Castlevania is music to any gamer’s ears. From as early as 1986, the franchise has been gracing audiences with some of the medium’s best music. Between Kinuyo Yamashita, Michiru Yamane, Masanori Adachi, and Taro Kudo, Castlevania has had no shortage of incredible composers. Each game is an opportunity to bask in new music.
Between dozens upon dozens of games, it’s hard to find just one soundtrack to praise. Luckily, there are at least ten (and frankly so much more) worth discussing. The following are 10 of Castlevania’s strongest soundtracks, ranging from the traditional to the downright weird. The series isn’t hurting for good music.
Simultaneously a new remake of the first game and a re-release of a remake released for the X68000, Castlevania Chronicles Arranged soundtrack goes all out, straying away from the series’ established tone for a wild, electronic bash to the top of Dracula’s Castle. It’s far more energetic and chaotic than other soundtracks in the series, but that’s what makes it so enjoyable.
Chronicles almost serves as Super Castlevania IV’s musical antithesis. Where the former uses its sound to establish a soft, subtly horror tone, Chronicles throws everything to the wall and embraces its mania. It results in a soundtrack that’s full of catchy tunes, even if the remake itself isn’t much to write home about.
9 The Adventure ReBirth
The last real Castlevania game, The Adventure ReBirth released exclusively for the WiiWare and is now no longer available for purchase anywhere. It’s quite a shame as it’s an excellent remake of an awful game and manages to modernize the soundtrack wonderfully. It’s just a shame so few people have played this game.
The Adventure ReBirth’s soundtrack plays out like a greatest hits for the classic series, compiling the most iconic tracks into one last hurrah for Castlevania. Of course, it’s unlikely Konami intended The Adventure ReBirth to end the series, but its soundtrack is a nice goodbye to the series in retrospect.
8 Rondo Of Blood
Castlevania: Rondo of Blood is rightfully considered one of the greatest games of all time. Exclusively released for the PC-Engine in Japan, it wouldn’t be until 2007 that RoB would be localized in the west for the first time. With excellent level design and some of the best bosses in the series, Rondo is a great game made even better by its soundtrack.
Between songs like Bloodlines, Slash, and Opus 13, pretty much every track in Rondo of Blood is a comfortable contender for one of the best songs in Castlevania. This is a soundtrack that simply does not quit, and the game’s PSP remake, Dracula X Chronicles, does a great job at re-arranging the score for a modern audience– even if it’s not as good.
There’s just no beating the original, and Castlevania’s soundtrack holds up incredibly over thirty years after the fact. Its compositions are used in just about every single Castlevania game. It’s impossible to play through a single game in the series without an auditory reminder of what the original Castlevania brought to the table.
It makes sense, though. One game was able to introduce half a dozen of gaming’s greatest tunes: Vampire Killer, Poison Mind, Stalker, Wicked Child, Walking Edge, Heart of Fire, etc. The list goes on. At less than 15 minutes long, Castlevania’s soundtrack is a short, sweet album to have on in the background.
6 Portrait Of Ruin
Released for the series’ 20th anniversary, Portrait of Ruin features quite a few old school tracks, most notably from Castlevania III, Bloodlines, and Rondo of Blood. Naturally, that gives Portrait of Ruin something of an edge over other games, but its original score is also just as good if not even better at times.
This is a game overflowing with great music, both new and old. The official soundtrack even features Arranged compositions for every single track in the game, allowing listeners to enjoy both the in-game music and the songs when they’re not held back by the Nintendo DS’ limited sound capabilities.
5 Order Of Ecclesia
The series’ last Metroidvania before the Lords of Shadows reboot took over, Order of Ecclesia’s soundtrack is composed almost entirely of brand new music, a rarity for the series at that point in time. Pretty much every Metroidvania made heavy use of samples save for Harmony of Dissonance and Order of Ecclesia.
It’s ultimately for the best as Order of Ecclesia’s soundtrack is outstanding. The score manages to strike a balance between the ambience of the average Metroidvania and the energy of the typical Classicvania track, an approach that mirrors how Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia structures itself as a video game.
4 Akumajou Densetsu
The Famicom infamously could produce better sound quality than the NES, meaning that any Japanese games that made use of everything at their disposal would end up sounding worse by the end of the localization process. Such was the case for Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse, a game that was almost ruined by its localization.
Thankfully, the Japanese original still exists and is plenty easy to play through without any knowledge of the language. Akumajou Densetsu is one of the best sounding Famicom games, right up there with Lagrange Point (another Konami title.) Like the original Casltevania, its soundtrack is home to hit after hit– and all in 8-bit!
3 Symphony Of The Night
It probably goes without saying, but Symphony of the Night has one of the best video game soundtracks of all time. Ambient, atmospheric, and energetic, Symphony of the Night changed everything for Castlevania. The level design, the action, the presentation, and especially the music. Symphony ushered in a new age for the franchise.
Symphony of the Night introduced iconic tracks that still haven’t lost their luster: Dracula’s Castle, Marble Gallery, Lost Paintings, and The Tragic Prince are all incredible. To say nothing of Strange Bloodlines and the overbearing Final Toccata. Symphony of the Night is Michiru Yanabe at her near best.
But not her absolute best. That honor actually belongs to none other than her debut game: Castlevania Bloodlines for the Sega Genesis. Bloodlines sounds and looks unlike anything that came before it, a 16-bit reinvention of Castlevania independent of even Super Castlevania IV on the Super Nintendo.
Yamane’s score for Bloodlines is incredible, especially since it’s her debut with the series. She introduces landmark tracks here: Reincarnated Soul, Iron Blue Intention, and Requiem for the Nameless Victims. Bloodlines is Yamane at her absolute best, and one of Castlevania’s strongest soundtracks.
1 Super Castlevania IV
When it comes to music, though, few video game soundtracks can compete with Super Castlevania IV, let alone the other entries in its series. Every track only helps in settling in Super CV IV’s tone. The game is dripping with atmosphere, more so than any other entry in the franchise, and it’s all thanks to its soundtrack.One only needs to listen to “Prologue” to understand the scope of the game’s soundtrack. It’s a haunting melody that signals the resurrection of Dracula yet again. A somber tune that prepares players to march Dracula’s Castle. From them, every subsequent track builds off the last, capturing that Castlevania feel better than any game in the series.