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10,000 years of Castlevania

1796
Richter Belmont disappears.

1797
Under the control of the wizard Shaft, Richter joined Dracula in the count’s stronghold, causing a shift in the balance of power which awakened Alucard from his slumber. Along with Maria Renard, Alucard lifted Shaft’s control on Richter, tracked Dracula through a bizarre inverted castle and put the count down for the last time in the 18th century.

Castlevania: Symphony of the Night (PlayStation and Saturn, 1997)

Koji Igarashi’s reboot of Castlevania is a direct sequel to Rondo of Blood, and borrows some elements from the original MSX game, some more from Simon’s Quest, and almost everything from Nintendo’s Metroid games. Symphony’s non-linear adventure set the standard for every 2D Castlevania that followed on the GBA and DS, but is still the best game ever to bear the Castlevania name.


Early 1800s
In the absence of descendants of the Belmont clan, the Order of Ecclesia is formed to prevent Dracula from rising again. The Order absorbs magical glyphs to imbue their bodies with power, though the most powerful glyph – Dominus – is stolen from its bearer Shanoa by the jealous Albus. Confronting and defeating Albus, Shanoa discovers he had tried to protect her from the power of the glyph and that the true threat was the Order’s leader Barlowe. Barlowe gave up his life to summon Dracula, once again reviving the Count. Shanoa faced the vampire and was victorious, saved at the last moment by the spirit of Albus.

Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia (DS, 2008)

The third game and most recent offering from Koji Igarashi’s DS Castlevania team, Ecclesia is the best Castlevania since Symphony of the Night but is so preposterously difficult one editor broke his DS Lite by tossing it at a wall during a particularly taxing boss fight.


1820
Dracula sealed away by Morris Baldwin and the parents of Nathan Graves.

1830
Vampire hunter Morris Baldwin and his apprentices Nathan Graves and Hugh Baldwin arrive seconds too late to stop the priestess Camilla from resurrecting Dracula. Cast into a pit beneath the castle, it falls to Nathan to rescue his master and friend, and to defeat Dracula. He does so using his ‘Hunter’s Whip’, which apparently possesses the same powers as the Vampire Killer; it’s perhaps for this reason this chapter of the story had been excised by Koji Igarashi until it came bundled with 2006’s Portrait of Ruin.

Castlevania: Circle of the Moon (GBA, 2001)

The first 2D Castlevania since Symphony of the Night, but not a true sequel to the Playstation and Saturn game. Still, it lifts Symphony’s structure, firmly establishing what all future Castlevanias would become.


1844
Dracula is prematurely dragged back to life by cultists and requires a new body to inhabit. Among the children his acolytes abduct is the surname-less Ada, sister of man-beast Cornell. Following her scent to Dracula’s castle, Cornell defeats the count but fails to end his life decisively. Like the events of 1830, this chapter had been edited from Castlevania history until being restored in 2006.

Castlevania: Legacy of Darkness (N64, 1999)

Both a remake of and prequel to Castlevania 64, Konami’s second 3D hatchet job recycles locations and graphics from the original and supports the N64 RAM pack for sharper visuals, with the side effect of a dramatically reduced framerate. Vampiretastically dump.


1852
Though he lost the name, Reinhardt Schneider carries the blood of the Belmonts and goes in search of children missing from the town of Wallachia. With the Vampire Killer whip he defeats Count Dracula, putting him down until his scheduled resurrection in 1897. This chapter was also removed from official continuity for a time, until Koji Igarashi reconciled its place in Castlevania lore.

Castlevania 64 (N64, 1999)

Officially named ‘Castlevania’, the unofficial nickname differentiates it from the NES original – important because Castlevania 64 is crap. Mario and Zelda made an elegant transition into 3D while Castlevania collapsed into a smudgy, barely-controllable mess.


1897
Bram Stoker’s Dracula is accepted as Castlevania canon, with a handful of critical revisions. The count takes English solicitor Jonathan Harker as his guest, intending to purchase land in London to be among millions of British civilians. Harker’s friend Quincey Morris, who is of Belmont lineage, eventually kills the count with a stake to the heart, but succumbs to his own injuries at the hands of gypsies charged with the care of Dracula, leaving behind a son, John Morris.

1914
Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria is assassinated, triggering the First World War.

1917
Twenty years after the death of Morris, the soldiers massacred in The Great War are harvested by Elizabeth Bartley, niece of Count Dracula. Three years earlier Bartley’s machinations kick-started the war, and those harvested souls are the catalyst to revive the Count once again. Eric LeCarde, and John Morris travel across war-torn Europe and put Dracula to death once again.

Castlevania Bloodlines (Sega Genesis/Mega Drive, 1994)

The only Castlevania game on Sega’s 16-bit system owes its look and structure to Super Castlevania IV, but while IV is fought almost entirely in Dracula’s castle, Bloodlines is a long journey across a Europe at war. It features the first appearance of music by Michiru Yamane, who would define Castlevania’s sound in Symphony of the Night and beyond.

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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