Castlevania

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Just The Facts

  1. All of the games involve exploring a castle full of monsters, traps, and large disgusting bosses.
  2. Dracula is always involved, either directly or indirectly.
  3. Dracula can probably kick your ass.

Every Castlevania Game Ever Made

Welcome to the castle! Probably you are a member of the Belmont family, or maybe a dude with long white hair, or possibly both. Please present your whip (or other weapon) to the thousands of monsters inside. Feel free to destroy any light fixtures.

The Castlevania series is a great example of how to re-use the same basic ideas over and over, and still come up with an addictive game almost every time. It doesn't matter which castle it is, or who your character is; you are going to get killed. A lot. Really a lot.

Not only are the bosses likely to fill half the screen, and have way more hit points than you, a number of areas will be so brutal that simply walking down the hallway to get from one room to another might get you killed. Almost every step involves a constant decision about whether to attack what's in front of you, what's coming up behind you, or whether to just run for your fucking life back to a save room.

Sure, you'll probably find some potions, and probably you can buy some. Go ahead and see how fast you use them up. The real answer is to get smarter and faster. Until you know the best way to take out each monster, and have the reflexes to do it 9 times out of 10, these games are just going to beat your ass over and over.

Architecture of a Nightmare

The great genii behind this game are Konami, a longtime force in the business of videogames. Like many other Asian game companies from the 80's, they like to make ridiculously hard games, and most entries in the Castlevania series are no exception, ranking up there with other stroke-inducing greats like Mega Man.

There are three ongoing creative forces behind the series. Koji Igarashi has acted as the mastermind since being the assistant producer of "Symphony of the Night". A longtime fan of 2-D gaming himself, he became highly committed to bringing quality to the new project after seeing used Castlevania games in a bargain bin. He certainly did his job, because to this day, it's hard to even find a used copy of "SotN" anywhere, and when you do, it's going to cost just as much as it did 13 years ago when it was new. We'll actually get back to that game in a minute, because it was pretty pivotal for the series itself.

The second and third guys are not programmers, and not guys.

The first Castlevania

Back when vampire hunters wanted to be muscly barbarians, and Dracula looked like Count Chocula for some reason. It was the 80's...everyone was doing a lot of drugs and making a lot of unusual hairstyle choices...

A Turning Point

Some exploration and RPG elements had been used in the 1987 sequel "Castlevania II: Simon's Quest". However, it was not until 10 years later that Konami would try the same approach again.

When they released "Castlevania: Symphony of the Night" in 1997, it was an immediate success, and for good reason. They had taken the action-RPG blend to the next level, and blown away their own previous efforts.

Not only that, but the graphics and game art were top-notch for their time, and the music, while always good, was now far more complex and atmospheric, as well as having the advantage of being in a more high-quality audio format.

The formula was followed many times after this, with the purely action-oriented titles becoming the minority. While not every game has had a great storyline or believable characters, the gameplay in these adventure style games has remained consistently fun and addictive. Just as fast paced as the pure action games, the ability to grow stronger, gain new powers and weapons, and reach new areas of the castle makes them similar to the 2-D Metroid games.

The Future