With the recent release of Castlevania: Lords of Shadow - Mirror of Fate for 3DS earlier this year, I figure now is a good time as any to see where the entire Castlevania series stands according to the ratings given by the Negative World community! Over the years, Konami has created true classics spanning many of Nintendo's systems, but which Castlevania games are considered the best? Of course, since our game database only includes games on Nintendo systems (this is a Nintendo site after all), this list will not include Castlevania games from other platforms.
(Notes: Release dates shown are for U.S. The score shown is out of a max of 10 points.)
The second GBA Castlevania title comes in at tenth place. Starring Juste Belmont, the game featured a brighter color palette compared to Circle of the Moon before it.
Click here for database entry! Score: 8.62(20 votes)
Released for NES 1987
Here is where it all began: the never-ending battle between the Belmonts and Dracula. The Vampire Killer whip is the weapon of choice. Some truly enduring music tracks were first heard here, especially the track "Vampire Killer." Don't you love flying Medusa Heads?
Castlevania: Circle of the Moon
Click here for database entry! Score: 8.69(19 votes)
The first Castlevania game on a Nintendo system implementing the Metroid-like features, it was also a launch title for the Game Boy Advance. It was definitely a showcase for Nintendo's new handheld system, although the graphics were a bit hard to see on the original 'no-backlight' GBA!
Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse
Click here for database entry! Score: 8.72(16 votes)
Released for NES 1990
The last NES entry ranks higher than either of the first two games. This game came late in the NES era, and Konami really knew how to push the 8-bit hardware to create a memorable experience. The 'choose-your-path' adventure and the ability to play as multiple characters really sets this game apart, even from the SNES game that came after. I haven't actually finished it though, because I can't pass the falling block stage.
Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin
Click here for database entry! Score: 8.72(21 votes)
It's a tie with Castlevania III! But this one has more votes.
The second DS Castlevania also ranks the lowest compared to the other two DS games. This game had an interesting story line that took place in 1944 Europe during World War II, allowed the player to control two characters, Jonathan and Charlotte, and had outdoor environments as opposed to the castle interior setting the series is well known for.
Castlevania: Rondo of Blood
Click here for database entry! Score: 8.93(17 votes)
Released for Wii Virtual Console 2010
Originally released for TurboGrafx-16, Japan only, in 1993. A number of us here at Negative World played this game together for Retro Game Club # 5. A Castlevania game previously not seen in North America, its release on the Wii Virtual Console allowed fans to appreciate Konami's work for the first time!
Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia
Click here for database entry! Score: 8.96(18 votes)
The final DS game comes in at a respectable fourth place. You would think that, at this point, gamers would have grown tired of the series already. But the truth of the matter is, Konami was quite good at keeping the quality in place and adding some different features to the game even as they released one game after another.
Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow
Click here for database entry! Score: 9.00(25 votes)
The final GBA entry (and third since Circle of the Moon) ended up being quite the polished experience. The Tactical Soul System is considered by many to be one of the best magic systems in the series (i.e. you collect souls from fallen foes or special candles. When you gain dominance over their soul, you can use their abilities in battle).
Super Castlevania IV
Click here for database entry! Score: 9.01(29 votes)
Released for Super NES 1991
What a classic! This is perhaps the finest pure Castlevania experience before the series became Metroid-like. The soundtrack is easily one of my favorite in the SNES library. This game really shines as an early SNES title; lots of great SNES special effects really created a chilling atmosphere appropriate to the Castlevania franchise.
Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow
Click here for database entry! Score: 9.06(28 votes)
The first Metroid-style Castlevania to appear on the DS (and the fourth in the series since Circle of the Moon). This game was a direct sequel to its predecessor, Aria of Sorrow on GBA (which sits in at 3rd place on the list!), and and thus also stars Soma Cruz as the main protagonist. The Tactical Soul System returns from Aria of Sorrow, with some updates!
Where do your favorites stand on the list? I included links for each game so you can add your own rating if you have not done so already! In the end, the only thing that matters is that Castlevania games are pretty awesome and are a significant part of Nintendo's legacy. Where will the series go from here?
Interesting that Dawn is first. I thought most people preferred Aria. I'm really happy that you put up my reviews for each of the games! By the way, it is my personal goal to have a review for each of the games in this list by the end of this year, hopefully.
Yeah, but look at that small difference in the score! Dawn has 9.06, Aria has a 9.00. Less than 0.1! Guess they're both pretty well revered. In fact, many of the games are very, very close.
And of course I'm going to post the links to your reviews, they're some of the most extensive articles on the games I've ever seen. I do look forward to seeing you continue your reviews of the Castlevania games!
I'm torn a bit here. I'm very happy that Dawn of Sorrow is #1 - that game is an absolute gem and is deserving of that rank.
On the other hand, I'm severely disappointed that SUPER Castlevania IV ranked so high. That's easily my least favorite game in the series, and a fairly snooze-worthy entry in the franchise. Especially coming off the heels of the phenomenal Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse.
I'm a little disappointed that Castlevania II: Belmont's Revenge didn't make the list, but I suspect not many people played that one. Also bummed that Castlevania 64 didn't make it, either. That game is much more fun than most give it credit for.
I haven't played much Castlevania, but the fact that I didn't like Castlevania III (which fans like) but enjoyed both Castlevania games on the N64 (which fans don't like) makes me pause and think that what the fans like and what I like are two different things. So I wonder if I should play the lowest-rated games instead...
I would put the original at the top of the list. Castlevania 3 and Rondo of Blood would be up there as well. I don't think the XP-based Castlevanias are as good as the classic ones, but Circle of the Moon would be my #1 in that category (probably even ahead of Symphony of the Night if it was eligible).
I've only played the original. Very rewarding game. The difficulty is perfect. Well, maybe the last level is a little unfair. But I love it; anyone with gaming experience can beat that game if they think about what they're doing.
God damn, I never realized just how many Castlevania games existed...
I enjoy pretty much all of them, but my list would definitely be in a different order. Plus, no SIMON'S QUEST? In some ways, it was kind of a kusoge, but in others, it was pretty ambitious and awesome. But, y'know, I'm sure that the context under which we played each of these games would significantly affect our opinions of them. I have a soft spot for Castlevania I & II, since I grew up on them. Aria would definitely be the top Igavania for me. And Circle of the Moon would be pretty high, too. I haven't played enough of the N64 games to comment, but the PS2 games were pretty shitty. And the new stuff isn't even Castlevania.
In conclusion, it's a horrible night to have a curse, Roy-o.
EDIT: Haha, I just realized that this was done by the overall ratings. I thought it was your personal list!