In the year 1691, exactly a century after the events of Belmont's Revenge, Transylvania enjoyed a century of peace thanks to the legendary hero, Christopher Belmont, a vampire hunter who vanquished Count Dracula one hundred years earlier with a holy whip named the Vampire Killer. The people of a Transylvanian village were enjoying their fortune with an Easter celebration in honor of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, but every one hundred years, the power of Jesus weakened, and the hearts of men turned black as they yearned for chaos and destruction. During this time, they sought to revive Count Dracula so he may spread chaos and ruination throughout the world. While the Easter celebration carried on with a grand carnival, evil men gathered in a monastery at the edge of the village and conducted a black mass to resurrect Count Dracula. The men succeeded in bringing their master back in 1691. A bolt of lightning enveloped the monastery where they held the rite, signaling the resurrection of Count Dracula. When the Count returned, his castle, which had fallen one hundred years prior, reappeared in Transylvania, and his legions of loyal minions reformed. Simon Belmont, the descendant of Christopher Belmont, knew that as a member of the Belmont Clan and the current wielder of the Vampire Killer whip, it was his duty to bring peace and stability back to Transylvania by destroying Dracula. The Count was said to grow in strength with each resurrection, but Simon pressed on. He took the very same whip Christopher used to kill Dracula one hundred years before and entered the castle alone.
Castlevania consists of six linear stages with a boss at the end of each stage. The stages represent areas of Dracula's decrepit castle, and the enemies are typically taken from horror literature, lore and films. Throughout these stages are pits and other traps that cause instant defeat. Many enemies will try to take advantage of these, as Simon is knocked backward when he takes a hit. As players progress further into the game, the enemies will deal greater damage, eventually to the point where Simon will be defeated after taking four hits. Simon's primary weapon is his whip, the Vampire Killer. The Vampire Killer can be upgraded to boost attack strength and length. Upgrades and items are found by striking candelabras or by killing enemies. Players are rewarded with points for killing enemies and clearing a stage. The amount of points gained at the end of a stage depends on how quickly it was completed. Extra lives can be earned through gaining enough points.