Shmuplations is an endless source of joy and interesting facts about Japanese video games, thanks to its terrific translations of developer interviews. This time around though, they translated and arranged the tweets of a developer who was mentored by Hitoshi Akamatsu, the director of the Konami team that created the original three Castlevania games on the NES. From these tweets, we get a never-before-seen view into the secretive history of Castlevania‘s development. And we get some surprising facts, especially about Dracula!
In the original Castlevania, once you defeat Dracula, his head flies off and his body blows away in all directions. Strangely enough, this was intended to hint that Dracula would return. However, the monster that shows up immediately afterward is not a transformed form of Dracula; instead, it is an “incarnation of the curse of man.”
Basically, a monster formed out of pure evil emerges in response to Dracula’s defeat, because Dracula is so connected to the existence of evil. Defeating this monster is what curses Simon and begets the plot of the sequel. Speaking of which, a major inspiration for Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest is not Metroid, but rather The Maze of Galious, a Japanese Konami game for MSX.
The Dracula facts don’t end there though. Hitoshi Akamatsu had meticulous reasons for why lots of things occurred as they did in Castlevania. For instance, the clock tower — but not the entire castle — collapses at the end of the first Castlevania because its turning gears symbolize Dracula’s beating heart. Dracula bites the dust, so the gears stop turning.
And on the subject of game design, here is a pretty interesting developer quote about the Death battle:
I once asked [Akamatsu] about the fight with Death, and how insanely hard it was. He told me, “The game design idea there was to get players to understand how to use the cross and axe subweapons. If you can defeat him with only the whip, that means you’re really good.” I can’t defeat him with the whip alone. But if you read the movements of the sickles, I understand it is possible (albeit very difficult) to beat him with just the whip. Apparently the test players were able to do it.
There are even more insights to be had, so be sure to check out the full translation. Or at the very least, read up on how Castlevania III was so good because it had to compete with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.