The Castlevania universe (悪魔城ドラキュラ, Akumajō Dracula, meaning "Demon Castle Dracula") refers to the Super Smash Bros. series' collection of characters, stages, and properties that hail from the eponymous Castlevania series by Konami. Originating on the NES and MSX in 1986, the Castlevania franchise has spawned a multitude of video games across many platforms, as well as a variety of associated media. The series is a third-party franchise that was included in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.
One of Konami's longest running video game franchises, the Castlevania series tells many stories of generations of vampire hunters as they combat the forces of evil led by the demonic vampire lord, Count Vlad Tepes Dracula. While most games put the players in the role of a member of the Belmont clan of vampire hunters, others star either unrelated parties seeking Dracula's end for their own reasons, with a select few even involving Dracula's own son.
The series began in 1986, with the release of the first game, Castlevania/Akumajō Dracula for the Nintendo Entertainment System, a linear platformer that put players in the role of Simon Belmont, a vampire hunter wielding the sacred whip called "Vampire Killer" setting out to vanquish the evil Dracula. The game paid homage to classic horror movies such as those by Hammer Film Productions, particularly in terms of monsters featured and even a credits line that boasts actor names parodying famous Hammer actors like Christopher Lee and Bela Lugosi. The NES version was made in tandem with a version of the game for the MSX2 computer, localized in Europe as Vampire Killer. While that game had a similar story, it played considerably differently to its more famous NES cousin.
The first game has been remade and its story retold in many fashions, most notably in the Super Nintendo game Super Castlevania IV which, despite its English manual attempting to brand it a sequel, was merely a retelling of Simon's story. Others include Haunted Castle, an immensely difficult arcade interpretation of the game, and a remaster of the original game for the obscure Sharp X68000 console, which was later released in English alongside an arranged version for the Sony Playstation as Castlevania Chronicles.
The game's 1988 sequel, Castlevania II: Simon's Quest, went in a vastly different direction. While still involving platforming, the game instead played like an adventure game where Simon had to gather items and clues from nervous and occasionally untrustworthy villagers in order to find Dracula's remains and destroy them so as to undo a curse Dracula put upon Simon during their battle. Indeed, the game can even be considered a prototypical Metroidvania type game. Simon's Quest has attracted some degree of hatred, thanks in no small part to a famous review by video game reviewer and comedian James Rolfe, AKA the Angry Video Game Nerd, but is still considered decent by most in spite of its flaws (Rolfe himself has stated he enjoyed the game and played up his issues with it for the sake of comedy). The game also featured alternate endings, with Simon's survival depending on how quickly the player finished the game.
Because audiences were put off by the vastly different gameplay seen in Simon's Quest, the next game, Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse, returned to the linear platformer style of the first game. In terms of plot, it was instead a prequel set 300 years before the first game, starring Simon's ancestor, Trevor Belmont. Trevor is hired by the people of Wallachia, Romania, to fight Dracula's dark army. The game also introduced the ability to swap characters during gameplay. Trevor could enlist the services of three different allies: Grant Danasty, an acrobatic pirate and knife fighter who can climb walls, Sypha Belnades, a skilled witch who hid her gender and abilities to avoid the anti-witch persecution of the era, and Alucard, Dracula's own dhampir (half-human half-vampire) son who fights his own father in the name of his mother. Trevor could only have one ally at a time, though their abilities led to significant replay value along with being able to choose different paths to different stages. The game was welcomed but received some degree of criticism for its high difficulty level.
1991 saw the release of Super Castlevania IV and the series' jump to the 16-bit console era. This game reintroduced Simon and made him more versatile than ever, including the ability to lash his whip in eight different directions and latch it onto certain objects as well as fluidly control his jump direction. the game's graphics also used the SNES' Mode 7 technology to great effect including rotating and cylindrical backgrounds and bosses that changed size mid battle. It is considered the high point of the series.
The PC Engine instalment, Castlevania: Rondo of Blood, saw release in 1993, but remained Japan only for many years due to the PC Engine's Western version, the Turbografx 16, waning in popularity there. This game introduced Richter Belmont to the series. While he lacked his ancestor Simon's multi directional whip attacks, Richter could perform a deft backflip move as well as the Item Crash ability, where Richter unleashed a powerful attack depending on the sub-weapon equipped at the time. During the game, Richter could rescue four captive girls, one of which, a young girl named Maria Renard, was the game's second playable character and possessed her own abilities including a double jump, a guardian spirit with rapid punch ability and could call upon the four Celestial beasts of Chinese mythology.
Rondo remained Japan-only for along time up until the late 2000s, where the game was remade for the Playstation Portable as Castlevania: Dracula X Chronicles, which also included the original PC Engine game, dubbed into English (and marking the debut of Richter's current English voice actor, David Vincent, in the role.) The original game itself was later released for the Wii's Virtual Console service overseas as well.
it was in 1997 that the next Castlevania installment changed the series' style forever, with the release of Castlevania: Symphony of the Night for Sony Playstation. Ditching the series' then-standard linear platform progression, the player instead controlled Alucard (with Richter playable in the game's prologue and a special bonus mode, and Maria playable in certain versions) and explored Dracula's castle at their own pace, collecting items to help them along the way. The similarity of this game to the Metroid series thus coined the affectionate term "Metroidvania." In terms of plot, the game begins by retelling the final battle of Rondo of Blood where the player controls Richter in legendary his battle against Dracula. Afterward, the game puts players in control of Alucard as he attempts to destroy his father's castle again and help the matured Maria find the missing Richter Belmont. The game was also the first since Simon's Quest to feature multiple endings; depending on Alucard's actions, the game could end with Alucard killing Richter and the mystery remaining unresolved, or Richter freed from his brainwashing and Alucard destroying Dracula.
Symphony is considered one of the best in the series thanks to the high quality multi-genre soundtrack and in no small part to Alucard himself as not only did he possess a fluid sprite and animation set but was hugely versatile, able to use a large number of swords, throwing weapons and magic attacks. This versatility is also why the game is considered one of the easiest instalments as well. The game also marked the debut of series artist Ayami Kojima, famous for her artwork that combines the Japanese "bishounen" character style with art heavily similar to the European Baroque genre giving the overall style a more gothic flair. The game's original English voice acting, however, was criticized heavily due to its perceived low quality, although players nowadays fondly remember it in a "so bad its good" manner, with the prologue argument between Richter and Dracula being immortalized in particular. The game was also an unlockable extra Dracula X Chronicles, albeit with a renamed English voice track by the Rondo remake's cast (with Yuri Lowenthal voicing Alucard.) While the name change is admired by most, many players were disappointed at the replacement of the game's original, more theatrical dub. The game also received an extensive Sega Saturn port that featured new items and areas as well as a playable version of Maria Renard, but slowdown issues and graphical downgrades hindered it along with the Saturn's waning English popularity ensuring it would remain Japan exclusive.
Other Castlevania games would follow Symphony's example such as the Sorrow games for Game Boy Advance and DS as well as the N64 games, with only a few outliers such as the 3D fighting game Castlevania Judgment for the Wii, the Wiiware classic-style game Castlevania: The Adventure Rebirth (A remake of the Game Boy installment of the same name) and the multiplayer-based spinoff Harmony of Despair for Playstation 3 and Xbox 360. The series also touched upon 3D with the N64 games (Castlevania and Castlevania: Legacy of Darkness) and the PS2 games Lament of Innocence and Curse of Darkness. In particular, Lament served as a prequel to the entire series and explained Dracula's own origin as a former knight named Mathias Cronqvist, who despite his unwavering faith in God, lost his wife Elisabetha to disease, and chose to become the immortal lord of darkness to spite God for this, manipulating his friend Leon Belmont to that end, though these acts (leading to the demise of Leon's own fiancee Sara) earn him the wrath of Leon and the entire Belmont clan for eternity. While the N64 and PS2 games are considered nothing special by fans, their stories are nonetheless welcomed for expanding on Castlevania lore.
Another noteworthy pair of games were the Sorrow games, Aria of Sorrow for Game Boy Advance and Dawn of Sorrow for the Nintendo DS. Taking place in the future year of 2035, the games starred young student turned demon hunter Soma Cruz, who is ultimately revealed to be a reincarnated Dracula and has the opportunity to turn his back on his dark destiny. Sorrow used a "soul" system where Soma could absorb the souls of fallen enemies to learn new attacks.
An attempt was made by Konami and MercurySteam to reboot the series for the HD era with the Lords of Shadow series. While it boasted a dramatic movie-esque story and a number of famous actors in its voice cast list (including the likes of Robert Carlyle and Patrick Stewart,) it was considered an otherwise unimpressive attempt at cashing in on the popularity of Sony's God of War series, although the 3DS-based spinoff game Mirror of Fate is liked by some due to its 2.5D nature and its Metroidvania style of gameplay that hearkens back to the earlier beloved entries like Symphony and others, as well as its own interpretation of the conflict between the Belmonts and Dracula.
The game also received a small number of light-hearted spinoff games called Kid Dracula (Akumajō Special: Boku Dracula-kun) in Japan which focuses on the eponymous Kid Dracula as he battles the forces of the evil monster Galamoth. Galamoth himself would later become a bonus boss in Symphony of the Night in a vastly more threatening form.
In terms of other media, Castlevania has had its most infamous representation in the cartoon series Captain N: The Game Master, where Simon Belmont is one of the main characters, albeit portrayed as a dimwitted braggart. Most recently in the mid-to-late 2010s received a Netflix-exclusive animated adaptation of Castlevania III by Warren Ellis and Powerhouse Animation, which has enjoyed a considerable following and has ran for two seasons. While adapting the third game in the series, the Netflix show focuses mostly on the backstory of Trevor Belmont and his clan, Dracula's relationship with Lisa and subsequent turn to villainy and his estrangement from his son Alucard. The series also stars Hector and Isaac from Curse of Darkness in largely redesigned forms.
List of games in the Castlevania franchise
- Castlevania (1986, NES)
- Vampire Killer (1986, MSX2)
- Haunted Castle (1988, Arcade)
- Castlevania II: Simon's Quest (1987, NES)
- Castlevania: The Adventure (1988, Game Boy)
- Castlevania: The Adventure ReBirth (2009, Nintendo Wii)
- Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse (1989, NES)
- Akumajo Special: Boku Dracula-kun (1990, Famicom)
- Castlevania II: Belmont's Revenge (1991, Game Boy)
- Super Castlevania IV (1991, SNES)
- Akumajo Dracula (1993, Sharp X68000)
- Castlevania Chronicles (2001, Sony Playstation)
- Castlevania: Rondo of Blood (1993, PC Engine)
- Castlevania: Dracula X (1995, SNES)
- Kid Dracula (1993, Game Boy)
- Castlevania: Bloodlines (1994, Sega Genesis)
- Castlevania: Symphony of The Night (1997, PlayStation 1, Sega Saturn, Xbox 360)
- Castlevania Legends (1997, Game Boy)
- Castlevania (1999, Nintendo 64)
- Castlevania: Legacy of Darkness (1999, Nintendo 64)
- Castlevania: Circle of The Moon (2001, Game Boy Advance)
- Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance (2002, Game Boy Advance)
- Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow (2003, Game Boy Advance)
- Castlevania: Lament of Innocence (2003, PlayStation 2)
- Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow (2005, Nintendo DS)
- Castlevania: Curse of Darkness (2005, PlayStation 2, Xbox)
- Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin (2006, Nintendo DS)
- Castlevania: The Dracula X Chronicles (2006, PlayStation Portable)
- Castlevania: Judgement (2008, Nintendo Wii)
- Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia (2008, Nintendo DS)
- Castlevania: Harmony of Despair (2010, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3)
- Castlevania: Lords of Shadow (2010, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3)
- Castlevania: Lords of Shadow - Mirror of Fate (2013, Nintendo 3DS)
- Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 (2014, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3)
- Simon: A vampire hunter that is the protagonist from the first game and other titles.
- Richter: Simon's distant descendent and star of several Castlevania games. He is the Echo Fighter of Simon.
- Dracula: The series' primary antagonist. He serves as a boss in Classic Mode and Adventure Mode: World of Light, while his shadow appears occasionally in "Dracula's Castle".
- Death: Dracula's most trusted servant and recurring boss that was introduced in the first Castlevania game.
- The Creature & Flea Man: Recurring bosses and enemies that debuted in the first Castlevania game. Based off of Frankenstein's Monster from the Mary Shelley novel Frankenstein and its Hammer movie adaptation.
- Mummy: A recurring boss and enemy that made its debut in the first Castlevania game. Is sometimes named "Akmodan II"
- Medusa: A recurring boss that made its debut in the first Castlevania game.
- Carmilla: Recurring boss that first appeared in Castlevania II: Simon's Quest. Her mask briefly appears at the end of the Belmonts' reveal trailer, frightening the wits out of Luigi's ghost.
- Werewolf: A recurring boss and enemy.
- Alucard: Dracula's son. He debuted in Castlevania III as an ally of Trevor Belmont helping to defeat Dracula, and was the main protagonist of Symphony of the Night. He uses his Symphony design in this game.
- Charlotte Aulin
- Jonathan Morris
- Juste Belmont
- Kid Dracula
- Leon Belmont
- Maria Renard
- Reinhardt Schneider
- Trevor Belmont
- Dracula's Castle: A stage set inside Dracula's castle.
- Bloody Tears / Monster Dance
- Lost Painting
Games with elements from or in the Super Smash Bros. series
This is the first game that stars Simon Belmont, and many bosses from the game appear as hazards in Dracula's Castle.
Castlevania II: Simon's Quest
The boss Carmilla has her floating mask appearance taken from this game.
Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse
Alucard debuted in this game alongside the main protagonist Trevor Belmont, Sypha Belnades and Grant Danasty. Dracula's fire pillar attack as a stage hazard debuted in this game as well.
Castlevania: Rondo of Blood
Richter Belmont and Maria Renard's first appearance in the series, with the former’s moves as well as Dracula’s in Super Smash Bros. featured. The remake of the game (as well as the original's 2000s English dub included in said remake) marked the debut of Richter and Dracula's current English voice actors, David Vincent and Patrick Seitz respectively.
Castlevania: Symphony of the Night
Alucard, Richter and Maria's second appearance, with the former’s first time as the main character. His and Dracula’s appearance and moves in Super Smash Bros. are based on this game. All moves originating from Richter’s appearance in this game are in Smash too, leading to mild tongue-in-cheek confusion as to who really echoes who, with old players considering Simon the true Echo fighter of Richter. The Japanese voice track of the game marks the debut of Richter and Dracula's Japanese VAs in their respective roles (Kiyoyuki Yanada and Norio Wakamoto) along with Alucard's Japanese VA (Ryotaro Okiayu) with his current English VA (Yuri Lowenthal) voicing him in the redub featured in the Dracula X Chronicles set. An adult version of Maria is playable in the Sega Saturn, PSP and PS4 releases of the game, as is Richter in all versions once the game is properly complete and a new save file bearing his name is made.
Simon, Carmilla, Trevor, Sypha, Alucard, Grant, Eric, Maria, Death and Dracula’s first fighting game appearances in their home series after Simon’s appearance in Dream Mix TV World before they appearing in Super Smash Bros.. The iterations of “Vampire Killer”, “Mad Forest”, “Dracula’s Castle” and “Dance of Illusions” are reused in Smash.
The eponymous Kid Dracula's silhouette can be spotted in the trailer for Dracula’s Castle, marked with a "????" label by the trailer itself.
- Castlevania is the first third party universe to have 2 playable characters in the Super Smash Bros. series.