Castlevania – Journey Through the Years, Part 5: Dracula Rises No More

Last time, we discussed the Metroidvania-style, Nintendo DS games. While they did well, they were all variations on a theme set forth by Symphony of the Night. Running concurrently with the DS games, was another 3-D attempt at the series on both PlayStation 2 and Xbox, Castlevania: Curse of Darkness. 

Set three years after the events of Dracula’s Curse, the player controls Hector, a reformed, former henchman of Dracula. Hector has the unique ability to create “innocent devils,” or familiars that have different abilities. Think of it as a 3-D Symphony of the Night, but with drab locations, a nonsensical plot and an unnecessary throwback to Dracula’s Curse. 

Despite this, however, it is great fun to play and has superb music. It feels like much more of a Castlevania game than the N64 titles and has more depth than Lament of Innocence. Koji Igarashi, the man responsible for this and most of the Castlevania games since Symphony of the Night, really tries to bring some fan service to the title, showing his love of Dracula’s Curse in the process. IGA, as he is affectionately known by fans, is now working on a spiritual successor to the Castlevania series, Bloodstained.

Fun fact: I beat this game during a tornado warning over a decade ago, with a tornado touching down only 2 miles away. Personally, I enjoyed Curse of Darkness quite a bit, but it isn’t for everybody.

Ten years ago, 2007 saw a remake of Rondo of Blood, dubbed Castlevania Chronicles X, on the PlayStation Portable. A disappointing effort with 2.5-D graphics and a faux 3-D experience, its only redeeming feature is that it contained a port of Symphony. Also in 2007, Order of Shadows arrived for mobile devices. It was, shall we say, bizarre. You can read more about it here, if you’re interested.

Then, there’s Castlevania: Judgment. It’s weird. It’s a fighting game on the Nintendo Wii featuring Castlevania characters with some … strange alterations. This video will show you everything you need to know about the game.

While it is graphically stunning, it just doesn’t feel like a Castlevania game. Around this time, Konami tinkered with a “rebirth” series released on the Wii and Xbox ,respectively. The Castlevania Adventure: Rebirth is a worthy title in its own right, but rehashes similar territory from earlier games.

Following Judgement, the series was rebooted entirely with Castlevania: Lords of ShadowLords of Shadow is a gritty reboot of the series with a completely different plot. I haven’t played the series, but it does have its fans. There were two sequels in 2013 and 2014 respectively — Mirror of Fate for the 3DS and Lords of Shadow 2 for home console systems. They take an interesting path and are worth looking into as an “alternate” version of the Castlevania mythos.

This brings us up to date on the series. As of 2017, there hasn’t been a new Castlevania game for over four years now, and there are few signs of an upcoming game on the horizon (although Konami apparently has been intrigued by the possibilities of a revival on the Nintendo Switch). However, the series has a LEGION of fans (see what I did there?) and its legacy is extensive.

More “spiritual successor” games like Shovel Knight hearken back to the arcade-style gameplay of the pre-Metroidvania series. Cave Story is a full-fledged Metroidvania style game, with guns instead of whips. The more recent Nintendo 3DS game Xeodrifter is another great example of the influence Castlevania has had on modern game developers. Despite this influence, it seems Konami has abandoned the franchise and it probably won’t be resurrected any time soon.

Thank you for tuning into this special retrospective on the Castlevania series. We have a few more Castlevania-themed surprises in store leading up to the premiere of the Netflix animated series in July.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I must return to completing the Nest of Evil in Portrait of Ruin. I just have to get that 1000% completion rate (no, that’s not a typo; you can reach 1,000% completion in Portrait of Ruin).

Castlevania – Journey Through the Years: a retrospective on the retrospective!

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About the author

David Buck

David Buck is an author, musician, copywriter, and voice over artist based in Colorado. His work has appeared on Nerdvana Media, The Nintendo Times, Star, EN World, SyFy Wire and across the web. In his spare time, he composes music, writes science fiction, and paints miniatures.