Logo of the Castlevania series, introduced with 2003 game Castlevania: Lament of Innocence.
|Genres||Platforming, action-adventure, hack and slash, dark fantasy, horror|
September 26, 1986
|Latest release||Castlevania: Lords of Shadow: Mirror of Fate HD
October 25, 2013
|Official website||Konami Tokyo
Castlevania (キャッスルヴァニア), known as Akumajō Dracula (悪魔城ドラキュラ Akumajō Dorakyura , lit. Devil's Castle Dracula) in Japan, is a video game series created and developed by Konami, centered on the Belmonts, a clan of vampire hunters, and their fight with Dracula.
The series debuted in Japan on September 26, 1986, with the release for the Family Computer Disk System (FDS), followed by an alternate version for the MSX 2 platform on October 30. Although the MSX 2 port (localized in Europe and Brazil as Vampire Killer) was released first outside of Japan, the series did not receive wide attention outside of Japan until the FDS version was ported to cartridge format for the Nintendo Entertainment System and localized for North American and European releases of Castlevania in 1987. The series soon became one of Konami's flagship series.
The Castlevania titles have been released on various platforms, from early systems like the Nintendo Entertainment System to modern consoles. It has also been released for Pocket PCs and mobile phones.
The very first console title, Castlevania, released for the NES in 1986 by Konami, was a typical platform game in which the player takes the role of Simon Belmont, a descendant of the Belmont clan, a family of vampire hunters. He travels to Dracula's demonic castle, Castlevania and fights his way through the castle destroying Dracula himself and the castle. Belmont's main weapon is a whip called "Vampire Killer", while the secondary weapons are powered by Hearts, collected by attacking candles and killing monsters. Secondary weapons available are Daggers, Holy Water, Flying Axe and the Cross. Hidden items such as power-ups and food (health replenishment) items are also found by attacking walls within the levels, a feature inspired by Nintendo's Super Mario Bros. with countless hidden items across the game's levels.
Vampire Killer, released in 1986 for the MSX computer, took a departure from the traditional platform gameplay of Castlevania, instead introducing an open-ended form of gameplay. The game's non-linear design had a similar structure to Metroid released that same year. Castlevania II: Simon's Quest, released in 1987, featured non-linear gameplay more open-ended than that of Vampire Killer and Metroid, with several exclusive elements such as a world map the player was free to explore and revisit. The player could also purchase supplies, equipment and weapon upgrades in several different towns, making it more like an action role-playing game. It also introduced a persistent world with its own day-night cycle that affects when certain NPCs appear in certain locations and offered three possible multiple endings depending on the time it took to complete the game. Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse, released for the NES in 1989, while having more in common with the original NES Castlevania, added new features, including non-linear elements such as alternate branching paths with different stages and alternate endings depending on the player's choices, as well as multiple player characters.
A major turning point in the gameplay mechanics of the series was Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, released in 1997 for the Sony PlayStation and later for the Sega Saturn in 1998. Expanding on the open-ended style of gameplay previously used in Castlevania II: Simon's Quest, Symphony of the Night's style of gameplay has been termed "Metroidvania" due to its similarities with the non-linear and exploration-focused side-scrolling games of the Metroid series. It also used role-playing video game elements, such as collectible weapons, armor and hidden orbs. Many subsequent Castlevania games have since followed this template.
Ayami Kojima's art was introduced in Symphony of the Night, and has been featured in a few other titles. Years later, the first two Castlevania games for the Nintendo DS returned to the anime style used in the original Castlevania: Rondo of Blood, among other titles, in hopes of broadening the player demographic by not discouraging slightly younger Nintendo DS owners to be put off by Kojima's art. Dawn of Sorrow was the first game to do this, and the second DS release Portrait of Ruin followed with the same style.
The first games in the series to employ 3D graphics were Castlevania and Castlevania: Legacy of Darkness for the Nintendo 64. In 2003, the next 3D Castlevania title featured combat-oriented hack and slash gameplay that drew comparisons to the 2001 title Devil May Cry, though Lament of Innocence introduced several unique features to set itself apart from Capcom's title. The game has also drawn comparisons to the 2002 release Rygar: The Legendary Adventure and 2005 release God of War, both of which used similar chained-blade weapons, while the latter also used similarly flashy and smooth attacks that could change direction in the middle of a combo. In 2007, Koji Igarashi stated that if The Dracula X Chronicles does well, the series may return to the more traditional style of the original games.
The success of the Castlevania series has resulted in Guinness World Records awarding the series 7 world records in the Guinness World Records: Gamer's Edition 2008. These records include "Most Games in an Action Adventure Series", "Largest Number of Platforms for One Series", and "Longest Castlevania Title" for the 1999 release Castlevania: Legacy of Darkness.
The earliest games borrowed source material from motifs in iconic horror cinema and other monsters from the Universal Horror and Hammer era of films. Examples include werewolves, Frankenstein's Monster, The Mummy, Medusa, The Grim Reaper and Count Dracula himself. The earlier games paid homage to these films. The staff roll of the original Castlevania mentioned parody names modeled after famous people associated with the horror genre, such as "Vram Stoker" – a play on Bram Stoker, writer of the original Dracula novel. Later games also include many monsters from mythological sources.
1094 - Lament of Innocence
|Lords of Shadow series|
1046 - Lords of Shadow – Mirror of Fate (Gabriel Belmont)
Most of the Castlevania video game franchise has been about the vampire hunting family of the Belmonts and Dracula. Almost every hundred years, Dracula is resurrected and generally the Belmonts must defeat him. Though most games in the series involve the Belmonts or their descendants, some protagonists, such as Soma Cruz and Alucard, are completely unrelated. The series is loosely based on Bram Stoker's novel Dracula. The novel is included in the official timeline of the series, with Castlevania: Bloodlines taking place shortly afterwards. The connection even goes so far as to claim that Quincey Morris, a character from the novel, is in fact a Belmont descendant.
The most iconic weapon of the series is a whip called Vampire Killer. It is the legendary weapon used by the Belmonts in the fights against Count Dracula, although it is sometimes passed through other families as well. Other names and terms used for it are the "Mystic Whip," and the "Whip of Alchemy." The story of its origin is shown in Castlevania: Lament of Innocence, where it is created by Rinaldo Gandolfi for Leon Belmont, through the use of alchemy. This whip is later fused with the soul of Leon's betrothed, Sara Trantoul, to create the Vampire Killer. A similar, but different whip is used by the main character, Nathan Graves, in Castlevania: Circle of the Moon, the "Hunter's Whip" can be augmented with magic to enhance its capabilities and the wielder depending on what is equipped. There are extra weapons available, such as fire, knives, and axes.
According to the Portrait of Ruin, only those possessing the "Belmont Warlord Chromosomes" are able to use the whip's full potential without paying a price, for the whip simply drains the life of users who are not of the Belmont lineage. This was learned by John Morris, for after his battle with Dracula, he noticed that his injuries never healed. Unable to fully utilize the Vampire Killer whip's powers without harming his own life, he soon succumbed and died. However, his son, Jonathan Morris, was able to receive the whip's full power for a short time through a ritual that was performed by the Lecarde sisters. The ritual required Jonathan to defeat the whip's memory of the previous owner, which was an entity bearing the likeness of Richter Belmont. After Jonathan defeated a vampire by the name of Brauner who was utilizing Dracula's power, the whip was soon returned to the Belmont family.
An official timeline in English was released along with the Castlevania 20th anniversary edition of Portrait of Ruin in 2006 available through pre-order. This timeline solves many questions of the fans about the chronology of Castlevania games, It includes Circle of the Moon, Legacy of Darkness and Castlevania 64 as part of official canon. These games were not included in the official timeline that was published by Koji Igarashi in 2005. Also the timeline confirms that the events that took place in Dracula are a part of official canon and that Quincey Morris was the descendant of the Belmont clan. It does not include other canonical games, novels and other media that were published after Portrait of Ruin.
Another timeline was released by Konami on their Japanese website in 2007. This timeline does not include Circle of the Moon, Legacy of Darkness and Castlevania 64 as part of the canonincal timeline.
Castlevania: Lords of Shadow is a reboot of the franchise, and features Gabriel Belmont on a quest to defeat the titular Lords of Shadow. While it does indeed feature the usual Castlevania motifs of vampires, werewolves and the undead – the plot is set before the rise of Dracula. "...we knew we would have to drop the existing timeline and story. This would be a new story that would not tie-in directly to anything that has come before, so that new players could just jump straight in." It's not part of the so-called timeline. This is an original, standalone product. We didn't want to follow the timeline because we felt it would put us in a bit of a box in terms of what we could do creatively... A lot of people don't understand the timeline. Even the fans – a lot of them don't really understand it...So this is a rebirth, definitely. It doesn't follow a timeline. It's not, people use the word canon, it's not canon. It's an original game."
In Japan, the series is known as Akumajō Dracula (悪魔城ドラキュラ Akumajō Dorakyura , translated Devil's Castle Dracula). However, not every installment of the franchise had that title. For example, the first two installments for the Nintendo Game Boy were released under the title Dracula Densetsu and the game known in North America as Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse was originally released in Japan as Akumajō Densetsu. Castlevania: Bloodlines was also released as Vampire Killer in Japan. Starting with the release of Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance for the Game Boy Advance, the Japanese games adopted the Castlevania (キャッスルヴァニア Kyassuruvania ) name for a brief period. According to series producer Koji Igarashi the developers chose to adopt the Castlevania title as a way to involve scenarios that do not solely revolve around Dracula himself. After some demand from fans in Japan, Konami returned to the Akumajō Dracula title with the Japanese release of Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow.
The series is also known for the differences between the Japanese and English language versions. Particularly in earlier installments, the localization process usually removes a heavy share of violence, nudity and religious imagery. Removal of such material is prevalent in Nintendo and Super Nintendo titles Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse and Super Castlevania IV, because of Nintendo of America's strict censorship policies at the time. Castlevania: Bloodlines, for the Sega Mega Drive, was renamed Castlevania: The New Generation for European and Australian releases to avoid the reference to blood used in the North American title. In addition, blood was re-colored and the gore removed throughout the European and Australian versions. Although censorship policies vary from country to country in Europe, Germany's strict "decency standards" inevitably affected the content released throughout the entire continent.
|This section requires expansion. (January 2009)|
The music for the first Castlevania game was composed by Satoe Terashima and Kinuyo Yamashita, of Konami's Kukeiha Club of composers, shortly after graduating from college, along with Satoe Terashima. Yamashita was credited under the pseudonym James Banana for her work on the Disk System version of the game.
Most of Castlevania's music changes from game to game, but some themes recur often. These include Vampire Killer, composed by Terashima, Bloody Tears (血の涙 Chi no Namida ), first composed by Kenichi Matsubara, and Beginning by Jun Funahashi. These three tracks first appeared in Castlevania, Castlevania II: Simon's Quest and Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse respectively. Several songs, including both Vampire Killer and Bloody Tears were also featured in the soundtracks of other Konami games, including Konami Wai Wai World, Contra: Hard Corps, and Konami Krazy Racers. 柴田直人プロジェクト (Naoto Shibata PROJECT)'s version of Bloody Tears is often incorrectly attributed to Cradle of Filth on various peer-to-peer networks, but can actually be found on Perfect Selection: Dracula Battle, an album featuring hard rock renditions of several classic Castlevania themes. Rap group Army of the Pharaohs also used a sample of the song as a background for their song, also called Bloody Tears.
Chicago band Naian recorded an album centered around each character in the Castlevania universe entitled "To Vanquish This Horrible Night" in 2013.
UK singer-songwriter Lily Allen sampled pieces of music and sound effects from the original Castlevania game in the song Cheryl Tweedy, which was included on some versions of her debut album Alright, Still.
The Castlevania franchise has received significant amount of critical acclaim, with the most acclaimed game being Symphony of the Night for the PlayStation and the most panned being Judgment, with aggregate scores of 93 and 49, respectively, on Metacritic and 93.38% and 52.71%, respectively, on GameRankings.
Many of the games have appeared on lists of "best games ever". Symphony of the Night appeared at #16 on IGN "Top 100 games" and was one of the first to be introduced on the GameSpot "The Greatest Games of All Time". Both acclaimed the game to successfully making a game in 2D while the industry was moving to 3D. Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse was named the 9th best 8-bit game by GameTrailers. Super Castlevania IV was named the 11th best game of the SNES by ScrewAttack on their "Top 20 SNES Games". The series as a whole was also named one the 4th best franchises in game ever by IGN, behind only Final Fantasy, The Legend of Zelda and Mario, and citing Symphony of the Night, Aria of Sorrow and Super Castlevania IV as highlights. Aria of Sorrow was also named the 2nd best game on the Game Boy Advance and one of the must buy for the system, according to the same website. Three games appeared on Nintendo Power "Top 200 Games", namely Castlevania, Aria of Sorrow and Circle of the Moon, at #23, #22 and #108 respectively.
In other media
Simon Belmont was one of the stars in the animated series Captain N: The Game Master. He was a member of the N-Team, a group of mostly video game characters who defended Videoland against the antagonist Mother Brain from Metroid. Dracula, referred to only as 'the count', also appeared as a villain in Captain N. Alucard appeared in one episode, though he was portrayed as a rebellious skateboarding teenager. Several other Castlevania monsters had minor roles, including Frankenstein's Monster, the Mummy, the Wolf Man, and the Skull Knight. Simon is portrayed as egotistical on the show and his physical appearance differs from his design in the video game series.
The franchise also has its own toy line manufactured by NECA which consists of six figures of Simon Belmont, Alucard, Dracula (available in two variants with one variant with its mouth closed and the another one with its mouth open showing Dracula's vampire fangs), Succubus and a Pixel Simon mini figure which was exclusively available as a promotional item at Comic-Con 2007 where the figures were first shown in full form. In 2005 IDW Publishing released a comic book adaptation Castlevania: The Belmont Legacy written by Marc Andreyko with art by E. J. Su. It was based on the Castlevania The Adventure.
In 2008, a graphic novel adaption of "Curse of Darkness" was released by Tokyopop in English.
The franchise also consists of a calendar of Lament of Innocence available with the limited edition of the game and containing seven illustrations and another released as a promotion for Castlevania Judgment from April 2009 – March 2010 containing images of various Castlevania characters from the game. Artbooks of many games have also been released. The franchise also contains comics, prize collection artworks of Symphony of the Night and Judgment as part of its print media.
Two collector cards series have also been released. One is available with Simon's Quest and the other with Symphony of the Night. Soundtracks of various games have also been released separately.
In November 2005, Crystal Sky Pictures acquired the rights to adapt the video game series into a motion picture. The company attached Paul W. S. Anderson to write and direct the film adaptation, with production slated to begin in mid-2006. Later in the month, Dimension Films entered negotiations with Crystal Sky for North American distribution of Castlevania. The film adaptation was estimated to have a budget of $50 million. In July 2006, producer Jeremy Bolt explained that Castlevania will "integrate a Dracula origin story... with the story of the Belmonts". Bolt also said that the film would refer back to early versions of the games. Director Anderson reiterated Bolt's description, adding that Dracula and Simon Belmont would be key characters in the film. Anderson also indicated that the "very lush, Romantic, Gothic look" of the 3D incarnations of the Castlevania series would be used in the film. He also expressed his hope in using the games' composer, Michiru Yamane, to score the film's soundtrack.
In November 2006, Rogue Pictures replaced Dimension Films, who reneged over script differences, in handling North American distribution of Castlevania, with Crystal Sky Pictures handling international distribution. Paul W. S. Anderson described Castlevania to take place in many time periods, but primarily in 15th century Transylvania. The director and producer Jeremy Bolt had scouted locations in Hungary and Romania, with plans to build castle interiors in Budapest. Principal photography was slated to begin in spring 2007.
In January 2007, director Anderson said the studio was still finalizing the film's budget, and filming would begin in fall or winter in Transylvania and Hungary. According to the director, the filming was postponed because production had desired snow on the ground for the film's forest scenes. Anderson described the locations: "It was like discovering Mordor as a real location — epic, dramatic, and above all scary. These locations haven't been shot properly in a mainstream movie, so that is always extra exciting... to put something on camera that hasn't been seen before". The director also revealed that post-production and effects work for Castlevania would be done in London.
In June 2007, Anderson conceded directing duties to Sylvain White in order to take on the project Death Race, a remake of Death Race 2000. White, who played the Castlevania video game in the early 1990s, was attracted to the prospect of filming a vampire film. White explained: "Most of the vampire films have been present or set in the future, from Blade to Underworld, and I was attracted by the chance to make a dark, epic period movie that almost has an anime feel to it". The new director, who negotiated a salary of seven figures, will rewrite the script with Anderson's assistance. The premise will follow Trevor Belmont and his younger brother Christopher as they are ordered into service to the church, to take the cursed castle of Dracula and live up to the legend set by their ancestor Leon. Production of Castlevania was slated to begin in late fall 2007 in South Africa and Romania. Castlevania was planned for a late 2008 release. In October 2007, Anderson said that he hoped to have a script within two or three weeks before the onset of the 2007 Writers Guild of America strike. Producer Jeremy Bolt said that production was intended to begin in spring 2008.
In December 2007, Rogue Pictures halted active development of Castlevania due to the writers' strike and, later, the sale of the studio to Relativity Media and possibility of a screen actors' guild strike. Despite the shelving, White remains committed to direct the film. "We still want to make the movie, but I can't say we're going into production in January or anything like that. It's a project that everybody likes. I love the videogame. I think the script is really strong. Everyone is really enthusiastic about it, but we're still in the process of deciding when the movie gets shot," Anderson explained.
On May 27, 2009, the Castlevania film was reported as officially canceled. However, on July 22, horror website Bloody Disgusting broke the news that Saw co-creator James Wan had been signed to pen a new draft, as well as to direct. A few months later it was reported that Paul W. S. Anderson is still circling the project. In 2012, While promoting Resident Evil: Retribution Paul W.S. Anderson stated that he would like to make it, however the rights are an issue.
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|Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to: Castlevania|
- Akumajō Dracula series at Konami Tokyo (Japanese)
- Castlevania series at Konami USA
- Akumajou Dracula at the Killer List of Videogames
- The Castlevania series at MobyGames