10 Harsh Realities Of Replaying The Castlevania Series

Whilst the wait for a new mainline Castlevania game continues, it’s not all bad news for fans of the massive vampire series. One of the things the series has been best at is clever and interesting collaborations with other games and, with the recent reveal of the Dead Cells: Return to Castlevania trailer, that trend looks set to continue in 2023.

In the meantime, there’s no better opportunity to dive into the series’ massive catalog of games and experience their uniquely stylish thrills all over again. Not everything in the series has aged particularly well, however, and there are some mistakes in Castlevania‘s history that are better left forgotten. With rose-tinted glasses off, these are some of the realities of replaying the games.


Castlevania Judgement Is Still Bad

Castlevania Judgement gameplay on the Wii

The Castlevania series has no shortage of spin-offs, and sometimes they can be so good that they emulate what’s great about the mainline games. That’s why it makes sense that fans were excited about a Castlevania fighting game that would allow players to test their skills against one another in a 3D arena format.

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Of course, it went on to become the series’ lowest-rated title on Metacritic. Although it’s not without some redeeming qualities, time hasn’t been too kind to Castlevania Judgement. Overly-simple controls and graphics that didn’t even look good on the Wii mean it remains a regrettable chapter in the franchise’s history.

Castlevania Peaked Too Early

An image of Alucard fighting a gargoyle like creature in Castlevania Symphony of the Night

Considering its debut was one of the best games of the 80s, it’s fair to say that Castlevania got off to an amazing start. Although it didn’t immediately jump in quality, it wasn’t that much later that Castlevania: Symphony of the Night appeared for PlayStation and immediately secured its place in gaming history.

A pioneer of the Metroidvania genre and an incredibly well-executed game in its own right, Symphony of the Night’s legacy speaks for itself. The only problem is that it’s slightly jarring in a playthrough of the series just how many of the best Castlevania games came in its early years.

Castlevania’s First 3D Game Hasn’t Aged Too Well

Reinhardt fighting in Castlevania 64.

The transition from 2D to 3D has rarely been an easy one and, all things considered, Castlevania for the Nintendo 64 is hardly a bad effort. A challenging game that manages to capture the spirit of the earlier games pretty well, there was only one big complaint critics had with the game when it was released and that was the gameplay itself.

Unfortunately, it hasn’t gotten any less clunky and frustrating in the intervening years. Worse than that, whereas the visuals of the 2D Castlevania games have aged like fine wine, early N64 graphics simply haven’t fared as well. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but few would defend Castlevania now.

The Castlevania Series Is Too Confusing To Navigate

Castlevania Advance Collection Games Included Circle Harmony Aria X

With no less than 26 mainline games and countless spin-off titles, there are few video game franchises today that could match Castlevania for longevity and scale. Whilst that’s awesome for the sheer amount of content available when replaying through the series now, it has its drawbacks.

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One of the main ones is that, with the series abandoning a numbering system fairly early on, it’s almost impossible to figure out a logical order to play the games in. Add in the fact that there are a dozen different Castlevania collections like last year’s Castlevania Advance Collection and 2019’s Castlevania Anniversary Collection, and it can be hard to know where to start.

Castlevania 3 Is Extremely Difficult

A castle level in Castlevania 3

Loving difficult games might not necessarily be a prerequisite to being a Castlevania fan, but it certainly helps a lot, especially with the early games which are some of the hardest titles to beat on the NES. However, there’s one game in this tough platformer era of Castlevania that might just take things a bit too far.

All of the early Castlevania games are beatable, but none put up as much of a fight as Castlevania 3. With ridiculously strong bosses, jumps that seem impossible, and some downright unfair levels, replaying the game provides more painful moments than basically any other Castlevania game, but the worst part is that it’s an essential part of the series’ history and so completing it feels like an obligation.

Castlevania: Circle Of The Moon Is Also Ridiculously Hard

Two central characters in art for Castlevania Circle of Moon

With the release of the Castlevania Advance Collection on consoles and PC last year, a defining era of the series suddenly became a whole lot easier to play through again. There’s only one drawback that quickly becomes apparent when playing through the games bundled in it.

That’s that Castlevania: Circle of the Moon is just not quite up to the standard of the other Game Boy Advance titles. Whilst an admirable attempt to emulate the style and tone of Symphony of the Night on a handheld device, the controls completely let it down and make an already challenging game less fun to play.

The Castlevania Netflix Series Has Raised Expectations

Promo for Castlevania season 3 on Netflix

With the announcement of Castlevania: Nocturne, a brand-new spin-off series drawing inspiration from Symphony of the Night and Rondo of Blood, the Netflix adaptation has raised fans’ expectations for the series a ton in recent years. Though it’s awesome that the series continues to thrive in a different way, it’s not necessarily great for anyone planning on replaying the games.

A full series can do so much more with characters and storytelling than a video game and no one would expect one medium to achieve the same effect as the other, but that doesn’t mean fans of the series won’t end up a little disappointed playing through moments in the game’s that the series told in a more visually stunning, if not outright better way.

Mirror Of Fate Is Still Disappointing

Castlevania Lords of Shadow Mirror of Fate

Whilst not everyone was on-board with the series shifting to a more hack-and-slash action style with Castlevania: Lords of Shadow, the game showcased enough satisfying combat and enough of that classic Castlevania storytelling to make fans excited for the next chapter in the series.

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The only problem is that the next chapter was Castlevania: Lords of Shadow – Mirror of Fate, and it just didn’t take the series to the next level in the ways fans were hoping. Technically disappointing and poorly designed in places, particularly in terms of difficulty, it doesn’t hit the heights of its predecessor and that alone makes it harder to play again now.

Some Of The Older Castlevania Games Are Seriously Janky

Gameplay from Castlevania The Adventure on Game Boy

Whilst Castlevania 3 and Circle of the Moon both deserve specific mentions for how difficult they are, it at least helps that a lot of the difficulty in those games comes through intentional design. Unfortunately, it would be untrue to say that’s always the case in the Castlevania series.

Some of the earlier games can be temperamental and unresponsive, and a lot of deaths feel completely unfair. In particular, Castlevania: The Adventure for Game Boy is notorious for how slowly and awkwardly Belmont moves and how it makes a few sections almost impossible as a result.

It’s Been Way Too Long Since A Mainline Castlevania Game

Fighting a monster in Castlevania Lords of Shadow 2

Rather than being an issue with the games that comes across when replaying them now, it’s more a side-effect of how good the series is at times that it only draws attention to the biggest problem with Castlevania. That problem is just how long it’s been since there was last a mainline Castlevania game.

Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 is the last true mainline title in the series, and it came out nearly a decade ago now. Whether in its current form or rebooted in a new way, Castlevania needs to return to the video game world properly soon, as replaying through the games only makes its absence more painful.

NEXT: 10 Harsh Realities Of Replaying The Batman Arkham Games

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