The Castlevania sequence is one in every of gaming’s most well-known franchises and has spawned an extended line of video video games in addition to TV exhibits, albums and a great deal of related merchandise. Nonetheless, recent perception into the event of the unique NES / Famicom trilogy – unearthed by shmuplations.com – reveals that the business fortune of the sequence resulted in one in every of its key figures parting firm with Konami below one thing of a cloud.
Twitter person Sonna Yuumi labored at Konami within the ’90s and was mentored by Hitoshi Akamatsu, the director (and a few would say key inventive power) of the unique Castlevania / Akumajō Dracula. Between 2015 and 2019, Sonna Yuumi posted a sequence of tweets in regards to the creation of the NES trilogy, and these have been translated and compiled to create an fascinating perspective on the genesis of those beloved video games.
The complete characteristic is effectively value studying, however we’ll put up some highlights nonetheless. For instance, Akamatsu stated that the whip was the first weapon within the sequence as a result of he was a fan of the Indiana Jones film Raiders of the Misplaced Ark, and he defended the fairly harsh issue by evaluating the sport to Tremendous Mario Bros., the place the participant would die after only a single hit.
It is also clear that Akamatsu’s grasp of recreation design was fairly superior for the period:
Akamatsu’s sense of recreation design was very deep. In Castlevania, the knife seems first so the participant can get used to the subweapons. He made the stopwatch so you possibly can get used to enemy assaults. Then the strongest objects are the Cross and the Holy Water. And that was how he decided the order through which the objects would seem to the participant.
I as soon as requested him concerning the combat with Loss of life, and the way insanely laborious it was. He instructed me, “The sport design concept there was to get gamers to grasp the right way to use the cross and axe subweapons. In case you can defeat with solely the whip, which means you’re actually good.” I can’t defeat him with the whip alone. However when you learn the actions of the sickles, I perceive it’s doable (albeit very troublesome) to beat him with simply the whip. Apparently the take a look at gamers had been in a position to do it.
I feel he wished anybody to clear be capable of clear his video games, as a result of he instructed me his customary for issue was that he ought to be capable of clear it himself.
Apparently, it’s also famous that through the growth of Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse – thought-about by many to be the perfect NES Castlevania, if not the perfect recreation within the sequence full cease – Konami was very a lot targeted on the money-spinning Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise:
Akumajo Densetsu represents the zenith of high quality in each music and gameplay for the Famicom. I requested Akamatsu about why it was so good, and he stated it was all carried out in an try to outdo the Ninja Turtles video games. In the course of the Famicom period at Konami, the abroad gross sales for Turtles was Konami’s highest vendor, and due to that, the Turtles growth group was prioritized above all the pieces else. The Castlevania group (and others prefer it which didn’t make some huge cash) needed to survive on the scraps. There was a risk for additional Castlevania sequels on the Famicom, nevertheless it received pushed out by the recognition of Ninja Turtles.
Castlevania has all the time been synonymous with superb music, and it will seem this custom started with Akamatsu:
Once I instructed Akamatsu how nice I believed the music for Castlevania was, his reply was: “That’s as a result of each the visuals and the music had been made by individuals who consciously wished to do one thing cinematic.” And for his half, he tried so as to add fascinating gameplay.
Amazingly, regardless of the standard of the Castlevania video games, Akamatsu was not precisely rewarded for his efforts. The sequels apparently offered poorly (we assume Sonna Yuumi is speaking about Japanese gross sales on this case, though world gross sales could possibly be included right here), and he was demoted to working in one in every of Konami’s recreation centres. Unsurprisingly, Akamatsu stop, citing his dissatisfaction with the way in which Konami handled its inventive expertise:
In response to Akamatsu, Konami positioned income above all else, and builders who weren’t creating video games that made plenty of cash had been all ultimately axed one-by-one. Numerous them went on to do nice work at Sq. Enix.
I requested Akamatsu what he considered Chi no Rondo when it got here out. He stated, “I haven’t performed it.” (laughs) On the time he was extra involved in how one would go about making a recreation like Remaining Fantasy VII, fairly than Castlevania, which was up to now. (laughs)
Sadly, following his departure from Konami, Akamatsu seems to have vanished from the video games trade.