Kurt Kalata is an ardent video gamer from New Jersey. He has founded websites such as The Castlevania Dungeon, which focuses on Konami's long running, vampire slaying series, and Hardcore Gaming 101, which gives comprehensive reviews focusing on the history of gaming. His most recent book is Bitmap Books' A Guide to Japanese Role-Playing Games. In addition to his own sites and books, his writings have appeared in Retro Gamer magazine, Time Extension and at 1up, Siliconera, and Gamasutra.

HG 101 Presents: An Unofficial Guide to Castlevania by Kurt Kalata

Welcome to the hell house! Presented by the esteemed retro gaming website Hardcore Gaming 101, this book is an UNOFFICIAL and UNAUTHORIZED guide to Konami's video game series that includes 158 pages with full reviews of over thirty Castlevania titles - starting from the 1986 Nintendo original up to the 2014 Lords of Shadow 2 - plus reviews of clone games, soundtracks, books, trivia, and more!


"Accidentally prescient again in time for this bundle thanks to the IGAVania Kickstarter, we would have included this HardcoreGaming 101 book no matter what. As per usual with Kurt and friends - it's a beautifully done 'just the facts, Sir' on one of the greatest game series of all time." – Simon Carless



  • "No stone has been left unturned in this lovingly constructed tribute to one of gaming's most enduring franchises, and it's clear that Kalata himself is a massive, massive follower of the games. It's incredibly difficult to translate the appeal of a website into a printed book, but this venture is a wonderful success, striking the perfect the balance between text and imagery to create a tome which is easy to pick up for a quick read, but hard to put back down again afterwards."

    Nintendo Life
  • "As a retrospective, this book is excellent. It covers every game in the series, from the original Castlevania and Vampire Killer to Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2, and even touches on rarities like Japanese-only arcade and mobile games. Each game receives an informative writeup analyzing everything from the story to the music to the nuances of the jumping controls, providing a historical review of each title...if you're an old-school kind of fan, it's hard to resist the collectable appeal of this tribute to one of gaming's greatest series. In my opinion it's worth both a read and a purchase. I'd rate it a two holy waters, a blank, an axe, a whip, and another axe."

    Still Playing With Power
  • "I thought I knew just about everything there was to know about the series and after reading "Hardcore Gaming 101 presents Castlevania," I realized I really didn't know that much about the game or series...If you are a fan of the "Castlevania" series than I would highly recommend that you check out this book."




The Castlevania series has been around since 1986 and has seen numerous changes over the years. The original Castlevania games began as an homage to Hollywood monster movies, and were known for their brutal, though rewarding difficulty. The series moved away from those roots with Symphony of the Night, released eleven years after the first game, morphing the genre into a more approachable action-RPG, in a subgenre known as the "Metroidvania". Another decade passed, and it was handed to a European team, creating a cinematic action game to compete with other big budget titles. Throughout that, there have been weird aberrations, like a multiplayer loot hunting spinoff and an ill-conceived fighting game.

As a result, there are all kinds of different Castlevania fans, each enjoying the series for different reasons. Classicvania fans prefer the difficulty of the older games and the skills required to defeat Dracula. Metroidvania fans prefer the exploration and RPG elements; Lords of Shadow fans prefer the presentation and darker themes of the more modern entries.

Still, there are some solid, defining elements of the Castlevania series. The games feature heroes with whips, who fight vampires and other hellish creatures. The visuals are fantastic, typifying some of the best technical work of the given era. The music is top tier, some of the most outstanding video gaming has to offer. Other elements include the arsenal, such as daggers, axes, and time-halting stopwatches; the hearts to power these weapons; the rhythm and flow of the movement and combat; the sound effects; and the Belmont clan and their war against evil throughout multiple generations.