When Castlevania came out for the NES back in 1986, no one -- especially not Konami -- anticipated that it would become one of the most beloved game franchises of all time. Indeed, who could anticipate thirty-six sequels would be released, or anticipate multiple animated adaptations of the Belmont family's eternal struggle against the lord of darkness himself, Dracula?
With its gothic aesthetic, developed platforming, RPG-elements, and action-adventure exploration, the Castlevania series took its throne in the pantheon of classic gaming. The gaming genre "Metroidvania" owes itself to Castlevania's success. However, it hasn't all been roses. For every masterpiece, there have been missteps. For Symphony of the Night, there is Legacy of Darkness. While it is impossible to account for everyone's tastes, what follows are the worst Castlevania game in the series, ranked from the forgotten whatevers to the bloodless titles dead on arrival.
13 Castlevania: Dracula X
This remake/port of the classic game Rondo of Blood is the closest many North Americans got to playing arguably one of the best Castlevania games of all time. Unfortunately, creative changes between the games resulted in Castlevania: Dracula X to be...disappointing.
Levels are redesigned to make the game harder, but not in a way that is fun. Deaths come cheap and unfairly, and it easy to see why most fans ignore this game in favor of its superior original version.
12 Castlevania II: Simon's Quest
Simon Belmont, the slayer of Dracula, is cursed. In order to undo the curse, he has to collect the five pieces of Dracula's body, repair the dark vampire lord's body, all so he can bring him back and kill him again.
This game is infamous, in part thanks to the AVGN video that helped reshape internet media as we see it. But is Castlevania II: Simon's Quest the worst? Not really. It's not good. It's a disappointment compared to the original. But is it the worst? No. It just features Moon Logic puzzles, unhelpful NPCs, a disruptive day-night cycle system, and several other ideas that sound cool on paper but are painful to play.
11 Castlevania Puzzle: Encore Of The Night
It's a Tetris game with a Castlevania aesthetic.
This is hardly the worst of the lot. It is simply nothing special. There are tons of puzzle-game spin-offs of popular video game IPs worth playing more. Pokemon Puzzle League being the first to come to mind. There's nothing particularly awful about this mobile game, but nothing remarkable about it, either.
10 Castlevania: Lords Of Shadow: Mirror Of Fate
Simon Belmont, son of Trevor Belmont and grandson of Gabriel Belmont, is on a mission. Dracula killed his parents, and only he, after years of training, can kill the dark vampire lord in order to set things right. But does he realize that Dracula, the man he's trying to kill, is actually -- well, spoilers. Play Lords of Shadow and you'll know the twist already.
Spoilers, this game is an attempt to incorporate the original Castlevania game and its lore into the Lords of Shadow continuity. This was the first sign that Lords of Shadow, for all its good qualities, wasn't going to bring fresh blood to the franchise like Konami hoped. The gameplay is clunky, it's short, and the story, if you've played the first Lords of Shadow, is predictable. It is too small a game both in vision and scale to be too angry about, but it's a disappointment all the same.
9 Castlevania: Lords Of Shadow 2
This is it. The game that killed Castlevania -- unless you count that Pachinko machine. In Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2, you play Dracula himself, who has to defeat his slaughtered child, Trevor Belmont -- oh, sorry, Alucard -- reawaken in modern times, and, of all things, fight Satan.
This game is not good. It directly rips off several previous popular games in an attempt to make Castlevania relevant again. It depends on the continuity of both Lords of Shadow and Lords of Shadow: Mirror of Fate to make a lick of sense.
But worst of all, the game lacks a real sense of identity. It barely feels like a Castlevania game. It feels more like discount God of War mixed with Shadows of the Colossus. The modern stuff feels jarring, the common fights boring. There just is no challenge to it. Fans who were eager to see where the new continuity could go were left disappointed and unenthusiastic for more.
8 Haunted Castle
Dracula has stolen away Simon Belmont's girl, and only the whip-wielding hero can save his girl and put an end to Dracula's terror.
This game is truly pointless to play. It's an arcade game that draws from Castlevania's aesthetic and style. Virtually unavailable outside of Japan, the game hoped to capitalize on Castlevania's popularity to devour quarters from players. Deliberately hard to play, it an unremarkable arcade game, as well as unremarkable Castlevania game.
7 Castlevania Legends
Sonia Belmont is the first Belmont to hunt down Dracula. She tracks him down, and, with the aid of Alucard, son of Dracula, seeks to put down the greatest evil to face the Earth.
Castlevania Legends is the last of the Gameboy games to be released, and, frankly, no longer relevant in the lore. While it is interesting to see a female Belmont, this game was retconned by Castlevania: Lament of Innocence. It is very clearly restrained by the hardware of the Gameboy, due to its very simple gameplay, level design, and length.
Of course, it has a cult following and deserves praise for being one of the few Castlevania games to feature a female protagonist.
6 Castlevania: The Adventure
Christopher Belmont, ancestor of Simon Belmont, has to beat Dracula. Because family or some reason.
Castlevania: The Adventure was the first Castlevania game to be released for the Gameboy. As an early Gameboy game, Konami was constrained by the technological limitations of the console...and it shows. The game earned mixed reviews in its day, but playing it today is impossible. It is incredibly difficult, the levels are long and monotonous, and it feels oddly uneventful.
5 Castlevania: Legacy Of Darkness
In an era where the Belmont family appeared strangely absent, man-beast Cornell tries to save his adoptive sister Ada from Dracula's clutches. In order to do so, he'll have to fight through the forces of darkness and transform into a cool werewolf in order to save the day.
Castlevania: Legacy of Darkness is essentially a prequel and remake of the first 3D Castlevania game. While it fixes the core issue with that game (IE, it didn't work), it fails to create a particularly enjoyable experience. Combat is clunky and unclear, the aesthetic is ugly, levels are poorly mapped out, and...yeah. It is telling that the creators of Castlevania hesitate to call the N64 games canon.
4 Akumajou Dracula: The Arcade
This 2008 arcade game was made by Konami as an attempt to steal quarters from players crazy enough to play it. It is unremarkable in every respect, and the only reason anyone would even talk about it is for the sake of completing a ranking of all the Castlevania games.
It's an on-rails light gun game with a whip instead of a gun. It's a dime a dozen. If you want to play this game, play House of the Dead and imagine it's a whip you're firing.
3 Castlevania: Order Of The Shadows
Desmond Belmont has come seeking the Order, an organization determined to bring the dark vampire lord Dracula back to life.
In all respects, Castlevania: Order of Shadow's biggest sin is that it is unremarkable. A disappointing side-scroller that came from an era where mobile games were uncommon and compressed. At the time, it was disappointing. It has aged poorly in the passing years. It was too ambitious for its technological constraints.
2 Castlevania (N64)
Dracula has returned, and it's up to two heroes no one has ever heard of to stop him.
The plot is far less interesting to how this game fails to succeed on any level. In its day, Castlevania for the N64 was praised for being a functional 3D game. But that high acclaim really doesn't cut it, considering the game really isn't functional. In fact, the game doesn't really work. It is a poorly designed example of how not to design a 3D game in an era where 3D was the new kid on the block.
It is ugly to look at, difficult to play, and, on some occasions, doesn't even work right. There are several ways you can play the game and just... miss something. And if you do that, then good luck, because you either got to look up online how to keep playing or reset your game and go back. This game is a mess that has only gotten worse with every passing year.
1 Every Castlevania Pachinko And Slot Machine
These games collectively are on the bottom (and yes, there are multiple) because of what they represent. It isn't that they're inherently bad at what they do (they're competent enough pachinko and slot machines). The problem is what they represent: everything wrong with Konami.
Konami as of late has figured it is more profitable to make gambling machines than video games. But gambling machines inspired by their popular IPs in order to draw in an audience. This category of games remains dead last in part because they represent the worst. These are games that just are pure exploitation of nostalgia. Pure manipulation.
It makes your blood boil.