It’s that time of the week again, everyone’s least favorite day of the week. Mondays, the true final boss of the week. Speaking of final bosses, this week’s article tackles one of the video game industry’s most long running antagonists who is truly as immortal as he claims, Dracula from Castlevania
For this feature, we won’t be talking about any specific iteration of Dracula but of the big man himself throughout as many iterations as I can recall in order to do him justice. The Castlevania series has gone on quite a long, long while and no character has shown up more times than the surname Belmont than Drac himself.
First off, a little history lesson. Dracula was based a fictional vampire off Bram Stoker’s Novel entitled Dracula. This Dracula in turn was based off a historical figure, Vlad III Tepes. Vlad was a Wallachian ruler so ruthless that he was famously known as “the impaler” for his penchant of impaling people he didn’t particularly like. As for our video game Dracula, He made his first debut all the way back in the original Castlevania all those years ago. Back then Dracula didn’t really have much character to him, but looking back on the games of the era, it really isn’t much to be expected. Later on as more games entered the series, our vampire had more and more of his character fleshed out.
Like his literary namesake, Dracula went down the deep end the moment he gave into despair and cursed God after first wife was murdered. Sure enough, a heart learns to move on and Dracula finds his second love, but also ends up losing her too. That kind of thing really can put someone in a sour mood, and Dracula is the type to hold a thousand year grudge against mankind. Such hatred for humanity is the reason for his repeated appearances in the Castlevania games, which makes him such a memorable boss.
Gameplay wise, Dracula has always been a boss that tested player skills. There has always been a recurring theme for his boss fights including him shooting the protagonist with a myriad of projectiles that must be dodged while he himself teleports around the battlefield. The very first Castlevania game had a very basic boss layout. Dracula shoots you with triple fireballs while he teleports around. In this game, he can only be harmed by a whip to the head. The premise of the battle is simple. Dodge the projectile while attempting to whip Dracula. Despite it’s simplicity, it’s a formula that stands the test of time. Dracula bossfights have always been a measure of skill and reaction time (unless you spam Hydro storm in the Rondo of Blood fight, and it’s recreated version in the beginning of Symphony of the Night. Shame on you) and as time goes on, more and more deadly attacks get included in dracula’s arsenal.
As a character, Dracula exudes an aura of class. His constant arrogance and boastful claims of always coming back are actually backed by the fact that no matter how many times the Belmont clan whip him dead, he always finds a way to come back. Sometimes it isn’t really him who’s the main antagonist of a game, but one thing that is absolutely sure is that whether it’s a plot to resurrect him or some other convoluted reason, the plot always finds it’s way leading up to our favorite vampire. As evil as he is, Dracula isn’t without his soft side. The only remnant he has of his previous love with his second wife is his half-vampire son. Adrian Farenheits Tepes, who after witnessing the evil his father commits, proceeds to call himself “Alucard” (which is Dracula spelled backward, yeah symbolic) and plans to put a stop to his father’s reign of terror. The dynamic between the two is one incredibly similar to that of Darth Vader’s and Luke’s. Alucard is hell bent on stopping his father, but Dracula still insists that they can rule the world together. It’s kinda sweet in it’s own little way.
Lastly, one of my favorite aspects of Dracula is just how hammy he can get. I’d expound on it more, but I believe that the best way to show this would be from a clip of his most famous speech from Symphony of the Night.
To sum it all up, Dracula is a boss whose character is so deeply ingrained into the Castlevania series that the two are literally inseparable. He’s a classic example of an old school Final boss with his larger than life character, challenging and memorable boss battles, and overall persistence. Dracula always finds a way to come back for the next game, so it’s all just a matter of time until we see ol’ Drac again.