Few game series are as definitive and beloved as Castlevania. Pitting Players against Dracula and his unholy forces time and again, it is a staple of the industry that has withstood the test of time and continued to enrapture players with tight gameplay and new twists on its well-established norms of exploration and difficult boss battles.
Being as old as it is though, there have been entries that proved better than others, and today we’ve got all 29 titles ranked from worst to best.
*Note: Vampire Killer and Haunted Castle have not been included in this list because they either are a direct port without enough new elements or content to warrant a separate entry (Vampire Killer) or were limited to an arcade release (Haunted Castle)*
The Best Castlevania Games, All 30 Ranked From Worst to Best
30. Castlevania Judgement
Castlevania Judgement sounded like an interesting game, at least on paper. Pitting characters from across the series’ many entries against each other, each with their own attacks and techniques to dish out, sounded spectacular, and the fact that Death Note artist Takeshi Obata was onboard to lend his talents to the project was icing on the cake.
True, it was on the Nintendo Wii which wasn’t exactly known for good fighters outside Super Smash Bros. Brawl, but there was still some hope that this foray into a new genre would work out for the series.
Then players got their hands on it and all of the game’s hype collapsed in on itself. A clunky, disorienting mess, Judgement failed to capitalize on most every front. The character designs veered too far from any established character designs in the series, the gameplay mechanics were a messy mix of action and fighting games, and there was next to no balance among the characters.
And that’s if players could even get it to work, with the controls proving almost entirely incompatible with the console’s controllers. There’s really nothing else that can be said about the game other than that it’s the most deserving of being forgotten by fans.
29. Castlevania: Order of Shadows
Of the many series that tried to expand into the mobile gaming market, Castlevania seemed like it had a decent chance of striking gold. After all, it’s formula lent itself well to the design restrictions of phone games and could snag players looking for a call back to the 2D entries of old. There was also a refreshing amount of effort put into the game, with a full story written that would utilize characters related to the Belmont clan.
Unfortunately, this wasn’t the case when people got their hands on Castlevania: Order of Shadows, a flat and boring attempt at a Castlevania title. While it still offered a decent soundtrack and world design, the game lacked the difficulty and story that even the original titles offered to players.
It likewise had little to offer to players after a single playthrough, leaving it to be forgotten at worst or at best remembered as one of the most lackluster Castlevania games.
28. Castlevania (Nintendo 64)
For a long time, fans considered the Castlevania series to be incapable of a true transition to 3D, and this title was the reason why. The first game to make the jump to 3D, Castlevania for the Nintendo 64 had more ambition than it could make good on. It sought to bring the story of the Belmont’s eternal struggle with Dracula into the future, complete with new gameplay and a fully realized recreation of Dracula’s castle in 3D.
While it did well in translating the atmosphere and feel of the Castlevania series, its gameplay was undeniably clunky and unresponsive. Many players found themselves challenged not by enemies or bosses, but by their inability to properly fight them due to the camera moving and rotating seemingly at random.
This was exacerbated by floaty controls that could send the player character soaring across the screen, many times to their death.
The title has since seen debate on its overall quality. Some defend it as an admirable attempt to bring the series forward, while others note it to be a frustrating experiment to play through which relied heavily on the series’ pedigree. Regardless, it stands as a title that didn’t live up to the series’ reputation, and continues to lag behind new releases and iterations.