Excerpt from "Traveling the Beautiful Borgo Pass"
It has been said that one can never find a truer peace that when surrounded by the natural beauty of the forest. When out among the trees, enjoying the hush of natural, the whispering of leaves among the branches, and evil giggling of dryads in and around the trunks, once can find true happiness and contentment. Many a Romanian philosopher has gone to the forests surrounding Castle Dracula to find the truest meaning of life, and clearly they found it because they never returned to their old lives (or were ever seen again).
I can be daunting to find your way through the forests along the Borgo Pass, it is true. There are no natural pathways, just the spaces between the trees that have been trampled down by trolls and bugbears and the other majestic fauna of the land. But that's part of it's charm, a quaint and untouched realm that has seen little of man. That's who you know it has true serenity: if man doesn't set foot there often then the land remains undisturbed. Of course, don't listen as the villagers try to warn you off. What do they know?
About the Mad Forest:
Forests have been a main motif of the Castlevania series since the early days of the franchise. Oft repeated -- who doesn't find a cold and bleak forest scary? -- forests return time and again, an easy way to mark and external area of a game without losing that Gothic feel. That's likely why so many areas in Castlevania II: Simon's Quest had forests. Aljiba Woods, Denis Woods, Jova Woods, Sadam Woods, and Veros Woods, each carried the design style of trees (with mountains in the distance), and the common enemies of the Romanian overworld.
The first full forest stage came one game later in The Castlevania Adventure. The first stage of this game opened in the forests along the cliffs that lead to Castle Dracula. The climb up the cliffs was dotted with enemies, and at two tiers the trees returned before the stage gave way to a hill-dotted graveyard that lead to the fight with Gobaz, the armored monster in league with the forces of evil.
The Forest of Darkness came next, appearing one game later in Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse as the third block of the game. This stage featured a few sections that might not be seen depending on the path the player took through the game. If they went to the Clock Tower (Block 2), the opening section of the stage would be skipped, dropping the hero(es) into the forest section. This long section came after 03-00 (an area dotted with spike traps), and then the forest would lead into a split path, either leading the hero(es) out early to the marsh, or down lower into the level for a fight against the Cyclops (to free heroine Sypha Belnades).
After that it was another quick jump over to Super Castlevania IV for the Transylvania Wilds (Stage 2 of the game). This long stage featured multiple biomes, from an opening forest section (populated with spiders and zombies) down into a cliff-side ravine, then up through a bog to a boss fight against Medusa all before heading down an aqueduct to exit the stage.
Castlevania Dracula X: Rondo of Blood featured two different forests in its adventure. The first came right at the start with high-speed wagon ride through the forests outside the castle as hero Richter Belmont had his first encounter with Death before the carriage came to a sudden halt right outside the castle.
This forest was then followed by the Fortress of the Water Demon (Stage 4'). Here the upper path of the stage would lead from an opening riverside climb through to a mountainous ravine before passing through a short forest all leading up to a battle against the headless knight Dullahan.
Another forest would show up later in the final Game Boy adventure, Castlevania: Legends. The opening stage of the game saw heroine Sonia Belmont traversing through a dying forest dotted by small graveyards before heading into a final climb. At the end of the stage was the battle against the beastly Creatures Bat.
Appearing in both Castlevania for the Nintendo 64 as well as it's prequel / director's cut Castlevania: Legacy of Darkness, the Forest of Silence acted as the opening act for most adventures of the games. This stage found the various heroes traversing wide open, tree-lined areas before finding a ravine running through the stage. Switches had to be flipped to push through the stage to its final areas. Both the opening section of the stage, and it's final area, found the heroes battling the Giant Skeleton, a massive beast with mighty attacks that trained the heroes in combat in this early portion of the game.
After the Nintendo 64 adventures the games moved their action largely within the confines of Castle Dracula itself. Those times where the heroes ventured out into forests it was usually as part of an external adventure, or a journey that didn't even take place at Castle Dracula at all. Such was the case with Castlevania: Lament of Innocence, a game that took place at Bernhard Castle. The opening area (which also had a shop) led hero Leon Belmont into the castle and also served as part of the hub of the game.
Hero Hector explored the Forest of Jigramunt in Castlevania: Curse of Darkness. This area, a large and winding passage of forests and mountains, could lead to the Tower of Evermore at one exit and the Caverns of Jigramunt at another. It's serves as a kind of transitional hub between these locations as well as Cordova Town and the Abandoned Castle.
The paintings in Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin provided two different forested sections to explore. The first, Forest of Doom, featured an old abandoned school in amongst a dark wooded area. The passage through the old buildings would lead back out into the woods, down into caverns, and finally into a boss fight against the menacing fish-monster Dagon. Meanwhile this paintings reflection, the Dark Academy, provided an even nastier main school building out in the woods, this time with long looping passages that eventually led to a fight against the reanimated Creature.
Similarly, two forested areas appeared in the next DS title, Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia. Each of these forests, Ruvas Forest and the Misty Forest Road, acted as transitional passageways towards new areas, without boss fights or key items of their own.
And again, in Castlevania: Lords of Shadow, each of that games forest's are just a small portion of the larger journey. In the opening chapter of the game, after following through the hunting path (a short, tree-lined section out of the Besieged Town), hero Gabriel Belmont had to cross the dead bog to get to Pan's Temple. Here he had to traverse the beautiful, tree filled domain, and face the trial of Pan, to continue on his quest. Much later, in the fifth chapter, Gabriel found himself in the Veros Woods which led not to Veros by the village of Wygol. This forested path was filled with many of the familiar creatures of the adventure, namely the all too frequent goblins and trolls.
The opening stage, forest section, in The Castlevania Adventure
The Forest of Darkness in Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse
The Transylvanian Wilds, forest section, in Super Castlevania IV
The Opening Forest in Castlevania Dracula X: Rondo of Blood
The Fortress of the Water Demon, forest section, in Castlevania Dracula X: Rondo of Blood
The opening stage, dead forest, in Castlevania: Legends