Castlevania is one of the best video game series of all time, and it’s been getting a bit of a boost lately. The first game came out on September 26, 1986, for the Famicom Disk System. Since then, nearly 40 games for just about every important gaming system since the NES have been released.
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Netflix, which made the first great TV show based on a video game, has even brought the series to TV. We really liked the first season, which had four episodes, and we also liked the second season. Since there hasn’t been a new Castlevania game in a few years, this is an interesting change.
Since Lords of Shadow 2 came out in 2014 on the old PS3 and Xbox 360, Castlevania fans haven’t gotten a big new game, which is a bad turn of events for the series. Even though it has brought back a few old games for modern consoles, Konami hasn’t shown much interest in making anything new for the series.
Even though the game franchise is now a successful TV show, its future is still unclear. However, the fact that it has been around for more than 30 years is a good reason to look back at the whole series. Even though there are more than 30 games on the list, not all of them have been commercial or critical hits. But at its best, Castlevania has given players some of the most memorable gaming experiences ever.
1986 | Konami | NES
In later years, Castlevania as a whole would learn a lot of new tricks, but at its core, it’s always been about scary things. The first game was a classic side-scrolling platformer, but its gothic setting in Dracula’s castle made it stand out from other games of the time. Players led Simon Belmont, who killed vampires, through six levels that got ridiculously hard at times. His main weapon was a whip called “Vampire Killer,” which might have been a little too accurate, but it would soon become a famous part of video game history.
1994 | Konami | Genesis
The only Castlevania game to come out for Sega’s 16-bit console was Bloodlines. It tells the story of Elizabeth Bartley, a legendary vampire who is Dracula’s niece. Bartley suddenly shows up in the 20th century. She is determined to carry on her uncle’s dark legacy and bring him back to life. Heroes John Morris and Eric Lecarde stand up to Bartley and stop Dracula from coming back to life.
This is the first game in the series that doesn’t take place in Dracula’s castle, which is a big deal. In Bloodlines, players actually travel all over Europe. The European connection seems funny now, though, because the game was heavily edited before it came out in PAL. In Europe, Bloodlines was even changed to The New Generation. The blood effects on the title screen were changed to water, and the pink zombies were made green to make them look less scary. Even though the game was censored, it was an instant hit all over the world.
Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse
1990 | Konami | NES
Fans didn’t seem too excited about Castlevania 2: Simon’s Quest. (You want me to go around and find Dracula’s body parts so I can put him back together and bring him back to life so I can kill him again? Seriously?) So, Konami decided to go back to the basics with Castlevania III. Instead of keeping most of the RPG and action-adventure parts from Simon’s Quest, they brought back the platforming from the first game. Players took on the role of Trevor Belmont and could choose from three other characters to fight with him in order to defeat Dracula once more. Castlevania III was different because it had different story paths and different endings depending on which companion Trevor chose. This was a new and exciting idea at the time.
Castlevania: Curse of Darkness
2005 | Konami | PS2, XBO
Curse of Darkness was by no means a perfect game, but the style of the art is enough to put it on this list. The beautiful levels and character designs inspired a spinoff manga that was published by Tokyopop.
The story takes place three years after Castlevania III. It has a new story and main character, the Devil Forgemaster Hector instead of the Belmont family. Hector used to work for Dracula. Once the main game is finished, you can play as Trevor Belmont and use his trusty whip.
Castlevania: Lords of Shadow
2010 | MercurySteam & Kojima Productions | PS3, X360
We’re tempted to just write that Hideo Kojima was a producer on this title and leave it at that, but really, the entire production team deserves kudos for making Castlevania: Lords of Shadow a great game. When Konami first announced the game, it was just called Lords of Shadow. They did this because they didn’t want people to know that they were starting over with the Castlevania series. In the end, this Castlevania game was the one that went from 2D to 3D the best. Yes, the action-based combat felt a lot like God of War, and the game’s ending left a bit to be desired – but hey, look at me, I’m cracking a whip at a vampire in high definition.
Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia
2008 | Konami | DS
There are three Castlevania games for the Nintendo DS. All of them are pretty good, but Order of Ecclesia is the best. After the Belmont family disappeared, players take on the role of Shanoa, a woman who is in charge of a group that is trying to defeat Dracula. So, it’s one of the few games in the series that doesn’t have the famous Vampire Killer whip. But the controls were great, and the boss fights were way more epic than you’d expect from a handheld game.
Super Castlevania IV
Is it controversial to put something other than Symphony of the Night or Aria of Sorrow at the top? Most likely, but it’s not always easy to be right. Super Castlevania IV is a perfected version of the original Castlevania game. It also has some of the best action-platforming ever put into a 2D game. In place of the stiff movement of the first games, you can now fine-tune your jumps while you’re in the air, and the increased power of the Super Nintendo let Konami add more ambient effects, better environments, and a much more detailed Simon Belmont sprite. A very slight and intentional freeze-frame effect when hitting enemies gives each attack more weight without the need for rumble in the controller. This is especially important when fighting the game’s tough bosses.
Do you think any of this is important? You are so dumb! The music in Super Castlevania IV could make it famous on its own. Using the SNES’s great sound chip, gothic-style organs blast as you fight through the scary parts of Dracula’s castle. The tunes will be stuck in your head for weeks after you finish playing.