The Castlevania universe (悪魔城ドラキュラ, Demon Castle Dracula) refers to the Super Smash Bros. series' collection of characters, stages, and properties that hail from the famous dark-fantasy series created by Konami, inspired by Bram Stoker's novel Dracula. The series is the second of Konami's to see representation through characters and stages, following Metal Gear. Its logo is a silhouette of Dracula's Castle (often referred to as the titular Castlevania), which most protagonists of the series venture through on a quest to slay Dracula.
The franchise’s origins took inspiration from many public domain figures such as Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, and the Greek myth of Medusa, as well as the Universal Pictures monster movies of the early-to-mid twentieth century. Now often considered to be a classic series of action platformers based on traditional Gothic horror elements, the Castlevania series made its debut on the Famicom Disk System as Akumajō Dracula ("Demon Castle Dracula"), before being released internationally on the Nintendo Entertainment System as Castlevania. However, the franchise would debut through the game's sister release for the MSX2 in Europe instead, Vampire Killer. The game follows vampire hunter Simon Belmont of the Belmont clan, a bloodline devoted to defeating Dracula whenever he is resurrected; armed with his bloodline's legendary whip, Vampire Killer, he embarks on a journey through Dracula's Castle to defeat the Count himself. This first installment would notably introduce the concepts of the Belmont clan's continued bloodline, the series' mascot being Simon, and a single warrior (though in later installments, occasionally several) venturing to Dracula's Castle in order to slay him. Simon would later appear in the game's direct sequel, Simon's Quest. Originally released in 1987, it followed Simon's journey to undo a curse placed on him following Dracula's death. Since these two titles, Simon has most prominently appeared in retellings of the original title, notably Super Castlevania IV, Haunted Castle, Castlevania: The Arcade, and Castlevania Chronicles.
Following this, the series would see other installments that followed predecessors of Simon, notably Trevor Belmont in Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse, and Christopher Belmont in Castlevania: The Adventure, its sequel Castlevania II: Belmont's Revenge, and its remake Castlevania: The Adventure ReBirth. These installments follow the basic premise of the original game, following a Belmont on his journey to slay Dracula. Dracula's Curse is notable in being one of the first titles in the series chronology, introducing such concepts as alternate routes to Dracula and additional playable characters (including Alucard, the son of Dracula). After these titles, the franchise would begin to see fewer releases on Nintendo hardware for some time, with other hardware boasting features not present in that produced by the company. Games released earlier in this period are Castlevania: Bloodlines and Castlevania: Rondo of Blood, which both instead followed descendants of Simon, such as Richter Belmont. Of these, Bloodlines would see a normal release internationally on the Sega Genesis, while the entry more significant to the series' development, Rondo of Blood, would see a Japan-exclusive release on the Super CD-ROM² System, an add-on to the internationally-released Turbografx-16 (known in Japan as the PC Engine CD). This installment boasted many features that would be incorporated into later titles, such as wholly separate playable characters (as opposed to the switching system of Dracula's Curse) and additional techniques for the playable characters beyond basic jumping and attacking skills. This game would later see an international release when adapted for the SNES as Castlevania: Dracula X, a 2.5D remake through The Dracula X Chronicles in 2007 and a release on the Wii's Virtual Console service in 2010 (albeit the original Japanese language version).
Following Rondo of Blood, the franchise would begin to deviate from its side-scrolling platformer roots and expand into a subseries now referred to as the Metroidvania genre, notable for sharing aspects with traditional Metroid installments such as a more expansive, segmented map, secret areas and upgrades, and greater control over the player character and their abilities. The first of these installments was the sleeper hit Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, which followed Alucard, the half-human, half-vampire son of Dracula, on an adventure through two versions of Dracula's Castle to defeat his father and avenge his mother's death, all the while attempting to save Richter from his possession by the dark priest Shaft. This entry is especially notable for the incorporation of RPG elements akin to Simon’s Quest into the formula, in which Alucard would gain experience and level up by defeating enemies. Originally conceived as a side story, director Koji Igarashi thought to change up the formula and break conventions for Symphony of the Night after seeing a surprising amount of previous titles in bargain bins, which he attributes to the games’ short length and unnerving difficulty. He aimed to create a game that was approachable for the average player and had more staying power, and forgoing the Belmont family name and Vampire Killer whip gave Igarashi and his team greater freedom in designing the Castlevania game they envisioned. Finally, this title is notable for the change in character designs courtesy of Ayami Kojima, who later redesigned Simon for Castlevania Chronicles and now exemplifies the current style for the series. Symphony of the Night has been ported to several systems since its initial release, starting with the Sega Saturn in 1998 (albeit exclusively in Japan) and followed up by a retranslation in The Dracula X Chronicles.
The series would also see ventures into the third dimension with two installments released for the Nintendo 64 around this time, these installments being Castlevania 64 and Castlevania: Legacy of Darkness. However, both of these titles were panned by critics and fans due to their poor controls and a troublesome camera and are considered two of the worst games in the franchise’s history. Due to the greater critical success of Symphony of the Night, the “Metroidvania” format would be used for the majority of subsequent installments on the Game Boy Advance and the Nintendo DS, starting with Circle of the Moon in 2001 and concluding with Order of Ecclesia in 2008. Igarashi would be directing these portable titles up until the commercial failure of Order of Ecclesia, wherein he would leave Konami in 2014 citing creative differences in his and the company's directions. He would later found his own studio, ArtPlay, and crowdfund a spiritual successor to the Metroidvania entries, Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night, which released in June 2019 to positive reviews. Following the lukewarm reception to Lords of Shadow 2 in 2014, the Castlevania series had remained completely dormant until the release of two compilations: Castlevania Requiem in October 2018, which contains the retranslated versions of Rondo of Blood and Symphony of the Night from The Dracula X Chronicles, and the Castlevania Anniversary Collection in May 2019, which compiles eight of the earliest titles in the franchise that feature the classic platforming style.
Beyond its success as a 2D adventure series, the series would release later 3D installments to somewhat mixed success. Following the releases of two hack-and-slash-esque games released to the PlayStation 2, a spin-off subseries, Lords of Shadow, was introduced in 2010 by MercurySteam and Kojima Productions, following a separate chronology from the previous titles. Many other spin-off titles and related properties have also been released, including Kid Dracula, Castlevania Judgment, and Harmony of Despair, as well as an animated series covering the events of Castlevania III, released on Netflix in 2017 and with its second season premiering in October 2018, a third in March 2020, and a final season in May 2021.
This game marked the much-anticipated debut of the highly-requested Castlevania universe, with the addition of two fighters, an Assist Trophy, a new stage with a handful of cameos, 34 total music tracks, and a boss character. This was the first new third-party universe to be featured in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate and the only one not introduced through DLC.
Main article: List of SSBU Music (Castlevania series)
Castlevania received a total of 34 tracks and remixes, the second most (behind Fatal Fury) of any debuting franchise in Ultimate.
Sakurai noted that Castlevania's music was especially popular among the music composers. As such, Castlevania received 13 remixes in Ultimate, more new remixes than any other universe except Mega Man and Fatal Fury.
Tracks sourced directly from the Castlevania games.
Main article: List of spirits (Castlevania series)
Games with elements from or in the Super Smash Bros. series
Castlevania II: Simon's Quest
Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse
Getsu Fuma Den
Super Castlevania IV
Castlevania: Rondo of Blood
Castlevania: Symphony of the Night
Castlevania (Nintendo 64)
Castlevania: Circle of the Moon
Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance
Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow
Castlevania: Lament of Innocence
Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow
Castlevania: Curse of Darkness
Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin
Castlevania: The Dracula X Chronicles
Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia
Castlevania: The Arcade
Castlevania: Harmony of Despair
Castlevania: Grimoire of Souls
Castlevania: Lords of Shadow