18. Castlevania

Released: 1987
Watch Gameplay
Fun Fact: The theme to the first level of Castlevania is one of the most recognized music tracks from the entire NES era.

Castlevania was the story of Simon Belmont, who had to infiltrate Dracula's castle and destroy the vampire. It was a basic, early platformer for the NES that was defined by its unique, creepy soundtrack and excellent visuals. Candles on the walls could be destroyed to reveal power-ups that made Simons's whip longer, or powerful “sub-weapons” like flying crosses and vials of holy water, or the Hearts that served as ammunition for special weapons. Food and power-ups that allowed Simon to shoot multiple special weapons at once were also hidden in the levels.

Each of the six levels in Castlevania was very unique aesthetically from the others, and ended with a boss fight that drew from monster mythology, Medusa, the Mummy, Frankenstein and the Grim Reaper being the most memorable. In the final boss fight with Dracula, players have to face two versions of the enemy, as he transforms after his first “death.”

Castlevania was one of the earliest games published by Konami for the North American NES market, and Konami games were packaged in distinctive silver boxes. The success of Castlevania would play a huge role for Konami in brand recognition and teaching NES players to pay special attention to the games in those silver boxes.