Castlevania's 5 Most Unforgettable Music Tracks, Ranked

If there's one thing the Castlevania games are known for outside of their vampire-hunting action, it's the effective, atmospheric soundtrack each game possesses. From gothically-tinged pieces to set the haunted mood like Symphony of Night's "Requiem for the Gods" to Lament of Innocence's 11th century techno-rave "Anti-Soul Mysteries Lab," the Castlevania series has introduced an eclectically memorable wealth of music over the years.

Here are all the five biggest and best Castlevania songs from across its entire history of the video games series, from the 8-bit score that ushered in the Belmonts' eternal war against Dracula and the forces of darkness to the franchise's eventual transition to fully orchestrated scores as it shifted to 3D gameplay.

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"Bloody Tears" from Castlevania II: Simon's Quest

While 1987's Castlevania II: Simon's Quest on the NES may be one of the more divisive installments in the franchise and is generally regarded as the weakest game in the series' NES trilogy, it did introduce some important mechanics to the gameplay and some truly memorable songs, including "Bloody Tears."

With its fast-paced, alternating melody line before crescendoing into a sweeping movement as Simon Belmont travels the Transylvania countryside, a variation of "Bloody Tears" has appeared in virtually every Castlevania game since Simon's Quest, with the organ-driven rendition heard in 1991's Super Castlevania IV for the Super Nintendo perhaps being the best. "Bloody Tears" would also be directly referenced in the Season 2 finale of the animated Castlevania series on Netflix.

"Tower of Ruin" from Castlevania: Legacy of Darkness

While Castlevania's transition to 3D gameplay with 1999's Castlevania for the Nintendo 64 provided a clumsy change, to say the least, its follow-up Legacy of Darkness delivered a fuller gameplay experience and took better advantage of the technical capabilities on the N64 than its immediate predecessor.

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One of the standout tracks from Castlevania 64 was its main theme "Castle Center," which was revisited and expanded upon with Legacy of Darkness' richer, more varied "Tower of Ruin," played as Cornell enters a labyrinth in Dracula's castle. Unlike later 3D Castlevania games' soundtracks, that overshadowed beautiful melodies with an overly prominent drum machine mixed in, like Lament of Innocence's "Leon's Theme," Legacy of Darkness' "Tower of Ruin" balanced its instrumentation perfectly to enhance the adventure.

"The Tragic Prince" from Castlevania: Symphony of the Night

If there was ever a game that redefined what Castlevania could be, it wasn't its repeated attempts to leap into 3D gameplay but rather the nonlinear, side-scrolling approach perfected by 1997's Symphony of the Night for the original PlayStation. A direct sequel to 1993's Rondo of Blood for the TurboGrafx-16, Symphony of the Night had a haunting, operatic score setting the mood as Alucard reawakened for a rematch against his father Dracula.

Played when Alucard finishes climbing the castle's eastern tower and first mounts the parapets, "The Tragic Prince" is one of the more triumphant moments, starting with a full orchestra before an electric guitar and drums kick in to sonically announce Alucard fearlessly standing in opposition to his vampiric birthright and all those that stand in his way. There are a lot of tracks from Symphony of the Night that could make this list but "The Tragic Prince" reigns supreme.

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"Beginning" from Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse

After the mixed response to Simon's Quest, Konami went back to the basics for its 1989 follow-up Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse, the last canonical game in the series released for the NES. The prequel saw Simon's ancestor Trevor Belmont team up with two other heroes to topple Dracula's rise to power centuries in the past.

Dracula's Curse appropriately kicked off with the opening track "Beginning," introducing Trevor to the franchise as he defended a Transylvanian town from monsters before setting his sights on Dracula's castle in the distance. Like "Bloody Tears," "Beginning" would be revisited many times in Castlevania history and, again like "Bloody Tears," was perhaps at its most effective in Super Castlevania IV as Simon climbed the clocktower of Dracula's castle.

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"Cross a Fear" from Castlevania: Rondo of Blood

Rondo of Blood is one of the most curious games in the Castlevania series, not receiving an official North American release until 2007, with a heavily reworked version released for the SNES in 1995 as Castlevania: Dracula X. And while Dracula X has its own merits, the sound design is not one of them, with Konami taking full advantage of the TurboGrafx-16's audio capabilities as Rondo of Blood was the first game in the series published on disc technology.

Whereas Super Castlevania IV relied on gothic atmosphere to set the mood, Rondo of Blood was a more anime-inspired adventure with swashbuckling undertones. This was apparent right from the opening cutscene set to "Blood Relations of Heaven and Earth" but reaching a sonically charged pitch in "Cross a Fear" as Richter Belmont enters Dracula's castle by sundown. Rondo of Blood's 2007 enhanced remake Castlevania: The Dracula X Chronicles for the PlayStation Portable would feature a fully orchestrated version of "Cross a Fear," highlighting the swashbuckling sensibilities.

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Sam Stone is a 10th level pop culture guru living just outside of Washington, DC who knows an unreasonable amount about The Beatles. You can follow him on Twitter @samstoneshow and ask him about Nintendo, pop punk, and Star Trek.

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