When I first started getting into Famicom games, one of the first I bought (maybe the first, but who can remember now?) was Akumajou Special: Boku Dracula-Kun, a spinoff of the Castlevania series exclusive to Japan. The Game Boy sequel (with the same title in Japan) was released three years later and came to the US simply as Kid Dracula, but that is a different game, and this article isn’t about that.
Akumajou Special was the final Castlevania release for the Famicom, coming in October of 1990, and it shows. The game features big, cartoony sprites, bright colors and varied locations and enemies. It’s a lot easier than the main series games by design, but in general, I would not call it an “easy game.”
The story sees Kid Dracula wake up after a long slumber to find that a demon is trying to usurp his power. What’s a youthful vampire to do? Destroy him, that’s what! So off you go to hunt down the demon Galamoth (who does make appearances later in the main CV series as well) and teach him a thing or two about what happens to usurpers. The adventure will take you through a miniaturized version of the eponymous castle, the desert, New York City, the obligatory ice stage and even space. Along the way you’ll meet all kinds of creepy enemies like your standard skeletons and Frankensteinian monsters, as well as Jason Voohees clones and space robots. The sprites look more like American Saturday morning cartoons than Japanese anime, and are super charming. Unfortunately, there are often so many on screen that sprite flicker and slowdown do periodically become an issue.
Each stage ends with Kid Dracula learning a new spell, from homing shots to the ability to flip gravity, each one is useful in future stages. The boss encounters you go through to earn these spells are varied and interesting, including a ghost that looks suspiciously like a Klansman (it’s a manji, not a swastika on his forehead) and even a quiz from Lady Liberty.
Given how popular Castlevania was in the US (more popular in Japan, by most accounts), it’s kind of shocking this game didn’t make it to the US. Even more shocking considering Konami was allowed to use the Ultra Games imprint to release ten games per year instead of the standard five allotted by Nintendo of America at the time.
Still, it’s an easy import with almost no text (except the Lady Liberty quiz, but you can find the solution to that online). And if you want what little text there is to be in English, there’s a translation patch for the ROM. This game finds itself in the weird horror-themed chibi spinoff pile with Splatterhouse: Wanpaku Graffiti and if you’re a fan of that game, Castlevania or quirky action platformers, I highly recommend this one.
- Released: October 19, 1990
- System: Famicom
- Developer/Publisher: Konami