These three short Koji Igarashi interviews go over design details from several of his Castlevania games of the last decade. They are small, but represent my minor contribution to the Bloodstained hype. The third piece is also my first foray into subtitling video interviews, an endeavor I hope to continue and refine in the coming months.

These interviews were found at the GSLA, a Japanese a website that, among other things, preserves game developer interviews from older, now-defunct print sources. The GSLA often redacts the original interviewer questions, so the text ends up reading more like a narrative than an interview.

Bloodstained Interview
Symphony of the Night Interview

Koji Igarashi – Castlevania Interviews

sourced from two interviews in 2005 and 2006

Portrait of Ruin

Castlevania is a series wih a history and a tradition, and I work hard not to deviate from that when making a new game. In any event, the world of Castlevania is something I take very seriously. I don’t stray too far from those roots, with things like Dracula’s backstory, or the gothic tone of the graphics. I’m careful about preserving the long history that the series has accumulated now.

One thing I was very happy about with Castlevania was when we released Symphony of the Night and I received a letter from a woman in her 30s, saying Symphony of the Night was the first game she had ever cleared. Perhaps because the Castlevania games for the Famicom were hard games, I think for many people Castlevania has a reputation for difficulty. With Symphony of the Night I wanted to break that image, and create an action game that anyone could play. So hearing from her that this was her first clear made me so happy.

The selling point for Portrait for Ruin is how you go through the game with two characters. It can be enjoyed with just one, but I was aiming for a game that would be more fun to play with two people. Also, many of the previous Castlevania games take place in a castle–in other words, they all take place indoors. I was starting to get really antsy about wanting to take things outdoors (laughs), so this game features a lot of outside environments. Of course Dracula’s castle also makes an appearance.

My new experiment for Portrait of Ruin is the theme “family.” That’s reflected in the music, too, in which we had Yuzo Koshiro join Michiru Yamane, who usually does all the music by herself. The songs they made are great.

I tried to make Portrait of Ruin a “thinking action” game, one with a difficulty balance such that even the women on our staff could clear it. Please enjoy this game which anyone can enjoy, and anyone can beat!

Curse of Darkness

Castlevania is a very popular series overseas, so a lot of the news and announcements for it come from over there. It’s all unified under the name “Castlevania”, so I think it’s easy for Japanese players to get info there too. Conversely, however, it’s meant that a disconnection has grown between Japanese and American fans of the series…. I considered that with all sincerity, and accordingly decided to return to the Japanese title “Akumajou Dracula” for Curse of Darkness. 1

We decided to give the player more control over the camera in response to two complaints players had from Lament of Innocence: first, that they wanted more exploration elements, and second, that they kept getting attacked from places that were hard to see. Incidentally, the designers also spent a huge amount of time detailing all the environments, even the ceilings, but it ended up that you could barely see any of it with the fixed camera.

The story for Curse of Darkness actually takes place three years after Castlevania III, after Dracula is defeated. I played Castlevania III in college, and compared with the first Castlevania, I liked the story elements in it. That was why I really wanted to connect this new Castlevania to Castlevania III.

The stories for the previous Castlevania games have all been simplistic “good and evil” narratives, easy for anyone to get behind. But the theme of Curse of Darkness is vengeance, and the both the protagonist and the villain fight for revenge. At the start of the development, the story was that the protagonist fought to take revenge for his dead wife, but one of my bosses said if it’s his wife, then there’s no motivation. (laughs) He suggested changing it to his lover instead, and I agreed that would be more impelling for the character. That boss is a married man. (laughs)

Order of Ecclesia / Castlevania Judgment

A short interview with Igarashi touching on the
design/music of Ecclesia and Castlevania: Judgment.