I love Metroidvania but never played Castlevania...
It clear for me that Metroidvania is my favorite video game genre. And I don't shy away from difficult games as I love Zelda 2, Megaman X and Zero series, Ninja Gaiden, Souls series, etc.
However, I have never played a Castlevania game. Actually I did play Castlevania: Bloodlines on the Genesis but I was probably 5 at the time. All I remember from it is not being able to progress pass the first boss.
What Castlevania games should I play and what ones to skip?
In what order?
Similar games you would recommend?
Right now I have a Wii U, PS3, and 3DS. I think most of the series is available on those platforms.
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Start by playing Bloodlines and Symphony of the Night. They are very good representatives of linear castlevania and non-linear castlevania.
Depending on which one you like more, you'll want to play different titles in the franchise.
Aria of Sorrow and Dawn of Sorrow on DS are both really good.
I'd recommend you try to go chronologically as going back to the originals from the later games can be a little rough.
Play: Castlevania (or Castlevania Chronicles on PSN, which is a port/remake of the X8600 of Castlevania), Castlevania III Dracula's Curse, Super Castlevania IV, SotN, Dawn of Sorrow, Portrait of Ruin (especially if you loved Bloodlines as it is a direct sequel) Order of Ecclesia, Harmony of Despair, Lament of Innocence, and Lords of Shadow
Undecided: Mirror of Fate, Lords of Shadow 2
Avoid: Castlevania II Simon's Quest
I would actually suggest against playing Symphony of the Night. I recently finished it and it's easily the worst CastleVania to bear the "Metroidvania" style of gameplay. It ceased being a challenge about an hour into it and just became a slow, repetitive slog against bosses so weak they couldn't hope to put up a fight. I finished the game by literally standing in the same spot and stabbing the **** out of the final boss. Portrait of Ruin is also better left skipped. I suggest Circle of the Moon, and the last GBA and first DS titles.
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Your best bet if the option is available to you is to get Dracula X Chronicles for PSP. It contains an updated version of Rondo of Blood with polygonal graphics, the original sprite based Rondo of Blood, and arguably the best version of Symphony of the Night. You have a sampling of old and new style Castlevania in one package.
Well the standard start point is Symphony of the Night but you don't need to.
If you want hard try Circle of the Moon, be warned though that looks like ass on a backlit system like GBASP/Gameboy Player/or DS. I assume if Konami releases it for WiiU VC it will have the colour to pure black ratio fixed. The problem was Black on that game is no light emitted what so ever, and every other colour is like medium or brighter. So the black does not get adjusted from pure black.
If you skip over that you'd just go strait to Aria of Sorrow. It's recommend to play that one first before Dawn of Sorrow since the latter is a sequel.
There's also Order of Ecclesia but that is more Simon's Quest and less Metroidvania. It means the levels are seperated into stages and more linear. It's also the last real one the made.
After that there is Portrait of Ruin this is weaker than any of the above but it's still a good game.
The only one I consider skip-able is Harmony of Dissonance. It sort of a middle ground in GBA production. The art of Circle of the Moon was criticized so they tried to make a "SotN" quality sprite game on GBA at expense of the sound. Ultimately it came out worse so Aria of Sorrow was the middle ground.
Still the hardest one is CotM. Though its possible to avoid things in the other to do things gun only low level against Zephyr in DoS. That pretty much became a Mega Man Buster only Perfect Challenge. But other wise I wouldn't call them hard, not that it's something most are worried about. Only some Classicvania fans lob at the Metroidvania games. On a side note you can also try Castlevania 3 Dracula's Curse and Rondo of Blood to see why Castlevania evolved the way it did.
Personally, Metroid is my favorite series, yet I really don't care very much for the Castlevania games that are Metroidvania style. They're decent but can't hold a candle to Metroid, IMO. Symphony of the Night, Circle of the Moon, and Aria of Sorrow are the best Metroidvania CV games I've played.
I much prefer the classic Castlevania style. My favorites are Rondo of Blood, Super Castlevania IV, and Castlevania Adventure Rebirth.
The last Metroid is in captivity. The galaxy is at peace.
whatever you do TC, definitely do not skip SotN unless you're keen on skipping one of the greatest games in the history of video games..
and SotN doesn't merely bear the title of Metroidvania, it is the game responsible for coining the term, so seeing how you love the genre but never played a Castlevania, seems like a no-brainer you should start with it.
easy it may be.. but exploring that castle for the first time accompanied by one of the best soundtracks of all time is as blissful an experience as you can possibly have in 2D.
Dracula X chronicles or Dracula Blood Rondo as it's also called
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