Best of ND 2014! The Future of Castlevania

Anthony tries to predict where the Castlevania series will go next.

By Anthony Pershkin. Posted 01/01/2015 09:00 Comment on this     ShareThis

This story was selected as one of our best from 2014. It was originally published on March 14, during Issue 195.

The Castlevania series has always been one of my all-time favorites, because it never stops evolving in one way or another. As the years go by, Castlevania absorbs elements from other games, while still maintaining its own original identity. On its long way the series has naturally had its share of ups and downs, but I actually see that as a positive thing. When I look at the rich history of Castlevania, I see a franchise that has tried different things, made mistakes, yet kept going. Like a real person, the series feels “alive” to me. And that’s quite funny, considering Castlevania is all about fighting dead things.

As the Lords of Shadow saga comes to an end, it’s time to think about the future. Personally, I rather enjoyed the whole Lords of Shadow series. I think those games deserve to have “Castlevania” name in their titles. Even Lords of Shadow 2, which is getting rather mixed reviews, is still a very well-made game. Even though there are a few designs missteps here and there, the overall package is still worth your time…but I digress. Castlevania is once again free to evolve into something else entirely. Which way will our great series go next? Here are some of my predictions.

Route A: Going bigger

Like it or not, Lords of Shadow is the most successful Castlevania game to date. Because of this, I believe it would be only natural to assume that Konami is going to continue moving in the same direction. Lords of Shadow was huge in every sense of the word. It had Robert Carlyle and Patrick Stewart, it had gameplay that mixed popular titles like Shadow of the Colossus and God of War, Hideo Kojima himself was involved in the project– it was a bomb ready to explode. I’m not sure which element exactly helped the game’s sales the most, but the overall result was a success. Now Lords of Shadow 2 is a really weird one, so I think the sales numbers will not be nearly as good. Still, if Konami considers the entire Lords of Shadow saga a success, then we’re going to see a successor to Gabriel’s epic journey in the near future.

The new game will probably not have any connection to the Lords of Shadow timeline. It might return to the world of the original series, but the possibility of that is really slim. MercurySteam is definitely not going to be making the new game, since I think Konami wants that team on a whole new project. Recently, Lords of Shadow producer Dave Cox showed interest in reviving Contra, so it might be working on that next. This time around I think Konami is going to give the next Castlevania game to a Japanese studio. And considering Konami’s recent collaboration with Platinum Games on Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, Castlevania might get a little bit crazy with its next installment. Besides, the original Castlevania on NES is Hideki Kamiya’s favorite action game. It seems perfect for him to handle the new game.

Route B: Going smaller

If Konami decides to get really experimental with its new game, it might as well go for something smaller. Considering how games like Strider and Bionic Commando Rearmed are doing pretty well, the new Castlevania may follow suit and go fully digital. As for the game itself, I would love to see the studio developing it to turn the entire concept on its head. Remember how the original NES trilogy had those title screens with film reel streaming along? The entire series at that point was a big love letter to horror movies. What if Konami returned to that idea and fully realized it? Imagine a game where the main protagonist is some kind of detective who’s trying to solve some mystery by watching old horror movies that go by the name of “Castlevania.” Each movie is like a separate level with its own monster at the end. And since the game is taking place inside the movies, it can do a lot of creative things with both the presentation and the gameplay. Imagine a Viewtiful Joe-like game about Castlevania.

The other thing Konami could do is change the genre of the next Castlevania (and I don’t mean make another slot machine game). The one genre the series has most closely resembled, and yet has never dipped its toes into, is survival horror. This could be a natural fit for the next Castlevania; after all, the series is already about ghouls, vampires, and all kinds of monsters. Plus, some games in the franchise are genuinely creepy and unsettling (like Super Castlevania IV). Why not take the horror aspect to the fullest? It might end up being very interesting.

Route C: Going back

I have to say, in my opinion this route is the most boring way Konami can go, but it’s the thing that many people crave– another Metroidvania. Now let me get this straight. Like everybody else, I love Symphony of the Night and I enjoy its numerous successors on Game Boy Advance and DS. My main problem with this idea is that I simply think we’ve had enough Metroidvanias. If we are to revisit this sub-genre again, I really hope Konami can make something a little bit different this time around. Konami should bring back the all-star team of Koji Igarashi, Michiru Yamane, and Ayami Kojima, but it should also concentrate on updating the formula in an exciting new way.

Koji Igarashi will be speaking at GDC 2014 about his experience making Metroidvania games throughout all these years. It seems like a perfect time, if not to announce a new game, to at least hint at it. So, if Igarashi is somehow involved in a new Metroidvania game, I say we can expect good news later this month.

Route D: Going anywhere

This route is currently empty, because it’s up to you, our dear readers, to come up with predictions on Castlevania’s future (and not because I couldn’t think of anything). Do you think that the next Castlevania should be a kart racer? Where do you see the series going from here? Let us know in the comments!

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