Castlevania: Symphony of the Night
Five years earlier (as recounted in the prologue of this game, Castlevania: Symphony of the Night), Richter Belmont, with the assistance of young Maria Renard, defeated the dark prince, Dracula. And yet, despite sending the vampire to his grave, the lands of Romania sat uneasy. Things had been quiet, but a sense of impending dread hung over the land, as if Dracula's curse were still present.
And then, one day, Richter went missing. Soon after, Dracula's castle appeared on the high cliffs of the Borgo Pass, its natural resting place whenever the vampire was back from the dead. Thinking the two events might have been connected, Maria Renard went to investigate the castle and see what was going on. Her quest took he throughout the castle, but on her own she was unable to find any trace of her adopted brother, Richter. An evil pall hung in the air, but Maria was no closer to finding the answers she was looking for.
Another hero, though, appeared at the castle as if summoned. Alucard, Dracula's son who had turned against his father centuries earlier and become a sworn protector of the humans, had felt a grave disturbance in the balance of good and evil. This imbalance had woken from his self-imposed slumber and Alucard suspected there was only one think that could have caused this terrible curse: Dracula's castle, without a hero to destroy it. Taking matters into his own hands, Alucard ventured to the castle to find out if his father had returned (and, if that were the case, to kill him again).
Inside the castle, Alucard first encountered the Grim Reaper who warned the vampire (technical a dhampir, if we want to split hairs) not to go into the castle and get in the way of his father's resurrection. Alucard, though, ignored the warnings, even after Death stripped him all of his equipment, leaving the vampire weakened and vulnerable to the dangers of the castle. Within the castle he ran across Maria, there on her own quest, and soon the two started plotting together to try and figure out the mysteries of the castle.
The greatest shock was yet to come, though, as soon enough Alucard met with Richter. Instead of finding the hero at the castle on his own quest to defeat Dracula, though, the vampire hunter declared himself to be the lord of the castle. Was Richter working for Dracula? Knowing the Belmont clan as he did, Alucard had his doubts, but he had to keep digging to find out what as going on. Together, with Maria's help, Alucard eventually realized that Richter was being mind controlled, and it was all a plot by the dark priest, Shaft, in an attempt to get the heroes out of the way and ensure Dracula's full resurrection. No one had counted on Alucard showing up at the castle, though.
After defeating the specter controlling Richter and freeing the demon hunter of the curse, Alucard sent Richter and Maria home so they'd be safe. Alucard then ventured deeper into the castle, discovering a hidden, Inverted Castle floating above the main fortress. This adobe of evil was an even more challenging climb for Alucard, but as he'd been exploring he'd been finding treasures and relics that aided him, making his exploration of this duplicate castle easier and more manageable.
As the vampire's son proceeded through the castle, he collected relics, parts of his father's body that had once been collected by Simon Belmont almost a century earlier. These five powerful relics were guarded by the same bosses that once protected Dracula -- the Giant Bat, Medusa, the Mummy, Frankenstein's Creature, and Death. They granted Alucard access to the final chamber of the castle where two more foes awaited him: Shaft and, of course, Dracula.
Shaft died first as at this point Alucard was already very powerful and Shaft was simply no match. This then revealed Dracula, the Dark Prince. Facing off with his father, Alucard demanded to know why Dracula wanted to destroy the humans and rule the world. Dracula blamed the humans for the death of his wife, Lisa (yes, also the mother of Alucard), and was looking for "justified" revenge. Alucard, though, argued for the humans, declaring that his mother would not have wanted humanity to be wiped away. These words, though, fell on deaf ears as Dracula was primed for a fight.
The two vampires, father and son, raged against each other, but as always happens, the villain was no match for the hero. When Alucard bested Dracula, the two shared one last moment lamenting the loss of Lisa, with Alucard commented that Dracula had lost his soul when he lost the ability to love (and was unable to forgive the humans). Dracula begged for his dead wife's forgiveness as he disappeared into the void.
Standing outside the castle, Alucard declared to Richter and Maria that he had to leave; he had to go back to sleep to keep his father's evil bloodline off the Earth. After Alucard left, unable to be dissuaded by the other heroes, Richter and Maria shared a small moment before Maria went off in pursuit of Alucard, feeling love for the tortured vampire from the few moments they shared together in the castle. Their fate is unknown.
Well, when we say their fate was not known, that's not entirely true. A Japan-only radio drama produced by Konami, Akumajo Dracula X: Tsuioku no Yasoukyoku (loosely translated as Castlevania: Nocturne of Recollection), follows Maria and Alucard as they set up shop and live in the town of Aljiba together. While we at the Inverted Dungeon do not understand the Japanese language, and are thus unable to properly discuss the relative merits of the actual radio drama, what we have read about the story lead us to believe that the story was kind of confused and and the whole affair really wasn't all that great.
While the radio drama was created by Konami, it never saw a release outside of Japan. It also doesn't show up on most timelines for the original series. It's place in continuity is thus nebulous, but we can fairly assume it's not an official part of cannon. Still, if you 'ship these two crazy kids, maybe look and see if you can find a copy of the audio drama floating around on the web (and, if you don't know it already, learn the Japanese language so you can listen to it properly).
Symphony of the Night was ported to the Sega Saturn in Japan. It sported two extra areas for the heroes to explore, but neither of the new areas were all that impressive, nor was the port all that good. It did, however, give Maria a playable role in the game. Maria only acted as a talking head in the PlayStation release, but this was her first starring role, in any capacity, since Castlevania Dracula X: Rondo of Blood.
The game was also later also included in Castlevania: The Dracula X Chronicles on the PlayStation Portable. While Richter is the only bonus character playable in the original PlayStation release of the game, this version includes the playable Maria mode, although she has a different move set and collection of attacks than she did in her Saturn incarnation. This version also lacks the two bonus areas included in the Saturn release but, on the whole, that's not really a huge loss.