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Spotted in: Super Castlevania IV (SNES)
Habits: Teleporting around the room, shooting purple fireballs, being able to survive after having his face torn off with a bullwhip.
Great because: While he’s essentially just a reworking of the first Castlevania’s Dracula, there’s something about this Dracula that’s oddly comforting to us – probably because A) half our staff played through Super Castlevania IV a combined 2,637 times as kids, and B) on the grand scale of Draculas, he’s kind of a pussy.
Yes, his fireballs are a pain because they can’t be jumped over, and split into multiple smaller fireballs when whipped. Yes, it takes an average of two hits to remove one bar from his life meter. And yes, all his attacks are a pain in the ass to avoid. Once you get his life meter down far enough, though, he disappears and the room turns red, crackling with lightning.
Above: Oh man, we’re totally in for it now
Knowing Dracula’s epic history of transformations, we braced for the worst, expecting the powerful-for-its-day SNES to throw a giant, world-shattering boss fight our way. Instead, Dracula came back like this:
Above: ‘BLUH! My face is now a skull! BLUH! BLUUHHH!’
What’s more, his attacks this time were super-easy to dodge, being just four columns of lightning that telegraphed their appearance at the top of the screen. We didn’t even have to contend with a second life bar this time around, leaving us with no conclusion other than that Dracula choked under pressure. At least his death scene was memorable.
Above: And then all the bats burned but one, which went off to cry by itself before disappearing
Spotted in: Van Helsing (PS2, Xbox)
Habits: Ignoring gravity, turning into a demon, having awkward conversations with the hero.
Great because: Sometimes the most interesting Draculas come from the shittiest games, and the Van Helsing movie adaptation took what was already an unusual version of Dracula and made him have an awkward-silence-filled chat with Hugh Jackman.
Then you get into a couple of fights with him, but probably the less said about those, the better.
Spotted in: Darkstalkers series (Arcade, PSone, Saturn, PS2, PSP)
Habits: Being extremely muscular, pursuing some kind of vendetta with Morrigan, having a tiny head.
Great because: OK, so Demitri is a distinct character with his own personality, but… look at him! A big, impeccably dressed vampire who looks like a cross between 1980s Schwarzenegger and Liberace? How could he possibly be based on anyone else but Dracula?
Also, one of his special moves is briefly turning all his male opponents into transsexuals (or his female opponents into hotter female opponents) before sucking their blood, and if that’s not worth shoehorning him into an article about a different character entirely, then we don’t know what is.
Spotted in: Dracula X: Rondo of Blood (PC Engine, Wii)
Habits: Kidnapping women, laughing a lot, turning into a giant demon.
Great because: Aside from looking a whole lot better than every other Dracula to come before him, this version of Dracula was the first to really be a character, instead of a symbol of evil that waited at the end of the game. He appeared in cutscenes, with spoken lines. He made an effort to be slimy toward hero Richter’s girlfriend, giving players an actual reason to despise him. And also he was the first iteration of Dracula to use the now-standard balls of destruction in addition to his classic cape-fireballs.
Aside from that, he feels kind of like another redesign of the first Castlevania’s Dracula, complete with a hoppy demon form he turns into once you’ve whittled away his life bar.
Admittedly, this was a pretty damned easy Dracula, especially after some of the bastard-hard bosses the rest of the game throws your way before he shows up. If nothing else, though, he set the stage for what might be the best Dracula ever – as well as establishing that Castlevania’s Dracula, in a bold departure from the classic Bela Lugosi/Christopher Lee model, has white hair.
Above: And also really huge shoulders