Here we are again with another Nintendo Showdown at Nintendo Enthusiast! This time around, we’re talking Koji Igarashi, Castlevania, and Igavania in general, namely, Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night. Who is the king of the Igavania hill?
Koji Igarashi didn’t create Castlevania, but he did oversee the creation of a lot of its most famous entries. And fortunately for us, many of them have landed on Nintendo platforms. Game Boy Advance received three entries, and Nintendo DS received another three entries. The distinct, Metroid-flavored exploration genre came to be described as “Metroidvania.” But when it comes to talking about his own games, Igarashi prefers the term “Igavania.”
So today we have to ask you, enthusiasts: What is the best Igavania on a Nintendo platform?
*Correction: We recalled after the fact that Circle of the Moon was not created by Koji Igarashi. We regret the error.
Nintendo Showdown: Igavania Edition
Castlevania: Circle of the Moon was a Game Boy Advance launch title, and aside from its graphics being too dark for a system that wasn’t yet backlit, it was a stellar first entry. The bosses were just tough as nails, and even regular enemies posed a real challenge not to be underestimated. The follow-up, Harmony of Dissonance, was a total 180. It was so much brighter than Circle, but also so much easier. Too easy, as far as I’m concerned.
Many look to Aria of Sorrow as the cream of the Igavania crop. It had the most reasonable difficulty of the GBA titles. And chiefly, it introduced the Tactical Soul system, which enabled the player to gain a unique ability/power-up from virtually every enemy in the game. Even the story was somewhat memorable due to its unique choice of protagonist.
The first DS entry, Dawn of Sorrow, was a rare direct sequel to its predecessor. It was fine in its own right, though prone to some gimmicks and lacking the beautiful box art of previous games. The next game, Portrait of Ruin, introduced a globetrotting concept and dual protagonists, trying to push the boundaries of what the series could be.
However, for me personally, the best Igavania is a toss-up between the two most recent entries: Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia and Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night. Order of Ecclesia brought back the really brutal difficulty I hadn’t seen since Circle, but it was enriched by the power-obtaining mechanics introduced in Aria of Sorrow. Meanwhile, Bloodstained is precisely as good as I’d always hoped it would be, which is unfortunately kind of remarkable in this day and age. It takes all the mechanics we expect from an Igavania and adds enough nice wrinkles to feel like a clever and new experience. I only wish I had more reason to replay it, but even that is being taken care of, as more playable characters are on the way.
So factoring everything in, which one is the best Igavania game in your book? Be sure to vote, and then tell us why you voted that way in the comments below!