The very first console title, Castlevania, released for the NES in 1986 by Konami, was a typical platform game in which the player takes the role of Simon Belmont, a descendant of the Belmont clan, a family of vampire hunters. He travels to Dracula's demonic castle, Castlevania and fights his way through the castle destroying Dracula himself and the castle. Belmont's main weapon is a whip called "Vampire Killer", while the secondary weapons are powered by Hearts, collected by attacking candles and killing monsters. Secondary weapons available are Daggers, Holy Water, Flying Axe and the Boomerang-esque Flying Cross. Hidden items such as power-ups and food (health replenishment) items are also found by attacking candles within the levels, a feature inspired by Nintendo's Super Mario Bros. with countless hidden items across the game's levels.
Vampire Killer, released in 1986 for the MSX computer, took a departure from the traditional platform gameplay of Castlevania, instead introducing an open-ended form of gameplay. The game's non-linear design had a similar structure to Metroid released that same year.Castlevania II: Simon's Quest, released in 1987, featured non-linear gameplay more open-ended than that of Vampire Killer and Metroid, with several exclusive elements such as a world map the player was free to explore and revisit. The player could also purchase supplies, equipment and weapon upgrades in several different towns, making it more like an action role-playing game. It also introduced a persistent world with its own day-night cycle that affects when certain NPCs appear in certain locations and offered three possible multiple endings depending on the time it took to complete the game.Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse, released for the NES in 1989, while having more in common with the original NES Castlevania, added new features, including non-linear elements such as alternate branching paths with different stages and alternate endings depending on the player's choices, as well as multiple player characters.
A major turning point in the gameplay mechanics of the series was Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, released in 1997 for the Sony Playstation and later for the Sega Saturn in 1998. Expanding on the open-ended style of gameplay previously used in Castlevania II: Simon's Quest,Symphony of the Night's style of gameplay has been termed "Metroidvania" or "Castleroid" due to its similarities with the side-scrolling games of the Metroid series. It also used console RPG elements, such as collectible weapons, armor and hidden orbs. Many subsequent Castlevania games have since followed this template.
Ayami Kojima's art was introduced in Symphony of the Night, and has been featured in a few other titles. Years later, the first two Castlevania games for the Nintendo DS returned to the anime style used in the original Castlevania: Rondo of Blood, among other titles, in hopes of broadening the player demographic by not discouraging slightly younger Nintendo DS owners to be put off by Kojima's art.Dawn of Sorrow was the first game to do this, and the second DS release Portrait of Ruin followed with the same style.
Most of the Castlevania video game franchise has been about the vampire hunting family of the Belmonts and Dracula. Almost every hundred years, Dracula is resurrected and generally the Belmonts must defeat him. Though most games in the series involve the Belmonts or their descendants, some protagonists, such as Soma Cruz, are completely unrelated. The series is loosely based on Bram Stoker's novel Dracula. The novel is included in the official timeline of the series, with Castlevania: Bloodlines taking place shortly afterwards. The connection even goes so far as to claim that Quincey Morris, a character from the novel, is in fact a Belmont descendant.
The most iconic weapon of the series is a whip called Vampire Killer. It is the legendary weapon used by the Belmonts in the fights against Count Dracula, although it is sometimes passed through other families as well. Other names and terms used for it are the "Mystic Whip," and the "Whip of Alchemy." The story of its origin is shown in Castlevania: Lament of Innocence, where it is created by Rinaldo Gandolfi for Leon Belmont, through the use of alchemy. This whip is later fused with the soul of Leon's betrothed, Sara Trantoul, to create the Vampire Killer. A similar, but different whip is used by the main character, Nathan Graves, in Castlevania: Circle of the Moon, the "Hunter's Whip" can be augmented with magic to enhance its capabilities and the wielder depending on what is equipped. There are extra weapons available, such as fire, knives, and axes.
According to the Portrait of Ruin, only those possessing the "Belmont Warlord Chromosomes" are able to use the whip's full potential without paying a price, for the whip simply drains the life of users who are not of the Belmont lineage. This was learned by John Morris, for after his battle with Dracula, he noticed that his injuries never healed. Unable to fully utilize the Vampire Killer whip's powers without harming his own life, he soon succumbed and died. However, his son, Jonathan Morris, was able to receive the whip's full power for a short time through a ritual that was performed by the Lecarde sisters. The ritual required Jonathan to defeat the whip's memory of the previous owner, which was an entity bearing the likeness of Richter Belmont. After Jonathan defeated a vampire by the name of Brauner who was utilizing Dracula's power, the whip was soon returned to the Belmont family.
Castlevania: Lords of Shadow is a reboot of the franchise. However, very few details of the plot are known since its announcement. "...we knew we would have to drop the existing timeline and story. This would be a new story that would not tie-in directly to anything that has come before, so that new players could just jump straight in." It's not part of the so-called timeline. This is an original, standalone product. We didn't want to follow the timeline because we felt it would put us in a bit of a box in terms of what we could do creatively... A lot of people don't understand the timeline. Even the fans - a lot of them don't really understand it...So this is a rebirth, definitely. It doesn't follow a timeline. It's not, people use the word canon, it's not canon. It's an original game."
In Japan, the series is known as Akumajō Dracula (悪魔城ドラキュラ,Akumajō Dorakyura?, officially translated Devil's Castle Dracula). However, not every installment of the franchise had that title. For example, the first two installments for the NintendoGame Boy were released under the title Dracula Densetsu and the game known in North America as Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse was originally released in Japan as Akumajō Densetsu. Castlevania: Bloodlines was also released as Vampire Killer in Japan. Starting with the release of Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance for the Game Boy Advance, the Japanese games adopted the Castlevania (キャッスルヴァニア,Kyassuruvania?) name for a brief period. According to series producer Koji Igarashi the developers chose to adopt the Castlevania title as a way to involve scenarios that do not solely revolve around Dracula himself. After some demand from fans in Japan, Konami returned to the Akumajō Dracula title with the Japanese release of Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow.
The series is also known for the differences between the Japanese and English language versions. Particularly in earlier installments, the localization process usually removes a heavy share of violence, nudity and religious imagery. Removal of such material is prevalent in Nintendo and Super Nintendo titles Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse and Super Castlevania IV, because of Nintendo of America's strict censorship policies at the time.Castlevania: Bloodlines, for the Sega Genesis, was renamed Castlevania: The New Generation for European and Australian releases to avoid the reference to blood used in the American title. In addition, blood was re-colored and the gore removed throughout the European and Australian versions. Although censorship policies vary from country to country in Europe, Germany's strict "decency standards" inevitably affected the content released throughout the entire continent.
The music for the first Castlevania game was composed by Satoe Terashima and Kinuyo Yamashita, of Konami's Kukeiha Club of composers, shortly after graduating from college, along with Satoe Terashima. Mrs. Yamashita was credited under the pseudonym James Banana for her work on the Disk System version of the game.
UK singer-songwriter Lily Allen sampled pieces of music and sound effects from the original Castlevania game in the song Cheryl Tweedy, which was included on some versions of her debut album Alright, Still.
The Castlevania franchise has received significant amount of critical acclaim, with the most acclaimed game being Symphony of the Night for the PlayStation and the most panned being Judgment, with aggregate scores of 93 and 49, respectively, on Metacritic and 93.38% and 52.71%, respectively, on GameRankings.
Simon Belmont was one of the stars in the animated series Captain N: The Game Master. He was a member of the N-Team, a group of mostly video game characters who defended Videoland against the antagonist Mother Brain from Metroid. Dracula, referred to only as 'the count', also appeared as a villain in Captain N. Alucard appeared in one episode, though he was portrayed as a rebellious skateboarding teenager. Several other Castlevania monsters had minor roles, including Frankenstein's Monster, the Mummy, the Wolf Man, and the Skull Knight. Simon is portrayed as egotistical on the show and his physical appearance differs from his design in the video game series.
Action figure and collectible manufacturer company NECA officially licensed Castlevania to produce a line of models of characters due for distribution in October 2007. The first series includes Simon Belmont, Dracula, Alucard, and the Succubus from Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. Hollywood stuntman Daniel Weinstein served as the model for the Simon Belmont figure.
In November 2005, Crystal Sky Pictures acquired the rights to adapt the video game series into a motion picture. The company attached Paul W.S. Anderson to write and direct the film adaptation, with production slated to begin in mid-2006. Later in the month, Dimension Films entered negotiations with Crystal Sky for North American distribution of Castlevania. The film adaptation was estimated to have a budget of $50 million. In July 2006, producer Jeremy Bolt explained that Castlevania will "integrate a Dracula origin story... with the story of the Belmonts". Bolt also said that the film would refer back to early versions of the games. Director Anderson reiterated Bolt's description, adding that Dracula and Simon Belmont would be key characters in the film. Anderson also indicated that the "very lush, Romantic, Gothic look" of the 3D incarnations of the Castlevania series would be used in the film. He also expressed his hope in using the games' composer, Michiru Yamane, to score the film's soundtrack.
In November 2006, Rogue Pictures replaced Dimension Films, who reneged over script differences, in handling North American distribution of Castlevania, with Crystal Sky Pictures handling international distribution. Paul W.S. Anderson described Castlevania to take place in many time periods, but primarily in 15th century Transylvania. The director and producer Jeremy Bolt had scouted locations in Hungary and Romania, with plans to build castle interiors in Budapest. Principal photography was slated to begin in spring 2007.
In January 2007, director Anderson said the studio was still finalizing the film's budget, and filming would begin in fall or winter in Transylvania and Hungary. According to the director, the filming was postponed because production had desired snow on the ground for the film's forest scenes. Anderson described the locations: "It was like discovering Mordor as a real location — epic, dramatic, and above all scary. These locations haven't been shot properly in a mainstream movie, so that is always extra exciting... to put something on camera that hasn't been seen before". The director also revealed that post-production and effects work for Castlevania would be done in London.
In June 2007, Anderson conceded directing duties to Sylvain White in order to take on the project Death Race, a remake of Death Race 2000. White, who played the Castlevania video game in the early 1990s, was attracted to the prospect of filming a vampire film. White explained: "Most of the vampire films have been present or set in the future, from Blade to Underworld, and I was attracted by the chance to make a dark, epic period movie that almost has an anime feel to it". The new director, who negotiated a salary of seven figures, will rewrite the script with Anderson's assistance. The premise will follow Trevor Belmont and his younger brother Christopher as they are ordered into service to the church, to take the cursed castle of Dracula and live up to the legend set by their ancestor Leon. Production of Castlevania was slated to begin in late fall 2007 in South Africa and Romania. Castlevania was planned for a late 2008 release. In October 2007, Anderson said that he hoped to have a script within two or three weeks before the onset of the 2007 Writers Guild of America strike. Producer Jeremy Bolt said that production was intended to begin in spring 2008.
In December 2007, Rogue Pictures halted active development of Castlevania due to the writers' strike and, later, the sale of the studio to Relativity Media and possibility of a screen actors' guild strike. Despite the shelving, White remains committed to direct the film. "We still want to make the movie, but I can't say we're going into production in January or anything like that. It's a project that everybody likes. I love the videogame. I think the script is really strong. Everyone is really enthusiastic about it, but we're still in the process of deciding when the movie gets shot," Anderson explained.
On May 27, 2009, the Castlevania film was reported as officially canceled. However, on July 22, horror website Bloody Disgusting broke the news that Saw co-creator James Wan had been signed to pen a new draft, as well as to direct. A few months later it was reported that Paul W. S. Anderson is still circling the project.
↑ 1.01.1Konami. Castlevania: The Dracula X Chronicles. (Konami). (2007-10-23) "Japanese: 悪魔城の城主、邪心の神、ドラキュラ伯爵の復活であった。 Konami translation by Ken Ogasawara: Dracula, lord of darkness, master of the devil's castle, walks among us."
↑Jonathan: The vampire's control seems to be fading. It's a success! / Charlotte: Well, of course. "No problem", as you would say. / Loretta: We... What have we been doing? / Stella: ... The heir to the Vampire Killer. Jonathan Morris, correct? I apologize for all that we have put you through. / Jonathan: Huh? Oh sure. N-No problem. / Stella: And Miss Charlotte, thank you so much for setting us free. / ... / Stella: One more thing. It's about the Vampire Killer. / Loretta: We can perform a ritual to unlock the power of the whip. Konami. Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin. (Konami). Nintendo DS. (2006-12-05)