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 Shelly'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). 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 later release/remaster through The Dracula X Chronicles in 2007, a release on the Wii's Virtual Console service in 2010 (albeit the Japanese original version), and in the Requiem compilation released in October 2018.
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 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), followed by a retranslation in the Dracula X Chronicles, and finally alongside Rondo of Blood in the Requiem compilation.
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 2019 to positive reviews. Following the lukewarm reception to Lords of Shadow 2 in 2014, the Castlevania series had been left dormant for four years until the release of two compilations: the previously mentioned Castlevania Requiem in October 2018, and the Castlevania Anniversary Collection in May 2019, released in commemoration of Konami's 50th anniversary as a company. The latter of the two placed a greater focus on Simon Belmont's adventures of the 1980s and 1990s and is the only one of the two to be released for the Nintendo Switch.
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.
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.
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
The series' most well-known protagonist, Simon Belmont, is introduced in this game, as well as many aspects of his moveset and appearance. Both Dracula and his Castle also make their debut in this title. The theme Vampire Killer debuted in this game as well. Every boss to appear in this game except for the Giant Bat makes an appearance on Dracula's Castle, primarily using their original designs.
Castlevania II: Simon's Quest
A medley of the tracks that play during the daytime and nighttime in this game is available in Ultimate. Carmilla makes her debut in this title, and the crying mask design is used in Dracula's Castle.
Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse
Alucard makes his debut in this prequel as one of four playable characters. Trevor Belmont also appears as a Spirit.
Kid Dracula appears as a background character in Dracula's Castle in the form of a silhouette on its walls and as a Spirit.
Super Castlevania IV
The ability to whip in multiple directions and the ability to move the whip around freely originate in this Super Nintendo remake of the original Castlevania. Additionally, the ability to grab ledges with the whip loosely resembles the ability to swing on hooks in this game.
Simon's appearance in Ultimate is most prominently based on his appearance in this game's original mode, which is based on the original X68000 release of the game.
Rondo of Blood
Richter originates from this title, as well as his theme Bloodlines. His design is mostly inspired by his appearance in this game as well. The Werewolf's design used in Dracula's Castle comes from this game. Dracula's Dark Inferno attack and transformation are based on this game as well. Shaft and Maria Renard also appear as Spirits.
A brand new arrangement of the track that plays in the fourth stage of this game, Iron Blue Intention, appears as a song on Dracula's Castle.
Symphony of the Night
Both Alucard's and Dracula's designs from this game is used in their Ultimate appearances. Multiple moves and abilities from Simon's and Richter's movesets are also drawn from Richter's appearance in this game. Four songs from this game also appear on Dracula's Castle.
Circle of the Moon
Harmony of Dissonance
The main protagonist of this game, Juste Belmont, appears as a Spirit character.
Aria of Sorrow
The main character of this game, Soma Cruz, along with Yoko Belnades and Julius Belmont appear as Spirit characters. The Harmony of Despair remix of Ruined Castle Gallery also appears on Dracula's Castle.
Lament of Innocence
Dawn of Sorrow
Two songs from this game appear on Dracula's Castle.
Curse of Darkness
The hero of this game, Hector, appears as a Spirit character.
Portrait of Ruin
Order of Ecclesia
The protagonist of this title, Shanoa, appears as a Spirit character, along with two songs from the game being featured on Dracula's Castle.
Two arrangements from this game have been ported over. These include Black Night and Theme of Simon Belmont.
This is Castlevania's first very own fighting game where Simon, Trevor, Alucard, Sypha, Grant, Eric, Maria, Carmilla, Death and Dracula appeared as the playable fighters. Most of the remixed tracks from this game are reused in Ultimate. The game’s characters were redesigned by Takeshi Obata, the artist of the well-known Death Note manga series.
Harmony of Despair
Simon and Richter both obtain the ability to perform divekicks in this game, the basis for their down aerial. Multiple arrangements from this game are ported to this game.
Castlevania: Lords of Shadow sub-series
The crossguard on the Smash version of the Vampire Killer, making the weapon's handle resemble a cross, is taken from the Combat Cross in this reboot series. Gabriel Belmont, the main character, also appears as a Spirit.
Getsu Fuma Den
While itself not a Castlevania game, the Harmony of Despair remix of the main theme from this game appears as a song on Dracula's Castle.