Castlevania or as it’s more commonly referred to in order to differentiate it from the NES classic, Castlevania 64, was Konami’s first attempt at creating a 3D Castlevania world. You can play the game as one of two characters, a female named Carrie or a male named Reinhardt. Reinhardt is a relative of the Belmont clan, who are well-known to Castlevania fans from previous adventures and Carrie is an orphan with magical powers (?). Of course the objective of the game is to stop Dracula from coming into power again after lying dormant for a number of years. I assume CV64 takes place sometime later in the overall Castlevania timeline but I couldn’t care less about that so I don’t really know for a fact.
Like most other Castlevania games found on other consoles and handhelds up to this point, Castlevania 64 is an action-adventure game with emphasis on platforming with some hack and slash and survival horror aspects, but this time in a 3D environment. Truth be told, I don’t love 3D platformers the way some do because I find jumping from platform to platform in a 3D environment much more cumbersome than in a 2D environment. Games like Tomb Raider and the like always frustrated me when I would miss time my jumps because I couldn’t look down at my feet while looking ahead at the same time and Castlevania 64 is no exception. On top of all this, the camera in CV64 is annoyingly erratic, which was not unusual at the time but by 1999 should have been better. Nintendo was releasing a lot of formerly 2D franchises into the brave new world of 3D during the N64 era so it should have been no surprise when this game was released with this style of gameplay. It was absolutely expected by the gaming public on a 3D heavy console and releasing another 2D Castlevania title like Symphony of the Night probably would have been seen as step back no matter how awesome it was. Polygons were in, sprites were out. The final product received mixed reviews and for good reason, it is a wildly uneven game with much to enjoy but also equal parts to dislike.
I bought Castlevania 64 around the same time I was buying up used N64 games and discounted titles in a post Gamecube world. I remember not being too impressed with the controls while simultaneously being impressed by the graphics and music. As I had been playing the masterpiece that is Symphony of the Night, there was a high bar of expectation in my mind and CV64 was no Symphony of the Night. I went back and played it again for this blog post and while my overall opinion of the game hasn’t changed much, I can appreciate where Nintendo/Konami attempted to go with this title and fulfill a need for 3D vampire hunting. I just wish the end product was as good as all the 2D predecessors.
Currently in my collection: game, manual, box