Castlevania / Akumajō Dracula series
Group DescriptionCastlevania, or Akumajō Dracula (Japanese: 悪魔城ドラキュラ, "Devil Castle Dracula"), is a series of action games by Konami. The series' setting and plot elements are loosely based on Bram Stoker's novel Dracula, focusing on the titular fictional character. Most of the protagonists in the series (with a few notable exceptions) belong to the Belmont family and are vampire hunters who venture into Dracula's castle with the goal of defeating the powerful vampire following one of his resurrections. The games usually take place in a dark castle and its surroundings, which are populated by horror-themed enemies.
Classic Castlevania games are 2D platformers in which the protagonist advances through linear stages, defeating regular enemies and bosses. Members of the Belmont family are armed with a whip, which they can also use to destroy parts of the scenery (candle, walls, etc.) to obtain hearts, food and items. Health can be replenished by eating; hearts are used to execute special attacks with equipped items, e.g. throwing axes, daggers, holy crosses, etc.
The first game in the series came in two variants, one of which, Vampire Killer (1986), introduced non-linear exploration elements to the standard action platforming formula. Simon's Quest (1987) expanded upon that idea and added light role-playing elements such as a world map, monetary system, and a day-and-night cycle.
Of the subsequent installments, Symphony of the Night (1997) took the farthest step on the RPG road, adding experience points and leveling-up to the core gameplay. It also greatly expanded the playing environment, introducing large interconnected stages, some of which could be explored in a non-linear fashion. Some of the series' further incarnations emulated this gameplay concept.
Together with Metroid, later Castlevania installments lead to the concept of a sub-genre dubbed Metroidvania, in which traditional platform elements are combined with heavier character customization and a large game world that the player can explore in a non-linear fashion.
TriviaSimon Belmont, the protagonist from the first installments of the series, appeared as regular character in the Saturday morning TV cartoon Captain N: The Game Master.
Information also contributed by Guy Chapman
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Front cover for Castlevania
Front cover for Castlevania Judgment
Front cover for Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance
Front cover for Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin
Front cover for Castlevania: The Dracula X Chronicles
Screenshot from Castlevania
Screenshot from Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance
Screenshot from Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin
Screenshot from Castlevania: The Dracula X Chronicles
Screenshot from Castlevania: Harmony of Despair