The Best and Worst of Castlevania

The Castlevania series has been around for almost 30 years and appeared on every system.  Heck, we always thought these games would make a great series of movies (though who should play Simon Belmont is a difficult question).  As we talk about the series tonight, we did want to share the best and worst we've seen of these game.  If we missed anthing, you have to let us know in the comments! 


The Belmonts, historically, were a quiet group of protagonsts.  Gabriel in Lords of Shadow, however, gives us the Belmont experience we're hoping for.  In the first sequence, your Belmont hero silently strides to the front of a line of soldiers about to be overrun by werewolves and quickly dispatches each of these enemies as though he does this every day.  Quiet, self-assured, determined and never scared, the Belmonts depicted in the games are exactly what we'd hoped for.


Castlevania has learned how to incorporate 3D into its gameplay, but the initial efforts towards this goal were pretty terrible.  The two titles on the N64 - with difficult platforming, delicate targeting, and a temperamental camera - were neither fun nor a strong next step in the series (from our perspective, it also didn't help that none of the Belmonts were playable characters, and no Reinhardt doesn't count).  Games did eventually figure out how to make these games work, but the games that premiered on the N64 were part of that learning process.


For us, the best of the series is Super Castlevania.  The game is one of the best games for the SNES and really holds up over time.  Basically a re-telling of the original Castlevania, you play as Simon Belmont as you venture into Dracula's Castle.  The music is great, the graphics are great (as we mentioned early, the fourth level's funhouse-like graphics were incredible at the time), and the gameplay is absolutely fantastic.  Simon can adjust his jump mid-air, he can whip in several directions, and he does not fall from a staircase when hit.  The game is a classic and well-worth revisiting this holiday!


For those who are too young to remember Saturday morning cartoons, Captain N was a cartoon show about a series of characters from various video games, including Simon Belmont from Castlevania.  Simon is a whip-wielding vampire slayer, and so one would anticipate that he would be depicted a tough Clint Eastwood-type with a bullwhip.  Captain N went the other way, depicting Simon as a pompous, pampered, arrogant character who was as hard to watch as Jar Jar Binks.  What could have been a great depiction of a heroic character in a great franchise, wound up being a low point in the entire series. 


Symphony of the Night, as best as we can determine, as the earliest game to refer to itself as a "Metroidvania" style game.  You do attack Dracula's castle in the game, but you also search back and forth through locations seek the various items you need to advance.  The game is hugely popular and charted a new course for the series.  For many, this game remains the gold standard in the series and it's easy to see why. 

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