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The many faces of Castlevania
This would have probably been more suited for Halloween, but after watching an X68000 Longplay of Akumajou Dracula, I started to get interested in all the versions available. So in this thread, I'm going to list some lesser known versions of the earlier "Castlevanias" and a couple of interesting clones.

Akumajou Dracula- X68000, 1996

Watch it in action

[Image: 405full-akumajo-dracula-x68000-cover.jpg]

The name means Demon Castle Dracula. Originally released in 1993, the graphics and gameplay are comparable to Super Castlevania (though in my opinion Super Castlevania looks better). The thing that stands out the most to me is the music; it's very crisp and very well suited to the gameplay. The game was eventually ported to the Playstation as Castlevania Chronicles with the game kept in tact.

I thought this game was really good, one of the better takes on early Castlevania.

Vampire Killer- MSX, 1986

Watch it in action

[Image: Vampire_Killer_%2528MSX%2529_03.png]

The most interesting thing right away on this game is its progression. It's set up to get similar to the NES Castlevania, however it is somewhat "maze" based. You need to grab keys and other items to unlock doors and progress. Very interesting concept, and pretty decent effort.

Good version of the NES game with some quirks.

Haunted Castle- Arcade, 1988

Watch it in action

[Image: gfs_34392_2_52.jpg]

This is an odd one. It's an original arcade game that was released in 1988 that doesn't quite play as good as some of its predecessors. The graphics, however, are quite nice and some enemy designs look pretty good (the golem boss is my favorite). It's level based, and though you start out with a whip, you can also get a sword as a main weapon.

Mediocre in most aspects, but a decent game nonetheless.

Akumajo Special: Boku Dracula-kun,Famicom, 1990

Watch it in action

[Image: 19070.jpg]

A parody of the Castlevania series in which you play a Kid Dracula. The name translates to "Demon Castle Special: I'm Kid Dracula." Not released in the west, but it has a fan translation. Not a real Castlevania game in terms of gameplay or design, but is considered in the series. It's somewhat difficult but it can be a fun game.

A decent offshoot platformer.

I'm sure most people know of Rondo of Blood, or Akumajou Dracula X: Chi no Rondo and Castlevania Bloodlines, so I'll skip those. I'll finish with a really interesting Castlevania clone.

Rusty, PC98, 1993

Watch it in action

[Image: rusty-2.png]

This game is pretty awesome. It's a complete rip off of Castlevania that stars a stantily clad lady monster killer who also wields a whip to fight ghoulish enemies. The graphics/art is very good and the soundtrack is amazing. It's somewhat open ended like the MSX version of Castlevania (Vampire Killer). It was only released on the PC98 in Japan in 1993, and hasn't really seen the light of day since. However, if you can find an way to emulate it, I highly recommend this game.

Here's some more info if you are interested in this game.

Master of Darkness/In the Wake of the Vampire, Sega Master System/Sega Game Gear, 1992

Watch it in action

[Image: master_of_darkness_1.jpg?w=700]

This one is a mixed bag. It very obviously a Castlevania rip off, but it doesn't really seem to have many monsters in it. In fact you most fight ghostly humanoid types, and skeletons, with the last boss being Dracula. The weapons range from whip types to swords and axes. The ambiance is OK, but certainly doesn't have Castlevania's vibe. It is an interesting game though, and fairly difficult. It was released for both the Sega Master System and the Game Gear, and obviously the Master System version looks and plays a bit better.

It's a not bad clone, worth giving a check out at least just to see what it is.
No Man's Sky is awesome...and disappointing...
I've played most of those!

Also, little known fact, the X68000 was perhaps the most powerful system of it's day.
Edited in Master of Darkness. I scoured the internets for any more early Castlevania clones and outside of 8 eyes for the NES (which I figure most people are aware of), this is all I could find. So this will probably be the only update.
No Man's Sky is awesome...and disappointing...
Captain Silver is kinda Castlevania-y.

I could think of more but I'm tired and have to go back to work. :(
I've played some of them too. I played the X68k Castlevania game as the Castlevania Chronicles PS1 version. The actual disc is a rarity now and sells for a LOT online (just checked Amazon; best price now is $113.36), but you can download it on PSN for $6, I think. Good game, but balls-to-the-wall hard, as one would expect from Classic-vania (the first level is built like the first stage from the NES original, but trolls you by having an army of Fleamen spawn when you whip the wall where you originally got meat).

I've heard of Vampire Killer from the Castlevania Dungeon, but never actually played it as I never owned an MSX, as I'm sure most people living outside of Japan didn't.

Hunted Castle, as I mentioned before, would qualify as one of if not THE worst game in the series. The game looks and sounds amazing, but they went totally overboard with the difficulty. As it's an arcade game, you would expect that since they want you to keep feeding quarters into the machine, but all of the credits in the world only give you so much health (and you can lose HALF your health bar in just one hit!!), and when you die, you start ALL OVER AT THE BEGINNING. The game is virtually unplayable. The biggest redeeming factor is the music, which was awesome. Have a listen to the first stage theme, Crucifix Held Close, as remixed in Portrait of Ruin:

Boku Dracula-kun actually did get a GameBoy release over here under the title Kid Dracula. In Japan it bears the same name as the Famicom game so I'm not sure if it's a port or a separate game.

Wow, Rusty looks and sounds pretty good. Shame the PC98 was unheard of outside Japan and never got any other ports. The game actually reminds me a lot of Valis; lots of emphasis on nicely-drawn cutscenes, scantily-clad heroines, very similar gameplay, etc... I'm starting to suspect it was made by the same developers...

Yep, I'm quite familiar with Rondo of Blood. It was originally released for the PC Engine (known here as the TurboGrafix 16) CD peripheral, but only in Japan. We got Castlevania: Dracula X for the SNES which we AT FIRST thought was gonna be a port, but was in fact a "reimagining" with the same graphics and music but vastly different level design. We wouldn't get the original game for the longest time until it was finally brought to the PSP as part of the Dracula X Chronicles, which was a 2.5D remake of Rondo, but also included the original game and Symphony of the Night (Rondo's direct sequel) as unlockables. It would later get a more direct port on the Wii Virtual Console. Overall, the game ties with Castlevania 4 as my favorite of the classic-style games.

I've played Master of Darkness as well, which I downloaded on the 3DS Virtual Console after noting it appearing to be a Castlevania clone on GameGear. Overall, it does a pretty good job for a GameGear title (which was sadly lacking in decent games in spite of being superior to the GameBoy in terms of hardware), but I got stuck in what I think is stage 6; very mazelike with one of those deals where you have to take a certain path or the game loops. Overall though, I was finding it fairly competent until then.

As for other Castlevania clones I've played, awhile back I checked out Frankenstein, released by Bandai for the NES, after seeing AVGN's review on the game. It actually looked to have a few interesting things going for it, but it does suffer from some control issues, and the fact that you only get one life and a couple of continues.
My attempt at the game:

Interesting, I'll check out the playthrough of Frankenstein, which is a game I did not see while browsing for this. Also didn't know about the gameboy Kid Dracula getting a release overseas; that's pretty cool. I might have to hunt it down in physical form.
No Man's Sky is awesome...and disappointing...

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