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Why Castlevania deserves a Musou video game adaptation

Worn Out Gaming
Original Article on Worn Out Gaming.

Have you encountered a Musou game before? If not, here are the basics: It’s a large-scale beat ’em up often set up as war campaigns that span vast maps. Players tear through hordes of enemies, literally racking up hundreds of kills in a single battle. Usually, it becomes less about beating your enemies into the ground. Musou games demand strategy, at times, and an eye for what location on the map we should hold down. If you’re across the map and a General of sorts spawns, you may lose the skirmish if you’re not quick.

The most well-known franchises for these types of games are Dynasty Warriors and Samurai Warriors. While not historically accurate, they served as pieces of stylized history that kept many entertained for years. The previous franchises’ success has led to multiple sequels and spinoff Musou games like Hyrule Warriors, Dynasty Warriors: Gundam (based on the Mobile Suit anime/manga), and Dragon Quest Heroes, to name a few. 

Samurai Warriors 2 - OG Musou Game
Samurai Warriors 2 – Credit: Koei

For me, the appeal is unlocking the numerous characters to level up and gain stronger equipment to take on the hordes. It can get repetitive, but this is an instance where I don’t mind. A Musou game can represent a franchise with its action-heavy, providing fan-service meetings between characters who would never meet. That’s why I’m here to say we deserve a Castlevania Warriors.

A Castlevania Musou game? Really?

Konami’s Castlevania video game series is vast. It has produced sequel after sequel, spinoffs, and a reboot series that added an interesting spin to the Dracula lore. In most of the games, players control a Belmont family member, a clan of Vampire Hunters. No matter the direction the story goes, we’re often not wrong in assuming we’ll scale Dracula’s teleporting castle and eventually stand face-to-face with the bloodsucker. 

Whether Dracula is on a personal quest or waging war on a world he’s grown tired of; the series treads through many different environments. Each title introduces new characters, new weapons, and unique abilities. An overall shared goal of defeating Dracula or whatever Big Bad they occasionally replace him with is why Castlevania should get the Musou treatment.

The Belmont Legacy

It would take an unusual event to draw Belmonts and their allies from multiple eras into one game. Yet, there’s a Dynasty Warriors/Samurai Warriors crossover series that proves we’ll eat up absurdity for entertainment. So, I propose framing the Belmont side of a Castlevania Musou game to examine the Belmont legacy and how each of them kept it going. 

Leon Belmont for Castlevania Musou
Leon Belmont from Castlevania: Lament of Innocence – Credit: Konami

The Belmont’s have faced tragedies of epic proportions, and their reactions are anything but streamlined across each family member. In the original Castlevania, their clan became so powerful that Transylvania’s people feared them, banishing them from civilization. Of course, once Dracula – previously a genius tactician named Mathias Cronqvist – reappeared, the Church reached out and found Trevor Belmont. He defeated Dracula, and the family was allowed to live among civilization again.

Mathias/Dracula for Musou
Mathias Cronqvist, later known as Dracula – Credit: Konami

In Lords of Shadow, the rebooted Castlevania, we control Gabriel Belmont. In this continuity, he is part of a group of holy knights who call themselves the Brotherhood of Light. After his wife is murdered, Gabriel seeks to cleanse the world of Satan’s darkness AND find the means to resurrect her through a relic called the God Mask. In the end, he learns that he was lied to about the power of the relic. After numerous betrayals and a mission that sees him wielding godlike power, it’s Gabriel Belmont who becomes Dracula, cursing his bloodline to hunt him down.

I want the two timelines to merge, so the OG Belmont’s realize civilization is afraid of their power for a reason. Gabriel/Dracula would be that dark reflection of the Belmont clan.

The Villains

Who can resist the chance to play as Lycanthropes, Vampires, Succubi, perhaps even Death himself? Yes, Death is part of the lore, even in the rebooted series, in all his Grim Reaper glory. There are memorable villains across both timelines who could lend their operatic schemes to an excellent Musou adaptation. Hopefully, their inclusion would mean having a villains campaign. Rather than the campaign strictly being against the ‘good guys,’ I’d like to see the villains at odds with one another.

Lords of Shadow 2 Dracula
Dracula from Lords of Shadow 2 – Credit: Konami

At best, I want to see two Dracula’s – OG Dracula and Lords of Shadow Dracula. Imagine two ruthless, all-powerful vampires meeting their alternate selves. The OG Dracula would likely find it pleasing that a Belmont turned his back on humanity and became him. Would they ally? I want to think even the Musou Castlevania would seek to eventually redeem Gabriel, especially as he goes to war with both his actual and alternate timeline family. 

It doesn’t have to be canon. Musou games, when it comes to other adapted franchises, exist for fan service. 

What features would a Castlevania Musou have?

I imagine multiple maps, of course, along with the usual staples for a Musou game:

  • Useable items.
  • Useable magic assigned to shortcuts.
  • Weapons with unique properties.
  • The all-out Musou attacks that obliterate numerous enemies at a time.

There are also moments in Dynasty/Samurai Warriors that allow you to alter the events on a map if you defeat a powerfully boosted enemy. Lu Bu, I’m looking at you. Those are the basics, however.

Lu Bu is the original difficult general
Lu Bu from Dynasty Warriors – Credit: Koei

Somehow include the Inverted Castle! For those not in the know, the Inverted Castle appeared in Castlevania: Symphony of the Night (Where you play Alucard, Dracula’s son). It’s a secret in the game, but it boils down to being an upside-down version of the original castle you play through. It may be strange to turn the layout of a castle’s assets upside down, but it worked, and I want it to for a Musou game. 

Last but not least, throw in three-way battles. The Samurai Warriors series ushered in the three-way conquest concept, and Dynasty Warrior’s 6 adopted the system. I mentioned wanting villains to campaign against one another, too. It adds chaos to every battle in Musou style games, never knowing when betrayal is going to sprout up. These events don’t necessarily make each battle easier, either, as we’re usually torn by whom to attack first. 

Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity Musou Game
Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity – Credit: Koei and Nintendo

A battlefield is chaos, and Castlevania Musou needs to depict its war against darkness.

Final Thoughts

A Castlevania Musou game came to mind because the Castlevania Lords of Shadow 2 E3 trailer lives rent-free in my mind.

You’ll see that Dracula tears through an army with a few swipes of his whip. Play the game, and two enemies alone will have us/Dracula on the defensive. So, please give us a Musou game to drive home the power of these characters.

Should Castlevania get the Musou treatment? Let me know in the comments!

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