Spotted in: Suikoden (PSOne, PS3), Suikoden II (PSOne)
Habits: Turning into clouds of bats, unsuccessfully kidnapping “brides,” playing pipe organs dramatically in front of stained-glass portraits of himself.
Great because: Proof that Draculas don’t always have to take center stage to be memorable, Neclord hits all the right notes for a minor villain: he’s pompous, overconfident and tends to prey on those weaker than himself. He’s not a traditional vampire, having been transformed by magic instead of blood-drinking or a curse, but the cape and affectation for pipe organs mark him as a classic Dracula.
However, he’s also proof that being a Dracula is sometimes skin-deep. He talks a good game, but Neclord’s a classic coward, and when his back is against the wall and his powers are taken away, he turns into a sniveling little bitch.
So long, Neclord. Out of all the Draculas on this list, your death was probably the most gratifying.
Spotted in: Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow (GBA), Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow (DS)
Habits: Wearing fur-trimmed longcoats, devouring souls, beating down all his old friends.
Great because: While it’s probably up for debate, there’s one thing that elevates Soma Cruz above all other Castlevania heroes and puts him in a class by himself: while everyone else is out to kill Dracula, Cruz is Dracula. Or at least a reincarnation of Dracula, who’s finally managed to restrain his evil nature after centuries of death and rebirth.
The redeemed-villain angle is almost always a compelling one, and when Castlevania finally decided to exploit it, the results were pretty amazing. Not only is Soma one of the most unique Castlevania heroes, fighting by stealing powers from his enemies, but he also presides over two of the best Castlevanias on any system. More interestingly, it’s also possible for him to succumb to his Dracula side in Dawn of Sorrow, opening up an entirely new game mode starring Julius Belmont, Yoko Belnades and Alucard (aka Genya Arikado) as they fight to put Soma down.
Spotted in: Drac’s Night Out (NES)
Habits: Flipping switches, hypnotizing villagers, dying in one hit, getting the drop on everyone with his wicked-phat Reebok Pumps.
Great because: It’s pretty rare that a game puts you in control of Dracula himself, and even rarer that it happens in a poorly conceived, never-released advergame for Reebok’s early-‘90s line of Pump shoes.
In a rush to get to his girlfriend Mina’s house, Dracula has to walk down an extremely long staircase before dawn strikes. His only defense against the legions of villagers in his way is a sketchy hypnotism power – unless of course he can locate a pair of Reebok Pumps™, which make him faster and able to execute long spin-jumps that can stun the locals into submission!
Jesus, what the hell? Is this “Shitty product-placement Draculas” now? Let’s just move on…
Spotted in: Castlevania: Symphony of the Night (PSOne, Saturn, Xbox 360, PSP)
Habits: Giving contemptuous speeches, being haughty, attempting to murder his own son.
Great because: Out of all the Draculas on this list, this is the one with the most potential to redefine how we think of the character. No longer a silent enemy or a monster that tries to hide in human form, this Dracula – in a re-staging of Rondo of Blood’s climax – gave us one of the most awesomely terrible bits of dialogue ever recorded, in a videogame or otherwise:
Which in turn gave us one of the best gag-deaths we’ve ever seen, in the mind-shatteringly difficult PC game I Wanna Be The Guy:
More seriously, this was also the first time Dracula had really been given a motive for his continual attempts to make everyone miserable: over the course of the game, we learned that he’d once loved a woman – Alucard’s mother – who was wrongly burned as a witch by a mob of angry villagers. This was the closest Dracula had ever come to being a sympathetic, complex character – none of which stopped him from skipping straight to the demon stage of his usual transformations by challenging his son from the back of a throne-monster made of H.R. Giger’s wet dreams.
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