Castlevania: The Adventure was the first Castlevania game for the Nintendo Game Boy. The game is known in Japan as Akumajō Densetsu, which translates to English as The Legend of Dracula. It was released in Japan on October 27th, 1989 and in North America on December, 1989. It was released in Europe and other PAL regions in 1990.
In 1997, the game was re-released once again for the classic Game Boy as part of Konami GB Collection Vol. 1. The compilation featured Super Game Boy utilization and a picture frame. The collection was released in 2000 on the Game Boy Color, with new four-color schemes added to each stage of the game. It also became available for download on special flash RAM cartridge through the Nintendo Power service in Japan.
The original version of Castlevania: The Adventure became available on the 3DS Virtual Console in 2012 in Japan, Europe, and North America.
- "Transylvania, a small country in Europe, is associated even today with a demon's legend. With his powerful evil power, the legacy of Count Dracula has been dreaded by the people. However, no matter how many times Dracula comes back, he never manages to fully change the world into darkness as he is always put away by Simon, a descendant of the Belmont clan.
However, the devil Dracula has existed long before his first confrontation. Not as the devil Dracula, but as an evil sorcerer. Count Dracula was a fanatical demon worshiper, who built a dark castle at the outskirts of Transylvania and conducted evil rituals every night. He has summoned several demons from the other world to serve him and he himself has been trying to get eternal life by becoming a demon king possessing evil powers.
With each day, Count Dracula's evil powers became more frightening, as he spread fear and terror to the people of the village. Until one day, a man stood up. It was Christopher, an ancestor of the Belmont family. Christopher rushed to the dark castle. Many demons and traps laid out are waiting for him at the castle. Will he be able to defeat the transformed devil, Count Dracula, as expected?"
- —Official Japanese manual story for Castlevania: The Adventure.
Castlevania: The Adventure was the first game in the series to be released for the Game Boy, as well as one of the earliest games to be released for that system, as such many elements from its console counterparts had to be compromised due to hardware limitations. This resulted in The Adventure having many unique characteristics which, aside from other games released for the Game Boy, have not been before or since in the franchise.
A major difference from its predecessors is the complete absence of sub-weapons. Due to this, candles no longer drop hearts which act as ammunition. Instead, they drop gold pieces which increases the total high score. The whip can still be upgraded two times - the first time a chain whip, second time to shoot fireballs - but receiving a hit from an enemy decreases its power a level.
The iconic diagonal stairs are not present, being replaced by ropes. Also, almost the entire enemy cast of The Adventure is completely unique. Notable ones include the scythe throwing Zeldos, rolling eyeballs, and the fire spitting Punaguchi, a role usually fulfilled by the traditional Bone Pillars.
Something which is noticeable very quickly is that the game moves very slowly, as well as the protagonist Christopher dropping abruptly after making a jump. This requires for precise timing when whipping or making jumps. Whether this is in order to reduce blur on the Game Boy screen or due to technical issues is unknown.
In total, there are four stages, albeit very long ones. The game starts out in an outside area with woods and graveyard, followed by a trip through a cave, and the last two stages taking place in Dracula's castle. Being developed for the Game Boy, The Adventure features minimal backgrounds and details. The first stage features a mountain backdrop and gravestones, and the second stage features stalactites. The fourth stage contains the most detail, containing chandeliers and arched pathways and widows.
Unique level ideas include falling platforms which quickly need to be traversed before they fall down into an abyss, descending ceiling traps which require to quickly destroy a mechanism to deactivate, and an auto-scrolling area where spiked walls are quickly closing in from below and from the right.
Through the stages, there are hidden rooms that can be found (often without any indication that they're there). For example, requiring climbing to the top of a rope and through an invisible wall, or jumping on an invisible platform and up to a rope hidden in the wall. In these rooms, health restore items, 1-ups, and coins can be collected.
The soundtrack of the game was composed by S. Fukutake, Norio Hanzawa, and H. Funauchi. The music of this game has been commercially released several times as part of CDs like Akumajo Dracula Best 2 (1991), Castlevania 20th Anniversary Deluxe Music Collection (2006) and Akumajō Dracula Best Music Collections BOX (2010). Some of the tracks are rearranged and featured in CDs like Dracula Battle Perfect Selection Vol. 2 (1991) and Dracula New Classic (1992). The theme of the first game Battle of the Holy was later remixed for the Castlevania: The Adventure ReBirth and Contra ReBirth OST (2010).
When The Adventure first came out in North America the back of box incorrectly stated the game's protagonist was Simon Belmont.  This suggested the game was a follow-up to Castlevania and Castlevania II: Simon's Quest for the NES. None of the text on the box, manual, or in-game mentions the name of the hero of this game. The official Game Boy Nintendo Player's Guide also incorrectly referred to the protagonist as Simon in a magazine ad.  When this game's sequel Castlevania II: Belmont's Revenge was released, which had a more developed plot, it was realized that the hero of The Adventure was not Simon, but rather, a new character no one in America had heard of - Christopher Belmont. It was still figured that The Adventure was a sequel, however.
In Japan, however, it was always clear that this game featured Christopher Belmont and took place ages before Simon's time. The Japanese manual for the original Castlevania mentions the "Legend of Christopher" and Simon was considered the heir to Christopher's legacy. This game was created to tell the story of this legendary warrior. In Japan, Christopher Belmont was considered the first Belmont to face Dracula.
However, the Japanese opening for Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse had also placed it the game to be 100 years before Simon's time and it was also stated that its protagonist Trevor C. Belmont was also the first Belmont who went up against Dracula.
For a time in Japan, both The Adventure and Dracula's Curse were considered to be the "first" fight against Dracula and to predate the original Castlevania by 100 years. One of the staff members of Dracula's Curse revealed in an informal manner on the Japanese forum 2ch that he intended the full name of the game's protagonist to be Trevor (Ralph in the Japanese version) Christopher Belmont.  The manual only uses the initial "C." instead of his full middle name. The staff member then went one to state the "Christopher" from Dracula's Curse was the same person mentioned in the Legend of the Hero Christopher.  This meant The Adventure and Dracula's Curse were mutually exclusive prequels to the adventures of Simon.
IGA stated this discrepancy happened because of lack of coordination between the teams who were responsible for the games. When IGA created his timeline, he corrected it by placing Dracula's Curse 100 years before The Adventure, which itself takes place 115 years prior to the events of the original Castlevania.
Castlevania: The Adventure received moderately successful reviews at the time of its release.  Total!! UK Magazine upon giving the game a score of 89/100 stated that "If it wasn't for the annoying restart points this game might have got into the nineties".  The game scored a 79 of out hundred in Electronic Gaming Monthly, citing the game as "proof that the Game Boy can duplicate all the action of an NES title" and complimenting the game on its visuals, namely its "crisp backgrounds" as well as its "excellent stereo sound".  The German magazine Aktueller Software Markt wrote that the the large, well animated sprites and nice background gave the game a nice image. However, the music was "lukewarm" and the rope climbing didn't have much to do with the original NES Castlevania at all, ultimately telling fans of that game to stay away.
Notably, later fans reviews rated the game a lot more negatively. Similar to Haunted Castle, The Adventure has a notoriously poor reputation among the Castlevania fan base.    The slow movement of the protagonist Christopher and his abrupt plummeting after making a jump appears to be the major criticism of the game, as this makes the game slow and difficult.
Castlevania: The Adventure has a direct sequel that continues the battle between Christopher Belmont and Count Dracula titled Castlevania II: Belmont's Revenge. A comic book based roughly on the same story and featuring Christopher Belmont by IDW Publishing titled Castlevania: The Belmont Legacy was published in 2005. Furthermore, Castlevania: The Adventure Rebirth uses a lot of concepts from the game, with new stages, bosses, and enemies. Homages to The Adventure include the item Bullet Tip (Christopher's Soul in the Japanese version) in Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance, which allows Juste Belmont to shoot projectiles from his whip like Christopher, and the game over music in both Belmont's Revenge and Harmony of Dissonance is the same jingle heard in The Adventure, but using different synthesized voices.
|Castlevania: The Adventure|
|Christopher Belmont - Dracula|
|Gobanz - Under Mole - Death Bat|
|Forest and Graveyard - Cave and Dungeon - Torture Chamber and Trap Tower - Main Castle and Vampire Crypt|
|Akumajo Dracula Best 2|
|Game Boy Nintendo Player's Guide - Famitsu Dracula Densetsu Guide|
|Bestiary - Inventory - Castlevania: The Belmont Legacy|