Castlevania (NES) Walkthrough

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Castlevania (NES) Walkthrough

~by tankMage (January 2020)

Introduction 

Castlevania is a difficult game and writing this Guide turned out to be quite a challenge. It’s also a very good game that’s worth playing if you have the skill and patience. This walkthrough was written to be brief, while still providing tips and strategies for each stage. However, my primary focus was on the boss fights, which become significantly more challenging towards the end of the game. While these strategies helped me win, it’s ultimately your skill and dedication that will get you through this game, so keep at it when things get tough, because you’ll eventually pull through.

Contents 

I. The Basics

a. Controls 

b. Game Rules

c. Sub-Weapons

d. Items

II. Tips

a. Get Used to Timing Whip Attacks

b. Look Before You Leap 

d. Ignore the Timer

e. Farming Extra Lives

III. Walkthrough

a. Stage 1

b. Stage 2

c. Stage 3

d. Boss: Giant Bat

e. Stage 4

f. Stage 5

g. Stage 6

h. Boss: Medusa

i. Stage 7

j. Stage 8

k. Stage 9

l. Boss: The Mummies

m. Stage 10

n. Stage 11

o. Stage 12

p. Boss: Frankenstein’s Monster and Igor

q. Stage 13

r. Stage 14

s. Stage 15

t. Boss: Death 

u. Stage 16

v. Stage 17

w. Stage 18 

x. Boss: Dracula

y. Boss: Demon Form Dracula

z. Hard Mode

I. The Basics

a. Controls 

Castlevania controls like just about any other NES side scrolling platformer, but there are a few exceptions and basic mechanics like jumping need some explanation.

Walking: Use the directional buttons to move left or right, like in just about any other game. It’s worth noting that Simon walks relatively slowly and you will have to take this into account when dealing with enemies as well as obstacles.

Jumping: Press the A Button to jump up in a straight line. To jump to the left or right, press the corresponding button on the D-Pad in the desired direction while hitting A. Remember, Simon cannot alter his trajectory in mid-air. Consequently, it’s important to gauge the distance you have to jump carefully and make sure the way is clear.

Climbing Steps: Press Up or Down while standing in front of a staircase to use it. You cannot jump off of steps, which means you will either have to change your positioning on the steps to avoid incoming threats or use a weapon to destroy them before Simon gets hit. 

Attacking with the Whip: Hit B to swing the Whip. It takes Simon a moment to crack the Whip, so try to attack preemptively. Fortunately, this weapon has long reach, which makes up for its slow attack speed.

Using Sub-Weapons: Sub-Weapons are special weapons that consume hearts when used. Press Up on the D-Pad and the B Button simultaneously to activate a Sub-Weapon.

b. Game Rules

Lives and Continues: Simon starts with three lives and can gain more by racking up points. Losing all of his health, falling into pits, allowing the timer to run out, or touching spike traps will kill Simon. After dying, the player will restart at a checkpoint, which is usually the start of the stage. If the player loses all of his lives, he will be taken to the game over screen and given the option of continuing. Choosing to continue you will start you off at the beginning of the stage you died on with a score of zero and three lives.

Health: Simon’s life meter is located at the top of the screen. Touching enemies or their projectiles will damage Simon, causing him to lose life bars. Some enemies and attacks inflict more damage than others. Collecting Orbs from defeated bosses or Meat will restore Simon’s health, refilling his life meter. Simon will lose a life if his health reaches zero.

The Timer: A timer that slowly counts down from a predetermined number for each stage. Simon will die if the timer reaches zero.

Score: The player will be awarded points for defeating enemies and collecting items. Accruing a certain amount of points will grant the player an extra life.

c. Sub-Weapons

Press Up and B to use a Sub-Weapon if you have acquired one. All Sub-Weapons consume Hearts and you will not be able to use them if you do not have enough Hearts. Remember: You cannot use a Sub-Weapon a second time until the first use has expired. For example, only one Dagger can be on the screen at a time and Simon will not be able to throw a second one until it connects with an enemy or passes off of the screen. However, Double and Triple Fire powerups will allow you to have two and three active Sub-Weapons respectively.

Dagger: Flies in a straight line when thrown, good for taking out distant enemies.

Axe: This weapon is thrown in an upwards arc and falls back down. Fairly powerful and good for hitting monsters above Simon.

Holy Water: Simon throws Holy Water on the ground, breaking the bottle and creating a flame, highly effective against ground based foes. Originally called the Fire Bomb in the North American version of Castlevania.

Cross: Also known as the Boomerang, the Cross moves slowly in a straight line, then flies backwards. Highly effective against most bosses and monsters.

Stopwatch: Freezes most monsters for about three seconds. Good for getting through difficult areas.

d. Items

Small Heart: Grants the player one Heart.

Large Heart: Worth five Hearts.

Meat: Refills some of Simon’s health, usually found in walls.

Whip Upgrade: Collecting one of these will boost the Whip’s power, getting a second one will increase its range.

Double Fire: Allows the player to fire two Sub-Weapons. Looks like a block with the Roman numeral II engraved on it.

Triple Fire: Allows the player to fire three Sub-Weapons. Looks like a block with the Roman numeral III engraved on it.

Rosary: Resembles a small cross attached to a necklace. Destroys every monster on the screen when picked up.

Invincibility Potion: Makes Simon invincible for a few seconds, very rare.

Money Bag: Awards the player varying amounts of points.

Crown: Collect to gain some extra points.

II. Tips

a. Get Used to Timing Whip Attacks

It takes Simon a second to swing the Whip. Get used to attacking enemies a little sooner than you would in other games to compensate for this.

b. Look Before You Leap 

You will need to make careful jumps even early in the game. Simon cannot slow his velocity or change directions while in the air, so think your jumps through before making them.

d. Ignore the Timer

Castlevania has a timer that counts down during each stage. Pay no attention to it, because rushing is far more likely to result in death than proceeding cautiously.

e. Farming Extra Lives

It’s possible to get a bunch of extra lives by hanging around the first stage and killing the zombies that constantly spawn. The zombies will drop points, hearts, and even the occasional Double or Triple Fire if you fight them near the door. 

III. Walkthrough

Castlevania is split up into eighteen short stages that are broken up intermittently by boss fights. Expect each stage to be more difficult than the last as more powerful enemies and obstacles present themselves. The tips below should help you clear all 18 levels of Castlevania. While I cover some of the secrets hidden in blocks, I skip a lot of the less important ones to save time, since a money bag worth 100 points in a breakable wall probably won’t help much.

a. Stage 1

-Simon will start out in an empty area. Take a few seconds to hit all of the torches here to get some powerups for the whip and a few hearts as well as the Dagger. 

-The next portion of this stage is just a straight hallway. Whip the zombies in front of you and look out for attacks from behind. Watch out for the panthers near the steps, they will charge you when you get close, so be ready to duck and hit them or jump.

b. Stage 2

-Go through the door at the end of the hall and down the steps. Take out the bats as they approach you. Hit the wall on the right to break it, revealing some hidden Meat.

-The steps lead down to a watery area. Mermen will jump onto the platforms in here, keep going forward and stop when you see one leap out of the water so you can attack it. You may also have to evade the fireballs the mermen shoot from time to time. Go up the steps to the next room.

c. Stage 3

-Proceed through the door in this room to reach another hallway with zombies roaming around. Grab the Axe from the candle at the base of the steps at the end of the platform: you will need it for the boss that’s coming up.

d. Boss: Giant Bat

After reaching the end of the entrance hall, you will see a huge bat roosting on the ceiling. Hopefully you have the Axe and a few hearts, because it will make the battle with the bat a cinch. 

The giant bat will fly down from the ceiling, hover a moment, then attempt to collide with Simon. It’s generally best to stay to the left and hurl Axes at it when it gets into range, then walk over to the platform to the right when it starts to get too close. You can even destroy one of the blocks that form the ledge to get a Double Fire, which is very helpful. If you are using the whip or another weapon, you will have to jump and hit the bat or bait it into an easy to reach spot by standing still and moving out of the way just as it closes with you.

Take the orb to move on to the next level after you defeat the giant bat.

e. Stage 4

-The wall across from the entrance to this tower can be broken. If you step into the gap revealed by breaking it, a Crown will appear. Take the Cross from the candle and try to hold onto it; it will prove very useful.

-Look out for roosting bats in this entire section of the game. They can be spotted easily by their white outline. Get ready to whip any bats you see when they swoop down from their perch.

-Look for a spear knight to the right of the steps after you climb up to the next screen (A bat will be to the left of the knight) and hit the block above him to get a Double Fire. 

f. Stage 5

-Get ready to deal with Medusa heads when you see a door left of a moving platform. They fly around the hallway on the other side of the door, which leads to stage five. You can expect them to come in from the left and they move in a sort of zigzag pattern as they fly towards you. Try to duck under them or step away from them to proceed safely. You can also jump over them if they come in low. The heads tend to match your position, so try not to face backwards unless you want one to fly at you from behind.

-I recommend ignoring the candles until you are clear of the Medusa heads, because collecting items from them will increase your chances of being hit. 

-The situation with the Medusa heads becomes more dire after you climb the steps to an area with platforms that are two blocks wide, because you will have to do some jumping while the heads are coming towards you. Once again, ignore the candles and use the whip to eliminate the heads before jumping. The Cross is helpful here, because you can throw it to clear the way before attempting a leap.

-After the platforms, you will be able to climb to the upper path and double back to a door. This means dealing with the Medusa heads again while going left.

g. Stage 6

-Three spike presses that move up and down are to the left of the door. Wait for them to start rising before attempting to go under them. Make sure Simon is totally clear of each press before stopping or it will crush him. You will have to take a few steps forward and duck in order to get past the center spike trap, because it moves too quickly to pass it in one attempt.

-A Triple Fire is hidden in the bottom block of the steps left of the spikes.

-Take care when moving along the hallway above the steps, more Medusa heads will assail Simon and you are very close to the boss.

h. Boss: Medusa

At the end of the hallway you will come to a chamber with a bust in the center. The bust is actually a giant Medusa head that will come to life a few seconds after you set foot in the chamber. She’ll float towards Simon and occasionally launch a snake that crawls on the floor towards him. 

The Cross, Holy Water, or even the Dagger will make short work of her if you have Double or Triple Fire. Even without it, these weapons will do quite a bit of harm if used in conjunction with the whip. Medusa is difficult to dodge and I recommend being aggressive if you have enough health. Otherwise, try to stay on the right in the beginning of the fight and use the ledge to jump over her when she draws near. 

i. Stage 7

-Annoying flea men are perched on the blocks near the entrance to this stage. They will jump at you when you approach and are difficult to hit. Inch forward when you see one and hit it with a sub-weapon or your whip when it gets into range.

-Hit the block the second flea man was hanging out on to find some Meat.

-Crows inhabit the next screen after the one with the flea men. Let them come into striking distance before trying to jump onto the platforms. A bone chucking skeleton guards the lower platforms near the end of the section, stand on the top blocks and wait for him to jump into the pit before trying to move forward.

j. Stage 8

-All you have to do in the first part of this stage is cross a bridge while dodging Medusa heads. Look out when you get near the steps, a skeleton will jump in from the right and toss bones at you. Use a sub-weapon to get rid of the pest.

-Get the Stopwatch at the top of the steps, it will allow you to freeze time, which is helpful when facing off against the crows and bone pillars that guard the platforms.

k. Stage 9

-Another enemy laden bridge awaits you here. Take your time and deal with the crows one by one. Stand just within whipping distance of the bone pillars and hit them rapidly, this should damage them while destroying any fireballs they produce. 

-Skeletons will bound in from the right when you come to some narrow platforms, the best you can do is wait for them to come to you and whip them. 

-Medusa heads and a final bone pillar protect the boss’s room. Try to focus on the pillar while jumping over the heads or use the Stopwatch top freeze them. 

l. Boss: The Mummies

The mummies wait on the far left and right sides of their chamber and will attack you from both sides when you enter. All the mummies do is pace back and forth, while shooting bandages at you, but this can deplete Simon’s health very quickly. The Cross and Holy Water work pretty well on these guys if you have one of those weapons. However, there’s a really easy way to beat them if you are willing to take a hit. 

Run over to the mummy on the right after it takes a few steps into the center and jump into it. With any luck, it should knock you to the right side of the room, placing both mummies to your left. Immediately pivot to face them, crouch, and start whipping away. Any bandages they throw will be destroyed by your attacks and you will whittle away at the boss duo in the process. One of the mummies will be destroyed after a few hits and the next one will follow soon afterwards.

m. Stage 10

-Mermen will constantly leap out of the water in this cave. Watch them carefully as you proceed. 

-You will also have to be on the lookout for bats that continually approach from the right. They tend to align themselves with Simon, so be ready to strike them with the whip. The bats are less likely to spawn if you move forward quickly, but this is made complicated by the mermen.

-You’ll arrive at a moving platform near an area with rock outcroppings hanging from the ceiling. The mermen can actually walk along the rocks and can crash into you while you are trying to ride the platforms, so be ready to attack or dodge them. 

-Make sure you duck when the platforms pass under the rocks or Simon will be pushed into the water.

-Ascend the steps to the right to enter the next level.

n. Stage 11

-This area is actually really simple. Birds will drop flea men that will bounce around the screen in their usual manner. Keep walking forward and whip the flea men as they fall.

-Keep an eye on the left side of the screen, because birds will come from there near the end of the section. Try to pivot and whip them, then go right again. 

-Don’t stop walking when the door appears on screen, because a bone dragon will emerge from above it. You will be able to go through the door without fighting the bone dragon if you are fast and keep moving. If not, you will have to keep the monster at the maximum reach of your whip and attack it quickly to inflict damage while destroying the fireballs it spits.

o. Stage 12

-This narrow tunnel is home to little more than a few much needed powerups and more bone dragons. Don’t forget to get the Dagger from the candle near the start of the tunnel.

-Strike the blocks on the floor where the first bone dragon emerges to get a very helpful piece of Meat. 

-Stop when you get to a divot in the floor, a bone dragon will pop out of the wall on your right. Duck and whip it, then hit the block it came out of to get a Big Heart, then prepare for an annoying boss fight just up ahead.

p. Boss: Frankenstein’s Monster and Igor

This battle is really unfair, as Igor will hop around the room erratically shooting fireballs at you. Frankenstein will just walk back and forth the entire time, but it’ll hurt if he makes contact with you. Hitting Igor will not damage the boss, but it will freeze Igor for a moment. 

Your best bet is to stand next to the blocks to the left and whip frantically. Igor doesn’t jump into the gap formed by the blocks very often and you have enough space to dodge his fireballs or destroy them with the whip. After a few seconds, Frankenstein will be in whip range and he will walk into your attacks like a numbskull. This should kill him fairly quickly.

You can also use the Dagger when Franky is out of reach and it works really well if you have Double Fire.

q. Stage 13

Representing the beginning of the end, stage thirteen is far more difficult than the previous levels and things will only get harder from here. Patience and practice are key in this final leg of the game.

-Immediately duck and prepare to flick the Whip when the stage begins, because a pair of flea men will come hopping your way. You will have to to time swings carefully if you only have the leather whip, since it lacks the range of the morningstar.

-A skeleton on the row of blocks above will harass you by throwing bones. Step between them and make your way to the steps, taking down another skeleton and flea man on the way. Wait for the skeleton above you to jump to the lower platform, then whip him, so you can go up the next set of steps that lead to the upper part of this stage.

-Make your way past some more steps and skeletons to an open room. Here you will encounter red skeletons that reassemble themselves a couple of seconds after being hit. Look out for red skeletons that are hiding on the floor as a pile of bones.

-Hit the wall to the left above the first red skeleton to get a Double Fire.

-Do not let the candles in this room distract you or you will likely get pounced on by flea men.

-Eventually you will come to a pair of blocks with a flea man under it, use the whip on the blocks behind the flea man to get a Meat before going through the door.

r. Stage 14

-Duck and whip or throw a Holy Water at the axe knight and flea man as soon as you step into this area. The axe knight will likely back off of the screen. Axe knights like to back away from Simon while chucking axes that return to them like boomerangs. They can take a lot of hits and are hard to fight effectively, but destroying their axes and stepping towards them works well. They can throw high and low axes, so be ready to duck or jump if necessary.

-Throw Holy Water at the axe knight at the top of the steps if you have it or wait for the knight to throw an axe before attempting to scale the steps, then destroy the axe as it returns.

-The hallway at the top of the steps is fairly simple, but it’s home to more axe knights. Use this as an opportunity to practice fighting the axe knights. There’s also a Double Fire hidden in wall at the top of the steps near the first axe knight in this room.

s. Stage 15

-Get ready to deal with a bone pillar at the start of this room. You will have to use the whip defensively to destroy its projectiles.

-Take the Cross from the candle near the steps to the left.

-The bone pillar and red skeleton at the top of the steps where you found the Cross are really annoying. Wait for the skeleton to walk away a bit, then climb up the steps just enough to throw the Cross at the pillar without getting hit by its fireballs. Do this a few times and the pillar should crumble, allowing you to move on.

-Follow the path to the right and hit the wall by the steps above the entrance to get a bit of Meat. Pause and take a deep breath before going up the steps, because you will have to deal with a flock of Medusa heads and axe knights on the upper floor.

-Hopefully you got the Cross from the room below and have a few hearts, because you will need them. Start spamming crosses once you get up the steps and jump over or duck the Medusa heads. Double Fires and Daggers tend to drop from the Medusa heads, try to avoid the Daggers.

-I find that a combination of throwing a Cross, then ducking and whipping at the axe knight works well here. You’ll still have to avoid the heads, but you should be ok as long as you press forward a step at a time. Double Fire and Triple Fire also help a lot, since having several Crosses in the air will help keep the screen clear, especially if you throw them at varying heights.

-You will have to fight Death after defeating the second axe knight at the end of the hall.

t. Boss: Death 

Death certainly earns his name in Castlevania. He will slowly float around the room while small scythes appear and fly towards Simon. These scythes deal quite a bit of damage, but can be neutralized with the whip or a sub-weapon. The key to winning this battle is keeping the scythes under control. Use the Cross if you have it to clear them and hopefully hit Death in the process. 

Start moving as soon as Death appears, because a scythe will materialize above Simon’s head. Try to stay on the central row of blocks. Throwing the Cross at different heights and whipping at scythes that come in from the front helps a lot. If you keep the scythes under control, you should be able to chuck a few Crosses at Death himself or whip him. Try to get the orb right after Death…errrr..dies, because any scythes remaining on screen will still be an active threat until the orb is obtained.

Defeat will send you back to the door and you will have to slog through the hallway again. Try to learn the hallway as best you can so you can get to this boss with full health.

u. Stage 16

-Welcome to the bridge from Hell. The giant, fireball spitting bats make crossing this bridge more a matter of luck than anything else, since they move erratically and can effortlessly knock you into the abyss. 

-Just run past the bats as fast as possible. When you get to the second bat, you will likely have to jump over it since it comes in from below. After a few tries you should get to the door. 

v. Stage 17

-This area is pretty awful too, thanks to the flea man dropping birds. Try to avoid going too far to the left when going up the steps in this area, because you will trigger the birds, which will make scaling the stairs more difficult.

-Defeat the skeleton near the entrance and make your way up the steps. You’ll have to eliminate two more skeletons at the top. Try to stand back and bait these skeletons into jumping towards you before trying to cross.

-Birds will start dropping flea men when you get to the area with all the gears to the left. Watch out, the flea men can jump up and through walls.

-There’s a Meat hidden in the wall right of the gears, but it’s very dangerous to get thanks to the birds, so you may want to skip it.

-There are some steps below the gears. Try to jump over the birds and make your way down to them quickly. 

-More birds and flea men are in the lower area. Stay on the blocks near the entryway and hop over the birds as they fly in, then make a run for the steps after the flea men jump into the pit. 

-You’ll likely take damage on these steps, since birds will fly into you here, but try to whip them or just keep walking so you can get to stage eighteen.

w. Stage 18 

This stage is little more than a staircase leading to Dracula. Take any powerups you need on the way and get ready for the final confrontation. You will be sent back to the beginning of this stage if you die, even if you have to continue.

Pro-Tip: You can get the candles outside Dracula’s room to respawn by going back down the steps and returning, which is a great way to fill up on hearts.

x. Boss: Dracula

There’s almost zero room for error in the battle with Dracula. Simon can only take about four hits from this boss before dying and you will need life for the second phase of the fight. Drac will appear on the right side of the room, open his cape and shoot three fast moving fireballs that are aligned vertically at Simon. These fireballs are aimed at your position and it’s difficult to destroy or evade them without practice. Dracula’s head is his only weak spot.

After firing off his first volley, Drac will disappear and reappear elsewhere in the room. Where he shows up is random, so be ready to step out of his way, since he can land right on top of you. You can whip to destroy all of his fireballs when he opens his cape if you time it right and you’re on the ground. If Drac launches them from across the room, you should be able to destroy the center one and let the other two pass. You can also jump over them if you were on the ground when he fired them off, but it takes precision.

There are two main ways to fight Dracula: 

a. You can stand about three body lengths from him, jump towards him, and whip his head. This should allow you to clear the fireballs if you jump just as he opens his cape. If Dracula appears close to Simon, jump directly upwards and whip him, the fireballs should fly into the air, missing Simon. Of course, this method requires a lot of practice and it’s not as easy as the second one.

b. Throw the Cross at his head and focus on evading or destroying his fireballs. The only problem with this technique is that you will not be able to use the Holy Water in the room on Dracula’s second form.

Play defensively and get into a rhythm. Eventually you will topple Dracula.

Pro-Tip: You can farm Dracula’s fireballs for powerups, including Double and Triple Fire.

y. Boss: Demon Form Dracula

You didn’t think the fight was over after whipping Dracula’s head off did you? Demon Dracula is not really as tough as his regular form, but you are likely battered from the first battle, which will make this one more challenging. Additionally, you will have to fight the first phase of Dracula again if you die in this battle, which complicates matters.

He tends to stand in place for a second or two before spitting a cluster of fireballs. Luckily the fireballs are really easy to destroy or jump over compared to those from the first round. After that, the demon’s face will contort and he will jump towards Simon. If you are near the center of the room, back away and whip him. If not, you may be in trouble, since it’s really hard to avoid getting hit when he jumps if you are in a corner. Unfortunately, the demon actively tries to corner you.

The good news if you can pass under the demon when it leaps high into the air, which it does on occasion. Alternatively, you can just try to walk under him, take the hit and use the invincibility frames to walk through him. It’s also possible to bait him into high jumping when you are in the corner by taking tiny steps back and forth, though I could not get this to work reliably.

Whip the Demon’s face to harm it. This time it will take two hits just to remove just one bar of his health! The Cross can help shave life off of the Demon if you spam it and use the whip in tandem, which is a good way to kill the boss quickly.

Using Holy Water will freeze the Demon for a second, though it won’t inflict damage. In fact you can freeze it the moment it appears and alternate between throwing Holy Water and whipping its head to stun lock it. However, you will need a ton of hearts and Double Fire at the very least, though it may be the best option.

z. Hard Mode

Credits will role after you beat the Demon and the game will begin again. This time around things are even more difficult as there are extra enemies that you have to deal with. 

Further Reading

Here are a few useful guides to this game:

https://gamefaqs.gamespot.com/gba/921924-classic-nes-series-castlevania/faqs/9397

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