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 "definative" version of the game: Castlevania for the Sharp X68000.
Released only in Japan, the Sharp X68000 was primarily a gaming computer. The Castlevania released on the X68000 was improved in just about every way from the original -- redrawn, more detailed graphics, improved music, and a completely remixed castle. Oh, and a fleshed out storyline, one that helps tie the game better into mythology and lore that the series had built up over the years.
Now, it's taken as fact that Dracula comes back evey 100 years, like clockwork, if his followers don't bring him back sooner (this is officially established in Super Castlevania IV, also considered by some 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 becomes most important. Later gams in the series will flesh this 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.
From a technical stand-point, along with the graphics and sound, the improves castle is a big selling point of the game. The entire castle has been rearranged and redesigned. Numerically, the castle sports one extra stage (eight in comparison to the original seven), but the stages are actually mutli-part. For instance, 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 to see and explore.
It's sad that international audiences weren't able to originally play this game, but, thankfully, a re-release was eventually published on the Sony PlayStation.
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.
Everything from the original title was included -- the entire game was ported over straight as the "Original Mode". An "Arranged Mode" was also included, featuring redrawn sprites of Simon and Dracula, and a variable difficulty setting (a must for a game as difficult as Castlevania X68000). Those looking for the truly best version of the original Castlevania could do no better than Castlevania Chronicles.