I've never gotten into the Castlevania series, but in light of the upcoming Harmony of Despair and the high praise for the XBLA port of SotN, I feel like taking a dip into the franchise. I'm a long time fan of Metroid games, and Shadow Complex is one of my favorite XBLA games, so I figure there must be something I'll enjoy in the Castlevania games. My question for you, though, is where should I start? I'm definitely considering picking up SotN (the XBLA version), but are any of the older entries worth checking out first?
Calling all Castlevania fans...
Rondo of Blood. Bloodlines. I liked Circle of the Moon, Harmony of Dissonance, and Aria of Sorrow, though I'm sure many don't.
Also, Simon's Quest. Heh. Simon's Quest. Only play if you want to be deliberately lied to by the game. (Actually, I think that was only in the Japanese version, but that game still doesn't explain anything to anybody.)
" the high praise for the XBLA port of SotN "
From what I heard that was not an amazing port, if I'm recalling Jeremy Parish's words correctly.
I'd suggest starting from the beginning. Castlevania on the NES. Play through as much as you can without going insane (it's pretty tough), then move on. Probably skip Castlevania 2, as it seems to be one of those polar games that you either love or hate (and most seem to hate). Play Castlevania 3 the same way as with 1. Play Bloodlines and Rondo of Blood all the way through.
If SOTN appeals to you, play Aria of Sorrow and Dawn of Sorrow.
Then watch the quick look for Castlevania: Judgment.
" @Bloviator said:For me it was mind numbing boring." @yakov456 said:I have to agree tbh, as much as I love SOTN, sc4 felt like it was far more about improving your skill at the game than getting phat l00t. "" Super Castlevania 4 on the SNES. This one felt the best to me. "WHAT?! "
" @Bloviator said:Does improving skill necessarily make a better game experience overall with all that is considered in the games we are discussing? I'm intrigued a little by both of your statements. I wholeheartedly disagree, but I'd like to know your rationales." @yakov456 said:I have to agree tbh, as much as I love SOTN, sc4 felt like it was far more about improving your skill at the game than getting phat l00t. "" Super Castlevania 4 on the SNES. This one felt the best to me. "WHAT?! "
I'm just going by memories and feeling honestly, Super CV 4 hit a sweetspot for me and I love that game. Easily in my top 5 of all time. The controls just felt so refreshing after playing the previous ones, much more forgiving. Not too hard but not a cakewalk either. Fantastic music. And of course the limp whip. To each his own yes?
" I'm old, so I will tell you to play Super Castlevania 4 on the SNES."If you old and you're suggesting the SNES, what does it make me when I suggest The NES games?
You know what? Fuck it. All the NES games are great. Two and three more so, but play all of them. After that, I like SoTN. The DS ones are OK. I don't really like any of the others.
" I'm just going by memories and feeling honestly, Super CV 4 hit a sweetspot for me and I love that game. Easily in my top 5 of all time. The controls just felt so refreshing after playing the previous ones, much more forgiving. Not too hard but not a cakewalk either. Fantastic music. And of course the limp whip. To each his own yes? "I remember liking the game as well. It wasn't the best Castlevania game for me, but I do like a good nostalgia story.
Symphony of the Night is a good place to start. All post-Symphony Castlevanias are worth playing (with the possible exceptions of the N64 games and Curse of Darkness) -- especially Order of Ecclesia. As for the old-school games, Rondo of Blood is definitely the best. Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse and the first one are totally worth playing though, if you aren't afraid of a challenge and don't mind 8-bit graphics.
So basically what this guy's saying is buy a DS Lite, and you'll be pretty good to go.
" I'd just like to point out that while Aria of Sorrow and Dawn of Sorrow get the most attention and are admittedly great, Order of Ecclesia and Circle of the Moon IMO are the best on the DS and GBA respectively. "
Also for shits and giggles, pop in Castlevania 64, or better yet, Castlevania: Legacy of Darkness, which is basically the same game but with two extra story lines. Underrated games in my opinion.
Any RPG based Castlevania game. The older ones on NES and SNES probably won't work for you. So of course Harmony of Dissonance, Circle of the Moon, Aria of Sorrow, Symphony of the Night, Dawn of Sorrow, Order of Ecclesia, and Portrait of Ruin. There isn't an exact order to play these. Well, except for Aria and Dawn of Sorrow.
To echo everybody else, without a doubt start with SotN. Rondo of Blood laid down the foundation but Symphony was the blueprint for almost every Castlevania that followed after.
The brief dips into 3D on the N64 and PS2 are a toss up, some people enjoyed them and many hate them. I say if you find one that appeals to you give a try, but only if you can score a cheap used copy. If you already have a DS or two to play all the handheld games them I'd say just stick with those for now.
To put it simply I guess I just like playing harder games, seeing my time investment in a game paying off is the most enjoyable aspect of gaming for me. SOTN is a very good game, but it is not really a challenge, it was tough in places however there was always some piece of equipment that could make the situation far easier. Now that I have completed it I see no reason to replay it. SC4 on the other hand I currently play once in a while in order to see if I am still up to the challenge and thus I believe it is a better game. I know a lot of people may disagree with me but it is just the way I play games!
" @Jimi said:Does improving skill necessarily make a better game experience overall with all that is considered in the games we are discussing? I'm intrigued a little by both of your statements. I wholeheartedly disagree, but I'd like to know your rationales. "
" @Bloviator said:" @yakov456 said:I have to agree tbh, as much as I love SOTN, sc4 felt like it was far more about improving your skill at the game than getting phat l00t. "" Super Castlevania 4 on the SNES. This one felt the best to me. "WHAT?! "
Slightly late but, I wholeheartedly agree with this. You will get to experience the two shades of the castlevania games and see which you prefer!
" If you've got a PSP, Dracula X Chronicles is great. It's an updated remake of Rondo of Blood, and includes Symphony of the Night and the original PC Engine version of Rondo of Blood as well. "
As has already been mentioned, Castlevania is really divided into two separate sub-genres of sorts. You've got your classic-style Castlevania games, and you've got your Metroidvanias. (Yes, I'm aware that a lot of people hate that term.) I'd be very careful about checking out the classic-style (i.e. level-based, rather than free-roaming) games, because I really don't feel that they've aged as well. I honestly feel that a lot of potential new fans to the series could be seriously turned off by certain older games in the series.
The best game in the series, in my opinion, is Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. Sure, it's way too easy, for the most part, but the game has so much charm and so many surprises that I can still find out new things about it to this day. You can't go wrong by starting out with that one, although it'll definitely wrongfully set your expectations as to what sort of difficulty you should expect from a lot of other games in the series.
If you happen to like Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, then I'd recommend Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin or Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia next. The former is just such an action-packed game with a lot of variety in the stages (although it's still considered to be free-roaming), while the latter provides more difficulty (although, sadly, far less depth in the item drops). If you don't mind grinding for items, then you may want to check out the Sorrow games, Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow and Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow. I don't really care a whole lot for them, personally, as they rely too much on item drops (in the form of collectible souls), but they do offer a lot of depth (although it's in a really stupid way - i.e. you need a certain soul in order to sink in water, c'mon).
I really enjoyed Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance, as well, although it's certainly a less memorable experience than a lot of the other games. It throws a really cool twist at you about halfway through the game that's worth experiencing, and the armor puzzles are pretty cool. I'd recommend avoiding Castlevania: Circle of the Moon. It hasn't aged well, and it's a total tease. You'll think that you're progressing about eighty times in the game, only to reach a dead end with a minimal stat increase. Lame.
As for the classic-style games, I'd say maybe go with Castlevania: The Dracula X Chronicles (if you don't mind some really unfair boss fights. While a lot of people would recommend the original Rondo, I'd recommend skipping it. Its feel always just seemed kind of off to me, and the remake just controls better. I'd honestly recommend Castlevania: Dracula X (the SNES version) over the original Rondo, again, because of the better feel. Super Castlevania IV seems to get a lot of positive feedback from fans, but it honestly feels to me as though you're controlling a piece of cardboard, and the physics are just really unpredictable with the whip swinging. It also has one of the worst localizations in the series, as well as some gimmicky Mode7 effects that do nothing more than slow down the pace and frame rate. I prefer Castlevania: Bloodlines, personally. Much better game.
If you'd like the purest classic-style Castlevania experience, then I'd recommend Castlevania and Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse on NES. They're hard as fuck, but totally worth it. Oh, also, check out Castlevania: The Adventure ReBirth for WiiWare. Good stuff.
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