The Castlevania series was one of the most prolific and longest running games in all of gaming, with the success of its many games – including some of the best games of all time – even leading to a popular Netflix animated series. With so much to choose from, it wasn’t easy to rate the best Castlevania games, but we’ve tried our best and we will almost certainly get you to disagree with at least some of the selections and placements. These are the top 10 Castlevania games in the rankings.
More franchise leaderboards
- Best Zelda games
- The best Metroid games
- The best Halo games
- The best Call of Duty games
- Best pokemon games
Some of the games on this list can be found in the Castlevania Anniversary Collection and the recently released Castlevania Advance Collection.
10. Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse (NES)
We saw several NES franchises make big changes with their second installment before going back to what was previously working when a third game was finally released. Super Mario did it, Zelda did it, and Castlevania did it too. The non-linear, but often cryptic and boring, Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest was followed by Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse, which took a more linear approach without being as straight forward as the first game. It featured several playable characters, some of which you will recognize from the animated series. Neither of these objections meant the game was easier. Instead, it’s arguably the toughest of the original trilogy, to the point that it’s reasonable to stop and never actually end it.
9. Castlevania (NES)
The game that started it all on the NES and – at least in terms of release order – started the ongoing battle between the Belmont family and legendary vampire Dracula, the first Castlevania did a lot right. Its art direction and music, which had to be limited to the system’s basic hardware, are still classic today, and the enemies are iconic as well. Fighting literal death and mythological creatures before taking on Dracula has shown how powerful the vampire would be, even if you had full health and an almost limitless supply of holy water to throw in your way. However, the original Castlevania was also a deeply frustrating game because of its stiff controls that didn’t allow you to make course-correct jumps like a couple of broken controllers in games like Super Mario Bros.
8. Castlevania: Bloodlines (Genesis)
Castlevania has been a Nintendo-exclusive franchise for years (we’re not going to talk about this terrible arcade game) and made the leap into the competition with Castlevania: Bloodlines. Exclusive to Sega Genesis, it wasn’t that drastically different from its predecessors in terms of design, with action-oriented gameplay and the same mix of platform and tricky combat that the series was famous for. What really stood out, however, was the weird lore it brought with it, including links to the Bram Stoker Dracula novel that haven’t been explored as thoroughly in most of the other games in the series. Like the other Castlevania games of the 16-bit era, the graphics of Castlevania: Bloodlines have held up very well and are just as playable today as they were back in 1994.
7. Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow
The sequel to Aria of Sorrow – more about that in a moment – Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow continued its more modern story and setting, leaving the centuries-old stories of past games behind and putting players back in the shoes of Soma Cruz. As a supernatural hero of ever-increasing power, similar to the Metroidvania template first seen in Symphony of the Night, Soma’s abilities are far more diverse than what the Belmont clan offers. But what the DS itself offered also made Dawn of Sorrow stand out, with the game’s map permanently displayed on the upper screen, making room for the action on the lower screen and avoiding unnecessary pauses. It certainly wasn’t the only DS game to do this, but in an exploration-heavy series like Castlevania, it’s extremely helpful.
6. Castlevania: Order of the Ekklesia
The last Nintendo DS game in the series – and the last Castlevania single game before the franchise re-released – is also the last original game in the series with the involvement of legendary producer Koji Igarashi. Its extensive history with Castlevania may have been the reason why Order of Ecclesia made such big changes, breaking away from the backtracking castles in favor of a streamlined approach that fused some elements from later games with the level-based earlier titles. Once again it plays a different person than a Belmont which puts you in control of Shanoah who can steal Kirby style enemies to use different weapons. While we love the classic vampire killer whip, this strain helps keep things fresh and is well worth revisiting the Order of Ecclesia.
5. Castlevania: Lords of Shadow
Originally revealed without the Castlevania name, anyone playing through most of Castlevania: Lords of Shadow may wonder what that had to do with the series, with the exception of the last name “Belmont” for the protagonist Gabriel. However, a famous twist makes the Castlevania name much clearer and crowns one of the most underrated action-adventure games of the Xbox 360 and PS3 generation. A brilliant hack-and-slash battle system, orchestral music, celebratory tone, and starring Hollywood actors all helped make it a bedtime hit. Its sequels, both Lords of Shadow 2 and 3DS’s Mirror of Fate, weren’t as successful, which is a shame considering how great the original is today.
4. Castlevania: Rondo of Blood
This is where things get a little confusing. There are two different versions of Castlevania: Rondo of Blood – the one we ranked fourth best in the series and another called Castlevania: Dracula X, which came out on Super Nintendo. If you wanted the better game in the mid-1990s, you had to have a PC engine, the Japanese version of the TurboGrafx-16. It later got a little easier to play with, with a remake in Castlevania: The Dracula X Chronicles, an eventual port to PS4 with Castlevania Requiem, and a seat on the superb TurboGrafx-16 mini console. Eye-catching graphics with smooth animations and brilliant sound design make it appear much newer than it actually is (the game was first released in 1993 and required a CD peripheral). Rondo of Blood is an often overlooked entry not to be missed, especially since another game on our list is actually a sequel.
3. Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow
The last game in the series released for the Game Boy Advance was also the best, and as far as possible from the Castelvania default setting and premise. Dracula still played a part in the game, but it took some time funny Directions that have nothing to do with the Belmonts and their seemingly endless struggle against the vampire lord. Soma Cruz, who returned in the sequel Dawn of Sorrow, makes his first appearance in this game, and you can use a number of different weapons to defeat your enemies while using their skills to further increase your power. If ever there was a Castlevania game intended for Hot Topic customers with their hair straightened and Hawthorne Heights shirts, it was, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
2. Castlevania: Symphony of the Night
The game that changed everything, Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, was a pretty radical dawn for the series, evolving from a mostly level-based action platform to an open-ended action RPG clearly inspired by the Metroid series. It even resulted in a new name for an entire sub-genre of games – Metroidvania – and a template that Castlevania mostly stuck to for more than a decade. Although Konami was released on the original PlayStation well into its lifespan, Konami didn’t force 3D visuals in Symphony of the Night, which it couldn’t help in the mediocre Nintendo 64 games, and instead delivered an eye-catching and timeless 2D graphics style. The English translation of the game also featured some unwanted humor, including the famous line “wretched little pile of secrets”. But enough talk, it’s number 2!
1. Super Castlevania IV
Is it controversial to have something other than Symphony of the Night (or Aria of Sorrow) on top? Probably, but being right is not always easy. Super Castlevania IV is the perfect original Castlevania formula, complete with some of the best action platforms ever delivered in a 2D game. The stiff movements of the earlier games are replaced with finely tuned jumps that you can adjust in the air, and the Super Nintendo’s increased performance allowed Konami to offer more environmental effects, better environments, and a much more detailed Simon Belmont sprite. A very slight and deliberate freeze frame effect when hitting enemies adds weight to any attack without having to rumble in the controller, which is especially important when facing the difficult bosses of the game.
But do you think this is important? You’re so stupid! Because of its music alone, Super Castlevania IV could be legendary. With the SNES’s excellent sound chip, Gothic-style organs will sound as you struggle through the spooky sections of Dracula’s Castle, and the tunes will stick in your head for weeks after you finish playing.
GameSpot leaderboards and recommendations
- The best Nintendo Switch games
- The best Xbox Series X games you can play right now
- The best PS5 games yet
- The 25 Best PC Games You Can Play Right Now
This article was previously published on Source link