Haunted Castle (1988) - A look at the game's bosses
In the last post we looked at Konami's 1988 arcade game, Haunted Castle, in some detail, including a play-by-play of all the areas in the game and how to get past them. So if you want to know more about that, click here.
Today we're taking a deeper dive into the game's six final bosses and how to defeat them. Classic monsters from the old and-and-white Universal movies are here, such as Frankenstein and Count Dracula himself, while the game also borrows from Greek mythology, which is why you get bosses like Medusa (as well as Medusa heads in the console versions of Castlevania). And speaking of Medusa, this is the perfect place to start...
Located in the ruined church at the end of Stage 1, Medusa is the first boss you'll come across in the game. However, she's somehow managed to turn herself into stone, so you'll have to wake her up. Before that happens, you'll be mercilessly attacked by vampire bats. You can avoid getting get by all of them by standing in the gap between the doors marked 93 and 94 (the latter is half fallen off) as shown in the screenshot below.
After you've gotten rid of most of the bats, Medusa (or the wicked mermaid as the official instructions call her) wakes up! Assuming you have the Dynamite sub-weapon (collected from a skeleton on a stone bridge earlier in the level), she is quite easy. Simply jump over her snake projectile attacks and chuck your own at her. She'll soon go down for the count.
Found in a dark cavern at the end of Stage 2, the Skeletal Dragon is the next end-of-level boss that Simon encounters. It fires flaming projectiles and moves around the screen, but never fear. If you have the Timer sub-weapon (picked up from a skeleton around halfway through the level) the dragon becomes ridiculously easy. Wait until its head is level with your whip, then freeze the dragon and whip away at your leisure. Job done!
The instruction leaflet calls this boss a "giant brandishing a sword" but I think it looks like a marionette made out of stained glass, so that's what I'm calling it. You'll find the marionette in the chapel at the end of Stage 3, the Banquet Room. It's not alone, however; with the marionette is a dwarf. This double team reminds me of the Frankenstein & Igor duo in stage 12 of the original Castlevania, only not as annoying.
If you have the Boomerang sub-weapon (picked up at and the start of Stage 2), the marionette is not too tricky. I imagine it's not too tricky with any sub-weapon you might have on hand, I just happened to have the Boomerang for whatever reason. Anyway, keeping hitting it with the sub-weapon and it'll die soon enough. You might want to kill the dwarf beforehand, though.
You might want to have the Cross or Timer sub-weapon for this fight; I had the Boomerang. This monstrosity is found at the end of Stage 4, the Basement. He'll very cheaply sling mud at you (literally), and it's almost impossible to avoid - I managed it once. The idea is to hit its face, chest or forearm with your main or sub-weapon.
If you don't have the Timer sub-weapon so you can temporarily freeze its sorry a**, be prepared to bring a full bar of health to stand the best chance of beating this big cheating lump of rock. Throw everything you've got at it, and soon you'll have it beat.
For some reason Konami didn't bother to give the rock monster a death animation, so the fight just seems to end. The only clue you have that the fight's over is an audio cue. However, the rock monster itself isn't destroyed. Did it just give up?
Yeah, yeah, I know technically it's Frankenstein's Monster. You'll find him in the laboratory at the end of Stage 5, the Clocktower. He's chained up and so can't hurt you directly. But he can indirectly. He does so by banging the wall and bringing large bricks down on you.
If you have the Cross sub-weapon (picked up from a skeleton earlier in the level) he's very easy. Keep throwing it at him, and he'll soon dissolve into a skeleton (apart from his brain, for some reason).
Dracula, the King Vampire himself, might be the easiest boss of them all. And that's despite having two forms, like his console counterpart. You'll find him in the throne room (or perhaps his bedchamber - coffin chamber, sorry) at the end of Stage 6.
In his first form, he'll continuously transform into a swarm of bats and move around the room. The bats will hurt you if they make contact, so try not to get hit. Anyway, track Drac's movements and hit him with your main or sub-weapon. The Sword is best in terms of main weapon, and no matter what sub-weapon you use, you'll damage the Count.
In his second form, Dracula becomes a giant head that attacks from either the left or right. Same rules apply. I used the Sword and Torch sub-weapon (you can pick this up from one of the floating silverware pieces in Stage 3) and destroyed him in about 20 seconds.
And that's my brief look at the six main bosses in Konami's 1988 Haunted Castle. They are all (to varying degrees) fairly easy, and I wonder if that's intentional on Konami's part. Why would they do something like that? Perhaps to counter balance the extreme difficulty of the levels that lead up to each boss encounter. I have a feeling the sub-weapons are a little too overpowered as well. The Torch in particular is a beast, especially against Dracula. It's this combination, I think, that makes the bosses a little on the easy side, and more so compared to the original Castlevania. The Dracula fight of that game is simply brutal (to me at least). In the end, the bosses in Haunted Castle offer some reprieve from what came before. And the designs aren't half bad either.