Inverted Dungeon Updates

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!