Kid Dracula definitely doesn't suck
Castlevania Anniversary Collection throws out a curveball for passionate fans
The Konami compilation news has kept on a-comin', with the Castlevania Anniversary Collection "dropping" on May 16th. It's a good set, with the first four games in the series along with a smattering (a smattering, no less!!) of more esoteric titles, including the excellent Castlevania: Bloodlines, the awful Castlevania the Adventure and its much better sequel. While the quality of a couple of these games is very much in dispute, it's still a broad, worthwhile selection. It's delightful, then, that they've deigned to complement this already-acceptable box of treats with the formerly Famicom-only Akumajō Special: Boku Dracula-kun!, aka Kid Dracula.
For the first time in the West, the NES version of Kid Dracula is going to be available to series fans, fully translated and right there on your Switch, PS4, Xbox One or PC Compatible. And it's a treat. A smooth, remarkably good-looking Famicom platformer that actually comes rather close to the look of a Master System game in its deft colour choices, expertly working around the limitations of the hardware. Sprites are large and full of character, though their size can result in a good deal of unfortunate flicker.
It's surprisingly challenging in that way NES games often are, despite its extremely cute graphics. It's quite meaty too, with mini-games between each stage and a Mega Man-esque acquisition of new attacks with each downed boss. It's a little slow, but it's paced well – you never feel sluggish or ineffective, and each level feels like a good fit for little Dracula-kun.
So it's a pretty standard platformer, but a very good one. An unsung classic of the Famicom's library, really. While the Game Boy sequel/remake did make it to the West (and very good it is, too), it's nice to finally check out the 8-bit console's original effort. Let's hope the fortcoming Contra collection includes some similarly out-there choices. My fingers remain crossed for Contra Rebirth.