Castlevania Wiki
Castlevania Wiki

"Again the legend will shed blood."
— Official translation of the Japanese advertisement slogan for Haunted Castle.

Haunted Castle, known in Japan as Akumajō Dracula (悪魔城ドラキュラ Akumajō Dorakyura?, lit. "Demon Castle Dracula"), is an action-adventure platform game produced for arcades and part of the Castlevania series. It was released in February 22, 1988 in Japan, and on September 22, 1988 in North America.

Being an originally created and unique entry in the series, developer Masaaki Kukino speculates the title Akumajō Dracula was simply chosen for name recognition value only.[1]

The game never saw a rerelease for 18 years until 2006, when Hamster ported Haunted Castle to the PlayStation 2 as part of their Oretachi Gēsen Zoku series, but exclusive to Japan. In 2017, it was included as part of the Arcade Archives for PlayStation 4, and in April 2021, to Nintendo Switch. In 2019, it was ported to PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Steam and Nintendo Switch as part of the Arcade Classics Anniversary Collection, the first time the game saw a rerelease on consoles outside Japan.


Count Dracula sleeps for a long hundred of years. During this time, peace exists at the village and Dracula is nothing but a mere legend.

However, one day a young couple named Simon and Selena were celebrating their wedding at the village's church.

The couple were enveloped with happiness, as the wedding bells rang, their future seemed blessed...

Suddenly, the empty sky was covered with dark clouds and with a rolling thunder that shook the earth, Dracula has once again awakened. Asking for the beautiful girl's blood, he flew down during the middle of the wedding and suddenly took the bride with him.

Now in order to save Selena, Simon heads to the demon castle.

— Official Help Video description for Haunted Castle.


Image Name Information
Simon Belmont
(Simon Belmondo)
The main character of the game. He was to marry Selena at the village's church, but Dracula interrupted the wedding.
Simon's bride, who was captured by Dracula during her wedding.
The fiend who returned. The main antagonist and final boss of the game.



The arcade hardware allowed for more detailed, vivid backgrounds, such as a haunted portrait which sheds a tear of blood.

Being the series' first arcade release, the game's visuals are significantly different from the Famicom and MSX games, with bigger and more detailed sprites and a larger color palette.

Haunted Castle is the first game in the series which once again adopted a playstyle similar to that of the original Famicom and NES games, with Vampire Killer for the MSX and Castlevania II: Simon's Quest diverging from this formula with role playing elements, such as leveling up and more open-ended design. Thus roughly following the template of the original game, Haunted Castle is made up of six linear stages; each with a characteristic focus - through graveyards and underground caverns, leading through the castle hallway and basement, ending in a confrontation with Count Dracula.

A lot of the enemy selections are taken from the Famicom/NES games; notable examples including hopping Hunchbacks and the standard arsenal of undead enemies like Skeletons and Zombies. On the other hand, some features that were unique to the series at that point were included as well: a wall which breaks apart brick by brick and attacks the player, a glass knight which jumps out of a window, and so on.


The first upgrade which can be obtained changes Simon's weapon into a mace, a unique idea in the series.

The weapon upgrade system has been altered from Castlevania since, contrary to that game, there are no candles. Instead, Hearts and weapons are distributed by defeated enemies. The stronger weapons are a chain (morning star) and a sword, both of which were exceptional at the time, as weapon upgrades before were only more powerful versions of the whip instead.

Several unique sub-weapons were introduced in Haunted Castle as well: dynamite and torches taking the place of holy water but with a similar function, and a boomerang which acts like the cross from Castlevania. A unique weapon is the cross, which shoots out little cross-shaped rays. The timer (stopwatch) returns with the exact same function as before.

Whereas previous Castlevania titles gave the player unlimited continues, Haunted Castle only allowed the player three continues after death. Afterward, the player would have to start over from the beginning. The player can also add money to the machine to refill their the health meter, although this will also use up their limited continues.

Several different ROM sets with varying difficulties exist. One of the American sets is labeled "M" and is considered the most difficult of all of them, with certain enemies (some even found in the very first stage) able to reduce the player's life meter by half and fewer item drops. The set named "K" is relatively easier, with the same difficulty as the Japanese (named N and P) and European versions (named E). Also, in the Japanese versions of the game, when Simon falls into a bottomless pit, he loses half of his current life and respawns on the last checkpoint, unlike in the other three international versions where it counts as a game over.


No. Name Boss Music
1 Graveyard Wicked Mermaid Cross on the Breast
2 Cave Skeleton Snake Lullaby of the Devils
3 Banquet Room Stained Glass Warrior Bloody Tears
4 Basement/Caves Golem Den of Worship
5 Clocktower Frankenstein Basement Melody
6 Vampire's Room Dracula Can't Wait Until the Night


The soundtrack was composed by Kenichi Matsubara, who was also a staff member on Castlevania II: Simon's Quest. "Bloody Tears" and "Game Over" from Simon's Quest make a reappearance. Many songs have been remixed in later games. "Cross Your Heart" was rearranged for the Castlevania: Rondo of Blood soundtrack and included in it as a bonus track, and for Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin, where it plays in the Dark Academy. "A Lullaby Sent to the Devils", which plays during the high score screen, has been used in Castlevania: The Adventure ReBirth as the theme that plays during the second stage. "The Final Battle", used for the final phase against Dracula, was later reused as the main boss theme as well as either the final phase or penultimate phase (depending on the difficulty level) against Dracula in The Adventure ReBirth. "Can't Wait Until the Night" has been combined with "Heart of Fire" from Castlevania to form Julius Belmont's theme in Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow. "Basement Melodies" returns in Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow, playing in the Mine of Judgment.


The game was initially developed as an original horror action game unrelated to the Castlevania series.[2] Around six months into the development period, the game was in bad shape, quality and schedule-wise. Reportedly, the project was short-staffed. The head of Konami ordered people who were working on a completely different project, called Hot Chase, to help out with the project, one of which was Masaaki Kukino.


The idea of a crumbling bridge, a first in the franchise, was thought of and implemented after the Hot Chase team joined development.

It was decided to retool the game into an entry in the Castlevania series. The development team alongside the Hot Chase team spent one month redrawing all the sprites in order to make the game's atmosphere match up with that of Castlevania. Furthermore, unfinished stages and characters were completed, and the quality of the player and enemy sprites was improved, as well as their effects and attacks. The schedule left no room for any big additions or changes. However, the concept of the crumbling bridge in the last stage was conceived during that stage of development.

During this stage of development, the protagonist's identity was changed to Simon Belmont. However, Haunted Castle was specifically made for the arcades and it's not a port of the original Castlevania. Due to complicated mechanics posing a problem in arcade games, it was decided the game should be different from the previous two Castlevania games. Despite this, Haunted Castle was advertised as being "the ultimate version of the game that appeared on the Famicom and MSX". The game is also often labeled as a "remake" of the original Castlevania by Konami, despite sharing almost nothing in common.

Kukino later said in an interview that time for debugging was needed, which resulted in the staff having no more time to make changes to the balancing. Furthermore, by that time all the staff members from Hot Chase had returned to their own project already.


Haunted Castle was not considered a success in arcades by Konami.[1] The game has a very poor reputation among the Castlevania fan-base, with numerous reviews by fans giving the game poor ratings.[3][4][5]

Criticism includes the main character being rather large when compared to other Castlevania games' characters, and thus an easy target for enemy and obstacle hits, poor hit-detection, and most prominently the game's difficulty.[3] A major point of criticism is the limited amount of continues, which is considered unfair to the player and also drives away sales from players who would otherwise be willing to purchase more continues.

Haunted Castle has been cited as being one of the most difficult Castlevania games in existence.[3] Reasons for this are said to be an overwhelming amount of enemies attacking the player and the limited amount of continues the game allows.[3]


The version of Haunted Castle from the Oretachi Gēsen Zoku series is an emulated version of the arcade original. Included as bonus material were a mini-CD with the game's soundtrack and a mini-DVD with a music video and half of an instructional playing video. This port was not released outside of Japan.

The version found on the Arcade Classics Anniversary Collection comes with four selectable difficulty settings (Easy, Normal, Hard, Very Hard), four different "enemy strength" settings (Low, Normal, High, Very High), and design content found on the bonus e-book included with the game.

Design document[]

Concept art for Simon Belmont, Dracula, Frankenstein, Stained Glass Warrior, Skeleton Snake, Sub-Weapons and Golem was shown in the Arcade Classics Anniversary Collection. In addition, sheet music for "Can't Wait Until the Night" was also included.

Related products[]

Related guides[]

Related games[]

Related music albums[]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 The Untold History of Japanese Game Developers, Volume 1. Interview with Masaaki Kukino. Szczepaniak. 2014.
  2. Personal correspondence with Masaaki Kukino:
    Original: 30年くらい前の話ですが、当時わたしは、別のドット絵のレースゲームを創っていて、別のチームがドラキュラと違うホラーアクションゲームを開発していました。その時そのゲームのグラフィックがあまりに質が低かった為、一か月で全てのグラフィックを描き直してくれと会社から命令があり、その際にドラキュラの世界観にすると決定されました。ですから、世界観とテーマの共有なので、リメイクではありません。
    Translation: "About 30 years ago, I was creating another dot-painted racing game at the time, and another team was developing a horror action game different from Dracula. At that time, the graphics of the game were too low quality, so it was decided by the company to redraw all the graphics in one month, and it was decided to make the game in the style of the Dracula series at that time. So it's not so much a remake, as it is a game with a similar atmosphere and theme."
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Hardcore Gaming 101 Presents: Castlevania. September 2014. Kurt Kalata.
  4. Haunted Castle review at Chapel of resonance. (archived: January 6, 2016)
  5. Haunted Castle at Castlevania Realm.

External links[]

Haunted Castle
Simon BelmontSelenaDracula
Wicked MermaidSkeleton SnakeStained Glass WarriorGolemFrankenstein
GraveyardCaveBanquet RoomBasementClock TowerVampire's Room
Konami Game Music Collection Vol. 1Oretachi Gēsen Zoku: Akumajō Dracula
Konami Game Music: Classic Castlevania
Konami Best Selection