Exactly one week ago today, Konami’s vampire-hunting, action-platformer, Castlevania 64 celebrated its 17th birthday. And Christ did that make me feel old.
It seems like only yesterday I was being hunted through a hedge-maze by the Dracula Estate’s invincible, chainsaw-armed gardener. But perhaps it’s the emotional trauma of being repeatedly murdered by Frank (as he was affectionately known) which caused that sequence to stick in my mind so well.
’64 was packed with standout moments like that, from duelling Death atop the castle clock tower, to delicately transporting magic explosives through insta-gib obstacle courses. But it was the accompaniment of a stellar OST that for me, made the series’ first, fully 3D iteration so memorable.
Malus’ violin solo at the start menu tugged at the heartstrings. Reinhardt’s Tower of Execution theme felt industrial and oppressive. And the Tower of Science’s dramatic electro-synth perfectly complemented the stage’s sprawling, gothic laboratory.
An endearing support cast fleshed out the world, with particular highlights like Rosa the reluctant vampire and Vincent the old-school hunter. And let’s not forget Renon, the entrepreneurial demon who’s only helping out because “one needs gold even in Hell these days…”
In the same year following Castlevania 64’s launch, the pseudo-prequel/GOTY edition, Castlevania: Legacy of Darkness was released. Or to give it its hilariously long original title: ‘Devil Castle Dracula Apocalypse: Supplemental Story – Legend of Cornell’. Which expanded on 64’s brilliant universe with new characters, levels, enemies and bosses.
It was (and still is) a title with a tremendous amount of charm and character, featuring terrifying moments that would see grown men waking up in cold sweats from nightmares about hedge mazes 17 years after its release…