Kid Dracula (Gameboy) - Ramblin' Review

In my buddy Colonel Fancy's Halloween Special review for Mr. Bones on the Sega Saturn (which I had never heard of), he opens by letting us know that he didn't want to cover the traditional horror genre staples since they had been done to death. It's a sentiment I shared when I set out on this journey of mine. While I did somewhat bend the rule by covering Resident Evil Gaiden, I thought that this was justified because it's obviously the outcast of the series, and most people don't take handheld versions of many games seriously. They're always watered down, which is often the case, but many still end up being amazing games. 
This week, I'm bending the rule again. While I honestly could have made half of this month Castlevania games, seeing as how it is one of my favorite series of all time, and I can do a play by play commentary of SoTN in my head from memory, I decided that if I were to include the series, it would have to be this family friendly parody, made by Konami, where you play as a child version of Dracula himself.

As can be expected from any Castlevania game from the nineties, it is an action platformer. You go from point A to point B, slaying enemies and avoiding pitfalls and obstacles along the way. The cool little addition here, is that you get to transform into a bat, as Dracula always should be able to. While you can fly all over the screen as a bat, you have limited time in which to do so, so you must plan your route accordingly, and make sure that you won't end up falling to your death. 
You also have a number of other powers at your disposal, and you gain them as you progress through the game. My favorite is probably the spread shot, that shoots multiple projectiles in a half-circle arc away from you. 

There are some familiar enemies and stages as you make your way through the game, and the music is just as good as you would expect. The biggest difference there, however, is the music is closer to Dracula is going to the beach in the fifties instead of haunting the nightmares of 16th century townspeople. Surf rockin' tunes fit the chibi style of the game, and it still gets you pumped and ready to kill some bats. Speaking of bats, they're much easier to kill in this game. Your main attack is a projectile, and you can aim it up, which is usually not the case. The game is a bit easier than the NES entries in the series, but it isn't lacking in challenge like most kid-friendly games tend to be (I'm looking at you, Kirby). 

Oddly enough, there are also unlockable minigames that you can access through the password screen, and this adds a bit of variety to the game itself. While it's obviously just a neat distraction, and something that you only stumble upon if you look up is nice to have the option available.

I feel that because they were intending the game to be a bit more kid friendly, they put more emphasis on platforming than they have in other Castlevania games, which is saying a lot. All of it feels engaging, and having the ability to briefly fly changes up your perception on how to progress through the stages. There's also some cheapness still present (did I mention the bats? Even worse are the witches on broomsticks seen above), but it really wouldn't be a Castlevania game, spin off or not, unless you wanted to throw your controller/console because of missing that tiny window of opportunity to land a jump before a bat knocks you into the pit.

Familiar frustrations aside, this is the least scary, but maybe the most fun, entry in the franchise, despite not being labeled as such in North America (it carries the "Akumajo" prefix in Japan). I would definitely recommend this. 



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