5 best Igavania 'Castlevania' entries

'Symphony of the Night' helped birth a new genre. [Image via IGN/ Youtube Screenshot]
'Symphony of the Night' helped birth a new genre. [Image via IGN/ Youtube Screenshot]

A list of the very best 'Castlevania' titles to follow the formula established by Koji Igarashi

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Much like Dracula's castle, the "Castlevania" series is a creature of chaos known for taking many incarnations. Most of the classic entries on the NES, SNES, and Genesis consisted of 2D side-scrolling action games that went for a level by level structure. However, the second installment formed the blueprint for what we'll call the "Igavania" entries. While still being a 2D game, "Castlevania II Simon's Quest" gave players a huge interconnected world that would gradually open up as they gained new abilities.

While unrefined, it was a bold experiment that Koji Igarashi would refine when given the keys to the franchise almost a decade later. Noticing how many "Castlevania" games found their way to bargain bins, Igarashi hypothesized that once players beat the game, they'd get tired of it and just sell it. With his debut "Castlevania" title, Igarashi wanted to increase the replay value by giving players a large world with hidden secrets that rewarded exploration while addressing complaints towards "Simon's Quest."

When "Symphony of the Night" was released to the PlayStation to critical acclaim, future entries on handheld platforms such as the Game Boy Advance followed its structure while providing their own spin on it. With the recent release of the "Castlevania Advance Collection" on platforms such as PlayStation4 and XBoxOne, I thought I'd make a list of the best "Igavania" "Castlevania" entries.

1

'Castlevania Portrait of Ruin' is pretty paint by numbers

While not as compelling as Igarashi's other entries, "Portrait of Ruin" does try to mix things up a bit. The game adopts a hubworld structure with paintings that warp you to the next area much like "Mario 64." You also switch between two playable characters who have their own respective abilities that are needed to solve certain puzzles. Though the attempt to innovate is appreciated, it's held back by a generic anime aesthetic and its cardboard cutout heroes.

2

'Castlevania Order of Ecclesia' manages to overcome a bland hero

"Ecclesia" attempted to innovate further with its overworld map structure and an emphasis on sub-quests. Hidden in each area was a civilian who could be rescued and proceed to give the player side quests that lead to new items and rewards. It also brought back the soul collecting mechanic from the "Sorrow" entries. The game's only blemishes were that collecting glyphs proved to be more tedious and that Shanoa's stoicism made for a very bland protagonist.