Welcome to our new feature: The best games you’ve never played. Each week, we’ll be bringing you information on good games that flew under the radar, obscure games, Japanese-only imports or games from the past that would make a grown man cry, overcome with nostalgia. We’ll be including games from antiquity, right up to current gen systems – although we’ll not include Indie games, because the breadth is too large – and that becomes a great subject for a whole new column.
Today’s pick is a little-known 8 bit gem from 1990 that, for some reason, only saw release in Japan; Konami’s Akumajou Special: Boku Dorakyura Kun.
Worldly gamers among you would recognise that Akumajou is the Japanese title for Castlevania (literally Devil’s Castle), and indeed, Akumajou Special: Boku Dorakyura Kun is tied to the Castlevania franchise. It translates, roughly, to Devil’s Castle Special – I’m Kid Dracula, and serves as a non-canon spinoff of the series.
Unlike it’s more serious forbear, kid Dracula is a goofy, silly platform game where you, as Dracula’s son (Hey, it’s Alucard!) must battle Galamoth (seen in later Castlevania games) for control of the underworld demonsâ€¦I think. The game’s entirely in Japanese, but not to the point where it impacts being able to play the game.
As I said earlier, it’s an action platformer, similar in many ways to Mega-man. You can jump, duck and shoot fireballs – which when charged are bigger and more powerful. After each level you’re rewarded with a new type of power-ups -Â like a homing shot, explosive shot, being able to temporarily turn in to a bat and the like. Ok, so it’s a lot like Megaman. What’s nice though is that Kid Dracula’s additional powers compliment later levels, instead of just making them easier.
Like many platform games of the era, it’s pretty tough and will require mastery of the timing and pixel perfect precision required to land jumps. Unlike the series from where it draws its name though, the bosses are far, far too easy – although they’re great fun. Where else can you be attacked by a giant chicken who hurls projectile roast chickens in your direction?
Graphically, everything is drawn in a super-deformed, Chibi style, and the music is made of great wacky remixes of Castlevania chiptunes. The game, while not revolutionary, is a great parody of Konami’s Castlevania series; pretty much Konami taking the piss out of itself. It’s not the only time they’ve done that, spoofing their own Gradius games with the wonderfully quirky Parodius games, but that’s a discussion for another time.
Kid Dracula got a Gameboy bound sequel but, barring a 2006 Java re-release for mobile phones, unfortunately hasn’t been seen since. It’s an exceptionally fun game that certainly deserved more recognition than it received.
Last Updated: March 18, 2011