Anyone hyped for 'Castlevania: Nocturne' owes it themselves to play the games it's based on. Here's how to track them down. (2024)

Castlevania may be all but dead as a video game franchise, but over in the world of anime the Belmont clan has never been more popular. Netflix’s Castlevania saw four seasons of awesome monster-whippin’ action that added up to a (very) loose adaptation of the 1990 NES game Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse.

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That show wrapped up in May 2021, but the next evolution in the franchise is now just around the corner in Castlevania: Nocturne.

Set during the French Revolution, we follow Richter Belmont, Maria Renard, Annette, and Tera as they continue the battle against evil forces, now apparently led by vampire queen Erzsebet Báthory (though let’s face it, despite him apparently finding peace Drac is almost certainly back at some point). The trailer was amazing, the voice cast is impeccable, and we’re sharpening our stakes in anticipation of Friday’s release.

Nocturne adapts arguably the best two entries in the Castlevania game franchise: Rondo of Blood and Symphony of the Night. These games are essentially two halves of the same story, to the point where the final sequence of Rondo of Blood is the introductory sequence to Symphony of the Night. So, where to play these retro classics on modern hardware?

Castlevania: Rondo of Blood

Anyone hyped for 'Castlevania: Nocturne' owes it themselves to play the games it's based on. Here's how to track them down. (1)

First released in 1993 on the PC Engine CD, Rondo of Blood was immediately recognized as one of the greatest 2D platformers of all time. It’s got incredible art, a beautiful soundtrack, and polishes the traditional level-based Castlevania gameplay to a mirror sheen. Unfortunately, it was also not officially released outside Japan until the late 2000s, when it appeared on the PlayStation Portable and Wii Virtual Console.

Nowadays it’s available as part of the Castlevania Requiem bundle on the PlayStation store. This is a reworked port of the PSP version and plays perfectly on a PlayStation 5. That also comes with Symphony of the Night, is usually available for a couple of bucks, and is a great package.

Sadly your options are limited if you game elsewhere. Rondo of Blood is not available on Xbox, Switch or PC (though obviously the PC can emulate it). The only other place the game can be purchased is preinstalled on the TurboGrafx-16 Mini console that hit shelves in 2020, though this seems to be sold out everywhere.

Castlevania: Symphony of the Night

Anyone hyped for 'Castlevania: Nocturne' owes it themselves to play the games it's based on. Here's how to track them down. (2)

1997’s Symphony of the Night is not just considered the best Castlevania game, but regularly ranks highly in ‘Greatest Games of All-Time’ lists. It introduced the series to the ‘Metroidvania’ exploration template, is a huge game packed with secrets and surprises, and plays like a dream. And, mercifully, it’s much easier to purchase than Rondo of Blood.

As mentioned above it’s one-half of the Castlevania Requiem bundle on PlayStation, but is also available on the Microsoft store courtesy of a 2007 port to Xbox Live Arcade. This runs perfectly on Xbox Series X|S and can usually be bought for a measly few dollars.

But even if you don’t own a gaming console you can probably still play Symphony of the Night. The game received a port to iOS and Android in 2020 and, while playing it on a touchscreen isn’t advised, it has gamepad support via Bluetooth.

Should you play Rondo of Blood and Symphony of the Night?

Anyone hyped for 'Castlevania: Nocturne' owes it themselves to play the games it's based on. Here's how to track them down. (3)

Judging by the trailer, Castlevania: Nocturne won’t be a direct recreation of these games’ stories but (like Castlevania before it) uses them as more of a template. We expect the major plot elements to be present, but approached in unexpected new ways.

That means that playing the games won’t necessarily spoil the events of the show, though it’ll also be perfectly possible to enjoy the plot without ever having whipped a single bat or gobbled a piece of wall meat.

Even so, Rondo of Blood and Symphony of the Night are all-time classics and have aged beautifully. Anyone interested in Castlevania should check them out, as they more than deserve their sky-high reputation.

Here’s hoping this renewed interest in Castlevania sees a long-awaited revival of the franchise. Even if we don’t get a new game, we’d love to see the three Nintendo DS adventures re-released in a retro collection, or even the somewhat creakier PlayStation 2 3D action games Lament of Innocence and Curse of Darkness.

But for now, we’re just hyped for Castlevania: Nocturne, which lands in full on Netflix on Sept. 28, 2023.

Anyone hyped for 'Castlevania: Nocturne' owes it themselves to play the games it's based on. Here's how to track them down. (2024)
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