Originally published in 1st November 2019.
It’s the week of Halloween, everybody! So it’s only inevitable that we have to bring up the video game that was inspired by the festive spooky season and Universal Monster movies: Castlevania.
Before Konami became “#F*** Konami”, the company was publishing and developing sequels, spin-offs, and what-not of its iconic “man versus Dracula” narrative and gameplay. But we have to wonder: which battle against Count Dracula is the best battle against Count Dracula?
That’s what we’re going to find out: we will be listing and ranking the sublime and subpar Castlevania games throughout the years. Excluding the Tiger Electronics LCD handheld games because we know that’s garbage.
36. CR Pachinko Akumajou Dracula (Arcade)
We are starting at the bottom of the barrel here: a Panchinko game that’s probably still putting Konami in the black because of their current profit strategy at the expense of pushing out quality titles that gamers care about.
Worse, it sells the gothic and monster with “EROTIC VIOLENCE” as one of its key features. We shouldn’t be surprised since this is the company that has turned a stealth franchise into a subpar survival game and giving a run-and-gun game an overheat and cooldown mechanic.
35. Castlevania Puzzle: Encore of the Night (iOS/Android)
If you’re hankering for an iOS/Android Puzzle Fighter clone with Castlevania sprites, you can’t go wrong with this obvious cash-in. It’s not available now though, but at least playing this back in its mobile gaming heyday is way better than being #36.
34. Castlevania: Order of Shadows (Mobile)
In retrospect, Order of Shadows wasn’t a bad take on the nonlinear Castlevania platformer, especially since the game came out in 2007 and had to work with so many limitations with a pre-touchscreen mobile phone. It looks odd and controls weird, but it was ambitious in its undertaking.
We’d say give it a shot, but it’s pretty tough to find Java-format games in this day and age short of emulation.
33. Akumajou Dracula: The Arcade (Arcade)
A House of The Dead clone but with a Castlevania twist. Not exactly the most stellar of all spin-offs; it’s a mediocre time-waster at best and a wasted opportunity to go beyond a rail shooter at worst.
32. Haunted Castle (Arcade)
We’ll say this: the music in this Castlevania arcade port is decent. Everything else? Not so good.
From crappy graphics to cheap gameplay design marred by terrible controls (even for Castlevania games back in that time), it’s no wonder Haunted Castle is the hated black sheep among the other black sheep Castlevania spin-offs.
31. Castlevania: The Adventure (Game Boy)
The early arrival of a Castlevania game on Game Boy should have been a signal to take Nintendo’s first handheld console seriously. However, designing games for small-memory consoles and cartridges is incredibly challenging during the console’s heyday, and it really shows in this first Castlevania game.
Sure, it looked and sounded adequate for its time, but that’s it. The game’s controls and frame rate were sluggish and do not mesh well together. It also abandoned many Castlevania mechanics like sub-weapons and fun level design. Give Konami props for trying though.