Castlevania is one of gaming’s most venerable series, but with more than three decades’ worth of games, they can’t all live up to the legacy.
The 3D Castlevania games have never come close to their 2D counterparts. Lords of Shadow is the best attempt, with its God of War-inspired combat and impressive boss battles. (PS3, Xbox 360)
A remake of the original Castlevania, Chronicles adds some of the gameplay refinements from other entries enhanced with updated visuals. If you can get your hands on a PS1, this may be the best way to experience the first Castlevania today. (PS1)
The original Castlevania holds up surprisingly well today, but Castlevania III improves on it in basically every way, adding partners to team up with and multiple routes through Dracula’s castle.
The only Castlevania game on a Sega console, Bloodlines introduced multiple playable characters and some of the best-designed levels yet. Its bizarre plot ties Dracula to World War I, so the series’ signature weirdness is intact. (Genesis)
Like A Link to the Past did for Zelda, Super Castlevania IV takes everything that made the original game great and uses the massive technological improvement of the SNES to make it faster, flashier, and better than ever. (SNES)
With stunning graphics (for the time) and some of the best level designs in the series, Rondo of Blood is a masterpiece. PSP and PS4 ports made this game easier to find outside of Japan, but it’s still an incredibly tough game. (PSP, PS4)
If Aria of Sorrow were on more powerful hardware than the Game Boy Advance, it would be the best Castlevania game. This futuristic sequel set in 2035 has a fun soul-collecting mechanic and pushes the GBA to its limits with a killer soundtrack. (GBA)
No surprise here. Symphony of the Night is widely considered one of the best games of all time, and the origin of the term Metroidvania. It combines Castlevania’s gothic horror with RPG elements. It also throws in some notoriously weird dialogue.