- : Use the control pad to guide Simon through the world of Castlevania. Press left or right to make him walk in either direction. Press down to make Simon squat. Press up or down while standing at the base of staircases to make Simon climb or descend the steps. When the Status Screen is shown, use the direction pad to move the selection arrows.
- : Press the A button to make Simon jump. Simon can jump straight up, or he can jump to the left or right by holding the control pad in either direction while pressing A.
- : Press the B button to make Simon swing his whip and attack enemies. Simon can swing his whip while standing, jumping in the air, or while squatting by holding down on the control pad. The B button is also used to talk to friendly villagers, and to confirm your selection when asked a yes or no question.
- +: Hold the control pad up while pressing the B button to make use of the currently selected special weapon. Note that some special weapons require hearts to use, and will not work if Simon is out of hearts.
- : Press Start to go from the title screen to the main menu, and to choose a selection on the main menu. During the game, press Start to pause the action and call up the Status Screen.
- : Press Select on the main menu to choose between starting a new game or entering a password to continue. During the game, press Select to pause the action without calling up the Status Screen.
You control Simon Belmont throughout his quest to free himself from Dracula's curse. In order to do so, Simon must visit five mansions that are scattered throughout the land, and which each contain one of the remains of Dracula's body. While doing so, time will pass, day will become night, and night will become day. The more days that pass, the more difficult it will be for Simon to completely remove the curse. Simon is a master with the chosen weapon of most Vampire Killers, the whip. He can strike enemies with startling speed and efficiency, but the whip he starts out with is weak. He can upgrade to stronger whips by finding those who would sell them to him. Other weapons can be found throughout the land, some purchased, and some discovered.
Simon starts the game with three lives, and he has a health meter which can be seen at all times in the upper left hand corner of the screen. The more damage Simon takes, the more the health he loses. Simon's health meter can be extended by accruing enough experience points and reach certain levels. If Simon's health meter is depleted, he will lose one life. If Simon loses all of his lives, the game will be over, and you will be given the opportunity to record a password which you can write down and enter at a later time, or to continue your game from where you left off. However, if you continue, you will be stripped of all the hearts you had saved, and experience points you had earned since the last level increase.
Throughout the game, you can increase Simon's experience points by collecting hearts. For every heart that you collect, you earn one less in experience than the value of the heart. For example, a half heart is worth 4 hearts, and it also provides you with 3 experience points. Even if your heart collection is maxed out at 256, you will continue to earn experience points by collecting hearts. When you reach the required number of experience points, your level will rise, and your experience resets to zero. With each experience level, you decrease the amount of damage that you take from attacks. With every other level increase, you also extend your health meter. However, once you advance to a certain level, you will not gain any more experience points until you travel to a more difficult region. If you notice that you are not gaining experience points by collecting hearts, you need to travel elsewhere to raise your level. The table below will roughly summarize which regions allow you to reach particular levels.
|Level||Experience needed||Health meter||Damage taken||Region|
|0||-||48 (12 bars)||100%||-|
|1||100||48 (12 bars)||75%||Between Jova Town and Berkeley Mansion|
|2||150||64 (16 bars)||50%||Beyond Berkeley Mansion up to Rover Mansion|
|3||200||64 (16 bars)||25%||West of the ferryman to Deborah Cliff|
|4||250||80 (20 bars)||12.5%||The area surrounding Bodley Mansion|
|5||300||80 (20 bars)||6.67%||Between Jova Town and the ferryman river, Dora Woods|
|6||350||96 (24 bars)||6.25%||The area surrounding Laruba Mansion|
|First block||Simon's status:|
|Second block||Simon's current whips and relics. These items are always active.|
|Third block||Dracula parts and crystal. Only one of these items may be activated.|
|Fourth block||weapons and tools. Only one of these items may be used at a time.|