Akumajou Special: Boku Dracula-kun
Lightning strikes - the chamber rocks violently in its wake. The coffin lid flies off the ornamental centrepiece and the fearsome vampire lord rises from his eternal slumber. With a triumphant roar he makes it known to every living thing close by that the King has returned. But then, his deep, resonating voice cracks under pressure and dwindles into a piercing, high-pitched… squeak? Yes - for you see, this glorious night marks the resurrection of Kid Dracula - a wild child blood-sucker who is no superstar, but a juvenile delinquent of an anti-hero summoned to fight it out mano-a-mano with local demonic bully, Galamoth.
Akumajou Special: Boku Dracula-kun is a light-hearted parody of Konami’s legendary vampire-killing action series, Castlevania. The menacing tone and bloodcurdling atmosphere of Transylvania is replaced by bold, colourful and comical sprites that make Kid Dracula’s debut adventure look more like a child’s game rather than a frightening experience that nightmares are made of.
As young Alucard (Kid Dracula’s anagrammatical name) traverses nine stages of soft-core platforming shenanigans - including some very non-traditional arctic, desert and even outer-space settings (!) - he’ll have to deal with a myriad of classic Castlevanian enemies that have also made the stylistic kiddy transition: chibi-fied armoured knights, brain-dead zombies and those annoying flying bats will attempt to terrorise our naive protagonist. Big, beautiful bosses also await him at the end of the road, from a dashing fire-breathing dragon (makes sense) to a wall-crawling robot (doesn’t make sense). But Alucard is no chicken (he can morph into a bat, though); with his awesome fireballs of fury - later gaining upgrades that allow for spread shots or bigger bangs - he can take down any monster that dares to block his path of callow destruction.
Castlevania fans should thoroughly enjoy this zapped-down action-adventure featuring Alucard before his days of pathetically, amusing voice acting. It brings warm, fuzzy feelings watching him ascend a cog-filled clock tower whilst launching a barrage of mini-fireballs at an adorable-looking Frankenstein creature, later climbing up the famous stairway to the boss’s keep with a crescent moon catching some Zs in the background. And one of the music tracks featured here is an 8-bit bop remix of Beginning - win!
As its title states, this game really is something “special”. Characteristically faultless platforming combined with a charmingly, innocent ambience that blissfully pokes fun at everything that the proper Castlevania games take too seriously - Kid Dracula sure knows how to have a good time! Before Simon Belmont royally screwed Alucard’s father (or before Leon Belmont did, if you want to be pedantic), there was already a party going on in Dracula’s Demon Castle - whether or not you’re a follower of all things Castlevania, you should definitely stop by to say hi and check out this vibrant take on one of the greatest franchises ever.
Eight out of ten
- Colourful palette works well to convey an innocent, fun-loving charm
- Platforming is relatively simple (compared to the more mature Castlevania titles), but still very satisfying
- Music is suitably childish and there's an excellent remix of Castlevania III's "Beginning" tucked in here too
- No Japanese language fluency is required here; do check out the monochrome Game Boy version if you're really that keen, though
- Castlevania fans will be deterred by its simplicity; others may not see what the fuss is about