10,000 years of Castlevania

Dracula’s most famous return – a story retold time and time again – occurred in 1691. Again he returned for his once-a-century European tour, and again his undead legions wrought havoc only for a Belmont to rise against him. Soleiyu’s great grandson, Simon Belmont, fought his way to Dracula’s throne room and again killed the count, but in death Dracula cursed Simon, committing him to a protracted and painful death which would bring an end to the Belmont bloodline.

Vampire Killer (MSX, 1986)
Castlevania (NES, 1986)
Haunted Castle (Arcade, 1988)
Super Castlevania IV (SNES, 1991)
Castlevania Chronicles (Sharp X680000, 1993 and PlayStation, 2001)

Above: Screen from PlayStation remake

Yep, Simon Belmont’s story has been retold a number of times – first in the Japanese-exclusive MSX game and then in the NES remake. It was later remade three times and re-released in various forms, but it’s the SNES Super Castlevania IV version you’re most likely to have played and the final Playstation remake of Castlevania Chronicles that’s considered definitive, with its updated Symphony of the Night-style graphics and rendered cut scenes.

As the years rolled by, Simon became sick; a sickness which presumably affected his ol’ fella too, since he was yet to father an heir. To lift the curse, Simon would be forced to recover Dracula’s body and set it ablaze. However, Dracula’s disciples had retrieved the corpse and divided it between them. At the cost of an early resurrection, Dracula had guaranteed his body would be safe so that he might return to a Belmont-free world in 1791.Simon Belmont walked the land and hunted the vampire’s minions, freeing enslaved towns along the way. Once the five pieces were secured, Belmont resurrected the count and put him to death one more time...

Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest (NES, 1987)

A non-linear adventure with RPG mechanics and Metroid-style adventuring, Simon’s Quest is often considered the prototype for what Castlevania would eventually become after Symphony of the Night. In fact, the Japanese MSX version of the original Castlevania had experimented with the adventuring mechanics a year earlier, making the linear ‘classic’ Castlevania games the true anomalies in the series.

50 years after Simon’s Quest, Juste Belmont and Maxim Kischine headed into a mysterious castle to rescue their abducted friend Lydie Erlanger. Inside, Maxim revealed that like Simon, he had gathered Dracula’s body parts and resurrected him to prove himself worthy of the Vampire Killer. Immediately Dracula possessed Maxim and restored the castle, so Juste destroys the Count, freeing both friends and reducing the castle to ruins.

Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance (GBA, 2002)

The second of the GBA Castlevania games again lifts the Symphony of the Night template – a 2D adventure in which you gather weapons and equipment while exploring Dracula’s castle. It divides the castle into dark and light worlds in a system which made the castle a frustrating maze, but the game was well received at the time for reasons we can’t quite fathom.

Dracula reborn.

Dracula returns of course, and spends a year observing Richter Belmont and plotting against him. In 1792 he stole away Richter’s girlfriend Annette Renard, and her sister Maria. After rescuing Maria, the two fought side-by-side against Dracula, but like Christopher Belmont in 1576, the pair allows Dracula to escape as mist. Severely weakened, the Count would again sleep and recover his strength.

Dracula X: Rondo of Blood (PC Engine, 1993)
Castlevania: Dracula X / Vampire’s Kiss (SNES, 1995)
Castlevania: Dracula X Chronicles (PSP, 2007)

Above: Screen from PSP version

The last of the ‘classic’ titles and the last Castlevania until the series was reimagined in Symphony of the Night, Rondo of Blood is among the best, though the SNES remake was weaker than the Japanese PC Engine original. Rondo of Blood finally saw a proper western release on the PSP with a full 3D remake in 2007.


  • 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?
  • norid - December 10, 2009 12:24 a.m.

    Gabriel is a Belmont in Lords of Shadow Also Patrick Stewart FTW
  • 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?
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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?
  • 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.
  • stormrider777 - December 5, 2009 1:02 p.m.

    without a doubt one of the best franchises ever!
  • 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
  • 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!!
  • 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
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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!
  • 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
  • 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? ^^
  • 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."
  • 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.

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