10 Of The Worst Castlevania Games

Castlevania is an action-adventure gothic horror video game series about vampire hunters created and developed by Konami. It has been released on various platforms, from early systems to modern consoles, as well as handheld devices such as mobile phones. The franchise has also expanded into other media, including comic books, an animated TV series and several spin-off video games.

Castlevania is largely set in the eponymous castle of Count Dracula, the main antagonist of the Belmont clan of vampire hunters. It debuted with 1986’s Castlevania for the Nintendo Family Computer Disk System. The first entry and the majority of its sequels are side-scrolling action platformers, and were later succeeded by the 1997 game, Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. Originally released for the PlayStation, it returned to the nonlinear gameplay seen in Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest, which introduced RPG elements and exploration. 

Several installments later adopted Symphony of the Night’s gameplay, and along with Super Metroid, it has popularized the Metroidvania genre. 2010 saw the release of Castlevania: Lords of Shadow, a 3D action-adventure reboot of the series developed by MercurySteam and Kojima Productions.

It is one of Konami’s most critically acclaimed franchises and also one of the best-selling of all time. Take a look below for our list of 10 worst Castlevania games.

1. Castlevania 64

Castlevania (also referred to as Castlevania 64) is a 1999 action-adventure video game developed by Konami’s Kobe branch for the Nintendo 64 video game console. An expanded version of the game, Castlevania: Legacy of Darkness, was released later in the same year.

Castlevania is the first 3D game in the Castlevania series. The player selects one of the game’s protagonists to control: Carrie Fernandez, a young orphan gifted with magic powers, or Reinhardt Schneider, the whip-wielding heir to the Belmont clan (the series’ recurring protagonists). Carrie and Reinhardt set out on a quest to stop Count Dracula’s impending return to power after a century of dormancy. The characters travel to and explore Dracula’s grand estate in their mission to defeat the count and his horde of undead minions.

2. Castlevania: The Adventure

Castlevania: The Adventure is a platform game released for the Game Boy in 1989. It is the first Castlevania title for the system. Castlevania: The Adventure was re-released in color as part of the Konami GB Collection compilations in Japan and Europe. A remake titled Castlevania: The Adventure ReBirth was released as a WiiWare game for the Wii. The original game is included in the Castlevania Anniversary Collection, which released in 2019.

Castlevania: The Adventure received mixed reviews. The game was regarded difficult at times, with long levels and only three lives before playing the second cycle. The graphics were thought to be “competent”, the music well-composed with memorable tunes. IGN said it had a basic design, none of the series’ staple bosses, and nothing original. Game Informer’s Tim Turi felt that it was held back by its technical limitations but praised its sound quality.

3. Castlevania: Order of Shadows

Castlevania: Order of Shadows is a mobile game developed for the Java Platform, Micro Edition, and released by Konami in September 2007.

IGN rated the game 6.7, calling it “decent”, and with little replay value compared to other Castlevania entries. 1up.com has given it a D-, calling it a “major disappointment”. Wired magazine rated the game 3 out of 10, praising the game’s music, but calling it far too short and easy to complete.

4. Castlevania Judgment

Castlevania Judgment is a 3D fighting video game developed by Konami and Eighting for the Wii. The game is based on the Castlevania series of games, and is the series’ first fighting game.

The reception of Judgment was negative, holding a total rating of 49% on Metacritic. Gaming website 1UP.com rated the game a D-. In addition to criticism about the art direction, 1UP also noted some things that they said disregarded established fighting conventions. This included complaints about the “disorientating” camera control. According to the review Konami had described the game as “Versus Action” which is said by the reviewer to be “an amalgamation that fuses action-game mechanics with a fighter” and then goes on to call the term “the bastard son of neologism”. 

IGN called Judgment a “deep, fun fighter”, praising the variety of characters, style and design, while criticizing the camera and lack of control customization possibilities. IGN also nominated it for Best Fighting Game of 2008 for the Wii, but it lost the award to Super Smash Bros. Brawl. Nintendo Power rated the game a 7.0/10, stating that “In spite of being radically different from its action-adventure predecessors, however, Castlevania Judgement is actually pretty fun”, praising its presentation, accessibility, and remixed music, while criticizing the implementation of sub-weapons, the control scheme, and the character designs, calling them “questionable”. 

In contrast, X-Play gave the game 1/5, claiming it to be enormously unbalanced and having an awful control scheme, as well as “bastardizing established Castlevania designs”. GameSpy gave the game 1.5/5, praising the game for its unlockables and its online mode, while criticizing the game for unbalanced characters and irritating camera. GameSpot gave the game a 3/10 score stating “The abhorrent camera, dreadful art, and cumbersome controls are for masochistic applicants only; fans of the franchise, fighting, or fun will find nothing of value in this sloppy cash-in.” Following its later release in Japan, the game was a financial bomb, having only sold 3,700 units.

5. Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest

Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest is a platform-adventure video game produced by Konami. It was originally released for the Famicom Disk System in Japan in 1987 and for the Nintendo Entertainment System in North America in 1988. It is the second Castlevania game released for the NES, following the original Castlevania in 1986. Set sometime after the events of the first installment, the player once again assumes the role of vampire hunter Simon Belmont, who is on a journey to undo a curse placed on him by Dracula at the end of their previous encounter. Dracula’s body was split into five parts, which Simon must find and bring to the ruins of his castle and defeat him.

Criticism about Simon’s Quest included backtracking, easy bosses, and the day-to-night cycle. A common complaint was its English localization, with cryptic and poorly translated clues from NPCs. A former Castlevania producer, Koji Igarashi, revealed that all the NPCs in the Japanese version were deliberate liars. GameSpot said that the subtle hints from the Japanese version were lost in translation, such as the infamous line “hit Deborah Cliff with your head to make a hole”. Active Gaming Media showed that the Japanese text was similarly misleading, but further described where and how an accurate hint from the Japanese game was lost. 

Further criticism stemmed from some of the game’s puzzles, which have no clues at all, such as a scenario where Simon must summon a tornado in a graveyard. 1UP.com said the game required a walkthrough because of its non-explanatory nature. Game Informer said that while the game is important in gaming history, it was still a polarizing game due to “cryptic puzzles” and other difficult elements.

6. Castlevania: Dracula X

Castlevania: Rondo of Blood is a platform-adventure video game developed by Konami for the PC Engine’s Super CD-ROM² System directed by Toru Hagihara. It is set in the fictional universe of the Castlevania series, where the protagonist, Richter Belmont, goes to save his lover Annette, who was abducted by Dracula. It was released in Japan on October 29, 1993. A direct sequel to it, Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, was released in 1997.

The game was remade for the Super Nintendo as Castlevania: Dracula X, and the PlayStation Portable as Castlevania: The Dracula X Chronicles. In 2008, the original game was released for the Wii’s Virtual Console service in Japan and for the North American and PAL regions in 2010.

7. Castlevania: Haunted Castle

Haunted Castle is a side-scrolling platform game released by Konami for the arcades in 1988. The game serves as an adaptation or parody of the original Castlevania (hence the Japanese title), but was not marketed as part of the series outside Japan. Unlike VS. Castlevania (an earlier Vs. System version released exclusively in North America in 1987), it is not a direct port of the NES version, but rather it is a completely new game running on custom JAMMA-based hardware.

The game has the player controlling a blue-haired Simon Belmont, who embarks on a journey through a dilapidated manor to save his wife Serena from the clutches of Count Dracula. Simon must trek through six stages in order to reach the Count’s lair.

8. Castlevania Legends

Castlevania Legends is the third Castlevania title released for the original Game Boy. It was released in Japan on November 27, 1997 and in Europe and North America on March 11, 1998.

IGN called the game one of the Game Boy’s cult classics despite the portable system’s limitations. GameSpy called the music “disappointing”, as the previous two Game Boy Castlevania games were highly praised for their music. Game Informer’s Tim Turi felt that the game was lacking especially compared to Castlevania: Symphony of the Night.

Longtime Castlevania producer Koji Igarashi removed the game from the series timeline, claiming that in his opinion it conflicted with the plotline of the main games. He has stated that “Legends remains something of an embarrassment for the series. If only that development team had the guidance of the original team of the series.”

9. Castlevania: Curse of Darkness

Castlevania: Curse of Darkness is an action adventure game developed by Konami for the PlayStation 2 and Xbox. Despite development for both PlayStation 2 and Xbox, only the PlayStation 2 version was released in Japan. An Xbox version was released throughout Asia under the NTSC-J Format, with English language dialogue. A manga adaptation was also published by Tokyopop.

The game generated mid to high review scores. Common praises often go to the game’s battle system – which as stated by IGN “…can offer up a fairly wide variety of skirmishes and strategies…” -, the Innocent Devil system and musical score. Common criticisms of the game go to the game’s environments, which have generally been considered dull and repetitive. X-Play gave Curse of Darkness a 3 out of 5 while IGN gave it a 7.8, or “Good” rating. GamePro Magazine gave the game a 4.0 out of a 5.0 fun factor, stating that it was a game that got more intriguing as it goes on. 

GameSpot rated it 6.8, saying it looked good and had solid controls, but the level design was “monotonous”. Game Informer’s Tim Turi felt that it was “decent” but did not feel like it captured the “overall style and atmosphere” of other Castlevania games.

10. Castlevania: Legacy of Darkness

Castlevania: Legacy of Darkness is an action-adventure platforming video game, that was developed and published by Konami for the Nintendo 64. It was released in North America on November 30, 1999 and is a prequel and expanded version to the first Castlevania game on the Nintendo 64, but also contains a remake of the original game with improved graphics, added villains, and alternate versions of some levels.

Blake Fischer reviewed the Nintendo 64 version of the game for Next Generation, rating it two stars out of five, and stated that “Legacy of Mediocrity is more like it, at least in 3D. We hope the next installment on Dreamcast will be better, but until then, this is satisfactory.”

Legacy of Darkness has received a mixed reception. It received an aggregate score of 63.80% from GameRankings. Tim Turi of Game Informer felt that the werewolf form was interesting but not enough to make it a good game.

Spread the love

Leave a Reply