What video game franchise could possibly embody the spirit of Halloween better than The Legend of Zelda? Well, probably Castlevania for one, so it’s a good thing someone decided to combine the two! Yes, it’s an indie fangame which combines elements of two of my favorite franchises and it’s even made in Zelda Classic, a rather impressive game engine which deserves an article of its own one day. Sticking a character from one game into stages and general locations from another is nothing new, but Link Stuck in Castlevania is impressive both for how far it pushes the Zelda Classic engine itself and for how far it takes the experience.
Things start out a bit slow with Link going through some fairly linear and simplistic zombie and bat-filled hallways resembling the start of the original NES version of Castlevania, but this mediocre pace doesn’t last for long. Link can break bricks and shatter candles to quickly gain access to all sorts of upgrades from both worlds, including hearts, maximum health increases, potions, maps, subweapons belonging to both him and the Belmonts, and even those blocks with Roman numerals which allow more subweapons to be on the screen simultaneously. The early stages mostly stick to layouts resembling those found in their equivalent stages in Castlevania, but later levels become increasingly creative with looping hallways, puzzles, hidden rooms, and less blatantly linear layouts. Once you get the warp whistle in Stage 2 you can also freely travel back to previously completed stages to hunt for any missed items or upgrades and the stages themselves even have one-way warps serving as a sort of fast travel service. Stairs can be troublesome as it can be difficult to tell when you’re officially ‘off’ of a staircase and far more than once I ended up walking back down some stairs while trying to move left or right and most bosses are on the underwhelming side of things (the first boss can even fly out of the room and force you to reset the fight), but the later stages, and especially the large final area, easily make up for any shortcomings. Link Stuck in Castlevania is a great crossover for fans of Belmonts and Hyrulian heroes alike which goes to great lengths to combine strengths from both series and to blend the nostalgic confines of the corridors of Dracula’s castle with new and unexpected twists and surprises.