Castlevania is among the most iconic video games of all time. This classic gaming franchise first debuted back in 1986 on the Nintendo Entertainment System. Over the years, there have been numerous sequels and spin-offs released across different platforms. The intense action, thrilling storyline, gothic setting, and challenging gameplay have kept gamers hooked for decades.
For many gamers, this name conjures up thoughts of; Pixelated blood spilled across gothic cobblestone floors, of whip-cracking Belmonts leaping over candlesticks to take down vampires, of siren songs echoing through hidden hallways. Without forgetting one on the most iconic name in all dark games Dracula. Today we're taking a look at the five best Castlevania games in the series, ranked. Buckle up – it's going to be a bumpy ride!
5. Castlevania: Symphony of the Night
You cannot fail to mention Symphony of the Night, one of the best PS1 games while talking about Castlevania. Koji Igarashi’s Symphony of the night changed the direction of the series and defined an entire genre of gaming. Opposed to the usual focus on subpar 3D visuals by most Play station titles at the time, the game refined 2D platforming, a much-needed shift of pace for the series entirely.
Symphony of the night is a perfect blend of RPGs like Zelda II, and Metroid suffused with fantastic pixel art, vast exploration, music, and a sense of fun. The game includes a superb replay value and impressive boss fights. Not only is it an outstanding Castlevania game, but also an overall exceptional game.
4. Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow
It's no secret that Symphony of the Night was great and some of its best moments were beyond compare. But that is not to claim that the game was never bettered. A few years later, Koji Igarashi, Symphony of the Night's assistant director, did better with his work through Aria of Sorrow. Although Aria of sorrow cannot compare tech to Symphony of the Night; it's narrative and game design rise above all other Metroidvania chapters of the series. This handheld adventure proved to be a fantastic addition to the Castlevania legend. It featured some unique gameplay elements that set it apart from previous franchise installments.
Set 100 years after Rondo of Blood, the story is driven by the defeat of Count Dracula and his death. Hero Soma Cruz is drawn to the Castle and must combat his way through the legions of hell to understand his peculiar connection to the deceased Count Dracula. Players can absorb souls from their enemies to learn new abilities, allowing them to fight and defeat even the strongest of opponents. The soul absorption feature is what sets it apart from other action-adventure titles and enhances the gameplay experience tenfold.
The games graphics also vastly improved compared to previous releases with 2D visuals and smooth animations, a gorgeous soundtrack that perfectly set the tone for the game makes Aria of sorrow one of the best installments in the franchise.
3. Castlevania Chronicles
The Castlevania Chronicles is an updated and revised version of the original Castlevania from the home-computer platform X68000 in Japan. This game started a tussle between the heroic vampire Dracula and the Belmont family in terms of release order. It also features a visually impressive remix of the initial NES classic with phenomenal music with either version. It is convincingly the toughest gameplay in the entire series.
The game incorporates components of later games (Rondo of Blood) into its stretched performance of Simon's journey. Simon, takes upon hisself to face Count Dracula in bid of eliminating evil from his town. Using the whip left to him by his father, he enters Dracula's Castle unleashing fury. This sets an amazing story line that players enjoy. Not forgetting, many new surprises; from the mammoth of monsters attacks trying to uncover hidden power level-ups to stained glass windows that come to life and attack. Adding all these up makes Castlevania Chronicals a title worth this list.
2. Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow
Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow is a sequel to Aria of Sorrow as Soma Cruz returns. This time to prevent an evil cult from taking his soul, therefore, restoring Dracula to his former glory. However, it falls short in some parts compared to its predecessor due to poor design choices. It trades off the eccentric monster to anime-style verbiage to sell Castlevania to the young audience. In an attempt to show off the DS hardware, the boss battles are represented by a touchscreen gimmick.
This, however, did not lower the value of Dawn of Sorrow's value in the series. The game has one of the best gameplay loops due to its soul-capturing system. The ever-increasing power of a supernatural hero fits the template as seen in Symphony of the Night, with Soma's abilities more varied than those of the Belmont clan. Interestingly, Dawn of Sorrow is one of the shortest games in the entire Castlevania series due to the new gameplay mechanics.
1. Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia
As the last Nintendo DS lineup and the latest primary 2D game in the Castlevania series, Order of Ecclesia does an excellent job integrating the format while mixing in its ideas. Among these ideas is the ragingly brutal difficulty level, which pushes players to use the granular RPG-style and weak aspects.
Even more impressive, the game attempts to put into practice Castlevania II's ideas. The adventure revolves around a town whose subjects have been abducted. It also incorporates inhabitants who offer hints that are non-misleading as Shanoa rescues them from their vampiric prisons.
Shannah on the other hand, can steal enemies magic to use different weapons. This game is an outstanding last statement for the Castlevania series' classic era, as it embraces the heritage of the series while displaying that there is still room for innovation in the formula.
So, what’s your take? Do you agree with our top five? Let us know over on our socials here or down in the comments below.
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