Beingthehero's 5 of the Most Memorable Tunes from Castlevania, and 5 of the Least Memorable
hose that have composed for Castlevania were and still are no strangers to variety; from heavy metal to mellow jazz, the Castlevania games have boasted a range of songs since its humble FDS beginnings. Through the power of music alone, the accompanying background music made the environments come alive- the mood of a waterlogged Atlantean Temple; a dreary forest leading up to a Demon Castle; the rotating of gears and screeching of chains as one ascends a forbidden clock tower.
Yet along with these unforgettable melodies comes others that really adds a layer of grime to otherwise gleaming soundtracks. From boorishly dull, to just being headache-inducing repetitive, this series has also crapped out some unforgiving songs in it's lifetime.
Here's a list of 5 tracks that had gamers humming their themes long after they've shut off the console. Likewise, I've also listed 5 that should be only be heard with a pair of handy earmuffs nearby.
5) The Gears Go Awry (Portrait of Ruin): It seems, most of the time, the Clocktower-themed levels of the Castlevania games tend to have some of the catchiest BGM of their respective games, and Portrait of Ruin is no exception. Composed by Yuzo Koshiro of Actraiser fame, this track starts off with sinister organs, building up to a climax that sounds off with a main melody that may remind one of The Phantom of the Opera, capturing elegance and adventure woven with a hint of gothic mystery. This is definitely an artful piece, indeed.
4) The Sunken City (Super Castlevania IV): While Super Castlevania IV showcased some of the darker music of the series, The Sunken City was a contrast in that it was…jazzy. It wasn't upbeat, and it wasn't out of place… the way it fit the area was amazing. The music itself nearly created the level itself…the background's purplish sky and shattered columns can almost be heard within the very notes of the song itself…this is very unique that a level is carried by its accompanying theme.
3) Requiem (Castlevania II: Simon's Quest): Mournful yet triumphant sums A Requiem up nicely. As CVII's ending theme, you can feel the finality of the post-Simon and Dracula confrontation, how that the wrongs of Transylvania have finally been healed. It's tragic and yet heroic. For an 8-bit era ending theme, the tragedy and heroic emotion blended into it shows that it was years ahead of its peers.
2) Theme of Simon Belmont (Super Castlevania IV): Gothic, dark, and yet adventurous; Theme of Simon Belmont is this mix that sums of the Castlevania series itself as much as it characterizes the titular Belmont. Staring off with gloomy organs, the pace quickens to a more upbeat, epic tone. Indeed, the climax cultivating in organs is a pleasant contrast, which then follows up with a brief, brooding melody that quickly resumes the normal flow once more. Indeed, this was a great way to start of such a game; it's adventurous yet also foreshadows the dreary landscape and demonic evil ahead. Following versions have made it more upbeat, if almost angelic (Bloodlines, CV for the X68000), epic (Chronicles), and almost jazzy (Portrait of Ruin.)
1) The Tragic Prince (Symphony of the Night): Starting off with an grand, orchestrated intro that almost tells of a great hero, it quickly changes course to a dark metal track that's both fast-paced yet still melancholy; it's almost operatic in its setup. The title and the music itself complement each other, an odd case where the music speaks of a story without words. Another clock tower track, the feeling itself is unparalleled. The level it accents also feels like it was made for the music rather than vice-versa; the dusty red sky swirling over the moon, and the ruined Clock Tower itself both wondrously fit with the grim melody. Other tracks in this setting have a beat that reminds one of a cog turning, yet The Tragic Prince's setup doesn't do this at all…the music itself gives an almost surreal effect that suits the setting even better. This is, by far, a song that in its execution goes beyond that of simple video game music; indeed, there are few “real” rock and metal songs that capture such feeling, such unusual beauty, all without words.
5) Tower of Gears (Castlevania ~X68000~): The X68000 version of Castlevania had several great new tracks, like the rockin' Thrashard in the Cave, the pop-influenced Moon Fight, the sinister Etude for the Killer…and then you have Tower of Gears. Like its craptastic brethren, it suffers from monotony. It's the same notes repeating over and over and over, with every once in a while and higher pitched version playing over the same thing. If it wasn't for this, I'd say the clock towers get the best deal all the time in their music. It sounds like what you'd expect of typical background music: pure filler. This isn't the worst track of the series, but it's only bearable at best.
4) Pressure (Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse): Literally the same few notes repeating. It's fast paced, so I imagine that motivates the player to escape their current predicament, but I found myself rushing to stop hearing the track. It's so…high pitched, tinkling, and repetitive…little imagination went into it.
3) Luminous Caverns (Harmony of Dissonance): Repetition at its worst. Harmony of Dissonance had its share of beautiful music; Successor of Fate, Offense and Defense, Chapel of Dissonance…and some of it was forgettable. Luminous Caverns was neither; it was boring, it was noisy, and it, too, followed a simple, ever repeating pattern that was unforgivable. There were no overtones of a cave; rather, I was reminded of an angry mosquito. This is easily the dullest track of the Castleroids, but it's so high-pitched you're forced to deal with it.
2) Dracula's Castle (Curse of Darkness): There's a track for Symphony of the Night titled Dracula's Castle. I debated whether or not it deserved a place on The Most Memorable. I still feel it should be. For those Castlevania fans who've been in a coma since '96, Dracula's Castle is a sort of symphonic-rock song. The awe-inducing synths, the wind in the intro, the organ at its finale…all were beautifully executed; I think of this track when I think of SotN. Then you have a track from Curse of Darkness that's also titled Dracula's Castle. Perhaps if it wasn't the only background music that played in that game's final level, I may have considered it to be alright. But it loops at the exact wrong moment. Starting out elegantly and with subtle overtones of ruined elegance, the intro gives way to electric guitars. Great, hardcore and motivating, you may think. But alas…it's not. It's monotonous to the point where you'll mute the television by the time you're on the second floor. The constant THUMP…THUMP…THUMP THUMP THUMP lasts far too long and has practically no variety past this. This song doesn't remotely suggest anything of Castlevania. It is, sadly, one of the poorest tracks Michiru Yamane has done; it's surprising she's responsible for this and the SotN incarnation, too.
1) Portal to Dark Bravery (Dawn of Sorrow): Oh god. This has to be the very definition of the word “forced”. You know they were thinking “What would get a prepubescent boy pumped to fight spooooooky Death?” A song that bites ass, of course! Thus, you fight Death to a DUH-DUH-DUUUUUHHHH beat that may fit on Poke'mon, but not Castlevania. Dawn of Sorrow's soundtrack was marred by the all too obvious candy-coating to appeal to tweens…but much of it, like Pitch Black Intrusion, still came out pretty good.
Not this. This is too painfully corny, the practical definition of a Boss Theme- it tries to be intimidating, but comes off sounding like something you'd hear in a typical kids show when the nefarious villain screams his evil plot. The fact Konami had the 'nads to shove it into Portrait of Ruin made it even more painful. It blew the first time; the second time just highlights the faults even more.
So there you have it. I think I covered the good and the fugly thoroughly. Thankfully, although there are some pitiful tracks out there, what game hasn't had them? You'll always have a few bad apples; but when you listen to the greats of Castlevania, that nasty taste in your mouth will be washed away thoroughly.