What Is The Best Castlevania Game of All Time?

Even though we just started playing the original Castlevania for the Together Retro game club less than a week ago, some of our members have already completed it.  And since there are so many other great games in the series on an array of different platforms, I wanted to ask the racketboy community about which Castlevania games stood out to them the most.

Again, in this poll, you can select up to five games in your vote.  Also, feel free to share your thoughts about your game choices in detail in the comments section below.  Also, if you’re up for the discussion, I’d like to hear your thoughts on what Castlevanias are the best for beginners and which ones are the most challenging.

What Are Your Top 5 Castlevanias?

View Results

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  1. Gyshall says:

    Symphony of the Night, no doubt. It’s the epitome of 2d side scrolling platform adventure games, and easily sticks out as one of the best games on a system dominated primarily by 3d games.

    Going to have to play it again, thanks….

  2. Philipofmacedon says:

    I feel bad Curse of Darkness isn’t getting any love. It and Lament of Innocence weren’t the best Castlevanias, but I still had a good time playing them.

  3. Covarr says:

    I don’t know why so many people vote SotN. Sure it was good, but more recent Castlevanias have had better graphics, better level design, better mechanics, a distinct lack of terrible voice acting, etc. The only thing that SotN has that the GBA and DS games didn’t have was that it was the first metroidvania game.

    It’s like Final Fantasy VII; it was a wonderful game, but the standard it set has since been far surpassed by later games.

  4. Alejandro Moreno says:

    Covarr, you make an interesting point. And I’d argue that it depends on the question being asked.

    “What are THE top 5 games” could be perceived as “what 5 games would you recommend to someone that hasn’t played many Castlevania games?”

    And I would take “what are YOUR top 5 games” to mean “from the games you’ve played, which would you like to play again the most?”

    And this was addressed nicely by racketboy by asking people to also post comments 🙂

    To that matter, even though I’ve only played about half of the games on this list, I’d say the original Castlevania is the most challenging for a beginner; and Symphony of the Night the most recommendable (mostly because I feel like it’s the easiest, and at the same time most fun).

  5. Philipofmacedon says:

    SOTN has better music than any of the new incarnations. The voice acting is classic, who could forget this?


  6. Ryan says:

    Why oh why does Super Castlevania IV get so much love? It’s slow, it looks terrible, the music is uninteresting, and the whole 8-way-whipping thing makes it piss-easy. A failure of a game, amongst the most over-rated games ever.

    My Top 5:
    01-Dracula X: Chi no Rondo
    02-Castlevania: Symphony of the Night
    03-Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow
    04-Castlevania Bloodlines

  7. gord allott says:

    I have been replaying castlevania: bloodlines latly, i forgot how geninuely good it is. not the best, but good.

  8. James says:

    Why did you put Simon’s quest on there??? lol

    Most people will vote SotN as their favorite, and to be perfectly honest I think it has something to do with nostalgia. People literally fell in love with this game and hold it higher than any other game in the series or even any other series. That being said, it is a fantastic game that deserves respect but not so much as to neglect other gems in the series.

    I’ll have to say that Castlevania III on the NES is my favorite, I played that game to death so its my personal favorite. Then in no particular order Bloodlines on the SEGA, Dracula X on SNES, SotN and Harmony of Dissonance.

    Not a definite best of all time list, but my personal favorites.

  9. ott0bot says:

    I see some points about newer gba and ds versions being superior, but I’d add that the GBA versions were far shorter and less in depth. I can’t speak for the DS versions, but the other games are all emulating the style of SOTN, which was an updated version of Simon’s quest. So really are clones better than the original? What did they really improve upon. I thought some of the special ability systems were a bit cumbersome in the GBA titles and were more based around the enemies randomly dopping the cards or giving you a power up. You can play through with Richter and have a different experience. Plus the music is far superior in SOTN. Maybe it’s just nostalgia….

  10. Ghouls 'n Ghosts says:

    Mine are:

    1. Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse
    2. Castlevania Bloodlines
    3. Super Castlevania IV
    4. Akumajou Dracula (It’s the X68000 version, right?)
    5. Akumajou Dracula X: Chi no Rondo

    I love the Symphony style games, but I enjoy playing the old school games a lot more.

  11. SmartOne says:

    1. Harmony of Dissonance
    2. Aria of Sorrow
    3. Bloodlines
    4. Symphony of the Night
    5. Dawn of Sorrow

  12. peace4myheart says:

    Voted for SOTN. The only other two games I played are Super Castlevania IV on SNES and Dracula X for Turbo Duo. I have to say it is the RPG element that made SOTN a classic. It was the first Castlevania to do so.

  13. RyaNtheSlayA says:

    For me it was close between Portrait of Ruin and Symphony of the Night but we all know which one won.

  14. Gentlegamer says:

    1. Castlevania III – Dracula’s Curse
    2. Castlevania
    3. Dracula X – Chi No Rondo (Dracula X – Circle of Blood)
    4. Castlevania Bloodlines
    5. Super Castlevania IV

  15. devmas says:

    1. Castlevania 64
    My first Castlevania, it is my favorite. No other Castlevania left so much of an impression on me, had more fun with this one than any other.
    2. Chi no Rondo
    I think it is much better than the new Castlevania RPG games.
    3. Super Castlevania IV
    It isn’t nostalgia, I first played it a few years back, and it was a great game with great whip controls…
    4. Castlevania Bloodlines
    5. I also voted for Legacy of Darkness… More or less the same game as Castlevania 64, but with many new elements and levels.

  16. retro gamer says:

    -SOTN would have to be my very favorite.
    -i love simon’s quest, no matter what anyone says. the layout, rpg elements, day/night system (yes, even that) and NPC make for a fresh approach. without simon’s quest, the whole series would be completely different, if it was even still around. besides, everyone has to admit that for a first sequel, it made huge gameplay leaps.
    -i thought curse of darkness was actually very good. the familiar system, with its evolving and leveling up of demons, was new and really built on what sotn established.
    -super castlevania iv was awesome too. especially the spinning room and the grappling hook ability of the whip.
    -finally, i must mention the first one, castlevania. it started everything and took a well used genre and used it well.

  17. Ridley says:

    Akumajo Dracula Sharp X68000 may not be very popular in the series (compared to recent Metroidvanias, that is), but in my opinion it’s one of the best takes on the original formula that Konami has ever made.

    Classic style 16-bit graphics, creative boss fights, old-school Castlevania design and difficulty, an amazing OST with themes such as Moon Fight and Tower of Dolls… What else could you ask for…? Even the sprite of Simon Belmont is brown-ish in order to pay homage to the original Castlevania on the NES.

    I can’t believe you neglected to mention one of the best titles in the whole series on a list that has even Castlevania Legends just for the sake of it.

  18. celestial-- says:

    SOTN for me is the best! has moral values, action, brutality and more!!! weeeeeee!!! other than that the HERO is DRACULA’S SON! wahahaha!!

    i really wish KONAMI publish SOTN2 for PC someday or atleast some other game publisher’s reversion it for PC

  19. Adam J. Romano says:

    This poll is tilted by what games were available to most people. While a good game, Castlevania IV should not beat out the feat that was Dracula X: Chi no Rondo. It’s just that gamers had more access to the former title (I guess).

  20. Berumondo X68K says:

    No Castlevania for Sharp X68K / Castlevania Chronicles for PS1?


    On the other hand, Ghouls & Ghosts and Ridley… You deserve all of my respect! Hahahahaha… 😉

  21. racketboy says:

    Well, I wasn’t about too list all the compilations and variations … if you a problem with list, it was based on Wikipedia.

  22. Bob* says:

    Castlevania Bloodlines is a terrific game! I can’t believe a lot of people doesn’t agree

  23. Kriztoffer Swank says:

    1. Super Castlevania IV
    2. Castlevania (NES)
    3. Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest
    4. Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse
    5. Castlevania Bloodlines

    Though I also think that Rondo and SOTN are just as good as all of those. It’s hard to pick a favorite, but in my opinion IV definitely reigns supreme. It is easy, true (although hard mode offers a challenge), but the music and graphics are so incredible, giving a very strong atmosphere; the level designing is top-notch; the eight-way whip is a lot of fun; and there just isn’t anything I can say bad about it. Plus it was the first Castlevania game I ever fell in love with, back when it came out and my cousin had it.

  24. Kriztoffer Swank says:

    Also, since racketboy says he culled the list from Wikipedia, Akumajo Dracula is indeed the X68000 game since that’s what they call it in the list. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Castlevania_titles

    And the game is incredible. I love my copy of Castlevania Chronicles.

    Gotta add that I love the old school Castlevanias so much more than the Metroidvanias, although I love those too. Just an awesome series all-around.

  25. Ghouls 'n Ghosts says:

    High fives Ridley, BeromundoX68K and Kritztoffer Swank.

  26. AngrySquirrel says:

    SOTN overrated? That’s the most ridiculous statement ever. In terms of scope and abilities for alucard, it still really hasn’t been surpassed by anything I’ve played, except possibly dawn of sorrow(note-I haven’t played Ecclesia or Portrait yet).

    Now, SCIV is overrated, but I wouldn’t call it a shitty game. It’s waay more refined and better than the original Castlevania, for example. But it is ridiculous to rate it over any of the post-SOTN 2d games. Those games just have much better gameplay, with more to do than SCIV. SCIV has clunky animation that makes the platforming a bit clumsy, and very basic gameplay that is virtually unimproved from the original castlevania. 8-way whipping is a gimmick that adds little to the game.

    I’ve not yet heard a single good reason why people prefer old-school style castlevanias over the newer ones. Chi no Rondo is the truth, but the rest of those games are just such a step backwards in complexity, I cannot see any other reason to vote for them except nostalgia. And considering that the poll is for the best game, well, its a shame that nostalgia is there to skew the results.

  27. megadan says:

    How can people not pick the Dracula X Chronicles for PSP? It has Symphony of the Night on the disk plus revamped version of Rondo of Blood. Its like getting a 2.5d version of best old school Castlevania as well as the quintesential Metroidvania games. Unless you just don’t have a PSP, there is no excuse for a Castlevania fan to not have this game.

  28. greenenergy says:

    Why isn’t the PC Engines “Castlevania Rondo of Blood” up for a pick? Or does Dracula X stand for Rondo of Blood??
    Anyway, I LOVE THIS SITE!!!

    PURE AWESOMENESS!! So much love in here (Artikles, Discussions, News etc!) ^^

  29. racketboy says:

    That would be “Akumajo Dracula X: Chi no Rondo” 🙂
    And glad you enjoy it 🙂

  30. kevinski says:

    There’s no way in Hell that SotN is overrated. If anything, it’s actually underrated in that few modern gamers even know what it is. As has already been mentioned, it’s one of the best games ever released on a console that was much more popular for its 3D games. (SotN is, technically, a 3D game, itself, but I won’t go into that now.)

    As for the post-SotN games having “better graphics, better level design, better mechanics, a distinct lack of terrible voice acting” and so much more, give me a break. I’ll admit that PoR and OoE have some more impressive graphical effects, but – overall – they look quite weak compared to SotN. The level design in the newer games, aside from OoE, has largely been terrible and uninspired. The only real exception to that would be OoE, but it reuses most areas, making it feel a bit repetitive.

    Better mechanics? I’ll admit that certain aspects of newer Castleroid/Metroidvania games are vastly improved over their SotN counterparts. I like being able to use items in the menu, rather than equipping them and using them during battle. The menu systems, in general, are much better in newer games. However, some of the newer games are needlessly more complex, and I hate the soul system from AoS and DoS, as it’s just tedious. You need a special power to SINK IN WATER? Give me a break. And do keep in mind that newer games obviously see a need to mimic SotN in terms of recurring special abilities throughout the series.

    And the voice acting is so bad that it’s good, actually. And certain voices, such as those of Alucard and Death, are actually very well-done.

    If anything, SCIV is overrated. That game is awful. It’s aged worse than the NES games, in my opinion. Simon’s just too freaking stiff and lifeless, and his sprite (and the sprites and animations for most enemies) is just terrible. I’ve never understood its appeal. SotN took a lot of things from the Castlevania series and made them better. Flailing the whip around worked so much better in SotN, and Richter’s much easier to control in SotN. Also, each area within the castle has so much that sets it apart from the others. I just feel that most areas in newer games are simply less memorable.

    I’ve never really been a fan of Rondo. Oddly, I love its SNES counterpart, but Rondo for PC Engine (and the remake for PSP) just never felt right to me from a control standpoint.

    My favorite classic-style Castlevania was Bloodlines, and it’s a shame that it’s overlooked in favor of Rondo or SCIV. Its graphics are far more impressive than those in Rondo or SCIV, and the game play just feels right. Rondo and SCIV just really put me off with their controls.

    As for the person who asked why DXC wouldn’t get so many votes simply for having a remake of Rondo, as well as the original versions of Rondo and SotN, it’s not so simple. Granted, I’ve never liked Rondo, but this collection just has too many flaws for me to consider it to be the best.

    It’s difficult to judge your jumping distance due to the 2.5D approach taken with the graphics. It’s also difficult to see certain enemies, namely bats. The 3D graphics also make it difficult to determine whether or will or will not get hit in certain situations, and I feel that the hit detection is a bit off in some fashion.

    To get to the original versions of Rondo and SotN, you’ll have to unlock them by playing through a portion of the remake. Seeing as how the inclusion of these two games was so played up prior to its release, this was disappointing. I bought DXC to play SotN, period.

    The emulation on Rondo is just awful, and SotN – while largely okay – has some serious issues that pop up in some situations. These range from random crashing/freezing while using the two extra familiars to being hit by what appears to be absolutely nothing in portions of the game. The sound emulation is a bit off, and PSP Maria is a disappointment both from a boss perspective and from a playable character perspective. She’s just weak, which makes her come off as insignificant in both cases.

  31. Kriztoffer Swank says:

    “I’ve not yet heard a single good reason why people prefer old-school style castlevanias over the newer ones.”

    Oldschoolvania (that’s right, I went there) is all about platforming. I love me some platforming! Jumping at the very last moment so as not to fall in a pit. Whipping bats and thrown bones so as not to be bumped into deathpits. Those games are fun, and challenging. I call bullshit on the “only liked for nostalgia” theory.

    Plus, in addition to the linear, often tough-as-nails, PLATFORMING (when was the last time a Castlevania game had ACTUAL platforming?) gameplay being so much more fun to me, there’s the music in the older games which I deem far superior to EVERYTHING that’s come out since Bloodlines, save for maybe SOTN, which has an excellent score. And I like the more European-style art and atmospherics of the older games, as opposed to the far more Japanese (and often girly) look of the current series.

    Like I said, I enjoy the current series, even though I think all the other Metroidvanias pale greatly in comparison to SOTN, but they don’t have a thing on the older games, and that’s NOT nostalgia speaking. I’ve heard the “older games have clunky controls” thing before, and I just don’t get it. They were a core element to the very gameplay style of the original games. Again, having the very far-back pixel of a character’s foot leap off the very near-edge pixel of a platforming just to clear the gap… Jump too soon, you die; jump too late, you die. You don’t get that with the new games AT ALL.

  32. Kriztoffer Swank says:

    *platform just to clear the gap

    (fixin’ ma typoooo)

    Also, going off on what kevinski said, the level/area designing of the later games is ATROCIOUS. The only really well-designed game in this area, in my opinion, is Aria of Sorrow, which is easily the best of the post-SOTN Metroidvanias. In the old games, you didn’t get any of that copy-and-paste bullshit like with the new games (to which Dawn of Sorrow and Order of Ecclesia are the greatest offenders thus far). The level designing usually took a bit of skill and thought, and the end results were magnificent, and FUN.

    Concerning SOTN… What the hell? SOTN’s voice acting was pretty good. I mean, it was BAD, but there are so many great, cheesy lines and expressions there. So many things to quote, and like kevinski said, Alucard and Death had good voice actors. Well, perhaps Alucard didn’t have a good voice ACTOR, but he has a good voice, and his stoic acting worked well for the character of Alucard, I thought. The new voice acting for the PSP port is far worse, and the dialog is written surprisingly worse.

    Plus, I don’t understand your claims to the graphics of the newer games being better. SOTN appeals to me far more. Far better artistry and time taken on making the backgrounds and sprites look wonderful, and plus it has the advantage of being on a 32-bit console. The controls have always felt more fluid to me in SOTN than the later ones, and in SOTN I actually found myself being excited every time I pick up a new sword, wanting to see what it does. The latter games’ weaponry is mostly boring. And again, the music of the post-SOTN games pales in comparison to SOTN’s, in both composition and obviously sound quality.

    As for the few complaints by a few people about Castlevania IV having stiff controls… It’s like you people have never played any of the other older Castlevania games. They’re ALL like that, save for maybe Bloodlines. Again, all part of the design, and it works beautifully. If you put SOTN Alucard in any of those games, it would completely ruin the experience. Plus, Castlevania IV has amazing sprites and background art, and anyone who says otherwise is flat-out wrong on the matter. :] Saying that Bloodlines’ utterly goofy-looking sprites are better than CVIV and Rondo’s is an utter travesty…

  33. kevinski says:

    I’ve played the NES installments, and I’m completely aware of the fact that their controls are far more restrictive. The problem with SCIV, however, is that it attempts to give the player far more freedom of movement, yet it still comes off as very stiff. Amusingly, Bloodlines doesn’t allow you to control your jumps in mid-air, yet its controls feel far more natural and aren’t the least bit stiff.

    As for the graphics in Bloodlines, I’m referring to the graphical effects used throughout the game. I realize that the color palette isn’t quite as pleasing to the eye. I can understand people preferring the graphics in Rondo, but I’d only really share the same opinion with regard to character sprites, not backgrounds. The color palette in SCIV is far too drab. I honestly can’t stand looking at that game.

  34. glynnahab says:

    Oh wow. 35 people voted for Castlevania 64. Poor, misguided souls…

  35. kevinski says:

    I’d say that it’s all the more tragic that two people voted for Order of Shadows. Awful, awful game…

  36. Kriztoffer Swank says:

    Hey, CV64 and Legacy of Darkness are great games. Far from the best, but I love ’em, and they’re far better than the other two 3D Castlevanias. They also have structure and clever level design, unlike the PS2 games, which had even less thought put into them than Dawn of Sorrow.

    CVIV is “drab” I suppose, but it’s that dark Baroque-type look that I adore. It’s the perfect Castlevania in every way, and the eight-way whip is obviously only for attacking. I’m glad they added that yet kept the slow walking movement. I also like being able to change direction mid-air. I’ll never understand the criticisms of this game because I think it’s perfect.

  37. kevinski says:

    I do feel that the N64 Castlevania games had good level design. I never really played much of them, though, so I’m not in a position to judge those ones. The only 3D Castlevania game that I’ve played much of is LoI, and it’s just not capable of keeping my attention for very long. It’s just boring. By contrast, I’ve played through the PSP and Saturn versions of SotN lately, and I’m playing through the PSX version right now. There’s just something about it…

    SCIV’s problem is that it attempts to give the player more freedom and fails miserably at it.

    Take the 8-way whipping, for instance. Bloodlines has multi-directional whipping, but not in eight directions. However, Bloodlines offers far more freedom, as you can swing from pretty much any object that’s above you, rather than these rings that just happen to be conveniently floating near gaps.

    Swinging with the whip in SCIV just feels clunky. It’s a mechanic that hasn’t aged well. In the NES installments, there’s nothing that really feels dated. The same goes for whip flailing. It just feels awful in SCIV, but it feels absolutely amazing in SotN.

  38. Kriztoffer Swank says:

    I don’t recall there ever being any whip-flailing in SOTN. 😛 Unless there’s some totally awesome weapon an enemy drops that I’ve never grabbed.

    Guess we’ll just have to settle on our disagreements. I find the whip-swinging in Bloodlines to not be very good. I mostly play Eric anyway. That miniskirt-wearing fruitcake can whup John’s ass any day.

  39. kevinski says:

    I’m talking about playing as Richter in SotN. 😛

    And yeah, Eric is awesome.

  40. kevinski says:

    Despite my love of Castlevania, I’m not actually a huge fan of whips in the games, anyway. The only whip that I ever really enjoyed using in recent games is Nebula from PoR. That is, hands down, the coolest concept for a whip. Obviously, you can’t flail it, but who cares?

  41. AngrySquirrel says:

    I’m glad to see someone articulate why they think olskoovania is best. That said, platforming?? The platforming in the old castlevanias was average at best, and I can’t say any of it was particularly hard or memorable, with one possible exception: the medusa head areas. However, the post-SOTN games usually have at least one “clock tower” area with the medusa heads where you have to do some tricky jumping, so you can’t really say that medusa head areas are done better in the older games. Other games, even from the 8 and 16-bit eras, have done platforming better than the castlevanias (see: megaman), so I agree with the design evolution away from platforming, at least in the jumping-over-bottomless-pit sense.

    As for the argument that stiff controls are good and part of the design, I don’t really know what to say to that. I know I don’t miss the days of making sure I’m just close enough to the ledge to make a jump. Some people may think that this is a skill element, but if you’ve played enough games from that era, it really becomes second nature. Also, there are a lot of modern games that show that you can have fluid animation and challenging platforming sequences at the same time, so to say that stiffness is a good thing just sounds like nostalgia talking.

    Music and atmosphere? Purely a matter of taste. The Japanification of the series has rubbed some ppl wrong, but I don’t care about it as long as the gameplay is good. Musicwise, Castlevania has been consistently good post-SOTN, excepting harmony of dissonance I guess. Circle of the Moon and Dawn of Sorrow stand out in my mind, but I never was a soundtrack-buying type, so I’ll defer to others here.

    As for level design, if you’re talking about aesthetics, then I defer to what I said before about being a matter of taste. If you’re talking about from a gameplay standpoint, well, I just don’t see your point. The level design has been pretty good IMO of all the newer games, what specifically don’t you like about them that was present in the old games?

    “Plus, Castlevania IV has amazing sprites and background art, and anyone who says otherwise is flat-out wrong on the matter. :]”

    Amazing in their chunkiness and poor animation, perhaps. Forget Chi no Rondo, even Dracula X on the SNES animated much better than SCIV. Don’t get me wrong, SCIV was great for it’s time, and I do like the game overall (really fun dracula fight at the end), but I find it completely ludicrous that it’s second in this poll. Meanwhile, Circle of the Moon languishes at 12th, behind all 3 NES games. You can’t tell me this isn’t a poll of nostalgia based on those results.

  42. racketboy says:

    I agree — the comments have been great 🙂
    Thanks, everyone!

  43. Kriztoffer Swank says:

    Meh, what more can I say? :] It’ll just be a back-and-forth argument that goes nowhere. I personally can’t even imagine placing COTM within the same league as the NES games. To me that game is like pee-wee baseball compared to the pros. It’s not even my favorite of the Metroidvanias. But oh well, differing opinions.

  44. kevinski says:

    Yeah, CotM is week. Awful controls, awful graphics, confusing card magic system that relies on random enemy drops? I agree that CotM has nothing on the NES installments in the series.

    The only thing that I really like about CotM is how it changes the enemies in certain areas as you get further into the game, so the difficulty is always considerable, Still, if you’re not enjoying the game as you play, then that’s not such a big deal. And I hated thinking that I was actually making progress, only to be greeted by yet another dead end that contained a HP/MP max up. Gah!

  45. kevinski says:

    D’oh! I meant to say that CotM is WEAK, not WEEK.

  46. D says:

    That’s easy.
    Which Castlevania has eight-way whipping?
    SOTN is second place
    Chronicles third?

    Ah, the hell with it, most Castlevania’s are great.

  47. AngrySquirrel says:

    “Meh, what more can I say? :] It’ll just be a back-and-forth argument that goes nowhere. I personally can’t even imagine placing COTM within the same league as the NES games. To me that game is like pee-wee baseball compared to the pros. It’s not even my favorite of the Metroidvanias. But oh well, differing opinions.”

    Please say any other reason that the oleskoolvanias are better than the post-SOTN ones, if you have any. What I’ve heard so far is basically nostalgia for NES-style platforming and “atmosphere,” which is unconvincing IMO for the reasons I said before.

    “CotM is week. Awful controls, awful graphics…”

    Compared to NES games? Are you serious?

    “…confusing card magic system that relies on random enemy drops?

    I wasn’t confused. Last I checked, the 8 and 16 bit games had NO magic system. And how is having some cards being based on random drops any different from weapons being based on random drops?

    I never said COTM was the best metroidvania – it isn’t, not even on the GBA. But it has deeper gameplay and is longer and better looking than any of castlevania I-IV and Dracula X, all of which are ahead of it in the polls for no good reason I can see (lack of exposure?).

  48. Megavolt says:

    My top three:

    Castlevania III (superb level design and challenge)
    Super Castlevania IV (superb atmosphere and polish; best music in the series)
    Castlevania SOTN (great presentation and playability)

    “Please say any other reason that the oleskoolvanias are better than the post-SOTN ones, if you have any.”

    I don’t know about him, but I certainly have reasons. It starts with the fact that SOTN tries to marry the old school Castlevania approach with a more Metroid-inspired approach. The result is something which is good, but not something which captures the best of those two approachs on their own. SOTN plays it pretty loose in terms of the level design. The challenge and plaforming of old school Castlevania is gone, as are the outdoor environments. You can argue that the platforming of Castlevania was never particularly fluid, but the stage designs themselves were challenging and rewarding to overcome, particularly in CVIII. On the Metroid side of things, SOTN is not nearly as intricate as Super Metroid. Whereas Super Metroid made thoughtful use of virtually every bit of space, SOTN has a lot of open corridors populated by few enemies and it has scant few places where you need to use your abilities (the wolf form was practically useless) to find a powerup. Then there’s the RPG elements, which while adding a sense of depth, hurt the game’s difficulty and come off as a bit sloppily implemented for it.

    However, there are certainly good things about SOTN, or else it wouldn’t be my third favorite Castlevania. Alucard feels wonderful to control, the backgrounds are nice to look at, the music is pretty good, and the game has an addictive quality to it. Just that I don’t think it’s the best 2D sidescroller or platformer ever and it’s not quite my favorite Castlevania. What it is is a very good game, and that’s okay too. Otherwise it’s a bit too hack ‘n slash in nature for me to worship at the fount of it like some do.

    I certainly like it more than the other Metroid-vanias, however. (I’ve only played the three GBA ones) They’re generally pale imitations of it. One thing I’ll say is that I think AoS actually had a better designed castle. However, it’s hard to argue against the overall aesthetic of SOTN, which is something that its children simply haven’t been able to match.

  49. kevinski says:

    “Compared to NES games? Are you serious?”

    Compared to other GBA games, actually. The graphics are bland, and the animation is sub-par, even for when the game was originally released.

    “I wasn’t confused. Last I checked, the 8 and 16 bit games had NO magic system. And how is having some cards being based on random drops any different from weapons being based on random drops?”

    The game makes no effort in explaining how to use the card system. I didn’t have the luxury of reading the game’s manual, either, so I honestly didn’t understand what was going on or what any of the cards were really doing. From what it looked like, I could do a bit more damage with a few of the cards, but I was confused in terms of how to so much as equip them!

    “I never said COTM was the best metroidvania – it isn’t, not even on the GBA. But it has deeper gameplay and is longer and better looking than any of castlevania I-IV and Dracula X, all of which are ahead of it in the polls for no good reason I can see (lack of exposure?).”

    Assuming that you’re referring to the SNES version of Dracula X, I have to disagree with you there. CotM looks nowhere near as good as Dracula X. I like the colors used within the backgrounds in Dracula X. SCIV was too brown, while the 8-bit installments were just bland-looking.

  50. dee says:

    Cmon you know castlevania 64 is a classic i played it when i was about 11 and didn’t beat it until i was like 13 or something that’s why most people never got into it they never got too far. It had to be one of the scariest games ever its dark and vampires can come out of no where and there scary to fight good boss’s 3D and it lets you do a lot of things and doesnt get old

  51. snkfan says:

    My favorites are:

    1. Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse (NES)
    2. Castlevania (NES)
    3. Rondo of Blood (PC-Engine and PSP via Dracula X Chronicles)
    4. Super Castlevania IV (SNES)
    5. Castlevania SOTN (PS1)

    The original has a big place in my heart because it was the first one I played but Dracula’s Curse is definitely my favorite. Graphically, it surpassed the original Castlevania in every way and the music is still timeless. Konami’s(and it’s alter-ego Ultra Games) games had the best music of the 8-bit era.

    Now that I finally have gotten to play the original Rondo of Blood (thanks to Dracula X on PSP) without having to import it on PC-Engine, I can honestly say that hands down, it is the last great Old-School Castlevania game. The graphics are excellent and the music…. need I say more?

    Super Castlevania IV brought Castlevania in to the 16-bit era and it did it with a bang. The graphics, sound and music, and level design is timeless. All of the kiddies in here who are calling it slow have been spoiled by polygons.

    As much as I love SOTN (especially, the music in that game as well), I can’t place it higher on my list because I prefer the old-school, more linear formula of the original games that preceded it. When I want to play Metroid, I break out my Metroid cartridge and play Metroid.

    I am sick of the Metroidvania craze and all of the SOTN clones. It gets more and more annoying with each release. Yes SOTN was a new and fresh take on the series but personally I’m sick of leveling up, buying items, and exploring. I miss the old fashioned formula of fighting your way through the a linear stage to a boss and continuing on. Konami and Igarashi are really pissing me off.

    Sorry kids, but no one wants to hear about how much you enjoyed Castlevania 64 when you were 11. For those of us who are old enough to remember 1987 when the original game was released in the US, I’m sure I am not alone when I say, where did our beloved Castlevania go?

  52. Leonardo says:

    Symphony of the Night. Unbeatable

  53. Stressthesky says:

    It’s no surprise that the most recent offerings on the DS ranks high as they take their template from one of the greatest Castlevanias, SotN. Plus, its probably the titles people have experienced most recently.
    But did anyone else notice the insane increase in difficulty on Order of Ecclesia? Aria of sorrow, Dawn of sorrow and Portrait of Ruin were games I enjoyed and didn’t have a too hard time beating. But Order of Ecclesia kicks my ass the second I start up my game. After two hours of level grinding, Goliath still manage to kill me with three hits.

  54. MG says:

    Castlvania SOTN is the greatest Castlevania game known to man period! Too many things make this rare gem better then every other Castlevania game. Graphics, Music, Storyline, Enemies, Boss Battles, RPG element, Level design, etc. SCIV comes next then the rondo of blood one is third. The GBA ones are pretty good but pale in comparison to the SOTN.

  55. ARDM says:

    This argument will not end, mark my words. But as to the best Castlevania game, it would have to be the Symphony of the Night. Cause it’s the pivot and the reason for the the sequels.

  56. Outrun says:

    The MetroidVania games are pretty boring, once I finished Symphony of the night, I never touched it again. Too much back tracking, too much RPG elements, that’s not what Castlevania is about. They have ruined series with all this rubbish Super Metroid type of games.

    The older games have a great replay value, I’ve played Castlevania IV and Bloodlines a million times and I still play them.

    The best Castlevania game is between Castlevania IV and Castlevania Bloodines.

  57. Kyle says:

    How the hell is Rondo of Blood in 8th place?! And bloodlines in 10th?!

    My top 5 are Bloodlines, SOTN, Rondo of Blood, super castlevania 4 and castlevania 3. Rondo of blood is like the freakin excalibur of CV games

  58. JWK says:

    Just saw this post. Interesting topic and very relevant to me as I have made it my mission to play every game in the series. Castlevania is by FAR my favorite franchise and–being 30 years old– I was actually around to remember when the first game dropped on NES in 1987. There were three games that came out in 2010 (Lords of Shadow on PS3/360, Harmony of Despair on XBLA, and Encore of the Night on iPhone) that obviously didn’t make this list. The list has 25 titles on it and I have played 19 of them, plus some others that aren’t here (spin-offs like Kid Dracula for gameboy, etc), so I believe my opinion is valid. Anyway here goes:

    1. Rondo of Blood/Castlevania X: Chi no Rondo
    2. Dawn of Sorrow/Aria of Sorrow (TIE!!!)
    3. Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse
    4. Super Castlevania IV
    5. Symphony of the Night
    6. Castlevania (NES)
    7. Portrait of Ruin
    8. Lament of Innocence
    9. Castlevania (Sharp x68000)
    10. Bloodlines

    Castlevania is one of those rare franchises that can split down the middle, creating two hall-of-fame worthy game types: the linears and the metroidvanias. I love both styles dearly, but the linears win by an inch. It pains me to not put some of the other games on the list. Simon’s Quest is a game that everyone hates but I still love it to this day. It has probably the best and most memorable OST in video game history (toss up between CV2 and Mega Man 2). Curse of Darkness (like LOI) is maligned for being a 3d game, but both PS2 games were vastly superior to the N64 3D games and no amount of brainwashing will make me think otherwise. Castlevania II: Belmont’s Revenge is a great game with great music and probably one of the ten best games on the original GameBoy. Castlevania: Dracula X/Vampire Kiss on SNES is a great game. Yes, I said it. It’s a great game which needs to be evaluated by itself and not compared incessantly to its legendary source material. Rondo is a much better game, but the SNES installment has some of the best graphics of ANY 2D Castlevania game and while the level design was flawed, it’s still a fun playthrough. You’re the man if you can pass the game, rescuing both girls, too! Also, compare Rondo’s first “town-is-burning” level to Drac X’s and you’ll see the SNES’s superiority in this category. Put the color palette was limited and Rondo wins in graphics overall. Lastly, Castlevania: The Adventure ReBirth is a fantastic (if niche) retro throw-back to those of us who fondly remember the 16-bit days. That’s all from me. Just a fan of Castlevania and a fan of the Racketboy site. Be good to each other.

  59. ObsydiaN says:

    For me, in a real Castlevania, you have to control an half naked Belmont family member, that only hold a whip, and that is going to kick Dracula’s ass in his own castle in one night, defeating his hord of monsters, demons and undeads.

    Only one whip, one night, one Castle, and Dracula’s head. That all.
    For me Symphony of the Night is even not a real Castlevania.
    Let’s play older Castlevanias, you’ll see by your own, before voting for something you don’t really now.

  60. frank m says:

    Castlevania Symphony of the Night what B.S i played this POS and what game starts with all your powers then takes it away after the first fight drops you in a middle of now where and expects you to find everything leave metroid with metroid not castlevania… the vote is 66% with 1657 votes for this POS its ok i guess there’s people who like taking it up the A$$ that’s Ok so does your mom….

  61. lucas says:

    I voted only for Sotn and OoE.
    no need to say more..

  62. Zdendaa says:

    For classical linear style I’d say the best are Rondo of blood and Bloodlines, SotN and Aria of Sorrow is for me the best map-system castlevania games….two different categories…

  63. redsss429 says:

    meh… id say castlevania aria of sorrow is the best game ive ever played… ah well

  64. I’m a long time series fan, since the days of the NES, but after playing Dracula X Chronicles on the PSP back when that was released, and now recently after playing Rondo of Blood via emulation on DS (complete with sound), I have to say that bar none, Symohony of the Night and Rondo of Blood are neck and neck for the first position.

    This is of course only my opinion, but when viewing the situation objectively and unbiased, it becomes aparent that those 2 games were groundbreakers in their time, and for all time.

    Their will never, ever be another Symphony of the Night.
    There will never, ever be another Rondo of Blood.

    These are the 2 games that can be emulated, but never duplicated.
    All the other games will forever be compared to these 2, and the rest of the 5 for this list are negligible for me.
    But here’s my list anyway:

    1 – Dracula X Chronicles (only cause it has SotN, Rondo AND enhanced Rondo)
    (If it bothers you to have to unlock them you’re either too lazy or not a real Castle fan.)
    2 – Symphony of the Night
    3 – Castlevania II
    4 – Castlevania III
    5 – Super Castlevania IV

    Symphony has so much depth, such great music, so many memorable moments and is oozing with so much quality that it’s a head scratcher for any Castle fan as to…”why don’t i have this game..?”

    The same can be said with Rondo, although it’s not as deep with the equipment and abilities as Symphony, but it captures the essence of all previous, classic, 2d platformer castles very well and improved upon them (except for a couple of things like the 8 directional whip), had a very personal story and motivation to playing as Richter, awesome replayability, great challenge, and on, and on…(Plus it’s rare as unicorn shit, so that makes it even more special.)

    Matter of fact, Rondo is my favorite castle, no question about it.
    Doesn’t matter that it never made it stateside, i still get to play it on PSP, DSi, 3DS, or anywhere else that can house an emulator for it.

    I just bought an original copy of it (for turbografx-16 (PCE) Super CD2) just so i could justify playing the shit out of it anywhere i want legally.

    Take that Virtual console. haha!

  65. JaWKe says:

    @Simon Belmondo – You make a good point about Rondo’s rarity. There are tons of rare games in this world. Shoot, the racket boy website has lists and lists of rare games. But what’s even more rare is an uncommon or import game that’s actually as good as its legend and rarity suggest. Rondo is that game. I wanted to play Rondo so bad it hurt for YEARS. I was a medical/grad school student and knew that video games would distract with my studies. In 2010, I was scheduled to take a National Board examination and when I passed, I rewarded myself with a PSP. You can guess what my first game was… After lurking on Castlevania sites and lusting over screen shoots, I was finally able to play Rondo of Blood for the first time. Within a week, I beat the game (it’s really not very difficult for a Castlevania game). By week 3, I had mastered it, finding all four girls and completing the game 100%, finishing every branching path. I continued playing it nightly for at least an hour for about 4 months, to ensure I’d never forget how to complete it the best way. When I bought a Wii later that year, it (and Castlevania III) were the first games I purchased. When I bought a Vita and ditched my PSP, the first game I bought (again) was Dracula X Chronicles so that I could have Rondo and Symphony on the go with an AMAZING screen. I friggin’ love Castlevania: Rondo of Blood. I’d say it hits my top 3 favorite games of all time. Picking it up and playing it is like visiting a childhood friend. Some things may have changed, but with a little effort you can pick the conversation up where you left off. It’s simply a masterpiece of level design and responsive control. Richter is still the most fun Belmont to control and I doubt any game in the future is going to change that. Especially now that IGA isn’t working on the series and Mercury Steam’s “Lords of Shadows” subseries is such crap. Have you played Mirror of Fate HD? It’s atrociously bad. A complete hollow shell of former Castlevania glory. Oh well. We’ll always have the classics; and the top of the class is Rondo of Blood.