Super Castlevania IV
Just one year since Dracula's last death (which makes sense if he was already coming back from the dead at the end of Castlevania II: Simon's Quest), Dracula once again rose from the grave. The Dark Lord's evil castle appeared on the high mountains of the Borgo Pass, its shadow casting darkness along the valley below, and the foul demons spilled forth into the surrounding lands to terrorize the countryside.
Against this evil, Simon Belmont was again the man on the scene. Taking up the trusty Vampire Killer, the ancestral whip that had been handed down through the generations for over 600 years so far, Simon set forth into Dracula's castle, the creature of chaos that seemed eerily similar to its previous incarnation and yet, at the same time, featured areas that were wholly new to Simon. It was like a new adventure, as much as the hero had been here only eight years prior.
Battling through a new horde of monsters, although with some old favorites (like Medusa, Frankenstein's Creature, and Death among them), Simon ventured far and wide across this menacing fortress. He explored down to the depths of the dungeons, through the library and treasury, and up the clock tower, all to get to the keep at the top of the castle for the final confrontation.
Eventually, Simon reached the top of the castle, and there battled against Dracula. It was a fierce encounter, with Dracula showing new powers he'd never had before. In the end, though, it was Simon who once again walked away victorious. Dracula was committed to the grave (for more than a year, thankfully), and the people of Romania could finally breath... at least for a while.
Firstly, this game sits in a nebulous area of continuity. Officially it's always been considered a remake of the original Castlevania in Japan, with the official title of the game being simply Akumajo Dracula. The development team has always thought it would be a remake, or at least a "reboot" of the original title, and treated it as such during development. Such such, in Japan this game ignores the events of the first two games and states that 100 years have passed since Dracula was last defeated and he has come back again ready to battle whatever Belmont was his new foe.
The problems with this breezy consideration for continuity are numerous. In the introduction movie for the game, Dracula's grave (looking exactly as it does at the end of Castlevania II) is struck by lightning and Dracula's soul (in the form of a bat) emerges. This could just be a reference to the second game, a nice little nod showing the grave he would eventually be interred in at the end of that game... but what that fails to explain is that, if this is Dracula's grave, and that tombstone was there before the events of Castlevania (which this game would replace), why would the villagers repair it? Why wouldn't they simply get a new tombstone instead of repairing the tombstone to its near-perfect finish? Seems a touch fishy.
Also, this game directly conflicts with Castlevania X68000 where, in that game, followers from Dracula bring the Dark Lord back to life with a Black Mass Ritual. And yet, here, Dracula just comes back (much as was hinted at the end of Castlevania II). If they are both remakes of the same game, why are they so conflicting in their explanations for how Dracula rose? And even still, while a couple of bosses recur between the two games, none of them fight the same at all, and levels while similar looking at times, are not at all the same.
So while it's fan speculation (and certainly Konami doesn't agree with us), we here at The Inverted Dungeon firmly assert the fact that this is the third game in Simon's arc. Sadly, to add to the confusion, for a long while Konami of America considered this game an official sequel and had it listed as such until the series head, Koji Igarashi, had them update to his official timeline. We grudgingly accept his reasoning, so just have to think of this as a "gaiden" title that only loosely connects to what came before, and that's the hill we're willing to die on.