Castlevania for the Sharp X68000
The original Castlevania is a seminal title. Considered one of the great classics of the Nintendo era (it even was re-released under the Classic NES series for the Game Boy Advance), it's had many re-releases and a number of ports and remakes. Among those iterations, one title stands out as the clear "definitive" version of the game: Castlevania for the Sharp X68000.
Released only in Japan, the Sharp X68000 was primarily a gaming computer that produced graphics and sound comparable to the home consoles of the era. The Castlevania released on the X68000 was improved over the NES version in just about every way, featuring more detailed graphics, improved music, and a completely remixed castle (that still stayed true to the intent of the original). Plus, the title featured a fleshed out storyline, one that helps tie the game better into the mythology and lore that the series had built up over the years since the original's release.
It's taken as fact that Dracula comes back every 100 years, like clockwork, if his followers don't bring him back sooner (this is officially established in Super Castlevania IV, also considered by most to be a remake of the original game). At the start of Castlevania X68000, we see Dracula's minions/cultists performing a "Black Mass Ritual", a spell using the holy magic of the Easter holiday for unholy means. Dracula is resurrected early, and a lone hero has to go to castle Dracula to defeat the foul demon before his dark magic can spread across the land.
It's the Black Mass Ritual that's most important t the lore of the series. Later games will use this concept and flesh it out further, going into detail about what's required to bring Dracula back (a sacrifice, a host, a ceremony), but all of it leads back to the story of Castlevania X68000, a remake that saw fit to properly address the story of Simon Belmont, Dracula, and the ongoing struggle between them.
From a technical stand-point, along with the graphics and sound, the improved castle is a big selling point for the game. The entire castle has been rearranged and redesigned, crafting a larger (and, admittedly, more difficult) adventure for our hero. The castle sports one extra stage (eight in comparison to the original seven), but the stages are actually multi-part, lengthy affairs. The "Swamp" gives way to the "Ice Caverns" in the same stage, while the "Tower of Dolls" shares a stage with the "Hall of Mirrors", and the "Castle Keep" comes after the "Inner Quarters" and the "Final Bridge". There's a lot in the game for players to see and explore.
It's sad that international audiences weren't able to originally play this game upon its initial release as the X68000 never saw a compatible release in the U.S. leaving this as something of a historical oddity for close to a decade. Thankfully, a re-release was eventually spearheaded bu series producer Koji Igarashi, leading to a special release of the game on the Sony PlayStation in 2001.
About Castlevania Chronicles
For American fans of the Castlevania series, Castlevania Chronicles was a dream come true -- one of the great "lost" games of the series finally getting a proper release in America. Fans that had always wanted to own a copy of the game (or even play it, if they weren't into emulation) had their chance to add a gem of a game to their collections with this special edition release on the PlayStation.
Everything from the original title was included -- the entire game was ported over straight as the "Original Mode", letting players experience the full, difficult adventure officially. An "Arranged Mode" was also included as well, featuring redrawn sprites of Simon and Dracula, and a variable difficulty setting (a must for a game as difficult as Castlevania X68000). This meant that even the most casual fan could make their way through a title that could be considered the definitive, true remake of the original game.
Those looking for the truly best version of the original Castlevania could do no better than Castlevania Chronicles. That said, the game is something of a collectible at this point, owing in part to low sales and a select number of copies being made. Copies of the game can fetch a pretty penny on resale markets, especially if the title is still sealed in box. And though the game has been made available, at times, on the PlayStation Network it is still considered something of a rarity even now.