The History of Castlevania (Part 2)

Immediately following the events in Dracula X came the series’ foray onto the Playstation and SaturnCastlevania: Symphony of the Night. The star of the game wasn’t even a Belmont; in fact, he’s none other than Dracula’s own son, Alucard! He first appeared in Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse (as well as in the later Castlevania Legends, which is technically his first chronological appearance; he may even be the father of Trevor Belmont), but Symphony made him just as popular as the Belmonts. Like I mentioned earlier, the gameplay here was much more like Metroid, with backtracking and multiple weapons. Alucard preferred a blade, rather than a whip, but he also had access to magic scepters, shields, and plenty more. (It should be mentioned that the Saturn version was Japanese-only, and also featured Richter Belmont and Maria, his sister-in-law, as playable characters from the start.)

After busting his ass fighting his old man, Alucard decided to seal himself away to keep his vampire blood from tainting mankind. He also realized that spelling his father’s name backwards was a pretty cheesy nickname. (Plus, he didn’t want to get confused with certain Pokémon-loving goths who write rambling treatises about obscure Japanese RPGs.) Anyway, his given name – Adrian Fahrenheit Tepes – was too damn long, so he dyed his hair black and went with “Genya Arikado” for his most recent appearance in Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow. Turning Japanese!

But I digress. Shortly after Symphony of the Night‘s release came Castlevania Legends on the Game Boy, the first game with a female vampire hunter. The lovely Sonia Belmont was said to be the first Belmont to go after Dracula, and kick some ass she did. She was even Alucard’s lover for some time!

The Nintendo 64 got two entries into the series, Castlevania (not a remake) and Castlevania: Legacy of Darkness…and both are absolutely horrible. Avoid them at all costs, unless you actually like crappy graphics, subpar gameplay, and a lame story. I won’t soil this article any further with their presence. Shortly after their release, Playstation gamers in the US got Castlevania Chronicles, a port of that X68000 Akumajo Dracula game with some extra goodies.

Next up are some of the best entries in the series: the trio of Game Boy Advance Castlevania games. Circle of the Moon was a launch title, and starred a vampire-hunter-in-training named Nathan Graves. His primary abilities were enhanced by the new DSS spell system; you’d collect cards and merge them for varying attacks and defenses. Harmony of Dissonance followed a year later, and featured Juste Belmont. He was more of a mage, and had all manner of spells he could use alongside the classic Castlevania weapons. A year after that, we got Aria of Sorrow, which takes place in 2035. This one’s primary character was Soma Cruz, a high school student. Don’t worry, the game didn’t have robots or zombies with laser cannons; all the classic Castlevania baddies were running around the castle. This game was a true heir to Symphony of the Night, complete with insane amounts of weapons and items that you could find and/or purchase. The twist at the end was quite shocking, but you’ll have to play the game if you want to find out more…

Most recently, we’ve gotten Lament of Innocence on the Playstation 2, which seeks to yet again show the first Belmont to ever rise up against evil. Wait…I said evil, not Dracula. See? Sonia Belmont’s story still fits! In this case, we’ve got a former Crusader by the name of Leon Belmont, whose woman gets stolen away by a nasty vampire named Walter. Damn vampires, always stealing our women. C’mon, guys, you’ve got at least one succubus per castle! What the hell do you need real women for?! Are succubi lousy cooks or something? Sheesh. At any rate, Leon is understandably pissed, and thanks to a local alchemist, he nabs a magical whip and sets off to get his woman back.

A mere footnote in Castlevania history is the game that never was: Castlevania Resurrection. This was planned as a launch title for the Sega Dreamcast, and early screenshots of the game had fans drooling. Unfortunately, it was delayed, and ultimately canned in the beginning of 2500. The game was set to take place in 1666, with Sonia Belmont and Victor Belmont (a new character from the 1800s) as stars. Some handy-dandy time travel explains why they’re not in their proper eras, and they were summoned to do battle with yet another female vampire. It’s shame we never got the game, but one can always dream of what could’ve been.

The adventures of the Belmont clan and others are not limited to just Castlevania titles. Many of the characters have made cameos in other games. For example, Simon Belmont’s a playable character in Konami Wai Wai World, Wai Wai World 2: SOS! Parsley Castle, and DreamMix TV World Fighters (all Japan-exclusive games, of course), plus he makes a cameo in a bar in the Sega CD classic Snatcher. You can relive Alucard’s childhood by playing the Kid Dracula games (though we only got the Game Boy version stateside; the Japanese also got one for the Famicom), and Dracula himself zips around on a go-kart in Konami Krazy Racers! That Castlevania crew is busy, indeed.

So what’s next for our vampire hunters and the beasts they face? The original Castlevania was recently ported to the GBA as the latest entry in Nintendo’s “Charge Too Much for an Old Game” line of NES ports. A new Castlevania title is in the works for the Nintendo DS handheld, the upcoming successor to the GBA. The PS2 is also getting another title, Curse of Darkness. This great series shows no signs of slowing down, so horror fans’ appetites will be satisfied for the foreseeable future.

Games (release order)

Castlevania (NES, GBA) – 1987/2000
Vampire Killer (MSX) – 1987
Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest (NES) – 1988
Haunted Castle (ARC) – 1988
Castlevania Adventure (GB) – 1989
Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse (NES) – 1990
Super Castlevania IV (SNES) – 1991
Castlevania Adventure II: Belmont’s Revenge (GB) – 1991
Dracula X: The Rondo of Blood (DUO) – 1993
Akumajo Dracula (X68000) – 1993
Castlevania Bloodlines (GEN) – 1994
Castlevania: Dracula X (SNES) – 1995
Castlevania: Symphony of the Night (PS1) – 1997
Castlevania: Symphony of the Night (SAT) – 1998
Castlevania Legends (GB) – 1998
Castlevania (N64) – 1999
Castlevania: Legacy of Darkness (N64) – 1999
Castlevania Chronicles (PS1) – 2001
Castlevania: Circle of the Moon (GBA) – 2001
Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance (GBA) – 2002
Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow (GBA) – 2003
Castlevania: Lament of Innocence (PS2) – 2003
Castlevania (tentative title, DS) – 2005
Castlevania: Curse of Darkness (PS2) – 2005

Games (chronological order)

Castlevania: Lament of Innocence (PS2) – 1094 AD
Castlevania Legends (GB) – 1450
Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse (NES) – 1476
Castlevania Adventure (GB) – 1576
Castlevania Adventure II: Belmont’s Revenge (GB) – 1591
Castlevania Resurrection (DC, cancelled) – 1666
Castlevania (NES, GBA), Haunted Castle (ARC), Super Castlevania IV (SNES), Akumajo Dracula (X68000), Castlevania Chronicles (PS1) – 1691
Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest (NES) – 1698
Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance (GBA) – 1748
Dracula X: The Rondo of Blood (DUO), Castlevania: Dracula X (SNES) – 1788
Castlevania: Symphony of the Night (PS1) – 1797
Castlevania: Circle of the Moon (GBA) – 1830
Castlevania: Legacy of Darkness (N64) – 1844, 1852
Castlevania (N64) – 1852
Castlevania Bloodlines (GEN) – 1917
Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow (GBA) – 2035
Castlevania (tentative title, DS) – 2036
Castlevania: Curse of Darkness (PS2) – ?

Cameos

Konami Wai Wai World (FAM) – Simon Belmont
Wai Wai World 2: SOS! Parsley Castle (FAM) – Simon Belmont
Kid Dracula (FAM, GB) – Alucard
Snatcher (SCD) – Simon Belmont
Konami Krazy Racers (GBA) – Dracula
Dream Mix TV World Fighters (PS2, GC) – Simon Belmont

Unfinished Business

Castlevania Resurrection (DC) – Cancelled