As long as I can remember, Castlevania has always been one of my favourite game franchises of all time. You play as a whip-whielding memberof the Belmont family, who goes out to hunt the evil creatures of the night, and kill their leader, Dracula- the prince of darkness.
That’s the short version. Well, the franchise has had a long history, for Draculas has been slayed since 1986. So I decided to make a personal top 5 list of my favourite games. But because there are so many games, someof them share the same space in my list.
#5: Symphony of the night (PSX)/ Circle of the Moon (GBA) and Simon’s Quest (NES)
I’m not that big of a fan of the re-orientation of the Castlevania games in 1997, though i know it saved the franchised (as CV64 and Legends were big fails). The games became more RPG-like, and had a huge castle to discover. The actual first game in this way was in fact the second Castlevania – Simon’s Quest, which was also one of the most unpopular games in the franchise. Just check out the AVGN’s very first video-review
Well, in 1997, the returned to this gameplay, and improved it. Symphonie of the night became one of the most popular games, and for many players it was the best game in the series. But for me it’s overrated. Sure it had nice graphics, and a great gameplay, but it was too bright, and I wasn’t that overwhelmed. I also had the PSX-version, which was cut and many levels were left off. I also disliked the end-credits song, which didn’t suit any Castlevania-title at all.
But as time went by, I apprieciated the gameplay, and realised, what had been created, has been perfected in the Circle of the moon, the first CV for the gameboy advance. Though the graphics were slighly inferior to SotN, the gameplay andplot felt much more adequate. I really enjoyed to play this game.
What I also didn’t like about Sot
#4. Castlevania I (NES) and Belmont’s revenge (GB)
You can’t make a list of CV-games and don’t mention the first Castlevania-game (which actually wasn’t the first, but that’s another story). Castlevania I is a sidescrolling action-adventure, in which you kill famous horrorcreatures. It can’t get any more awesome I think. You play as Simon Belmont, and the year is 1691. Only equipped with your whip and courage you set out to do noone has ever done before (at least noone who is not from the family). The game is pretty straight foreward, you can walk, jump, whip and use subweapons. The only thing you can’t do is swimming, but in a castle you probably never would need -oh watch out!
Well, the game is pretty hard, it’s only six levels long, but the last three are hard as hell. And when you beat all the levels, you face off against Dracula, one of the hardest video game bosses aof all time
don’t get fooled by the video, he is pretty tough. But despite its difficulty, the game is great. great soundtrack, gameplay and monsters. And…it’s beatable.
The second game on this list is “Castlevania II- Belmont’s revenge” for the gameboy. You play as Simon’s ancestor, Christopher Belmont. 15 years after his win over Dracula, the prince of darkness returns and kidnapps Christopher’s son, Soreiyu Belmont. Christopher once again goes out to finish the job he thought had finished 15 years ago.
The game is much better than its predecessor, “The Adventure”, which is one of the most difficult and most hated CV-games of all times.”The Adventure” had a very tough gameplay, one hit and you would lose one of two importand whip upgrades, Christopher moves VERY slowly and jumps had to be extremely precise.
Now, the game designers apparently have learned their lessons: Christopher is still slow, but at least more agile than he was before. You don’t lose your upgrades unless you die, and you have subweapons! You also could chose which level you would do first, like in Mega Man
#3: Castlevania – Rondo of Blood (PC-Engine)
Rondo of Blood was only available in Japan for a long time. Western gamers only could play a much weaker and shorter version called “Vampire’s Kiss”.
You play as Richter Belmont, Simon’s grand grand son. Dracula got revived by humans and kidnapped Richter’s girlfrined Annette and her sister Maria, as well as other village girls. Richter has to rescue every single one of them. after you saved Maria, she is a playable character, and much more agile and fun than Richter. Richter can do a double jump, and his subweapons have a secret super attack.
There are also alternate routes, so there is a lot to explore.
#2: Castlevania III-Dracula’s Curse (NES) and Castlevania- Lords of Shadow
Castlevania III was the first CV-game I ever played and the second I ever beated. It is damn hard, but boy, is it a fantastic game. The graphics look beautyfully gloomy, the soundtrack is wonderful, and it is a huge game!
You play as Trevor Belmont, Simon’s ancestor in 1476, the first Belmont to ever defeat Dracula. Like Simon, you wield the “Vampire Killer”-whip and have git the same subweapons. But Trevor has special powers, which enables him to turn into one of three other “spirits”: Sypha Belnades, the vampire-hunter that got turned into stone by the terrible Cyclops (and not Meduse, though she also appears in this game), Grant DaNasty, the pirate captain that got turned into a monster to obey Dracula, and Alucard, Dracula’s son. Each one of them have specific powers and abilities, and have to be saved first, before they accompy you
Unfortunately, due to the restricted capabilities of the Nintendo Entertainment System back then, only one of them could accompy you at a time. So you had to make your choice…
You also had the possibility to choose, which way you wanted to go to Dracula’s castle.
Then we have Lords of Shadow: It is a reboot of the franchise by the American studio “Mercurysteam”, co-produced by Hideo Kojima, and is the first successful attempt to bring the franchise into the third dimension.
It’s the year 1047, and the world is about to end: An unknown demonic force has cut the Earth from Heavon, and hordes of werewolves and vampires and other demonic creatures are roaming the lands. You play Gabriel Belmont (Robert Carlyle), knight of the Brotherhood of Light. Armed with your Combat Cross, a tuneable iron-whip, you set out to safe the Earth by killing the Lords of Shadow, 3 powerful demons that rule the hordes and bring piece to humankind.
The game is linear, but you can always go back to places you’ve already visited and lear new attacks/ powers. Gabriel has the ability to use light (heal) and dark (to attack) magic, which becomes a major feature in the game.
There are a lot of famous actors to give the characters their voice, like Robert Carlyle, Patrick “Captain Picard” Steward, Natasha McElhone, and Jason Isaacs. As it is a reboot, it’s not connected to the previous CV-games, though there are a lot of characters from those games that appear here.
a major problem in the game is the fixed camera, that doesn’t move a bit, and often hinders you in the game.
But for me, that doesn’t bother me too much, and I really enjoyed playing the game.
#1: Super Castlevania IV (SNES)
This game is just perfect. The graphics are great and take advantage of the possibilities of the SNES, the sondtrack is awesome and will be kept in your mind forever once you heard it. and the gameplay is just perfect.You can whip in 8 direction (!), unlike the previous installments, in which you could ony whip in two direction. You can also wave your whip in front of you and hit smaller targets with it. On certain spots you can use the whip on hooks to swing over gaps.
Once again you take control over Simon Belmont as this game is rather a remake of the first Castlevania -though you could also argue that it could be a sequel to the middle-ending of Simon’s Quest. Yeah, the opening doesn’t really clarify that…
The games returned to the linear style, but it doesn’t really matter because the game has a lot to show and bears also many secrets. Each level has its own style and music, and the last two levels use main themes from the NES trilogy.
There are also some nice features such as a rotating room, a room with curling background to give the impression of a 3D-effect, floating chandeliers and falling steps.
In the end, after you have defeated Dracula, there’s a nice recap of the whole game, Simon’s remembering all the great things he – YOU – had done.
Because all of this, Super Castlevania 4 is my all time most favourite Castlevania-game