A franchise three decades in the making, time has not been particularly kind to Castlevania’s legacy. Where the series once basked in the glow of yearly releases, Konami has kept a steady hand on their IP in recent years, relegating it to Pachinko parlors at best. We haven’t seen a new game in the series since Lords of Shadows 2. That said, 2017 marked a new era for the franchise. Thanks to the animated series finally finding a home on Netflix, interest in the series has been the highest it’s been since Symphony of the Night came out in 1997.
Time will tell if this will spark Konami to start development of a new entry in the series, but you can expect to see Castlevania a bit more often from here on out, if only in its animated format. With the series so fresh in the minds of audiences, it’s worth taking a look back on the franchise as a whole to see how Castlevania was crafted and which hidden details lay hidden in the crypts of Dracula’s Castle. With dozens of games and over thirty years of history to wade through, Castlevania is home to a lush history, both in and out of the video game format.
30 Castlevania’s First Season Was Written In 2007
Although Castlevania’s first season only came out last year, Konami has been sitting on the script for the better part of a decade. Originally penned by Warren Ellis in 2007, Castlevania quickly entered a troubled development with no studio wanting to pick up the project by any means whatsoever.
A TV show that by all accounts should not exist.
Obviously, this was a massive mistake as the first season ended up being quite the powerhouse in terms of character writing and plotting, but it does make sense. In 2007, video game adaptations to screen weren’t exactly highly regarded. Not even a name like Warren Ellis could sell Castlevania.
29 Hideo Kojima Produced The Reboot
One of the strangest tidbits surrounding the Lords of Shadows reboot is the mere fact that Hideo Kojima, the father of Metal Gear, actually, and actively, produced the first entry in the reboot timeline. While Kojima was a Konami staff member at the time, he’d never strayed from Metal Gear before outside of helming Zone of the Enders.
Kojima was so attached to the reboot that he even went on to voice the Chupacabra in the Japanese dub. Not only that, he gave the development team permission to add in Solid Snake’s bandanna and Old Snake’s Solid Eye into the main game for Gabriel Belmont to wear. Kojima was not involved in the later two entries and it honestly shows.
28 Maria Was Going To Turn Villainous In Symphony Of The Night
Should you go digging around in Symphony of the Night’s game file, you’ll find something particularly interesting: Maria was going to turn evil at some point. Speculated to be an alternate ending to the main game akin to Alucard failing to save Richter, Maria would serve as yet another final boss.
One bad ending too many for Alucard.
This “Dark Maria” would have a completely new set of techniques and would fight quite differently from any other boss in the game. Given how she plays in the Japan-only Saturn port, we can perhaps assume Maria would have been quite fast and acrobatic. Alas, no rerelease of SotN has bothered adding Dark Maria back into the game.
27 Simon’s Quest Is The First Metroidvania
Although Symphony of the Night gets the most credit for being the first Metroidvania, it wasn’t the genre’s originator. At least not in the context of Castlevania. Rather, that title belongs to none other than the infamous NES sequel, Simon’s Quest. Open world with branching paths and item based progression, how could SQ not be a Metroidvania?
In many ways, Symphony of the Night lifts more from Simon’s Quest than it does any other Castlevania. There’s an emphasis on combat, platforming is left to a minimal, and exploration stands king. Of course, SotN is the better and more cohesive game, but Simon’s Quest does deserve your respect.
26 Bram Stoker’s Dracula Is Canon To The Series
Believe it or not, Castlevania’s extended canon features none other than the novel that started it all. Bram Stoker’s Dracula is an actual part of the series’ timeline, taking place shortly before Bloodlines. In fact, some fans even recommend you read the novel at some point as it does infer some key details from the game.
The book isn't always better in this case.
Of course, it is worth noting that some details are flipped around. Most notably, Quincy has a son in the series whereas he’s childless in the novel. Quincy also defeats Dracula with a wooden stake in the games canon which is not the case in the novel. Either way, having an understanding of who Quincy is makes John’s and Jonathan’s stories a bit more interesting.
25 The Original Castlevania Had An Easy Mode Rerelease
For as good as Konami has been in regards to releasing the series outside of Japan, some gems never make it stateside. Most notably, after recognizing the massive popularity of the first game, Konami saw fit to rerelease the original Castlevania for the Famicom with an Easy Mode, swaying in less skilled players.
This Easy Mode allowed Simon to start each stage with more hearts, more lives, and take considerably less damage from enemies. Considering just how difficult the first game in the series is, this might actually be appealing to even some veterans. Of course, the challenge is part of the fun, but it’s nice that Konami decided to throw fans a bone.
24 The Belmonts Were Once Descended From Alucard
Long before Leon Belmont and Gabriel Belmont established their own legacies, there was Sonia Belmont, the matriarch of the Belmont lineage. The main character of the Game Boy exclusive Legends, Sonia Belmont eventually fell in love with Alucard centuries before Trevor would meet him in the series’ third game.
A love unfit for the ages.
The idea of pairing Sonia off with Alucard was meant to create a dramatic irony of sorts within the Belmont lineage. They were not only fighting Dracula, they were fighting their relative. This was actually used as a foundation for the reboot, but Igarashi supposedly hated it so much that he dedicated an entire game to retconning it.
23 Lament Of Innocence Exists Specifically To Retcon Legends
Enter Lament of Innocence, the first of two Castlevania games on the PlayStation 2 and the definitive starting point of the original timeline. The main character, Leon Belmont, doesn’t even fight Dracula in the game as he doesn’t exist yet. Rather, he sees who becomes Dracula, and there’s no such blood relation between them.
When it comes down to it, Lament of Innocence’s purpose is ultimately to retcon Legends. It’s to establish a canonical, undisputed starting point. The Belmonts have a connection to Dracula, but it is not familial. They are different families. In a way, as petty as this may seem, it really was for the best in terms of storytelling.
22 Harmony Of Despair Was Almost A Third Sorrow Game
Harmony of Despair is a holy grail of sorts within the fandom. It’s obscure enough where most fans haven’t played it, but the ones who have love it to death. A multiplayer Castlevania with playable characters from all over the series, it’s hard not to love HoD. Interestingly, however, Soma Cruz is a far more fleshed out character than the other protagonists.
Harmony of Sorrow, anyone?
There’s a good reason for this: Harmony of Despair was designed as a third Sorrow game initially. As a result, a lot of work was put into Soma’s skill set. For whatever reason, though, Konami decided to go in a different direction, scrapping their story and embracing the multiplayer angle. Soma kept his skills, but no one else could really match him.
21 Dawn Of Sorrow’s Julius Mode Could Technically Be Canon
The Castlevania series is no stranger to tossing in multiple playable characters and new game modes, especially in the DS era, but few of them have full stories. Dawn of Sorrow’s Julius Mode is one of those few. Taking place after the main game’s bad ending, Julius Mode sees the eponymous character hunting down the now evil Soma Cruz.
Interestingly, outside of a debatably canon side-novel, there is nothing to dispute that this isn’t the last canonical point in the series. The franchise’s canon could very well end with Soma Cruz turning into Dracula and Julius needing to scale Soma’s Castle in order to slay him once and for all. It’s morbid, but only a third Sorrow game can dispute the claim.
20 Julius Mode Was A Prototype For Portrait Of Ruin
On the subject of Julius Mode, it actually served as a very clever prototype for the next game in the series: Portrait of Ruin. The context of Julius Mode involves Julius teaming up with Yoko Belnades and Alucard to work together in an attempt to take down Soma. Naturally, all three are playable.
All Modes start somewhere.
Not only are they playable, they can be swapped in and out on the fly. This ended up being a basis for Portrait of Ruin’s partner mechanic. Jonathan and Charlotte could be swapped in and out on the fly, allowing for two different play styles at any time. It isn’t as novel as three, but it is far more refined, and clearly inspired from Julius Mode.
19 Every Belmont Is Stronger Than The Last
You’re never going to see fans debating over who the strongest Belmont is in large part due to how the series handles strength. Canonically, and likely because of the Vampire Killer, each Belmont is stronger than the last. Trevor is surpassed by Simon, Simon is surpassed by Juste, Juste is surpassed by Richter, and Richter is surpassed by Julius.
Of course, this says nothing of the Morris family. They, too, wielded the Vampire Killer for quite some time, but they could never truly inherit its power. As a result, Quincy, John, and Jonathan could realistically fall anywhere. There are also the non-Belmont main characters like Alucard and Shanoa who likely fall quite high in terms of power, but not as high as Julius.
18 Order Of Ecclesia Is Heavily Based Off Of Simon’s Quest
The last Metroidvania the series would ever see, Order of Ecclesia marked a somber, fitting end for the franchise. In what was basically a Gaiden game with no real ties to the main plot, the entry centered itself on a more personal journey, examining the core themes of the series: humanity.
What a wonderful night to be a reimagining of an awful NES game.
Interestingly, for as beloved as OoE is, it’s actually heavily based off of Simon’s Quest to the point where it may as well be a remake. SQ is also a Gaiden game; OoE features extremely similar level design to its NES counterpart; and Shanoa even quotes Simon at some points in the game. These two titles are inherently linked.
17 Castlevania III Is Harder In The West
For whatever reason, despite the series’ difficult reputation, Nintendo was not satisfied with the level of challenge Castlevania III offered. Keep in mind, the game was by no means easy in Japan nor was it easier than its counterpart. They simply chose to up the difficulty for no reason.
As a result, if you’re playing Castlevania III in the US, get ready to have an absolute nightmare of a time. The Japanese release is actually quite manageable with a clear progression of difficulty up until the end, but the US release will challenge you in every way, shape, and form. It’ll make you wish for an Easy Mode rerelease.
16 Castlevania III Has Better Music In Japan
Do yourself a favor before you keeping reading: go listen to the track “Aquarius” on YouTube and alternate between the NES and Famicom versions. You’ll notice that, for whatever reason, the NES version suffers from a bit of compression while the Famicom version is far crisper. This is due to the Famicom actually being quite a different system.
You haven't lived until you've heard the Famicom soundtrack.
In Japan, the Famicom is disc based. As a result, its audio files could be integrated with a considerable amount of smoothness. As the NES is cartridge based, however, the audio files needed to be compressed in order to fit onto the cartridge. Naturally, this leaves the Famicom version of Castlevania III sounding MUCH nicer.
15 Konami Has Nothing To Do With Requiem
While Requiem does deserve your excitement, Konami does not deserve your praise. Castlevania may be Konami’s Intellectual Property, but they actually have nothing to do with the compilation. Rather, Sony approached Konami to rerelease Dracula X Chronicles exclusively for the PlayStation 4.
This does specifically mean that Requiem will never be ported to other consoles so don’t get your hopes up, but it also would have never happened without Sony helming the project. Ironically, Requiem's existence confirms that Konami wants nothing to do with the series. This is the best we’re ever going to get.
14 The Animated Series Cannot Use Any Of The Game Music
One of the most common complaints lobbed at the animated series is that it refuses to use any of the game side’s music. While this is an understandable complaint, especially considering just how iconic the franchise’s soundtrack is, the Netflix adaptation of the series likely cannot use any of the game music legally.
Don't expect to hear Bloody Tears anytime soon.
For starters, copyright laws in Japan are very different than how they are in the West. It’s why so few games actually release with their Japanese dubs in place. Secondly, it was cost a fortune on Netflix’s part just to get the rights from Nintendo alone. Even without the copyright laws, it’d be a financial struggle. Lastly, and sadly, the average consumer likely isn’t familiar enough with the series to notice.
13 The Canceled Dreamcast Castlevania
Shortly before Igarashi would retcon Legends out of existence with Lament of Innocence, Konami was actually working on a Dreamcast sequel to Sonia’s story unfortunately titled Castlevania: Resurrection. The game would involve time travel and two protagonists, the other being a Belmont not too keen on accepting his legacy.
As cool as it would have been to see a Dreamcast Castlevania, the game was swiftly cancelled and it didn’t take long for Igarashi to create Leon Belmont. When you think about it, the cancellation could actually be tired to Igarashi’s vision for the series. If he didn’t like Sonia, why allow another game with her to exist?
12 Season 2 Of Castlevania Is Setting Up Curse Of Darkness
Castlevania is not a story with just one protagonist. As a result, the animated series will not be able to focus on Trevor forever should it choose to adapt other games. Interestingly, the inclusion of Hector and Isaac in season 2 seems to imply that the showrunners do plan on taking the story quite a bit further.
Season 3 will mark the last time you'll see Trevor.
Hector’s inclusion in season 2 direct links him to Curse of Darkness, Castlevania III’s direct sequel. Should he survive the season, expect to see season 3 focusing on Hector’s story. After that, though, don’t expect to see Trevor ever again as the next game in the timeline is the original focusing on Simon.
11 The Adventure ReBirth Was The Last Classicvania
Before Konami more or less gave up on doing anything with video games ever, they had a brief golden age on the Wii where they commissioned remakes of several obscure games in an attempt to take advantage of Nintendo’s WiiWare platform. One such remake was The Adventure ReBirth, the last Classicvania.
A remake of arguably the worst game in the series, The Adventure ReBirth genuinely breathed new life into Christopher Belmont’s adventure, making it one of the better installments in the classic series. It has great music, great level design, and a great aesthetic. While it was the last classic entry in the series, it at least ended the franchise on a good note.
10 The 1999 Game Was Never Going To Happen
1999 is an important year in the Castlevania canon as it marks the ultimate, final defeat of Count Dracula. Slain once and for all by an 18 year old Julius Belmont, Dracula falls and Castlevania falls with him. 1999 is critically crucially to the plots of Soma’s games and fans have been aching for their 1999 game for years.
The greatest game that never was.
It was clearly never going to happen, though. Narratively, the War of 1999 was always just meant to be an epic footnote in the series’ timeline. No game was ever going to live up to the reputation 1999 garnered over the course of the series and the series was never actively working towards a 1999 game.
9 Alucard Has Appeared In The Most Castlevania Games
Although the series has no defined main character, only one protagonist comes close to being the “mainest” of the bunch: Alucard. Alucard is easily the most important heroic character in the series, appearing in the most games. He’s only been the protagonist once, but he just keeps on showing up.
Alucard is playable in Castlevania III, Symphony of the Night, and Dawn of Sorrow. Alucard also appears in Aria of Sorrow as a major character. Counting spin-offs, Alucard is in Harmony of Despair and Judgement. He even shows up in the last two games of the reboot canon. There’s just no escaping Alucard.
8 Dracula Is Meant To Be Sympathetic
Many fans are quite surprised at how sympathetic Dracula has been written in the animated series. His motivations genuinely make a great deal of sense and he’s not exactly wrong that mankind is inherently evil. This isn’t a new detail, though. Dracula has always been written sympathetically in the games.
A bad man, but a sympathetic one nonetheless.
Symphony of the Night first introduced Dracula’s backstory and from there it was embraced in each game. He legitimately has a point about humanity and his hatred of the Abrahamic God is rooted quite deeply in love as established by Lament of Innocence. He isn’t a good man, but we as an audience have always been meant to feel for him.
7 Simon Almost Always Appears In His 8-Bit Form
Very rarely will you see Simon Belmont in anything other than his original, NES, 8-Bit form. While he does have 16-Bit and even 32-Bit counterparts, Konami loves the idea of pushing the old school Simon on players. While this can be a bit bland to some younger fans, older fans know this to be the best depiction of the character.
There’s genuinely something quite charming about seeing a small 8-Bit character whipping his way through Dracula’s Castle. NES Simon is genuinely the most iconic version of the character as well. Who wouldn’t want to play as him? He’s even represented in his 8-Bit form in Harmony of Despair!
6 Kid Dracula Is Canon
Kid Dracula is the kind of game you won’t see many fans acknowledge for a number of reasons. For starters, it plays nothing like the rest of the series. Secondly, Castlevania isn’t even in the title. Lastly, who wants to play a game about a young Dracula? Very few, but you should anyway since it’s canon.
Who knew Alucard was so mischievous?
Focusing on Alucard’s early life, Kid Dracula is a weird, lighthearted prequel that takes place long before the actual start of the series. Somehow. It doesn’t really make sense timeline wise, but it genuinely is a canon story in the context of the franchise. The main villain even gets referenced a few times in later games.
5 Bloodlines Is The Most Important Game You’ve Never Played
Did you know the Sega Genesis had its own Castlevania game? Probably not since it’s never been rereleased, ported, or remade, making it the only game in the series that you absolutely need to play on its home console. If you do not have a Sega Genesis, you will not be playing Bloodlines.
Which is honestly too bad since it’s quite important. It introduced the Morris family, tied the games to the novel, added multiple playable characters, introduced Camilla, implemented an adventure aspect to the story, and featured more involved level design than ever before. Bloodlines is a huge game for the series, but most fans simply haven’t played it.
4 Julius Is Directly Based Off Of Super Castlevania Simon
If you’re one of those fans who’s been craving multidirectional whipping since the Super Nintendo, I’ve got some excellent news for you: Julius plays exactly like Simon in Harmony of Despair. Granted, the online probably isn’t very populated anymore, but this is the perfect chance to hone your whipping skills.
All hail the greatest Belmont who ever lived.
Julius is directly based off of Super Castlevania IV’s Simon, playing identical to his SNES ancestor. It’s entirely likely, given HoD’s status as the third Sorrow game, that Julius would have played the same way in the inevitable Julius mode. Maybe Igarashi was even playing around with the concept of a 1999 game, too, as unlikely as that may be.
3 Super Castlevania IV Is Not A Sequel
In the West, Super Castlevania IV is billed as the final installment in Simon’s eternal struggle against Dracula. After stopping him twice over, Simon readies the Vampire Killer one last time to destroy his nemesis. This is only in the West, though. In Japan, Super Castlevania IV is actually a full remake.
Rather than taking place after Simon’s Quest, Super Castlevania IV is a reimagining of the first game. In many respects, it’s designed as a love letter to the series, featuring music from all three NES games and generally playing around with the level design considerably. In that respect, it makes sense that it’s a remake and not a sequel.
2 You Can Blame Lords Of Shadows 2 For Ending The Series
The Adventure ReBirth was the last Classicvania, Order of Ecclesia was the last Metroidvania, and Lords of Shadow 2 was the last Castlevania, period. Although the first entry in the reboot actually sold rather well while garnering a fair bit of strong critical reception, its sequel suffered immensely.
We'd still have Castlevania if not for Gabriel Belmont.
Whether it be due to poor marketing, the interquel being on the 3DS, or fans just not being interested in a sequel to a story that really felt one and done, Lords of Shadow 2 was a financial disaster. Granted, the developers had the foresight to make it the end of the reboot so it’s not like any story was lost, but you can blame this game for a distinct lack of CV.
1 The TV Series Was Meant To Be A Movie Trilogy
When Warren Ellis first wrote what became the first season back in 2007, he actually envisioned the series as a trilogy of films. What we digested as season 1 was actually the first movie. After all, four episodes to match an animated feature’s length. This does likely mean that season 2 ends the trilogy.
As season 2 is eight episodes, this means that each set of four will act as a second and third film. Of course, given the animated series’ popularity, it’s certain we’ll see a proper third season, especially in light of Curse of Darkness’ buildup, but you can say goodbye to Trevor’s story for now.