The Castlevania series (also known as Akumajô Dracula in Japan, which means Demon Castle Dracula) is a series of 2D platform and 3D games developed by Konami. The series has become one of the most famous and beloved franchises in the history of gaming, featuring characters like Simon Belmont, Alucard, and music like Bloody Tears.
Castlevania centers arounds the conflict between the Belmont family and Count Dracula that began in Castlevania: Lament of Innocence. The feud between them originated in the 11th century and has stretched throughout the years all the way into modern times. Dracula seeks to wipe out humanity after humans wrongfully accused his wife Lisa of being a witch and had her executed. The Belmonts have sworn to oppose Dracula and destroy him no matter what.
Here can be found a synopsis of each of the Castlevania games:
Bram Stoker's Dracula
The Dracula that exists in the Castlevania universe is loosely based on the character created by Bram Stoker. The series has attempted to incorporate some of the history of Stoker's Dracula into its Dracula in games like Castlevania: Bloodlines, which was the first game to link the Castlevania storyline with Bram Stoker's famous novel.
The games deviate from Stoker's character in that its Dracula has nothing to do with Vlad Tepes. Instead, as seen in Lament of Innocence, Dracula was originally a man named Mathias Cronqvist, who happened to be a close friend of Leon Belmont. Mathias became a vampire at the end of the game and would eventually declare himself Lord of the Vampires years later.
Although Symphony of the Night introduced RPG and Adventure elements to the series, all Castlevania games are 2D platforming games, except for the four that are in 3D. Castlevania Judgment is the first game in the series to be a fighting game.
The pre-Symphony of the Night Castlevania games were very linear in nature. The player played as a member of the Belmont Clan (or as John Morris in Castlevania: Bloodlines) and fought with a whip passed down in the Belmont clan: the Vampire Killer. The hero could also fight with a sub-weapon such as the axe, the holy book, or the cross, amongst many others. These sub-weapons consumed hearts in order to be used.
Castlevania II: Simon's Quest took a different direction from the other games. Instead of being linear, the player had the freedom to go wherever they wanted to on the map, so long as they had the means to get there. The game also mixed in some minor RPG elements and overall played more like an adventure game rather than an action game. This was also the first Castlevania title that allowed players to purchase items at a store.
The first games had a very limited gameplay. The character couldn't change direction mid-jump or jump on or off stairs, and the whip could only be used in one direction. However, later games such as Super Castlevania IV, fixed these issues, but only in the last classic Castlevania, Rondo of Blood, could the player fully control the character.
When Koji Igarashi took the direction of the Castlevania series, he introduced some RPG and Adventure elements to the series. The first game to feature these changes was Symphony of the Night, on the Playstation. Rather than playing through linear levels, the player could freely move in the castle à la Metroid (hence the name given to the genre: Castleroid, Castletroid, or Metroidvania). It also took some RPG elements, such as the inventory, the equipment or the experience system, which worked by defeating enemies or by collecting special items. A magic counter was added, in addition to the hearts counter for the sub-weapon.
It should be noted that almost all Castleroid of the series feature a classic mode without inventory or equipment.
The four installments in 3D of the series are often considered as inferior to the other games. IGA himself has said that he has yet to find the good formula to make a 3D Castlevania.
Castlevania 64 and Castlevania: Legacy of Darkness were the two first tentatives for a 3D Castlevania. Actually, Legacy of Darkness is more a Director's Cut of the other game, as it features the same locations with extra levels and two extra characters. The gameplay is basically the same of the classic 2D Castlevania, but in 3D. The game was linear, but some levels, such as the villa, were non-linear.
The main issue of Castlevania 64 was its camera, which sometimes acted in a strange way, although it was fixed in Legacy of Darkness. Another common complaint was about the learning curve needed for the controls.
Lament of Innocence and Curse of Darkness were developed by IGA for the Playstation 2 (Curse of Darkness was ported to the XBOX), and were his first attempts at a 3D game. These games are similar to the Castleroid gameplay style featured in earlier games, only they are now featured in a 3D setting.
Both games received very mixed reviews due to poor level design and graphics. Critics, as well as fans, complained about spending too much time going through empty corridors instead of fighting monsters.
The music in Castlevania includes some of the most well-known soundtracks in video game history. Among the most famous are "Vampire Killer", "Bloody Tears", "Beginning" and "Theme of Simon Belmont." The music of the series is featured during the performances of Video Games Live.