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10,000 years of Castlevania

Lords of Shadow is the latest Castlevania in over two decades of games which encompass ten centuries of the past and eight thousand years of the future. Since the eleventh century Count Dracula has walked the Earth, rising every hundred years to spread his evil influence across the world, and at every resurrection he has been foiled by a descendant of the Belmont bloodline. It’s a vendetta which Konami claim they will put aside in favor of a brand new timeline beginning with Lords of Shadow, but a close look at the history reveals a startling secret and poses a terrifying question… if even Castlevania’s most distant side-stories fit within a thousand year timeline, how then did Dracula rise so early, and how does he know the Belmonts so very, very well?


Above: Lord of Shadows in action


1094
Leon Belmont’s company of knights was made invincible by the bravery of its leader and the genius of tactician Mathias Cronqvist, but the death of Mathias’ wife Elisabetha left Mathias despondent and bed-ridden. Cursing God, Mathias plotted to defy his will by living forever as a vampire, setting into motion events which would manipulate Leon Belmont into killing the vampire Walter Bernhard so that Mathias might claim his soul. Mathias is reborn at the expense of Belmont’s fiance’s life. He offers Leon the chance to join him, but Leon refuses, instead fighting Mathias with his whip, now infused with the power of his fiance’s soul. Mathias flees but the Belmont bloodline continues, forever swearing to hunt Mathias – known to the world as Dracula.

Castlevania: Lament of Innocence (PS2, 2008)

One of the more recent titles, Lament of Innocence is actually the first game on the Castlevania timeline. The world of Castlevania didn’t sit well in three dimensions in the earlier N64 titles, but Koji Igarashi’s first Devil May Cry-inspired crack at the 3D space was well received. Since Symphony of the Night Igarashi has been the series’ steward, directing the games’ chequered continuity and even excising entire chapters from the Castlevania mythos.


Early-mid 1400s
Dracula’s second wife, Lisa, is executed by the Inquisition as a witch for preparing medicines to aid the sick. Dracula declares war on humanity.

14??
The Belmont family is exiled from Transylvania for fear of their supernatural powers. Some remain behind in secret to watch for Dracula’s return.

1450
Enraged, Dracula sends legions of undead across the land to begin his conquest of the world. Standing against him is the seventeen year-old Sonia Belmont and Dracula’s half-mortal son Alucard. In a story now excised from Castlevania history by Koji Igarashi, Sonia Belmont became the first of the Belmont bloodline to face and defeat Dracula with the Vampire Killer whip.

Castlevania Legends (Gameboy, 1998)

The last of the three Gameboy Castlevania games, Legends was one of several titles which had been edited out of official Castlevania continuity by Koji Igarashi, but a timeline which shipped with 2006’s Portrait of Ruin reinstated the others while keeping Legends out. However, it still exists as a side story. Though Legends was released one year after Symphony of the Night, it’s a straight point-to-point adventure with six levels and none of Symphony’s Metroid-style wandering, making it the last of the ‘classic’ Castlevania adventures.


1476
1476 begins much as the excised 1450 side-story began; Dracula has risen not to conquer the world, but to exterminate humanity as revenge for the murder of his beloved wife. Brilliantly-named Trevor Belmont becomes the first Belmont to officially face Dracula and defeat him, travelling across the Transylvanian countryside towards the vampire’s castle. Along the way he meets three companions – the even-more-brilliantly-named pirate Grant DaNasty, priestess Sylpha Belnades, and son of Dracula, Alucard. After Dracula dies for – in the real continuity – the first time, Alucard enters a long period of slumber, fearing his own powers and the danger he might present to the world. DaNasty sets to work rebuilding the lands ravaged by Dracula’s hordes, and Sylpha marries Trevor and becomes mother to future Belmonts as the family returns to their homeland of Transylvania.

Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse (NES, 1990)

Dracula’s Curse was the last of the NES games and abandons the adventure elements of Castlevania II in favor of classic platforming and baddy-whippage over fifteen levels. In a strange twist the Japanese version of Dracula’s Curse had a dedicated sound chip, removed in the European and American releases. The Japanese Castlevania III set the standard for a long-running tradition of magnificent music in the Castlevania games. And of course, in typical NES fashion it’s as hard as a coffin nail.

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18 comments

  • phoenix_wings - December 3, 2009 8:39 p.m.

    I LOVE CASTLEVANIA! I remember hours on end playing Super Castlevania 4 on the SNES, and then replaying it again on the PSP. I remember how frustrated I was at Castlevania 64 though...ugh. Six months of renting that cartridge only to have the seal NOT BLOW UP! I cannot (emphasize cannot) wait until Lords of Shadow is released.
  • garnsr - December 3, 2009 9:49 p.m.

    Castlevania was the reason I bought a GBA, DS, and PSP. I've loved pretty much every portable game since Circle of the Moon. I think Simon's Quest may still be my favorite, and I've played through Symphony so many, many times. And I can't think of any other game that has a style of music as disticnctive, that makes me say, "That's Castlevania music."
  • Mirako - December 3, 2009 10:52 p.m.

    I've only played Dawn of Sorrow, Portrait or Ruin and Order of Ecclesia, So I've never really seen this 'Gothic' art style used in Symphony of the night. But was it really that good? ^^
  • Cyberninja - December 3, 2009 11:19 p.m.

    i have played most of the portable games and i plan on buying the psp one in a few weeks because my copy of symphony of the night is not working well and i never finshed it because every time i went to a new area it would mess up the color and stuff badly and i hope the new one isnt crap like judgement
  • DeathandBlackMetal4 - December 4, 2009 1:24 a.m.

    Castlevania 1-3-4 and Bloodlines are the only good ones I've played. I so want to play SOTN, Castlevania 64 was garbage!
  • CH3BURASHKA - December 4, 2009 1:39 a.m.

    It's very nice of you to flesh out Veronica Belmont's family history. I'm sure she appreciates it.
  • TrIp13G - December 4, 2009 3:52 a.m.

    Why did Kojima declare Legends non-canon? Because he's a dick, that's why. But I love him, because he still supervises the most kickass 2D platforming RPGs.
  • Cwf2008 - December 4, 2009 7:37 a.m.

    Even reading this i lost count of how many times Dracula died. Damn poor guy cant get a break. Or apparently kill a single mortal using a massive army of the undead and supernatural powers
  • Tomsta666 - December 4, 2009 9 a.m.

    Not really the biggest Castlevania fan, and never really cared that much for the canon. That said though, Symphony of the Night is one of the best if not THE best 2D side scrolling games EVER!! Love it to bits!!
  • Lurkero - December 4, 2009 11:50 p.m.

    I wouldn't even dare try to make a continuity of Castlevania after playing the latest games. They skip all over the place, basically, wherever the devs think to shove it in next. Still a good sidescroller though
  • stormrider777 - December 5, 2009 1:02 p.m.

    without a doubt one of the best franchises ever!
  • Skykid - December 5, 2009 3:08 p.m.

    I hate and am terrified of vampires; but geez, Belmont clan, cut Dracula some slack. I mean 100,000 years of persuing a vampire just because he went traitor on your ancestors and declared war on humanity for killing his wife. Talk about your grudges.
  • crumbdunky - December 7, 2009 1:05 a.m.

    Alongside Twisted Metal(which I could never even find in my area of the UK at all!)Castlevania represents the biggest area of ignorance I have in gaming. It's odd when I'm such a massive Metroid and Shinobi fan that I wouldn't have bothered with it much-I've played and played other sidescrollers both good and bad for an age but these games just never seemed to pique my interest at all. Interestingly bonkers resume of the plotlines by GR here though and I'll have to brush up, play a few of the better ones and join in the waiot for LoS this coming year. Though, as a monsterous MGS fan I have looked into Koj and his involvement and it doesn't look much more than Kojima Productions getting a bit of box space. All he looks to be doing is popping in the door every now and again and saying "I like that!" or "I don't like that" about their work and, at best, making a rare suggestion or two-which the team may or may not take on board! It's Konami being a little free with Koj's name, imo, and a little cheeky when the series should stand on it's OWN terms. Though, do we really know this was always a castlevania anyway? The only one I really recall playing ios the mega drive one and that just made no sense whatsoever, imo, bu I'll start with the PSP remake they seem to like quite well! Could be the start of some deep investigation for me and I haven't done that since going back playing all the FFs that I missed first time around. Good work, though, GR, in trying to piece this together. Played about twenty mins of the fighting game on the Wii last year and it seemed to be mainly about this Loli Gothic chick with bad breast envy issues from what I saw, and very little about any kind f Castlevania story. Then again I could only put up with 20 mins so who knows?
  • Pyroco101 - December 8, 2009 4:40 a.m.

    Great article guys, but Judgement wasn't set in 10000 AD or really was cannon. it was really an alternate dimension set up by Aeon (by far one of the coolest newbies ive seen in the CV universe) and made his own tournament to see whos stong enough to kill the Time Reaper FROM 10000 years in the future, so the time the game happened was unspecified and the whole thing being cannon is unnecessary from the events being in an alt. timeline.
  • Pyroco101 - December 8, 2009 4:42 a.m.

    ALSO if judgement had been 2d, played like soul caliber, and had a better roster, im sure the game woulda been better.
  • Persona - December 8, 2009 12:10 p.m.

    Wonder why there was never a super castlevania 4 remake.. that was the time when Castlevania was pretty much a game upon itself. Besides WHO DOESN'T MISS THE UTTERLY USELESS WHIP TRICKS?
  • norid - December 10, 2009 12:24 a.m.

    Gabriel is a Belmont in Lords of Shadow Also Patrick Stewart FTW
  • celticwhisper - December 10, 2009 3:24 p.m.

    I get that 3DCV has had a shaky past and "tournament fighting games" isn't a phrase that naturally comes to mind when thinking of Castlevania, but is anyone else here put off by the editors considering the fact that Judgment is a Wii game "a strike?" Was this piece paid for by Microsoft or Sony? Or is this editor just unable to put aside his personal bias and judge a game for what it is rather than what system runs it?

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