I just now, after over a decade, finished Castlevania 1 (only by playing the japanese version on the easy setting and saving a lot)… the ending credits say the music is by — “Johnny Bannana,” I believe was the name. Also, they call Simon “Simon Belmondo.” There are mounds of credits such as “Plot: Brahm Stoker” and “Frankenstein: Boris Karloff”… hm.
I finally downloaded an msx emulator and frontend, in order to play Vampire Killer. The graphics in it blow the nes version away, but it’s impossible to play. It makes the original US ver of Castlevania seem like a pushover…
You can see sorta’ see how VK is a game-in-development… how, when they remade it for the nes, they looked closely at its structure and remixed the elements in a more palatable form. The rounds are very similar in structure and background, identical in music (though the psx music is better), almost identical in character and monster sprites, but in the nes version there’s scrolling, the enemies are placed sanely (inasmuch as they don’t keep coming in an unending stream, but, rather, are put in specific places), you don’t have to look around for keys and whip walls in hidden places to finish levels, and you get to really use items.
I think Simon’s Quest was a way of trying to put some of the original elements back into Castlevania which they thankfully removed for the nes conversion — such as the idea of an inventory; buying items and searching for others; having a nonlinear(ish) round structure. The shield from CVII is even in there… though nobody appears to shoot at you, so its usefulness is questionable. Actually, there’re two different shield types.
Playing that game from hell for about half an hour gives me a much greater appriciation for what it later spawned, and helps me to understand the series better, as well — just to see kind of the thought processes behind the first game, before major editing, and from where some ideas from the second probably came. Sort of like listening to Purest Feeling, the major difference being PF was a lot better than PHM in a number of aspects.