The Anatomy of Castlevania Vol. I


The Anatomy of Castlevania Vol. 1 (aka GameSpite Journal 13) is available for purchase as a print-on-demand book on the GameSpite Blurb store.

You can acquire the books as:

Or you can just read (most of) the content for free here.



A few months back, I casually wrote a small site update referencing the animation frames of Simon Belmont in the original Castlevania and how the detail Konami’s designers invested in such a frivolous thing as a walk cycle represented a pivotal moment in my appreciation of video games. Quite by accident, this set off a cascade of articles dissecting the mechanics and level design of classic video games—initially Castlevania (since that world was brilliantly designed around Simon’s abilities and limitations), but soon branching out to other as well.

I didn’t really intend for this to become a series, let alone a book, but it turns out I’m really fascinated by the art of digesting the rules and fine points of old video games. And, to my surprise, a fair few people enjoy reading my long-irrelevant observations.

Which brings us to GameSpite Journal 13. This issue was originally slated to be something else entirely, but after getting a few Anatomy of a Game entries under my belt I thought it might be interesting to try laying these articles out in print, revisiting them with expansions, revisions, and supplemental content by other GameSpite contributors. While a good portion of this content has apppeared online already, the version contained in this volume has been considerably refined. And also, there’s an entirely new analysis of Castlevania III. So please enjoy, if that’s your inclination—and if not, no worries: GameSpite Journal 14 will be business as usual.

Jeremy Parish

February 28, 2012


In This Issue


  • Vampire Killer

    Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest

    • Part One: Basic Design
    • The Second Game is Always Weird on NES
    • Part Two: Interesting Mechanics
    • Part Three: Towns
    • Howard & Nester
    • Part Four: Mansions
    • Part Five: NPCs
    • Part Six: The World
    • The Post-Map Era by Tomm Hulett
    • Part Seven: The Enemies
    • What is That Song and Why Can’t I Stop Humming It? by Tomm Hulett
    • Part Eight: Castlevania
    • Remembering Simon’s Quest by Ben Langberg
    • The Other Simon’s Quest
  • Haunted Castle


All text is © its respective author.

GameSpite Journal 13 Copyright Indicia:

The works covered in this volume are copyright 1986-2013 Konami. No claim of ownership over the images is stated or implied. All screen images and artwork are used in the spirit of fair use, as this book represents a critical and academic analysis of these games and the visuals are used strictly to provide examples of the topics and design under discussion.

Original content (text and layouts) ©2013 the original author of each piece. Text written by Jeremy Parish unless otherwise noted. Thanks to Tomm Hulett, Jake Alley, Lee Hathcock, Tyler Lindner, and Ben Langberg for their contributions to this volume.

Images sourced from and used with express permission.

Cover illustration by Jeremy Parish. Back cover illustration by Bill Mudron, used with permission. Bill’s unadulterated map art will be available in poster format (24” x 36”) in the near future. Please check for more info.

The images reproduced in this volume are printed under the banner of fair use as supplemental visuals to support critical writing. Our words belong to us, but we make no claim to the works and images in question. As usual, most images in this volume have been sourced from the following sites, with explicit permission of the site owners and curators: Hardcore Gaming 101 (; The Video Game Musuem (; and the Let’s Play Archive (

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