Castle Dracula

by Microdeal

Episode 5 of Microdeal Series

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
A zombie and a hunchback walk into a plank. Neither is harmed., July 9, 2023
by Wade Clarke (Sydney, Australia)
Related reviews: BASIC

I played a Commodore 64 version of Castle Dracula. The original BASIC game was published in CLOAD magazine, later distributed commercially by Microdeal and much later received further porting attention to other systems.

This adventure shares the most typical set-up for 8-bit Dracula adventure games: It plonks you roughly outside the castle and tasks you with going in and killing Dracula. I don't know the source of the flavour-adding blurb text concerning your missing wife but it goes unreferenced by the game.

For what was originally a magazine game, Castle Dracula has a big map. It is otherwise perhaps the epitome of elbow-grease-requiring two-word parser adventuring. The defining annoyance for the modern player is that almost nothing has a description if you EXAMINE it. If nothing's worth examining, then all you have is the ability to collect objects, or to try to VERB them on rooms and objects. There are no additional nudges towards solutions beyond the initial prose presentations of anything.

Again, this kind of solving-it-in-your-head approach is the bread and butter of a lot of games of this type. I found it too tedious in this one. For instance, there's a plank. There are so many great things you could think of doing with the plank (smack a zombie or hunchback or annoying suit of armour with it, build a ladder, cross a pit) and none will work or give much feedback except the correct ones performed with the correct verbs in the correct locations. And there are a ton of locations, so even just testing one idea across the board is too much slog.

There's also an inventory limit (leads to huge back-and-forthing on the map), some finite supplies (fortunately not the light source!), a slightly mazey forest, and one command that's crucial for more than one puzzle and which I'm not sure I'd have come up with myself. If you want a single bit of advice for Castle Dracula in general that will really improve your experience, here it is: (Spoiler - click to show)GIVE doesn't work, but OFFER does.

I'm a (blood)sucker for all things Dracula. This one has a good Dracula setting with forest and church and castle, but is otherwise more a haunted house adventure with a cute attitude; as well as the zombie, you'll meet a Quasi Quasimodo. And when I say meet, I mean he'll be present in a room a the same time as you. Communication is beyond the scope of this game. You can refer to him as QUA because only three letters are read by the parser.

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Strident, July 9, 2023 - Reply
Is there actually any evidence to show this was published in CLOAD initially? The first four were but there doesn't seem to be any references to this one.
Wade Clarke, July 10, 2023 - Reply
I was going off this blog post by jgerrie, who last edited the IFDB page about the game:

The relevant sentence said:

"In looking into it further I discovered that many of them had been published first in CLOAD Magazine and were only later licensed and distributed by Microdeal and numbered as follows:

1: Mansion, 2: Jerusalem, 3: Williamsburg, 4: Ultimate, 5: Castle Dracula"

I interpreted that as saying the numbered Microdeal ones were a subset of the CLOAD magazine ones. But deep down, the sentence is ambiguous.
Strident, July 10, 2023 - Reply
Thanks for the reply. I thought I'd ask in case you had any other sources that we've not previously come across. Although the five games are positioned in a Microdeal "series", not all the games were originally from CLOAD.. Mansion was published by the sister-publication Chromasette. We're still looking for the original source of Castle Dracula at this point in time. At the moment it's down as a Microdeal original production; released officially for C16 and Enterprise. I don't know how accurate that later C64 port is.
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