There’s no denying that Koji Igarashi has had a profound impact on the video game industry. Otherwise known as Iga, the man pioneered the Metroidvania genre with the release of Castlevania: Symphony of the Night in 1997, forever reshaping how audiences enjoyed the medium. He’s consistently improved upon that formula for over 20 years and shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon. His latest game, Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night, is set to release on June 18 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, and PC. The following are worthwhile titles that Iga has either directed, written, or produced, all of which should help fans pass the time until Castlevania‘s spiritual successor launches.
Koji Igarashi’s Best Games | Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon
It’s hard to believe that last year’s Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon was developed in only six months, as the game serves both as an excellent homage to Castlevania 3: Dracula’s Curse and a compelling prelude to Ritual of the Night. It preserves the 8-bit aesthetic that the Castlevania franchise built itself on but introduces new features to help make the experience more accessible to newcomers. These include difficulty modes and the option to rotate between characters on the fly. Ultimately, Curse of the Moon is a throwback with modern sensibilities that any Metroidvania fan can enjoy.
Koji Igarashi’s Best Games | Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance
Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance successfully accomplishes its goal of recreating Symphony of the Night on a handheld device. Characters move fluidly and the multi-jointed bosses are impressive to admire from a technical standpoint. Each level feels alive as objects flicker in the background and 3D effects ignite across the screen. While Harmony of Dissonance‘s soundtrack leaves a little to be desired, it remains one of the Game Boy Advance’s best platform-adventure titles.
Koji Igarashi’s Best Games | Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow
Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow is considered by many critics as the best Castlevania game ever created for a handheld. The Tactical Soul system is particularly noteworthy, as it entices players to collect souls from each enemy they encounter in order to unlock new abilities to use during combat. This simple yet addictive feature combined with eye-catching visuals and an improved soundtrack over Harmony of Dissonance makes the game hard to ignore. That’s not to mention Aria of Sorrow‘s story, which diverges from past titles and offers a new look into Castlevania‘s world through the lens of protagonist Soma Cruz.
Koji Igarashi’s Best Games | Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin
Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin offers a cooperative multiplayer component that’s surprisingly fun once players get used to it. Otherwise known as Boss Rush mode, it layers on increasingly difficult challenges as pairs reach certain thresholds together. Of course, a single-player campaign is included in the package, the likes of which has fans alternate between main characters Jonathan and Charlotte. Each protagonist’s unique abilities can be used to solve puzzles or unleash satisfying Dual Crush attacks. Overall, Portrait of Ruin remains consistent with Castlevania‘s design but does enough to keep the formula fresh.
Koji Igarashi’s Best Games | Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia
Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia is considered by some to be an homage to Castlevania 2: Simon’s Quest due to its inclusion of RPG elements and high difficulty. Though this may sound like it’s geared towards veteran Metroidvania fans, newcomers may come to appreciate the game’s depth once they sink their teeth in. Through a glyph system reminiscent of Aria of Sorrow‘s Tactical Soul system, players are given the opportunity to use a variety of different abilities by defeating enemies or completing certain challenges. Between unlocking these combat powers or taking on one of the game’s many side quests, it’s easy to imagine how Order of Ecclesia can make for an enjoyable time sink.
Koji Igarashi’s Best Games | Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow
Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow improves upon the gameplay systems of earlier titles and incorporates an interesting new mechanic of its own via the Magic Seal feature. This gives players the ability to draw patterns with their DS styluses in order to defeat enemies onscreen. While this may seem like a gimmick by today’s standards, other elements like colorful visuals, remarkably fluid animation, and a moving soundtrack provide a good excuse to brush the dust off your DS. There’s a reason why Dawn of Sorrow won high scores and awards from major outlets in 2005, after all.
Koji Igarashi’s Best Games | Castlevania: Symphony of the Night
Castlevania: Symphony of the Night has been appropriately deemed one of the best video games of all time. It challenges side-scrolling convention by ditching linear level design and encouraging players to explore every nook and cranny for hidden items. It’s also one of the first platform-action titles that dares to include RPG elements like a magic gauge, attributes, summons, and experience points. Symphony of the Night makes players feel both intelligent and powerful and strikes a balance that few titles have achieved since 1997. Video game fans who have yet to experience this classic for themselves should pick up a copy as soon as possible, which is quite easy, given how many ports the game has had.
No matter what you may think of Iga’s work, it’s hard not to appreciate the man’s dedication. During his time at Konami, he frequently appeared at trade shows donning a cowboy hat and a leather whip, proudly referencing the franchise he helped make famous. When the company shifted most of its game development to mobile platforms, Iga felt he couldn’t translate the Metroidvania genre well and left as a result. Here’s hoping that he continues to find success as an independent developer and that the spirit of Castlevania lives on for a long time to come. The world could always use more moody vampire games anyway.