I’ve had this idea for a Castlevania revival kicking around in my head for a while now but have never committed it to a post. This Kill Screen article about the series impossible architecture has finally motivated me to expand on it so let’s workshop this!
The title is about all I dreamed up, a portmanteau of terrible design: Constructslevania. Part Castlevania, part Mario Maker, you play as some entity summoned forth by Dracula to devise the next incarnation of his cursed castle. How about Death? Death makes sense, he’s already able to float around so he can move anywhere on the screen and keep the UI hidden out of view, probably in ‘Dracula’s Grimoire’ or some other book-like conceit. He’s also Death and it’s funny to picture him doing Dracula’s housework when he isn’t directly ruining another Belmont’s day.
A pop-up menu system would allow you to choose hundreds of room backdrops from the series past with tabs for obstacles, enemies, and decoration. All these would be governed by rules to make it feel more Castlevania appropriate. So no, you can’t fill every room with a framerate-breaking number of red skeletons, even though I think they did that once. Maybe there’s even a “holy intervention” phase where you have to place beneficial items or an algorithm that places the whippable torches. From here the gameplay can go a few different ways.
Similar to Tecmo’s Deception you could be designing the castle to watch AI heroes storm in and do their best to reach Dracula. Maybe he’s not fully revived yet and all they need to do is reach his coffin to show him a pointy end. Alternatively, you’re designing the castle for other live players to run through, possibly in a roguelike, one-shot fashion.
Restricted solely to AI heroes I think the game would lean more towards tower defense and would feel much less like a Castlevania game. Designed for live players it would be possible to lay out a more accurate Castlevania experience, maybe even one with save rooms, mid-bosses and puzzles.
Personally, I just want a new 2D Castlevania to explore and this would potentially offer a million clever combinations of famous locales and encounters. Building one would also be fun and I can picture players creating devious labyrinths and artistic masterpieces. Maybe it’s even possible to cram a new Castlevania story around other players creations. Konami could even offer new sprites, gear, and bosses for creators to work with. And the music! Having a jukebox of Castlevania’s classic themes to select and jam to is almost worth the buying price alone.
No doubt, this could easily be a money sucking, microtransaction, DLC onslaught with Konami charging for every individual sprite and sound effect. It could also result in an endless number of boring, broken or cookie cutter castles. I would still take all that potential for tragedy just to poke around in a new 2D Castlevania offering. There ya go Konami, have at it.