlevania III makes the NES version seem like a butchered 4Kids cartoon in comparison.

Audio 5.0

The music in Akumajou Densetsu is awesome. It sounds more gothic and freaky than ever, and is addictive -- a Famicom trademark, so it speak, if there ever was one. Listen to the opening music (which rules), and then the first stage's music (which is the best track in the game called, "Beginning"). Better yet, go to the main select screen and do the Sound Test trick (A, B and Start at the same time) to listen to any track your little heart desires. Trust me...after hearing some of the music this game has to offer, you're going to want to do just that. The music is one of the best parts of the game, in my opinion, and makes the game that much more fun to play, as if it could be any more fun than it already is.

By the way, the VRC6 mapper also improved the music and sound in this version as well. There’s digitized instrument samples…so it just sounds better! I swear there’s times it sounds like a Genesis game or even a Super Famicom game or whatever.

Gameplay 5.0

Akumajou Densetsu plays very similarly to Akumajou Dracula. It's a 2D side-scroller. Your main weapon is your upgradeable whip, which we all know is the almighty, legendary Vampire Killer. You can have any number of special weapons in your arsenal which use hearts you gain from enemies and candles.

The weapons which Trevor uses are: daggers, stop watch, holy water, axe, and boomerang. The other three players have their own unique array of weapons:

Grant DaNasty: can only use a dagger and axe.

Sypha Belnades: has her magic spells to use (a fireball, I think).

Alucard: can transform into a bat, using hearts per second.

Should I also mention that you can switch characters (after meeting them of course) by pressing Select. One extra that makes its debut in this Akumajou game is that at times you can change paths while playing. This game is actually non-linear, meaning that you can choose to go to another stage over another one -- thus, change meeting with characters and missing out on bosses, etc. The game begins slowly to allow you to get used to how it works, but it steadily becomes very difficult.

The Japanese version has other altered features: the damage structure is different in that the damage you take depends on the enemy that hits you (the U.S. version has the stage dictate the damage, i.e. two bars for the first two stages, three bars for the third and more, etc.).

Also: Grant always has a throwing dagger that he can use at any time, and the final battle with Dracula is easier because you start outside his chamber (instead of by those damn swinging pendulums). One more little detail is that when you shake hands with people, you shake with your right hand and hold Sypha’s hand, to kiss it.

Controls 3.0

Control in this game could have been better, but as you know from the last two Akumajou games, the classic control scheme you expect is not changed no matter how bad it is! One button is for jump, one button is for attacking, and holding Up and the attack button enables you to throw a special weapon. This is the nice part of the control. The downside is with controlling the special helpers, especially Alucard. It becomes extremely frustrating to control Alucard when he is a bat. You will also die a lot when trying to walk around upside down with Grant, because the control becomes a little slippery. For the most part, however, the control in this game is really solid.

Frustrations 3.0

The game begins easy but gets hard very quick, just after the first four stages or so. There's plenty of enemies who crowd the screen and then there's those cursed Medusa heads; there are always a couple of pits and Death, after being a pussy in Akumajou Dracula II, comes back stronger than ever. Not to mention that Dracula himself has three forms...if you ever even get to him. They throw everything at you in the last stage: crumbling platforms, dragon heads, medusa heads, in all combinations of the three.

Like I said earlier, starts pretty simple, but it gets insane towards the end. Some of the later bosses are just reprisals of earlier ones, which helps a bit. In addition, passwords help a lot. Yeah, the "HELP ME" code doesn’t work in this Famicom version, sadly. Now, put all that in mind and remember the fact that you can't jump or move very well. It's gonna be hard to dodge stuff, especially when you can't run that fast either!

Fun Factor 5.0

It doesn't really sound like there is a whole lot to do, but with three helpers, multiple paths, multiple endings, and plenty of challenge to boot, the rabid Castlevania fan will find plenty with which to be entertained. The challenge alone was enough to make me keep coming back for more. Then again, I was addicted to Akumajou Dracula challenging gameplay. So, it was only natural for me to enjoy this excellent addition to the Castlevania legacy. Even those who aren't true Castlevania fans will find something they love about this one. It just offers so much more over the previous two. Of course like the original, the difficulty for you gets easier over time and mastery of the game isn't very hard to accomplish. This makes the way for passive gameplay. I find myself popping this one in for no reason when I get in one of those Castlevania moods. There's replay value, even after you've already seen everything. Always keep this one handy if you've got it.

Overall 4.0

Overall, Akumajou Densetsu is not only the best Akumajou game, but easily one of the top ten Famicom games ever created. Non-linear gameplay, multiple characters, challenging play (even though a bit too challenging sometimes), multiple paths to take in the game, and four different endings -- have you play this game over and over again until you find and experience everything.

The minute you play this game, you won't mind playing it again and again to see all Konami put into it. It's not especially pricey on eBay, so any serious gamer should have this game in his or her collection and played on a Famicom. (If you had a converter, I doubt your NES could perfectly or accurately make use of the special mapper.) Akumajou Densetsu is a must have for sure. One play through and you'll see why.





Akumajou Densetsu 
Platform Famicom
ID RC845 
Developer Konami 
Publisher Konami 
Players 1 Player 
Genre Action 
Release Date 12/22/1989 
Retail Price  
Current Value  
Saving Option password 
NES NTSC Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse 
NES PAL Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse 

Disk-kun Ratings

Storyline [][][][] 4.0 / 5.0
Graphics [][][][][] 5.0 / 5.0
Audio [][][][][] 5.0 / 5.0
Gameplay [][][][][] 5.0 / 5.0
Controls [][][] 3.0 / 5.0
Frustrations [][][] 3.0 / 5.0
Fun Factor [][][][][] 5.0 / 5.0
Overall [][][][] 4.0 / 5.0


Title screen.
Title screen.

Meeting Sypha.
Meeting Sypha.


Gremlins (fleamen).
Gremlins (fleamen).