More Consistent Chaos

Into the Tower


The creators of Super Castlevania IV were surely aiming to impress gamers with their off-the-wall stage design and their myriad of sprite tricks. One such memorable moment occurs within the castle's fourth stage, the game's finale, where Simon must tread down a Dhuron-guarded path, over a bat-infested collapsing bridge, and thus into the clock tower (which is usually the final leg of any hero's journey).


This design surely resonated on the creators of Akumajou Dracula X68000, who repeated this theme as part of their game's sixth stage. Simon will travel down the same initial path, this time guarded by the pesky bone scimitars, and then trek over a bridge that collapses in spurts while Medusa heads clutter the area and amplify the danger. However, rather than to a clock tower, this collapsing bridge leads into a tower of dolls, which then spills into a hall of mirrors (the clock tower, instead, precedes this stage). Though, the design therein remains mostly parallel, with this version of Simon battling the Mirror Creature where Super Castlevania IV's Simon would battle Slogra. It does make sense that the two games share such an instance, in the context that both are newer iterations of the original NES title.


That's not all: Some of Akumajou Dracula X68000's staff had a hand in creating Symphony of the Night, so it's no surprise that the instance is repeated here, too. Following Castlevania's original map design, Alucard will find himself in the castle's right half, at the outer wall that represents its end. From the outer wall's highest point, Alucard can exit into the same entry area (though, the vantage point inverted), which is this time bereft of guardians. Moving forward, Alucard will come to that same bridge, which will collapse only at specific points; otherwise, crowding the area are phantom skulls, the giant skull lords, and flail guards. And where does the bridge lead? Into the clock tower, of course. Now, while most games share the instance of a bridge leading into either the clock tower or the castle keep, it is in this select grouping that you can see clear influence on a given design.


All such instances were of course influenced by the starting point of Castlevania's final stage, which entailed a rather tattered, broken and phantom-bat-guarded bridge leading into the clock tower. In examining Akumajou Dracula X68000, its remake, we can see a double reference: The evolution of which--a collapsing bridge leading into a tower--and the status quo of a more stable yet damaged bridge (again guarded by phantom bats) leading directly into the keep.

Hall of Mirrors


Here we have an interesting instance of a recurring theme but no apparent structure by which to measure it. Though, we can easily see the congruities: In Akumajou Dracula X68000, Simon will exit the confines of stage six, the clock tower, and shortly thereafter find himself in a surprisingly animated hall of mirrors before battling an obvious boss creature; armored foes and the mirrors, themselves, will impede his progress. Within Rondo of Blood's seventh stage, Richter will exit the gear-filled area of the clock tower to find himself in the afore-chronicled sword-lord-filled hallway; before its pendulum room and the following boss habitat, Richter will come to a hall of mirrors where his progress will be impeded by armored foes and a minor enemy forecast by a twisted reflection.

Juste Belmont, too, encounters this phenomenon in the transient Sky Walkway, an area in direct proximity to Harmony's clock tower; here, he'll find as his main obstacle a twisted reflection, itself an armored foe. Finally, in Aria of Sorrow, Soma Cruz locates possibly the same hall in the Inner Quarters (positioned on the map in a convincing location compared to Rondo and X68000's like areas), where he'll be stifled by a twisted reflection and--yep--armored foes. (Suggested by Kev.)


The Meeting Room


In Symphony of the Night, Alucard has one final in-game meeting with Maria Renard in the the Marble Gallery, in a ceremonial-type room (the castle's dead center, specifically) hidden beneath its giant clock. After Alucard equips the gold and silver rings, the clock room's brickwork will be forced open, and it'll make way down to a lift that will carry him to this meeting room. In Harmony of Dissonance, which is prequel yet still derivative of this design, Juste Belmont will while on the Castle Top Floor drop down to discover the same lift.


In both cases, the lift will transport the hero down into a claustrophobic cavern that houses a cubicle-type room whose outside must be traveled around to enter the room from its bottom. The designs are all too similar: The room's outside corners are carved off to present a smooth triangular stop, and its texture is an alternating pattern of vertigo-sacred eye. At the bottom of the cavern, the heroes can enter the actual meeting room by slipping through a convenient opening. Alucard will have a meeting with Maria, as mentioned, and Juste will have perhaps a final encounter with Maxim Kischine.


The meeting room has a very centric design, as if its centerpiece holds hostage an essence of sorts. The described experience isn't limited; in both cases, the hero will see this room again in another form: Alucard will find its reverse cousin via the upside-down castle, and Juste will find its replica in the second, "transient" castle. It should be noted that Juste can only enter this replica by breaking a seal (as Alucard had to do using the rings) on the Castle Top Floor by harnessing the collected body parts of Count Dracula. Also, to further link the KCET products, Juste, too, can equip goods of his own, two friendship bracelets, to placate a friend and to solve a mystery. (Suggested by Kev.)


The Underground Waterfall


Alucard's path in Symphony of the Night's Underground Cavern will see his arrival atop its impressive and intimidating waterfall. Since he will be without power sufficient enough to clear any horizontal gaps, he'll have to drop down into the chasm and endure its long drop. In Aria of Sorrow, a game clearly modeled directly after Symphony, Soma will within the castle's Underground Reservoir arrive at the very same waterfall but not from the same entrance; rather, Soma will have worked his way around from the area's left side. The real estate between the fall's top and the top-right exit is blocked off by a pillar.


Since the distance between the waterfall's top and the exceedingly-tall-room's top-left exit is considerable, Alucard will have to take a leap of fate and dive into the aforementioned chasm, the flowing water rushing its way to the shallow pool below. Soma will upon reaching the waterfall's top already have the means to clear said distance.


The obvious and safest path forward is the room's bottom-left exit, but a point of interest lay to the right. That is, both heroes' paths will be blocked off at the fall's impact point, which creates a force great enough to prevent its breach. Alucard can return later with a snorkel-type item and tread the rough water and its glowing haze, while Soma will need a little help from transforming-type tactical souls.


But most curious still is what lay beyond the room placed directly to the waterfall's left. Both of our Dracula-like heroes will find the answer after discovering respective items that will afford them bat power, using which they can scale back up the long chasm, enter the room in question, and snag a new weapon for their destructive pleasures. (Suggested by Kev.)

Time Stoppers


Recurrence in Castlevania, we find, is not merely limited to castle structure but to idea, which is the case when dealing with "Time Stoppers." Battling foes in clock towers isn't something new--it's been a series staple from the start; modern series offerings, however, have supplied a theme to atop-the-clock-tower battles, as heroes must engage foes who utilize time, itself, as a weapon. It started in Castlevania: Dracula X, where Richter's bravery in woman-rescuing would earn him a meeting with Death, whose association with time-passing and death is obvious. Aria of Sorrow and Portrait of Ruin, too, feature Death as a clock-tower guardian. Dawn of Sorrow's Cursed Clock Tower houses Zephyr, who has a noted time-stopping ability. And Curse of Darkness' Eonemaos Clock Tower pits you against St. Germain, a master of time who also has the ability to halt its flow (image needed for this instance). (Suggested by Kev.)


The Lake Bridge


As we sometimes see in the many games' different intro scenes, Dracula's castle is always isolated from the mainland, standing high up on a hill or mountain in defiance of the surrounding sea. Though it's a scene usually skipped, heroes have to trek across a shaky series of bridges (sometimes forced to sail over to their starting point) before arriving at the forest and soon the castle's entrance. Trevor takes such a path (Dracula's Curse's Stage 8) and deals with specially assigned guardians--a pair of water dragons. Years later, Richter and Maria cross the same series of bridges (Rondo's Stage 2') before reaching the castle's outskirts; they, too, deal with a water dragon. A little more than half a century later, Cornell finds himself on a very section of these bridges after escaping from a sinking ship (Legacy's first stage); awaiting him is, of course, a water dragon. (Suggested by Kev.)

Wygol: The Lost Village


During Shanoa's escapades in the year 1810, she rescued a pack of villagers whose residence was Wygol Village, which was later discovered to be the habitat of Belmont-bloodline descendants who were drawn to the village by fate. Though this very premise suggest that Wygol is a one-and-done plot device exclusive to Order of Ecclesia, it seems we've seen this village before--in the future! That is, we saw the future of this settlement when we visited The Lost Village in Dawn of Sorrow, which takes place 226 years after Shanoa's adventure. That we see the recurrence of whole structures and observe the respective localities' "Village" designation might prove that Soma Cruz happens upon the formerly populated land and not a lazy ripped, copy-and-pasted job. So we start at the center of town, from where Shanoa enters the village; we can see that the village stretches into the background, its grimly hued stairways and alleys the main visual. In the future, Soma, from solid ground or atop the abandoned truck, can see a restructured scene: Multiple-story buildings connected by a series of rope bridges.


If Shanoa heads directly right and enters the first building, she'll enter the home of Jacob, whose residence serves as a general store. In the future, when Soma heads to the rightmost building, which shares the same structure, he'll find his buddy Hammer, whose specialty is selling weapons and other goods. That Hammer's shop is located a bit farther right from the village's center shows that the Wygol had over the years been renovated, essentially adjusted for a greater scale.


If Shanoa instead heads left and enters the first visible entrance, she'll arrive at the home of Laura, who's best known for crafting jewelry that serves as accessories. The future Soma travels a little farther left to locate Yoko Belnades, whose talents also entail a bit of craftsmanship--particularly the fusing of enemy souls to weaponry.


Located atop Wygol's second story, a bit left of center, is the home of Daniela, whose hobby is sketching. Future-lurking Soma finds no such second-story apartment; however, he finds past the village's top-right exit the dwelling of the Flying Armor, which is the area's boss. This connecting room, which serves as the renovated village's "center," has the same checkered interior design if not the same structure. They're the separate games' only respective rooms to use this design as the main texture.



Should Soma head toward the village's left boundary, she'll find a building consisting of two stacked apartments--either home accessible from the available first- or second-story entry points. The apartments' innards are connected via jump-through platforms, which doesn't seem to bother residents Aeon and Eugen. The future Soma can access the mostly-vertical Lost Village's mid-left entrances to find similarly structured apartments, though devoid of owners.



The right boundary of Wygol, Shanoa finds, has yet another two-apartment building, whose separate abodes house Anna and Irena. It's the same deal for the future Soma: He can access The Lost Village's two mid-right entrances to find similarly structured abandoned apartments. It should also be noted that both villages' entry/exit points lead to creepy woodland--Dawn's included as part of The Lost Village while Ecclesia's is a separate area called Ruvas Forest. (This Castleography instance, including all imagery, was submitted by Fernando F.)

Back to Page 2