Inverted Dungeon Updates: 2021
December 31, 2021
And now, for our last update of the year. We have a stupid amount of content to cover, so let's get right into it:
We first head into the Related Games section for a look at Crypt Stalker. This game is a Castlevania title in all but name, an awesome slice of 8-bit classic game play wrapped up for fans of the series. It's well worth checking out.
Over in Fanworks we take a look at the Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow - Definitive Edition+. This hack, started by Thirteen 1335 and then improved and expanded by Masked Dedede, acts like a "bug fix" and "smoothing out" of the original Dawn of Sorrow to remove the many small little issues with the game (like the touch screen gimmick) while upgrading the experience to better match the later DS titles. It's a really nice set of patches.
That said, if you're looking for something that adds a little more to the game (even if that "little more" is "ridiculous challenge"), let's turn our gaze towards Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow NIGHTMARE. This hack is absolutely a "kaizo" hack, and truly over-the-top one in places. While I don't think most people would actually enjoy the challenge of this hack (or even finish the game), it does have its charms.
We also get our first Portrait of Ruin hack with Castlevania: Rondo of Ruin. This is a solid adventure that puts Richter and Maria into lead roles in the game, giving them a remixed journey through the castle and paintings as they work their way towards Dracula. While not perfect I did really enjoy this game. This hack is joined by Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin - Progenitors, which swaps out Richter and Maria for John Morris and Eric Lecard in Richter Mode (and Getsu Fuma in Old Axe Mode), and it's fun for what it does, but in comparison to Rondo of Ruin I would have liked to see this hack do more with its setting (like it does with its characters).
Finally in Fanworks we have Castlevania Fighter, which isn't a hack per se but, instead, is a mas-up game mixing all the heroes of the Castlevania series (more or less) in a long, boss rush-style challenge. It's pretty good, but ridiculously hard at the higher difficulties. Still work checking out.
Then we move over to Literature and review Anno Dracula. This is a semi-sequel, creative retelling of Dracula with a fair bit of alt-history as well. It's decent, but it eventually suffers under the weight of everything that's crammed into the novel. And we also have a review of the Castlevania comic from 2005, The Belmont Legacy. It's, honestly, not great, although there are parts of it that show some artistic merit.
We also begin another Elrod series, this one tying into her previous "Vampire Files" books, with Red Death. This first novel in the "Johnathan Barrett, Gentleman Vampire" series acts as a prequel to everything we saw before, taking place entirely in the 1770s and, well... it frankly doesn't have much of a hook. It was fine, but not much better than that. And, sadly, sequel novel Death and the Maiden, is more of the same. A real missed opportunity here.
Since we covered The Belmont Legacy, it seemed smart to also cover the characters within that comic. As such, we have a bio updates for Christopher Belmont and Dracula as well as new bios for Deimos, Illyana Belmont, Gasper Totoyan, Pascha Totoyan, Viktor Totoyan, Ivan Bartley, and Sona Bartley.
From there we journey into Horror Cinema for a look at the recent Netflix Halloween offering, Night Teeth. This is a movie with a lot of potential, an interesting world that doesn't quite get fleshed out and a game cast not given much to do. It could have been good but it's only okay.
And there's the big coverage: a review of Metroid Dread. Anyone looking for a sequel to Metroid: Samus Returns will be well served by this sequel. Anyone looking for something more akin to Super Metroid and Metroid Fusion might leave the game less than happy. And since we were on the topic of Metroid, we also have a review of Metroid Prime Pinball, which is actually a decent if not all that thrilling pinball adventure.
Finally, we have a Review for Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 - Revelations, the final DLC in the Lords of Shadow series. It shouldn't surprise anyone that I hated this game, as I've hated most of the titles with the Lords of Shadow banner, but this one was particularly disappointing. It does, however, mark the final review of any Castlevania title in the series, finishing a goal of mine for the year.
And with that I think we can finally look ahead to 2022 and all the content to come...
December 3, 2021
The observant among you may have noticed a new series of buttons in the footer of the site. If you clicked on any of them you will have noticed that the Inverted Dungeon now has a series of switchable skins:
As you will note, we have six now, and they can be used as you like. One of them, the Game Boy skin, even provides the first ever "light mode" for the website. Personally I prefer browsing sites in dark mode, but I'm sure some users will enjoy this feature. I will note that when you're not on the Inverted skin (which is the default) there is a slight pop-in of the default skin for a briefest moment. I haven't found a way around that just yet (it would probably involve using a different skin switcher) but it's at least nice to have this implemented. I'm sure I'll tinker with it further over time.
Part of the reason I made these new skins relates to another announcement I was originally planning to make, but sadly that part of the project fell through. There was talk with the original Dungeon crew and pooling resources, creating a combined site that would continue updating into the future. However, original Dungeon creator Kurt Kalata ended up deciding to keep his old site as is, frozen in time. It's all good, but it does mean I get to put this skin switcher (which, as conceived, would have allowed users to switch between Dungeon and Inverted sites on the fly) in active use now (with Inverted as the primary skin instead), and not later instead.
Meanwhile, in other crossover news: I forgot to mention last time that the Final Fantasy Randomizer community (of which I am an admin) hosted their Halloween special and it was a Castlevania X FFR crossover. The video is available over on YouTube and though is hitches occasionally, watching Castlevania characters, bosses, graphics, and lore get mashed into Final Fantasy Randomizer is a lot of fun. You can also watch a second run we did later that has better video (although the surprise factor was, naturally, not there anymore).
And, I've also assisted two of the Castlevania randomizer communities get layouts together for restream on various Twitch networks. Hopefully if you watch any of the various rando-hosting channels (like RPG Limit Break and SpeedGaming, among others) you'll get a chance to see these layouts out in the wild:
As far as actual content for the site, we have the addition of Castlevania: Battle of Old Castle over in the Fanworks section. This game-book was originally released only in Japan back in 1987. It never came out in the West, but thanks to the work of rasgar it's readable, and playable, now.
Sticking around in the Fanworks area, we add in a review for Castlevania: Dawn of Dissonance, a hard-mode hack by Serbagz that certainly brings the "hard" but fails to bring the actual "fun". At the other end of the spectrum is Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow Persephone Hack by caminopreacher, a fun hack with some great ideas that kept me playing long after I expected to stop. This is what hacks should aspire for.
And I think that's enough for this update. I'll continue work on pages for the site and we'll get another update going for the end of the month, I swear.
November 28, 2021
We're reaching the end of November and, hopefully, everyone has had a good start to their holiday season. For this month's update we're going to cover a few different games, and we'll start with the big release from Konami: the Castlevania Advance Collection. This collection came out a month ago and it's taken me time to really sink my teeth in and explore it all, simply because I wanted to give each game their fair due in the collection. Overall the set is great, even if it lacks a few extra games I would like to see preserved by Konami, but what is in here is still worth the price of admission.
While we're on the topic of compilations, the Reviews section has been updated with a list of the various compilations relevant to the Castlevania series. It's also had further updates with reviews of the Konami Collector's Series: Castlevania & Contra set and the Castlevania Double Pack.
From there we move into the world of fanworks and we begin with the Castlevania: Circle of the Moon Randomizer developed by Dev Anj. This is a great rando with a lot of features, options that I think help to make the base game even more playable. And on the subject of randomizers, we also revisit the Aria of Sorrow Randomizer, now in an even more full featured version 2. The additions that developer fusecv put into the original randomizer really expands the experience and makes this the must play version of the rando, for sure.
We then move on to Castlevania: Spectral Interlude, a fan game designed for the ZX Spectrum. What's the ZX Spectrum? A console so old it predates the Castlevania series. Developer Noxxa had the idea to demake Castlevania II, but then his project expanded and we ended up with this absolutely incredible title.
From there we take a trip over to Devil Island, a bootleg game that rips the actual game play from Getsu Fuma Den and side-converts it into a GBC game. I applaud the creative idea of this, but it is an illegal bootleg (with sloppy programming) so end of the day this illegal title is more curiosity than something anyone should seek out.
I'm going to try to get one more solid update done by the end of the year, and then hopefully next year I can stay motivated and go back to weekly (albeit slightly smaller) updates. Would be nice to get this site growing at a solid clip once again.
October 1, 2021
On the news front, we have a couple of solid Castlevania tidbits to go over. We start with the Castlevania Advance Collection, a digital collection that has been rumored for a couple of months now and which, just recently, Konami surprise dropped for all to purchase. It contained Circle of the Moon, Harmony of Dissonance, and Aria of Sorrow from the Game Boy Advance era, as expected, plus the bonus game of the SNES Castlevania: Dracula X. It's nice to have all of these games out and available again, and even nicer that Dracula X finally has another release since it's been largely ignored for years.
Meanwhile, the last mobile title the company was working on, Castlevania: Grimoire of Souls, is surprisingly back. Now an Apple Games release, so only available on iPhones, iPads, and iTV units, the game has ditched the Online storefront and is just a single, grindable game akin to Harmony of Despair. We don't have iPhones here among our staff so right now it's not so easy for us to play the game and see what new content is available, but it is nice that this game finally got a real release in some form. Now that it's uncancelled we really have to play the game and edit all our content related to it... sigh.
As far as news you should take with a grain of salt, various outlets are reporting (from anonymous sources) that Konami is preparing to relaunch a number of their franchises, from Metal Gear to Silent Hill and, yes, Castlevania. Reportedly a restructuring within the company's games division ed to the company finding renewed focus for their video game franchises, and the company is now willing to farm development out to third parties. Castlevania will, supposedly, see a "re-imagining" so... take that as you will. And, of course, take all of this with even more salt until we heat something official from Konami.
And in other related new, Square Enix also had its own surprise release in the form of ActRaiser Renaissance. An HD remaster of the original SNES game, this new edition looks ... well, honestly it fails to impress. That said, it is nice to see the company revisiting the franchise -- maybe this spells more (and better) ActRaiser in the future? We'll have to see.
Along with that review we also have new addition for the Red Riding Hood, a YA movie that really should have been a proper horror film instead. It's fine, but... well, not much better than fine.
And, finally, I'm working on getting everything for the anime updates once more. That meant finally getting the Chronology entry updated for 1477 AD: Castlevania Seasons 3 & 4. Considering these two seasons happen within six weeks of each other it made the most sense to list their complete history in a single article. It's very long but it gets the job done nicely. I've also added updates to the Bio for Lenore. Many more bios updates will follow as we have a lot of characters, old and new, to track.
September 8, 2021
So it's been a little bit since I last updated. Partly that's because I hit a bit of a wall, as sometimes happens, and I just needed a recharge. But there's also something pretty big brewing for this site and while I can't talk about it just yet it will mean some pretty big updates coming down the pike soon. In the meantime...
Now that I'm all caught up on the Netflix series (having binged through season four), we can start adding that content to this site. I'm gonna take it in stages so as not to burn myself out writing about it (the heavy coverage of the previous three seasons was a bit hard to force myself through during the writing process I will admit). Thus we're starting this week with the review of the fourth season of Castlevania, which I enjoyed even if, like third season, it was a tad uneven.
Following that, we stay on Netflix as the streamer just added a new vampire film to its stable: the German-American production Blood Red Sky. It's a solid, bloody little monster movie (which you can read about over in the Horror Cinema section) and well worth at least one watching to enjoy its monstrous delights.
July 25, 2021
A smaller update this week, really just as a check in. I've been busy the last week putting the finishing touches on the new look for Asteroid G and I'm rather proud of how it all worked out. Doing website redesigns is funny because you can just do as you like with the design in Photoshop but once it comes to coding what you've made a certain amour of reality about the design seeps in as the HTML and CSS fight against the "artistic vision". Still, that site is 99.5% the way I intended and I'm stoked.
On the subject of Asteroid G, I wrote an article over there this last week discussing Pixels and Polygons and their place in the video game world. My argument was, in essence, that the type of game a person is playing should dictate the art style instead of trying to fit art to form. This seems relevant here as I think on the Bloodstained games. There we have two main titles that are pixel-based retro platformers and one title (so far) that's a Metroidvania title that also uses polygons for its artwork. While I would argue that Ritual of the Night is a pretty enough game, doing the art style the way they did feels like it lost something intrinsic. The art, for all its gloss, doesn't have the pop I'd expect from the genre. Just a thought there.
Now, on to actual content for the update. We start off over in the Horror Cinema section for a review of the recently released Werewolves Within, a movie very loosely based on a VR-game (that, itself steals its basic concept from the card game Are You a Werewolf?). It was a fun and amusing horror/comedy, although I don't know if it was good enough to become a cult classic by any measure.
After that we move over to the Metroid section, an area of the site that I've promised I won't work on too heavily until the Castlevania stuff (the main meat of this site) is better fleshed out first. Still, there was some stuff I needed to add, and that begins with a review of the only 2D game in the series I hadn't yet covered, Metroid: Samus Returns. I respect what this game was going for even if it didn't thrill me personally. It's solid enough, but flawed I feel, and maybe not the best remake Metroid II should have (officially) had.
Meanwhile, on the Metroid front, I have also put up preview pages for Metroid Dread and Metroid Prime 4 so we can track their progress. And that finished out today. I know, not a lot of Castlevania, but we'll get to more of that now that I've binged the fourth season; articles based on that series will be up soon enough.
July 18, 2021
We get back into the anime this week as we update the site with information all about Season 3 of the Netflix series (season four to come soon). We start first with the Chronology update for the season, 1477 AD, which summarizes everything that happened over the course of the season's 10 episodes.
This then, naturally, leads into Character Bios for all the major players of the season. We have new entries added for the Captain, Cho, the Judge, Lenore, the Magician, the Minotaur, Miranda, Morana, Prior Sala, Striga, Sumi and Taka, The Visitor, and the Werewolf.
These join updated bios for Alucard, Dracula, Hector, Isaac, Legion, Lisa, the Merman, Saint Germain, Sypha, and Trevor.
Finally, I've added up a page that tracks all the cast members for the Netflix anime, both English voice actors as well as Japanese (where I could find it). I probably will eventually expand the page to also include voice actors from the rest of the series, but tracking down that information isn't as easy as I'd like, sadly.
Moving outside of the anime, we also have coverage of another recent release: Record of Lodoss War: Deedlit in Wonder Labyrinth. A game that very much belongs in the Related Games section, this title borrows pretty heavily from the Castlevania mold. It's very pretty, and very well made, if not entirely original about its construction.
July 4, 2021
While I work my way through the third season of Netflix's Castlevania we have more "traditional" update for this week. We have to start with news because, well, there's a lot. For starters, Limited Run Games has apparently gotten the rights to release a TurboDuo edition of Rondo of Blood. The exact preorder dates, and eventual release, aren't know, but we will eventually get that game, in its original form, in an edition released in the West, which will be huge for a lot of collectors.
There's also a rumor of a follow up Castlevania collection, this time for the Game Boy Advance titles. The Australia recently certified the (creatively named) Castlevania Advance Collection; while we have to acknowledge that's a thing that happened, it's also worth noting that game names get registered all the time (Square registered Chrono Break decades ago and that went nowhere), but if this collection does get released, it would presumably be a collection off the three GBA titles for the series (with, some fans hope, a few other portable titles that weren't in previous collections).
Also on the news front, we should all expect a sequel to Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night as that was basically announced by publications studio 505 Games. The exact details of it haven't been announced yet, and really all we have is a slide from a quarterly report from 505 and then a follow up comment from the studio saying, "yes, we're looking into it." So yeah, we probably will see another of the games in the next couple of years or so.
And finally, before we get to the content, we just wanted to make note that MGM is producing a new Blacula film. We've covered as much of Blacula as we can on this site (and he's a prominent villain over in our sister site, the webcomic CVRPG) so this is news that, while note directly Castlevania related, does feel like it falls under the purview of this site. We're also just super stoked for another Blacula film and want to talk about it everywhere.
Now, with actual content for the site: we start in the Horror Cinema section with reviews of the delightfully bonkers Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (which I utterly enjoyed) and the absolutely turgid Army of the Dead (which I did not).
We then move into the Literature area for a look at World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War. This is a book I really enjoyed when it first came out (all the way back in 2006). Now, though, I find there were things about it that held it back from being truly great.
And then there's the Chronology section which turned into a real can of worms this week. The updates for the pages themselves -- 2035 AD, 2036 AD, 2037 AD, and 12000 AD -- weren't so bad, but revising 2037 AD: Grimoire of Souls forced us to realize we needed five more villain bios, and those had to be written before this update could go live.
Thus we then turn to the Bios section for new page on Hermina, potential lead antagonist of Grimoire of Souls, along with bios for recurring bosses Dullahan, Eligor, Legion, and Wyvern.
Also, going through the various bios for details we could use to update the Chronology entries made me realize that some of the bios are also in pretty dire shape, so once the Chronology entires are all tackled I'm going to have to go through and revise the whole Bios section. It's necessary but, wow, that's going to be a lot of work.
June 13, 2021
Well, "regular updates" as in when I can get time to work on them. Still, here we are and we have more content. But first...
As expected, Netflix has announced that the next installment of their Castlevania anime will focus on the late 1700s, specifically Richter Belmont and Maria Renard, with an adventure set in France. The presumption is an adaptation of Rondo of Blood for the first season, with Symphony of the Night (and maybe the ancillary materials) to follow. Good news for us fans of the series as this series is basically the only new Castlevania content we've gotten in a while.
As for content updates, we have to start with all the Biography pages that have been revised for the main players of Castlevania: Season 2: The Bishop, The Elder, Trevor Belmont, Sypha Belmont, Alucard, Dracula, and Carmilla, Hector, and Isaac. They are then joined by new bios for Godbrand and Slogra and Gaibon.
This, along with adding Chronology information about Season 2 to the anime's 1476 AD pages, actually catches us up completely through all of Season 2. Just two seasons to go from here and the Anime section will be complete until the release of the next Netflix series. We're slowly getting there!
May 23, 2021
With the release of the fourth (and so far final) season of the Castlevania Netflix anime, we're now in a place to add another new section to the menu: Netflix Anime. This section, like many of the other subsections of the site, compiles together all the articles we've written about the anime into one convenient location for ease of reading. If you want to know anything (that we have) about the anime, this is the place to go.
Along with that we have a slew of new content related to the series that we've launched. We're going through and re-watching all the seasons, one by one, of the show so we can flesh out the content of site to go in-depth on everything in the series. This starts with Chronology pages for the first season of the show: 1455 AD, 1475 AD, 1476 AD. Note that this last page will get even longer as information from the second season is added to it later (since both seasons more or less take place during the same year)
Of course, we have Biography pages for the main players that weren't already covered on the site: The Bishop and The Elder. This goes along with bio updates for: Trevor Belmont, Sypha Belmont, Alucard, Dracula, and Lisa.
Expect regular updates for the next little while as we continue work fleshing out each season until the new Anime section is as complete as it can be.
May 15, 2021
I held off on reporting on this before now because it was hard to know where the news was going to go. Recently a demo (from the 1999 E3 showcase) of the Castlevania: Resurrection demo shown off. Some lucky guy had gotten ahold of the game and showed some (rather crappy) footage of it in action, all so they could then get buzz going and sell the demo on EBay. At the time it was assumed that someone else would buy it, put it in their collection, and then never let it see the light of day again, but thankfully that wasn't the case. Instead, game preservationist Comby Laurent was given access to the demo and published the working game Online. As such, we're updated our article on Castlevania: Resurrection with info on the demo (and the article even has a link to the game so you can play it for yourself on a proper emulator).
Netflix officially released the fourth and final season of Castlevania. We'll, naturally, save judgment on the season until after we've watched it, but the trailer does seem incredibly action packed. Whether this is truly the final season of the show, or if it gets picked up and moved to a new era of the series (as the rumor mill is suggestion), it looks like the era of Trevor Belmont (and Co.) is going out on a high note (but, again, a full review will be posted once the season comes out later this year).
And, finally, those of us that like to collect physical copies of the games (and are less thrilled by Konami's recent push to do everything digital) are all probably quite happy to learn about the release of a physical edition of the Castlevania Anniversary Collection from Limited Run Games. I, for one, have already placed my pre-order for that collection the second it is available.
Now, onto updates for the site. We begin, as has been the pattern, with the Chronology as we have updates for 1897 AD: Bram Stoker's Dracula, 1917 AD: Castlevania Bloodlines, 1944 AD: Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin, and 1999 AD: Dracula's Final Defeat. There's just the "future" of the main series, and then Lords of Shadow left to update.
Meanwhile, and this is why this update took a while to complete: fleshing out the coverage for Bram Stoker's Dracula also caused us to add in bios for every major character in that novel: Jonathan Harker, Arthur Holmwood, Mina Murray, R.M. Renfield, John Seward, the Vampire Brides, Abraham Van Helsing, and Lucy Westenra. This also spawned some additional updates for Mina Hakuba, Quincey Morris, and then other Lucy Westenra from the game series.
Yeah, a lot of new and updated content this time around. It was necessary, though, as the second we elected to cover Bram Stoker's Dracula on this site we opened a floodgate that eventually had to get taken care of. Besides, it's really Konami's fault for tying the book into the game series.
April 26, 2021
Bit of news this week: Konami is reviving one of its series, although not Castlevania, and probably not one you were expecting either: Getsa Fuma Den is getting an official sequel, all these years later. Not a ton is known yet about the full game -- it's only been out in early beta on Steam for a little while -- but it doesn't look to be a loving rendered game combining 2D platforming with classical Japanese art. Hard to say what all will be in the final game (right now it's all the sidescrolling, 2D perspective without the rest of the weird flourishes we saw in the original title), but as soon a we know more I'll make sure to put up a proper preview. It is connected to the main Castlevania series, thanks to Harmony of Despair, so it'll get the full ICVD treatment.
And then Netflix came out with their own news: The fourth season of the Castlevania anime will debut May 13, 2021. It will also, however, be the last season... at least with this cast of characters. Although they were mum on their exact future plans, the broadcaster is still very interested in continuing their shows based on the franchise. The story of Trevor and his ilk will be over as the plan is to focus on an "entirely new cast of characters", but it sounds like this won't be the last we see of Castlevania on the network.
As for content for the site, we of course start with renovations to the Chronology section, with updates to the entries for 1810 AD, 1830 AD, 1844 AD, and 1852 AD.
Updating the entry on Castlevania 64 gave us reason to add in a Bio for Camilla Fernandez. And then, to round out the update, we have a Literature review for the second Markowski novel, Evil Dark, and a Related Games entry for the (yes, pornographic) title Midnight Castle Succubus (which is so much better than it has any right to be).
April 11, 2021
First off, sorry for the delay in updates. I hit a wall there for a bit and had to let my brain recharge. This happens with any project I work on where, eventually, I just have to take a few days or weeks and let everything gel in my head. But I'm back and we continue the work of fleshing this site out to be the best it can be.
Starting off, I don't tend to think of the Updates section as content that people pore over, so I haven't, in the past, spell-checked it. However, now that we have over six years of change-log on here, I felt like it was time to clean the darn thing up, so I've put them all through the ol' checker and now (most of) the typos should be fixed.
This week brings us updates for three mainline Chronology entries: 1748 AD, 1792 AD, and 1797 AD, catching us all the way up through the 1700s. The next century, the 1800s, is loaded with games, though, so instead of attempting to tackle that section as well, we also looked at the two Kid Dracula history entries, 1440 AD and 1441 AD, and the one entry from Getsu Fuma Den, Demon Age, Year 1.
I also took the time to go through the whole of the Metroid section and re-edit all those reviews as well. This was necessary as many of them were written to either (a) tuck into the Related Games section or, (b) written before we reviewed Metroid Prime and acted like we didn't have a review of that game posted. That's all fixed for: Metroid, Zero Mission, Metroid II: Return of Samus, AM2R, Super Metroid, Metroid Fusion, Metroid Prime, and Other M.
Finally, one bit of new content: a Literature review, adding a new book series to our collection: Hard Spell. It's a solid, if flawed, first entry in a series with potential to really grow (if only the series was longer than three books, sadly).
March 21, 2021
We continue through the Chronology section, getting through the whole of the 1600s. We do one last check in with Sonia (1666 AD), visit the under-appreciated Desmond (1670 AD), and then the whole of the Simon era (1691 AD, 1698 AD, and 1699 AD). The 1600s were packed, but it's only getting more stuffed from here.
Along with that, we had the need to add boss bios for monsters featured in those articles, so we've added on entries for Bats (Giant or otherwise), Frankenstein's Creature (with notes on the mad doctor and the Mechanical Monstrosity), and Medusa (along with her two gorgon sisters). This actually finishes out all the bosses from the first game in the series, which is a nice milestone to reach. These are also three of the longest bios we've had to write for this site, so enjoy all the new content!
March 14, 2021
While we're going through and revising all the content on the site, section by section, I felt it was good to take a moment to show just how much this site has grown. When I took the old version of ICVD down back in 2015 (a site that hadn't, at that point, been updated in three years), it had 311 articles on it (I just counted as I still have the backup). The current site is at over 500 articles, with more getting added every week. Even with the revisions we're doing, the site is still growing as well with the goal, by the end of this year, to have the site over twice as large as it was before the "ReBirth" initiative started in 2015. That's pretty awesome!
As noted above, since we went through and revised all the main articles for the Series section, it made us realize that other content on the site could use that same refocused eye. As such, we're moving on the next natural section of the site: Chronology. We're going right down the timeline for this section, and we start off with Leon's era (1094 AD), Sonia's era (1450 AD), Trevor's era (1476 AD and 1479 AD), and Christopher's era (1576 AD and 1591 AD). We will, of course, continue through this section until it's all fixed up as well.
While we've been going through and revising the Chronology pages, it's also provided an opportunity to hit some of the bios for creatures that haven't yet been covered on the site (as they get referenced in those timeline entries). The first of those is a bio for the Cyclops, the giant that first appeared guarding Sypha all the way back in Castlevania III.
Over in the Related Games we have a new entry for Cadash, an arcade Metroidvania title with more than a little similarity to Castlevania. It's a fun enough game, but a bit shallow to the point where it's obvious why this game didn't catch the world on fire.
Finally, one more Literature entry, the sixth book in the "Vampire Files", Blood on the Water. This book is another change of pace for the series, and also the conclusion of the second trilogy of books. After this novel, it would be another six years before the series would see a new entry.
March 7, 2021
We finish up our revamp of the Series section by tackling the last of the titles to come out after IGA's departure from Konami: Lords of Shadow, Mirror of Fate, and Lords of Shadow 2. Plus, we cleaned up the articles on the canceled games, Castlevania (2008) and Castlevania: Grimoire of Souls, and we revamped our side-articles about Metroidvania, 2.5D Games, and Video Game Generations.
Meanwhile, we've also added an article about the more recent gambling machines, which we're filling under Castlevania: Labyrinth Series Games. These four games are all built on the same platform and, from everything we can find, are all basically interchangeable, aside from some external artwork. Sadly there's just not that much known about the titles; we've documented everything we can find out about them but these seem like rarities even for Konami pachislot games, and the Internet collectively doesn't care much about the titles.
With this, we've finished the Series section for now, up until we've gone through and written all about the various tangentially related games Konami has produced. At that point I'll likely go back over this section once more to verify everything, and then it'll probably be locked and complete moving forward. Quite a little accomplishment there.
Tracking through the Fanworks section, we add in Castlevania: Chorus of Mysteries, another hack of the original Castlevania. I had to admit, I wasn't impressed by this hack; it did some things I liked, but over all felt like a bit of a muddled mess. Having a better look is Castlevania: Orchestra of Despair, a graphical update (with other minor changes) that does a better job of adding spit and polish to the base NES game.
Then over in the Literature section, we have Dracula, Motherf**ker, a Blaxploitation monster comic that really suits the period with its art and style. It's a pretty decent comic, the only issue being I wish there was much more of it, which I guess is a good thing.
February 28, 2021
For our revamp of the Series section, we're reaching the end of the main series. This week we're covering the DS era (and the few titles to come out after), with updated coverage of Dawn of Sorrow, Curse of Darkness, Portrait of Ruin, Order of Shadows, Order of Ecclesia, Judgment, The Arcade, and Harmony of Despair. After this we're just down to the Lords of Shadow games and a few oddities.
While I was working on the series page I was inspired to add another new article to that section, writing up a Postmortem for the Castlevania series. Considering Konami has little interest in putting out a new, full-fledged game in the series on console or hand-held systems, it felt like we should give an overview of just why, trying to figure out the reasoning behind that decision (as confounding as it might seem to Castlevania fans.
Of course we continue to expand out the Literature section, and this week sees a review for the fifth "Vampire Files" novel, Fire in the Blood. The series is still a fun read, but this book dragged a bit more than the previous, excellent tome. Hopefully the series picks back up this one needed a bit of spice to be worthy of the series.
And finally, we have another rom-hack to add to the Fanworks area: Castlevania: The Holy Relics. This game is a complete rework of the original Castlevania with expanded features, new art and music, and plenty of other additions. I'm a big fan of this game and if you're going to play any NES hacks of the series, this should absolutely be on your list.
February 21, 2021
Although this site is generally focused for a U.S. audience (as that's where all the editors live), we have been expanding our coverage to include details from other regions. As we've been research and updating content we have been adding on more dates and other titles to expand the scope and information to best reflect the worldwide perspective of the series. That includes a new page on the site, the Castlevania Series Timeline of Releases, freshly added to the site this week. Now if you're looking to find out when a game was released, this page will provide the most comprehensive dates (we could find) for every entry in the series (Kid Dracula and Gambling Machines included).
Speaking of going over the series, we do have further entries for that section as we renovate all the articles within. This week adds updated takes on Castlevania: Circle of the Moon, Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance, Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow, Castlevania: Lament of Innocence, along with looks at Demon Castle Special: I'm Kid Dracula and Kid Dracula.
Meanwhile, over in the Literature we get back to the "Vampire Files" with the fourth book in the series, Art in the Blood, which I thoroughly enjoyed. Then, in Horror Cinema, we also have a review of Vampires, which I thoroughly hated. So, but of a mixed-bag there.
February 14, 2021
First, a bit of news. It was recently discovered that there's a bonus mode in Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night's Classic Mode. By entering the Konami Code on that mode's title screen you can unlock "1986 Mode" which makes the game even harder (and more old school). With the discovery of this mode, we've updated the Classic Mode review to include this information.
Naturally, we're continuing our refresh of the Series section. This week we tackle Konami's early forays into 3D consoles, from the sublime (but not initially successful) Castlevania: Symphony of the Night (and its Saturn port), to the less beloved Nintendo 64 Castlevania (and it's "prequel" Legacy of Darkness), and the generally loathed Castlevania: Legends. Plus Castlevania Resurrection and Castlevania Puzzle: Encore of the Night, just to cover all the related materials.
From there we then travel into the Fanworks for yet another Aria hack: Castlevania: Dawn of Symphony (Alucard SOTN Hack). As the title says, this adds in Alucard to the game, although it really changes the whole story and lets the Symphony version of Alucard rampage through the game as if he were Soma Cruz. It's also really stupid hard, though, so likely isn't for everyone.
Finally, we revisit Strahd over in the Literature for P.N. Elrod's second "Ravenloft" book, I, Strahd: The War Against Azalin. I liked this novel more than the first (which I also rather enjoyed), but I have to admit it has many of the same weaknesses as the first book (especially an unwillingness to push the character beyond his campaign setting bounds).
February 4, 2021
As with last week, we're continuing to go through all the Series pages and update them with as much new research information as I could find. This week finds us traveling through the 16-bit era, tackling: Super Castlevania IV, Castlevania X68k, Dracula X: Rondo of Blood, Dracula XX, Bloodlines, and, as a bonus, The Bloodletting, The Dracula X Chronicles, and The Adventure ReBirth. And there's still more to come...
Meanwhile, we have a few different bits of media to cover as well. In the Horror Cinema section we have a review of the third, and final, Toho vampire flick, Evil of Dracula, which was a decent film and helped to end the Toho trilogy on a bit of a nice finale. And then, over in Literature we take on P.N. Elrod's Ravenloft tale, I, Strahd: Memoirs of a Vampire, a novel I loved back in the day but found somewhat lacking when I went back and re-read it recently.
Finally, over in Fanworks, we tackle another hack with the Castlevania: Circle of the Moon - Card Mode by Dev Anj. I like the idea behind this mod, placing the DSS cards in easier to get to places around the castle (rather than hidden as drops on enemies), but I personally would have liked to have seen a little more done in the hack with the cards to really showcase them. But maybe that's just me.
January 28, 2021
I've been meaning to go back over the Series and update the information in there. As the oldest section of the ReBirth site it's also the part that needed the most work, in no small part because as the site has grown, and I've been working on Asteroid G, my editorial style has continued to change. Plus, as I've been researching information for all the sections of this site I've just picked up a lot more information about the series -- not just tangential stories from fans, but more hard facts from reports within and without Konami itself.
As such I'm going through and editing these articles to bring in line with where I'd actually like to have them. I have updates so far for all the games through the NES era: Castlevania, Vampire Killer, Castlevania II: Simon's Quest, Haunted Castle, The Castlevania Adventure, Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse, and Castlevania II: Belmont's Revenge. That's a lot, and there's still plenty more to come.
That also led me, during my research, to find out about the connection between Castlevania II and a little known (at least on Western shores) exploration-platformer: The Maze of Galious: Knightmare II. We now have information about that game up in the Related Games area so you can learn all about it.
Next up, we continue our trawl through the P.N. Elrod "Vampire Files" series with books two and three: Lifeblood and Bloodcircle. Although I wasn't entirely impressed with Lifeblood -- I like the lead hero but the novel is way too stuck in the past -- Bloodcircle gives us a fitting conclusion to this first trilogy with promise for the future.
Finally, heading into the Horror Cinema section, we have the another zombie remake, Day of the Dead: Bloodline. This one isn't as offensively bad as the previous remake, but it's still not a great movie. Just competent enough that you'll wish it'd had better talent in the cast (and behind the camera) to actually make something better from the material. Kinda sad, really. Worse, I paired this with Toho's second vampire film, Lake of Dracula, and that was a tragic mistake. That movie is really bad as well.
January 21, 2021
We start this week with news of Castlevania: Moonlight Rhapsody. Some new game play for the currently China-only title has leaked out, and what it shows of the game isn't that great. It's pretty enough, for what it is (although it's currently art style has some fans in a tizzy), but the game play looks incredibly bland, plus the footage makes the game look pretty buggy. We hope we're wrong and the game is progressing better than this, but right now this doesn't look great for our favorite series.
We move on, then, to better games and their information. I'm continuing to pull through all the added content for Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night, and this is leading to a bunch of new articles for that section of the site. Today brings reviews of Boss Revenge Mode + Bloodless (Boss Revenge is slight but Bloodless is a lot of fun) and Classic Mode + Kingdom Crossover (Classic Mode is great, the Kingdom crossover can be ignored entirely). There's still more to do there, such as updating all the bios currently in the section and then adding boss bios (since we now have a few playable bosses), and those should come in the next update or two.
Meanwhile, since we just mentioned the crossover content, I finally have a review together for Kingdom: Two Crowns - Dead Lands. This game, well, isn't really my cup of tea. I appreciate what it's going for, but the main game gets really punishing quite quickly, while the game play loop fails to keep pace. I like what it tries for, but even now, in its third edition, it feels like it could use some serious thought to improve the overall experience. But it is pretty, and the added Bloodstained graphics look nice in the context.
January 15, 2021
After a bit of a break to relax and enjoy the new year, we're back to update ICVD once again at (hopefully) our usual, steady clip. Last year went great, with (near) weekly updates to the site that really helped to flesh out all the sections. We're going to try and maintain that again this year, see if we can finish out some of the sections that aren't quite complete so that we can turn our attention to all new content come 2022. That's the goal, anyway.
To kick things off we begin in the oft-neglected Literature section with coverage of the first book in P.N. Elrod's "Vampire Files" series, Bloodlist. I enjoyed this novel well enough, it's a good first book in a series, and it's good to have another author I can regularly read (since I'm damn picky about my books).
Of note, I really wanted to have a review of Mary Shelly's Frankenstein up in the Literature section but, ugh, that book is a real slog. One day I might return to it to try again, but that day won't be any time soon.
Meanwhile, over in Horror Cinema, we have coverage of the awful 2005 Day of the Dead remake. Honestly, awful doesn't even begin to cover it as this movie is absolutely abysmal. It makes me appreciate Snyder's Dawn of the Dead, and that's saying something.
Finally, with the release of Classic Mode for Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night, we're going to be going through and reviewing each of the major additions to the game (working our way up to that Classic Mode). We begin that processed by looking at the first big expansion: Randomizer Mode + Zangetsu. The additional of a section playable character is nice, but Zangetsu is like so many bonus character in the classic Castlevania series, novel for a short time but lacking in depth. The Randomizer, meanwhile, is a great feature to add to the main game, although I do wish it went just a little further to make for a truly new adventure.
And with that, I just want to say thank you to everyone for continuing to read The Inverted Dungeon and we'll return soon with more content. Here's to a great 2021!