Castlevania: Season 1 Review

We gamers take our passion very seriously.  Too many times have we seen people tried to take these games that we cherish, and translate them into a more “mainstream” medium, such as television shows or movies…often, with terrible results.  As a young, naïve child, I remember being ecstatic that a movie version of Super Mario Brothers was coming.  This movie is now usually mentioned among some of the worst to have ever been made.  The trend has continued since then, with terrible adaptations of video games being commonplace.  There are, at best, only a couple of exceptions.  When I first heard the rumor of a Legend of Zelda series coming to Netflix, I was equal parts excited and full of dread.  I would love to see Zelda come to life on television, but I also know that this would be nearly impossible to pull off correctly, and I’d rather no one even try at this point.

That brings us to Castlevania.  A Netflix miniseries adaptation of the NES classic, Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse.   This is a game, and a series, that I truly love, and so again I find myself torn on my feelings about this.  Castlevania does not have that same special place in my heart that Zelda does, however,  on the surface, a Castlevania show just seems to lend itself better to TV than Zelda ever would.  Perhaps…this may actually work?

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I just finished “binge” watching this season, if that’s what you would even call watching all of about an hour and forty minutes worth of a show.  I am leaving this review mostly spoiler-free, however if Castlevania is something you are truly interested in and you haven’t watched yet, you may want to stop reading now.  In my mind, the show actually came out swinging with Episode 1, “Witchbottle”.  The opening visuals absolutely feel like Castlevania, with skeletons, bats, Dracula’s castle, and an abundance of candles just begging to be whipped.  This episode is essentially all about Vlad Dracula Tepes, or simply Dracula, as we all know him, and serves to set the stage very well for what is to come.  By the end of Episode 1, I found myself wanting more.  Not “hooked” necessarily…but, wanting more.

Episode 2 came and went, without much of consequence happening, and mostly is just introducing us to Trevor Belmont and his trusty whip, “Vampire Killer”.  It isn’t until Episode 3 that we finally see some Castlevania-style action, and we are introduced to another familiar face from Dracula’s Curse.  Episode 4, the finale, was very good, and delivers the most action that we see in this season.  Plus, as another homage to the video game series, we see some traversing of giant gears, as has been seen in seemingly every Castlevania game ever created.  The season comes to a conclusion in what I can only imagine is meant to be a shock, however to anyone familiar with this game, it wouldn’t be at all.

Ultimately, the way I felt at the end of Episode 1, is how I felt at the end of the season…wanting more.  It definitely “feels” like Castlevania, which is already more than can be said of most television or movie adaptations of video games.  The season, and likely any following seasons, plays out more like a movie that has been split up into four easy to swallow parts.  I do believe there is enough story to be told for this to be a more standard 8-12 episode season, but it looks as though this is how it is going to be served to us.  I am certainly looking forward to next season, and am rooting beyond belief for this series to be a success, amongst both critics and gamers alike.  There is so much story to be told in video games, that I have always felt they work much better as a television series, than as a movie.  Hopefully, if this is ultimately a success, it will pave the way for more respectable video game adaptations in the future.

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