When we say Castlevania, we’re really referring to two very different gameplay styles. The original Castlevania was released back in 1986 and is a linear platformer in which hero Simon Belmont must traverse a series of levels full of hazards and enemies. Beginning with 1987’s Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest, however, and continuing with 1997’s Symphony of the Night, a more non-linear gameplay style emerged for the franchise. Fear not: whichever of the two styles you prefer, you’re covered on the Switch. Here’s our list of the best Switch games like Castlevania (whichever type you like!) in 2022.
It doesn’t get much more Castlevania than this. Symphony of the Night programmer Koji Igarashi created Ritual of the Night as a thinly-veiled spiritual successor to his 1997 magnum opus, and it shows; Iga’s new game has an almost identical map structure, gameplay style, and set of systems to games like Dawn of Sorrow and Portrait of Ruin. Slightly wonky 3D visuals aside, Bloodstained is an excellent throwback to the era of non-linear, exploration-focused Castlevania games, and you should play it if you love Symphony of the Night.
Here’s one for you if you love the more old-school, linear gameplay of the NES and SNES-era Castlevania games. Shovel Knight deliberately evokes 8-bit NES-era visuals, and like many of the games of that era, it mixes brutally difficult gameplay with an incredible soundtrack. However, Shovel Knight isn’t just your standard NES throwback. It’s also got a deceptively clever story, some much-needed quality-of-life improvements, and even a couple of alternative campaigns that add some fun twists to its DuckTales-meets-Mega Man gameplay loop.
With the release of Infernax, it’s now official: there’s no shame in having nostalgia for bizarre backtracking-fests like Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest. Infernax apes the style of that game, presenting a massive non-linear map full of dungeons and quirky secrets to discover. You’ll gain experience, power up your magic, and tackle bosses straight out of the Bloodborne playbook. There are some quality-of-life improvements, though; a quest log makes it much easier to figure out where you’re going and what you’re doing.
If Ritual of the Night is just Symphony of the Night, then Curse of the Moon is very much aiming to ape the NES Castlevania games, warts and all. It’s a linear 8-bit-style platformer with multiple characters, each of whom has a different power. Zangetsu is your typical jack-of-all-trades, but you’ll also get warriors that can jump higher and even fly. The imitation is almost shameless, but since Iga helped to codify Castlevania’s modern reputation, we’ll let it slide. The sequel is decent, but nowhere near as good as the first.
What better way to play Castlevania on Switch than…well…playing Castlevania on Switch? Advance Collection brings together three pretty excellent Game Boy Advance Metroidvania titles, while Anniversary Collection offers eight retro Castlevania experiences. There are some duds; Circle of the Moon’s monstrous difficulty hasn’t aged well, and the Game Boy games in the Anniversary Collection can safely be skipped. Altogether, though, these collections represent great value for money.
Generally speaking, you’ll find more Metroidvania-style games on the Switch than outright platformers, which is almost a shame; there’s something about the tight design of the NES Castlevania games that feels more focused. Still, if it’s excellent Metroidvania games you’re after, give Timespinner a look. It’s a more narrative-heavy take on the genre, but it borrows Symphony of the Night’s aesthetics and Portrait of Ruin’s world-warping for some enjoyable and satisfying platforming.
Ghosts ‘n Goblins is another game that has a reputation for being a desperately difficult NES platformer, so it stands to reason that if you love linear Castlevania titles, you should check out Resurrection. There have been some changes; you can now choose a difficulty level that isn’t going to have you waking up in a cold sweat at night. If, however, you’re after the classic Ghosts ‘n Goblins experience, there are plenty of options to give you that as well.
We might be reaching a little here, but Dark Souls really does feel like a 3D Castlevania title at times. Its collection of grotesque monstrosities, multi-layered levels, and weighty combat with a variety of different weapons make it feel like a 3D spiritual successor to Symphony of the Night. Since Bloodborne isn’t playable on Switch, you’ll have to make do with another of From Software’s attempts to create the greatest game ever, and since Dark Souls: Remastered includes the Artorias of the Abyss DLC, it’s an unqualified success.
We’re huge fans of the Devil May Cry series here, and if you love Castlevania, you may wish to give it a shot. Capcom’s action-packed character action titles fuse campy hysterics with over-the-top gore and violence, just like Castlevania does when it’s at its best. Like Castlevania, Devil May Cry also features difficult, technical combat against a wide variety of enemies. The series arguably peaked at Devil May Cry 3, so if you play just one of the games, this is the one to go for.
Last but not least, we have Hollow Knight, which is superficially similar to Castlevania but which bears more of a resemblance to a 2D take on the Souls series. This is an epic, lengthy journey through a ruined insect kingdom; you play a knight who wanders into the kingdom and finds it overrun with madness, and you must hack your way through its many fallen denizens to discover what happened to it and what your role in the story may be. If you love Souls and Symphony of the Night, play this game yesterday.