Castlevania II is actually the game that got me into the series. Sight unseen, in fact! I saw an ad for a bunch of upcoming Konami games, and one of them was Simon’s Quest. Something about the sleek silver box art and the tiny yet detailed screen shot hooked me in a way that none of the other games advertised did, and I became determined to track down the first game.
When I finally got my hands on the game, I actually wasn’t disappointed. It probably helped — a lot — that Nintendo Power explained the most opaque elements of the game, but mostly I just loved the sensation that I was actually exploring all of Transylvania. Even if Transylvania all looked the same. Whatever! It was awesome. Meh, maybe you had to be there.
Also, grabbing screens for this made me realize that I still really love the linear gradient bars Konami used the sky — one of my favorite NES graphical techniques, yet such a simple thing.