Calling all Castlevania fans...

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Twinzero

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#1  Edited By Twinzero

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?

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ZanzibarBreeze

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#2  Edited By ZanzibarBreeze

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.)
 
@Twinzero said:

" 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.
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Tiwi

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#3  Edited By Tiwi

go with SotN. it's a good game; but it's HARD to get the 200.6%, mind you:-P

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AgentJ

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#4  Edited By AgentJ

SOTN is predictably wonderful, though any of the GBA or DS games are fantastic as well. You really can't go wrong with any of the 2-D games since the PS1. 

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#5  Edited By AndrewB

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.

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Jeust

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#6  Edited By Jeust
@AgentJ said:
" SOTN is predictably wonderful, though any of the GBA or DS games are fantastic as well. You really can't go wrong with any of the 2-D games since the PS1.  "
This. The Castlevania titles before SOTN, are plataformers, not metroidvania.
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Valestis

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#7  Edited By Valestis

Symphony of the Night is a good one. I would just go ahead and start with that. I also recommend Aria of Sorrow and Dawn of Sorrow. There are some other good ones, but those three are my favorites.

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AgentJ

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#8  Edited By AgentJ

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. 

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JJOR64

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#9  Edited By JJOR64

All the Castlevania games are worth checking out except for Judgment and the N64 games.

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ISuperGamerI

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#10  Edited By ISuperGamerI

I haven't played a Castlevania game for some time, so you should start with the early versions (not the crappy Xbox game).

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yakov456

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#11  Edited By yakov456

I'm old, so I will tell you to play Super Castlevania 4 on the SNES. This one felt the best to me. But it is a different style game than current CV games. I even liked CV64 though, so maybe I'm a bit of a fanboy?

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NathHaw

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#12  Edited By NathHaw
@yakov456 said:
" Super Castlevania 4 on the SNES. This one felt the best to me. "
WHAT?!
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#13  Edited By jimi
@Bloviator said:
" @yakov456 said:
" Super Castlevania 4 on the SNES. This one felt the best to me. "
WHAT?! "
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.
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Thatotherguy79

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#14  Edited By Thatotherguy79

If you play any of the Castlevania games before SOTN make sure your controllers can withstand being smashed against walls. I broke a few beating Castlevania 1-3 on the NES.

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Jeust

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#15  Edited By Jeust
@Jimi said:
" @Bloviator said:
" @yakov456 said:
" Super Castlevania 4 on the SNES. This one felt the best to me. "
WHAT?! "
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. "
For me it was mind numbing boring. 
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NathHaw

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#16  Edited By NathHaw
@Jimi said:
" @Bloviator said:
" @yakov456 said:
" Super Castlevania 4 on the SNES. This one felt the best to me. "
WHAT?! "
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. "
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. 
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yakov456

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#17  Edited By yakov456

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?

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deactivated-5997efb371d97

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@yakov456 said:
" 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.
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NathHaw

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#19  Edited By NathHaw
@yakov456 said:
" 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.
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LiquidSwords

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#20  Edited By LiquidSwords

 Symphony of the Night, nuff said. Plus the DS games are awesome as well.

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Twinzero

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#21  Edited By Twinzero

Thanks for the responses, I appreciate the help getting some perspective on what's what in such a large and varied series.  Blindly choosing from the whole Castlevania catalog struck me as a bad idea, so I'm glad I've got a slightly more focused set from you guys.

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#22  Edited By Icemael

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.

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#23  Edited By Metroid545
@JJOR64 said:
" All the Castlevania games are worth checking out except for Judgment and the N64 games. "
This, also as a fellow metroid fan your probably going to enjoy SOTN and on more then the previous ones in the series as they are more metroidvania
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#24  Edited By c1337us
@JJOR64 said:
" All the Castlevania games are worth checking out except for Judgment and the N64 games. "
This pretty much sums it up for me too though I wouldn't be shattered to miss out on the 3D PS2 stuff either. Not great, not bad.
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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. Other than that, you can't go wrong with any of the DS ones.

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#26  Edited By wolf_blitzer85
@AgentJ said:

" 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.  "

So basically what this guy's saying is buy a DS Lite, and you'll be pretty good to go. 
 
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. 
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#27  Edited By ninjakiller

Get all the GBA games.  Shitloads of fun.

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#28  Edited By sizu

Either SOTN or Castlevania IV. 
 
I have fond memories of both, especially IV as it was the second game I got for my SNES back in the day.  While they aren't as bad as people make out I wouldn't start with the N64 duo.

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#29  Edited By DarkShaper

As someone who never played the PS1 version SOTHN on the 360 is fine. Besides that one I really liked the original Castlevania, so play those two and don't bother with any of the 3D ones.

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#30  Edited By ch13696
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#31  Edited By CallMeRotten

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.

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jimi

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#32  Edited By jimi

@Bloviator
said:

" @Jimi said:

" @Bloviator said:

" @yakov456 said:
" Super Castlevania 4 on the SNES. This one felt the best to me. "
WHAT?! "
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. "
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.  "
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!
 
@SuperfluousMoniker
 said: 

" 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. "

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!
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LordXavierBritish

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@Twinzero: Just get Symphony of the Night. 
 
You have an Xbox obviously, so just download it now and play.
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#34  Edited By Jokers_Wild

Although it's one of the hardest entries in the series, I'd say Order of Ecclesia is also one of the best.

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#35  Edited By kevinski

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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