If you made a list of franchises that have had a profound impact on modern game development, Castlevania would certainly be on it. The vampire-hunting series has gone through many iterations, some more successful than others, and come to help define two different eras of action-platformers: the classic action game based on the original Castlevania games, and the more exploration-based subgenre that has been nicknamed “metroidvania.” The two eras of Castlevania are very distinct from each other, one focused more on straightforward platforming and the other being defined by a wide open environment with progressive abilities that unlock new gameplay possibilities and areas to plumb. Both of these have been incredibly impressive on the modern gaming landscape.
It was 35 years ago today, May 1, that Simon Belmont first swung his trusty whip on the Nintendo Entertainment System. From those humble beginnings, the series has had dozens of entries, spin-offs, and reinventions. Let’s take a look back at a few of the many games that have been inspired by Castlevania, from the early days of NES imitators to the modern advent of multiple metroidvanias.