So it has come to this… We have gone through the all the classic Castlevania games which means that of course we have to rank them from worst to best. Check it out and see if you agree! Or flame us if you don’t
To qualify for this list the game has to be a pre-Symphony of the Night Castlevania game. In other words not a “metroidvania” game.
Castlevania has become such a legendary series in the retro gaming world and for good reason. The series revolutionized the genre and brought us some of the best gameplay we had seen, some of the best tunes we have ever heard and of course the frustrating moments that made us want to eat our controllers and throw our TVs out the window. I am no different, I absolutely love this series and this list reflects my personal opinion on what Castlevania games are the best and what Castlevania games should maybe be skipped.
Let’s do this! 😀
10. Castlevania Legends (GB, 1997)
Developed by the infamous KCEN (Konami Computer Entertainment Nagoya), the Konami subgroup responsible for the bad Symphony of the Night port for the Saturn, Castlevania Legends is the 3rd and worst Castlevania title released on the Game Boy. This is particularly puzzling because in 1997 it should have been pretty well established how to make a good classic Castlevania game. This is AFTER the release of Symphony of the Night which makes it all the more inexcusable.
The reason this game is bad? It has bad graphics, especially for the enemy sprites who are just some intelligible splats on the screen. It has bad new nonsense mechanics instead of the sub-weapons, loooong boring levels which is a bad idea for handhelds. You can also no longer pick in what order you do the levels a la Mega Man and Belmont’s Revenge.
What the game has going for it is that the core Castlevania gameplay is there and the game cart has a save battery.
Koji Igarashi who was in control of the Castlevania franchise at the time has called the game an embarresment and removed it as canon in the series.
9. Castlevania: The Adventure (GB 1989)
8 years earlier the first Castlevania title for the Game Boy was released. This one is a lot better than Castlevania Legends but it suffers from some issues. The game is very slow, something that plaques many older Game Boy title because the screen on the 1st model Game Boy got distorted with fast movements of sprites. I have not experienced this myself in a long time since I play on a Game Boy Pocket or a Super Game Boy but the point is that the game is painfully slow.
This does not ruin the game completely, it has some cool levels and the fire whip is pretty cool I guess. The game is really difficult and it has some pretty heinous platforming sections but that only makes it more challenging. The game is not that long but its challenge makes up for that in a large way, sadly the game does not have a password system so you always have to start up the game from the first level. Also, they did not implement the sub-weapon system which is a bummer. This game is interesting but hardly worth playing unless you are a Castlevania super-fan.
There is a remake for the game on the Wii store but I don’t really care for it, I guess its better than Castlevania Legends at least
8. Simon’s Quest (NES 1988)
Oh boy….Everytime I have to talk about Simon’s Quest I feel like I’m beating a dead horse so I’m not gonna go into details. I know the game is cryptic as hell and the bosses are downright laughable but I do not find Simon’s Quest to be a horrible game.
I have to emphasize how it is such a waste that Simon’s Quest ended up like this because an open world RPG Castlevania is an idea that sounds amazing and if it would have been done right it might have become a legendary game in history. You could even say that this game was supposed to be what Symphony of the Night became, or that Simon’s Quest served as a prototype for The Symphony of the Night. Too bad it went like this.
Maybe its even a grey area to classify Simon’s Quest as a “classic” Castlevania because its play style is very similar to the metroidvania titles released on the GBA and Nintendo DS. I would only recommend this game for fans curious about the game and for fans of the OST.
The developers must have been under some serious time constraints because their track record shows that they can make great games in this genre.
7. Belmont’s Revenge (GB 1991)
The 2nd Castlevania effort on the Game Boy was by far the best one. You are greeted with a Mega Man-ish stage selection screen with four castle stages to take on. After clearing those four castles you take on the last 2 stages. This is great for handheld games for an obvious reason, you do not have to start at the same stage every time you turn on the Game Boy. In addition to that, Belmont’s Revenge has a password feature which I feel is a must for a handheld Castlevania.
Belmont’s Revenge brings back the secondary weapons, and not just that, the game actually has level design comparable in quality to the NES games. Belmont’s Revenge is not as slow as the first GB game and the difficulty level is very balanced. It’s plenty hard, but not in an unfair way so you will definitely get through it with some perseverance. Even if you happen to give up you can just input the password the next time go decide to give the game a go.
A very solid entry in the Castlevania series and the first game on the list I actually recommend playing.
6. Castlevania: The New Generation/Bloodlines (Sega Mega Drive 1994)
Castlevania: The New Generation is a very solid Castlevania title for the Sega Mega Drive that takes a little different but fun approach. The limited continues and three choices of difficulty levels is something different. I can’t really say if that is good or bad, it’s just different.
You get to choice between two characters, John Morris and Eric LeCarde. John Morris is a distant relative of the Belmonts who wields the Vampire Killer. Eric (Portrait of Ruin anyone?) has the Alucard spear and plays a bit differently which is a very welcome option.
The early 20th century setting, art and the few great tracks the game has gives the game great character. That, bundled of course with very solid Castlevania gameplay makes up for a very good game that I recommend for all Castlevania fans.
If you are new to the series I would still recommend the first game, Super Castlevania IV(SCIV) or even Rondo of Blood instead.
What drags the game down is that it only has 6 levels which means less lasting appeal and less great music.
5. Super Castlevania IV (SNES 1991)
Super Castlevania is a very good and a very fun game that I would recommend for most however it has a few faults that bring it down. For example how the 8-directional whip breaks the game and the lack of original story is disappointing. Some bosses are kinda lackluster and easy and I feel like the music is a big step down from Dracula’s Curse.
What Super Castlevania IV has going for it is amazing graphics and sound effects, it has a bunch of levels and it is more approachable for beginners compared to the more higher ranking titles on our list. What that means to us “hardcores” is that the game is more forgiving than the other games and I feel that when I die it is never because of difficult enemies or bosses but rather because of spikes and pitfalls which is pretty boring.
4. Castlevania x68000 (Sharp x68000 1993) (Castlevania Chronicles PS1 2000)
You think Rondo of Blood is an obscure Castlevania title? Here is a hard boiled classic Castlevania that was released for a Japan only high end PC called the Sharp x68000. This is another remake of the original so it has some familiar stages and rehashed music. The music however is remixed in a way so it sounds totally fresh and totally different. It is in midi, and not many games have a good remixed version of Wicked Child but this one does! The graphics are also pretty sweet.
Castlevania x68000 plays more like Rondo of Blood rather than Super Castlevania IV. What I mean by that is that this game does not have the 8-directional whip which is good, but you can whip down and down/right, down/left which is pretty neat. You can change the direction you are going to in the air so the controls feel pretty sweet. The knockback is still there but if you are playing the PS1 remake(arrange mode) you get a much easier version of the game so that is something to do if you give up on the original which is pretty likely because this game is perhaps the most difficult Castlevania out there.
3. Castlevania (NES 1986)
Castlevania, the game that started it all… This game is sooo good…. Tight controls, kickass stages and insane tunes. This game was freaking revolutionary and is the Castlevania title I have played the most. I cannot really pick out any bad qualities to justify why it is only nr.3 on the list(especially because I like the restricted controls and believe that they are intentional). It’s just that other titles built on this one and became better.
See in the full review:
2. Castlevania: Rondo of Blood (PC Engine/Turbografx16 1993)
This game is so freaking cool! Two cool characters, controls that feel just right, cool environments, tight jazzy/gothic OST in CD quality, cutscenes, lots of well crafted stages with multiple paths, fun bosses and a very challenging game mostly without frustration. This game has you coming back again and again for being pure fun, cool and for it’s solid action gameplay.
Rondo of Blood is an amazing game and it is such a shame that it is so hard to reach. Originally it was only released on the Turbografx 16 in Japan (PC Engine) and was never available outside of Japan. There is a PSP version that was released for the rest of the world in 2008. That PSP game is actually a remake but within the remake you can unlock the original Rondo of Blood (and Symphony of the night) and it plays the same as the original PC Engine game. The original Japanese version is also available for the Wii’s Virtual Console. This is the coolest Castlevania game out there by far.
1.Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse (NES 1989)
Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse is the most polished NES Castlevania game. The multiple paths, companions, level design, music are all top notch and in this game they added a much needed password system so you won’t have to start from the beginning if you happen give up or need to go do real life stuff. That password system justifies for me the hellish level of difficulty the game has.
That being said this game is not for someone who considers himself a bad gamer. I would then refer him or her to the first Castlevania, since you should of course play first anyway since it is the first game in the series.
For us hardcore, never give up sadistic level of difficulty likers this is the ultimate game. The difficulty and the satisfaction I got from beating this game makes it so important to me. It was truly a unique experience and in the end Dracula’s Curse on the NES takes the number 1 spot on this list.
The Japanese Famicom version of the game has an additional chip in it that enhances the music, check it out!
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