In 1983, TSR released the adventure Ravenloft. A gothic horror module set in the domain of the sinister vampire, Strahd. Written by
Tracy & Laura Hickman, the module made a big splash.
I picked up the year it was released. I spotted it in Waldenbooks and was hooked, the cover of Ravenloft module was very compelling. Done by Clyde Caldwell, it depicts Strahd von Zarovich on a balcony of Castle Ravenloft.
As you can see here, the art is compelling.
Jump ahead a few years (4 in Japan, 5 in the U.S.) and Konami released a sequel to their smash game, Castlevania. In Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest,
players again assume the role of Simon Belmont. Who is now on a journey to undo a curse placed on him by Dracula at the end of the first game. Dracula’s body has been split into five parts after his defeat and Simon must bring them to the ruins of his castle to defeat him.
It was a fun sequel, but what really got all my friends talking, was the cover art for the game that showed Dracula in a very similar pose to Strahd from Ravenloft.
While the vampire-style is more cartoon-like, the setting is a direct take on Ravenloft. It is especially obvious around the gargoyle.
Time has passed and I am sure many people have forgotten about this, but It was a big point of discussion for months among my friends at the time. To this day, I still cannot think of Castlevania without making this connection and thinking how great it would have a Ravenloft-style RPG platformer back in 1988.