From the outset of the Castlevania series has been about two things: 1) men in leather skirts with whips, and 2) fighting the forces of darkness. For most of the run, the forces of darkness were led by Dracula, and the man in the leather skirt was Simon Belmont. Until the series started exploring the history of the Belmont family tree (forwards and backwards), it was assumed that Simon was the only hero of the series -- even when the series added in two new heroes, Christopher and Trevor Belmont, most fans still assumed they were Trevor since they looked and played just like good ol' Simon.
What makes Simon special is, basically, that he was there first. His games are the classics that the rest of the series is compared to -- they've had the most remakes, the most remasters. When someone says, "have you played the Castlevania series?" for many fans the first game to spring to mind is Simon's original adventure... well, or Alucard and Symphony of the Night, but really for the same reason. In each case, Simon and Alucard, they were the first heroes for their style of game, and they set the tone for all the adventures to come after.
Simon, then, benefited from being the first hero of Castlevania and whoever else they may put in the games, whatever character they may invent as the progenitor of the series (be they Sonia, Leon, or Gabriel), we'll all know that Simon was really where it all began.
Although initially his story was little more than "guy fashionably walks into a castle with whip, kills vampire because vampires are bad", through years of additional games and remakes we've gotten a better explanation for where Simon came from and why he fashionably went into a castle to fight a bad vampire.
Hailing from a long line of vampire hunters, the Belmonts, Simon was the one responsible, in his era, for taking on any threats to the land of Romania. Namely, that meant fighting Dracula when he inevitably appeared. It was known by now that Dracula would regularly appear, nearly 100 years (to the day) from the date of his last death. Dracula was like clockwork -- you could set and boil an egg to him (so long as you didn't mind refilling the pot a lot and you liked your eggs super over-cooked). Since Dracula had last been defeated by Christopher Belmont (totally and for sure) in 1591 AD (see: Castlevania II: Belmont's Revenge), that meant the vampire would come back in 1691 AD, during Simon's life.
One had to imagine the weight of that realization bore heavily on the poor Belmont. In fact a later game, Castlevania: Judgment posits just that, showing that Simon was still unsure of his power even one year after his first battle with Dracula.
Not that his fight went poorly (at least, not by initial appearances). Simon took up the ancestral whip and headed to the newly emerged Castle Dracula to take on the be-fanged demon and send him back to his grave. Simon did emerge victorious that day, although he would soon learn not everything went exactly to plan...
Konami produced several remakes over the years, most of which we cover here on the site:
- Vampire Killer (1986 JPN, MSX2 Home Computer)
- Castlevania (1990, Commodore Amiga Computer)
- Castlevania (1990, Commodore 64 Computer)
- Castlevania (1990, MS DOS)
- Castlevania (1993 JPN, Sharp X68000 Computer)
- Castlevania Chronicles (2001, Sony Playstation)
- Castlevania (2004, AT&T Wireless mMode)
- Classic NES Series: Castlevania (2004, Game Boy Advance)
Of special note is Vampire Killer, a remake that came out soon after the original game was released. Due to constraints of the MSX Computer system it was released on, or just Konami attempting different ideas with the franchise, Vampire Killer plays like a proto-Metroidvania the first attempt for the series at exploring the genre.
One year (1692 AD) after taking on Dracula (in a karaoke battle to last the ages... no, not really), Simon was left with doubts about his power and his place in the legacy of the Belmonts. This was a plot point added in to Judgment since every character needed a story and a plotline for the mega-fighting game Konami unleashed, but it's a point of contention for certain fans. Up until this game, Simon was always viewed as the big, tough hero, ready to take on the forces of darkness without a moment's hesitation -- he was the Belmont, after all, so making him conflicted (even "emo") seemed a tad off for our dashing hero.
Regardless, Simon was drawn into a dimensional rift (that served as the setting for the fighting tournament) by a mystical traveler, Aeon. In the far future, Galamoth (evil villain and rival to Dracula) looked to defeat Dracula in the past and change history so that Galamonth came out on top. Sensing the kind of damage this could do to history (i.e., a lot), Aeon brought heroes and villains together in the rift in hopes that he could find one among them with the power and skill to stop Galamoth's plans.
(Of course, since it was a fighting game any one of the heroes, or villains, could have proved victorious -- the exact hero to end Galamoth's plans was never determined by Konami, so it's up in the air now if Simon officially cast the fatal blow or not.)
Castlevania II: Simon's Quest
The first official sequel, Simon's second adventure (in terms of release) helped to flesh out the countryside around Romania. As the story goes, during his first battle with Dracula, Simon suffered a wound, one that was magically cursed. After seven years' time Simon would die unless he gathered five of Dracula's body parts and brought them back to Dracula's Castle to resurrect the evil vampire. One has to assume Simon didn't know about the seven year limit until it was almost too late since the Belmont takes his sweet time getting around to finishing the quest, just a few days before the curse would kill him.
Still, whether he was just taking his time or simply didn't know (the Japanese instruction manual would indicate that he didn't know about it until a mysterious old woman told him about it), Simon certainly got the job done quickly. Exploring around Romania, through towns and mansion, Simon was able to fight back the forces of darkness (including appearances by Carmilla and Death) and collect the five body parts needed for the spell. He then took them to the ruins of Dracula's castle (since the castle fell apart without Dracula's magic at the end of the first game) and perform the ritual to raise Dracula from the dead.
Whatever Dracula's expected plan was, things did not go according to plan for him. Instead of seeing his foe die from the curse, or having the power to defeat a weakened Belmont once resurrected, instead Dracula was quickly defeated once again and the curse was lifted from Simon Belmont and the rest of Romania... for a time.
Unlike the first Castlevania, this sequel did not receive many remakes. In fact, there was only one, a Tiger handheld game that was Castlevania II in name only.
- Castlevania II: Simon's Quest (1988, Tiger Electronics)
Super Castlevania IV
Firstly we should note that we at the Inverted Dungeon contest that Super Castlevania IV is the third entry in Simon's saga -- there are a number of clue that would indicate this is the case, such as the tombstone at the start of this game being the same as the tombstone at the end of Castlevania II and the fact that the U.S. Konami offices had it listed as a direct sequel. Konami of Japan has always had it as a remake of the first game, though, so not everyone agrees with us on this. Still, this is our site, so we're sticking to it...
With that said, Castle Dracula was back, resting high on the mountains of the Borgo Pass. Dracula's grave had been disturbed, a giant bat had been seen flying from it, and it could only be assumed that Dracula had returned from the dead to once again try to claim the lands of Romania as his domain.
Thankfully, Simon was still kicking it around the countryside. Grabbing up his trusty whip (which he'd been practicing with), he once again went to the castle to face off with the vampire lord. Dracula had to really be kicking himself for coming back so soon, since Simon was in prime shape. Poor planning cost him, as Dracula was handily defeated by the seasoned vampire hunter, and the foul demon's soul was once again sent back to the grave from which it came.
After Castlevania II: Simon's Quest was released, another game came along (before even a third official entry in the series or a portable title could). Titled Haunted Castle they game covered the adventure of a lone, unnamed, whip wielding hero going to Dracula's castle. Considering the time it came out, it was assumed this was another adventure of Simon Belmont (and, to be sure, as far as continuity is concerned this game is simple considered a remake of the original Castlevania).
But not all is alike enough with any previous title to just dismiss this game as a remake. Much as we consider Super Castlevania IV to be another entry in Simon's saga, the same could be said for Haunted Castle. In the game, Dracula returns (or first arrives) and kidnaps the hero's wife on the day of their wedding. It's up to the hero (presumably Simon) to venture into the castle, stop the evil vampire, and rescue his bride.
Certainly this game gives some color to Simon's life, and it's nice to think that the dude had a life outside of vampire hunting. This game, however, doesn't really fit into any established timeline -- if it's take chronologically, then Simon met a woman and got married sometime after his quest in 1698 AD but before he went off on his adventure back to Dracula's castle in 1699 AD.
More likely is that, if this game were to slot into any point in the series history, this would be a new, different Belmont unlucky enough to get married in Romania around the time Dracula was able to come back. This actually makes more sense, since the hero looks nothing like Simon, explores a castle different from one Simon ever saw, and used items Simon never uses.
Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance
Simon makes a non-continuity, cameo appearance in Harmony of Dissonance (a game which stars his grandson, Juste Belmont). Here, the Boss Rush mode can be played by 8-bit Simon, although he's not available for use in the main game at all.
Castlevania: Harmony of Despair
And speaking of 8-bit Simon in modern games, this version of the heroes is also playable in Harmony of Despair, but this time he's usable throughout the game. Of course, this whole game is a flight-of-fancy, non-continuity adventure, so nothing that happened in the game actually had any effect on the greater continuity.
Lords of Shadows History:
Castevania: Lords of Shadows - Mirror of Fate
Of course, then we get to the Lords of Shadow reboot series which changes everything. Here, Simon is the son of Trevor and grandson of new-start for the clan, Gabriel Belmont. Simon is the third member of the clan to enter the dark castle the serves as a centerpiece for this games, and his quest is an attempt to bring honor back to his clan.
The short version is that Gabriel Belmont went bad, became a vampire, killed his wife, and nearly killed his kid, Trevor Belmont. Trevor then goes after his father, but is turned as well. He had a child, Simon, and it was Simon's turn to try and stop the evil vampire. While in the castle he met a mysterious figure, Alucard, and it was only with Alucard's aid (removing Dracula's control over Simon during a key battle) that the two heroes were able to defeat Dracula and end his reign of darkness over the land.
Alucard vanished at the end of the game, leaving Simon to watch the castle crumble into dust (like it always does in these games).
Playing as Simon:
For most of his run, Simon was the basic Belmont. He was limited to walking right and left, jumping, and using his whip and sub-weapons. Even these controls were very limited, though -- he couldn't change directions in mid-jump, nor could he jump on and off of stairs (he had to walk onto them from the top or bottom like the rest of us). He didn't even get to do anything fancy wth his whips... at the start.
It wasn't until Super Castlevania IV that this mold was broken (before this the other Belmonts controlled just like Simon). With the fourth official entries in the main series, though, Simon gained a bunch of new trick. He could control his jumps, including jumping on and off of stairs, granting Simon all kinds of mobility. He also became increasingly skilled with his whip, being able to whip in all eight directions (not just left and right). The whip could also be held for a length of time, allowing Simon to perform low-damage flicks (helpful for hitting low-to-the-ground enemies. Plus, he could whip onto hook and swing through the air.
All these later skills brought Simon up from being one of the least maneuverable Belmonts to one of the most agile. In fact, to this day his Super Castlevania IV incarnation may stand as the most agile Belmont in the series -- games after this tended to take away some of these skills and abilities, drastically limiting what a Belmont could do.
It wasn't until Castlevania: Judgment, though, that Simon was given a bunch of new tricks to work with. As a character in a fighting game, Simon had to have a bunch of moves and combos he could perform. Most of these were based around his whip (which made sense considering how skilled he eventually became with it). He could juggle enemies into the air with his whip, latch onto objects and throw them, and then use the whip to break through defenses for massive damage.
Finally, a version of Simon came back again in Castlevania: Lords of Shadow - Mirror of Fate, once again using a whip with sub-weapons. Of course, being part of a fully 3D game meant that Simon could move in all the directions, exploring the vast levels before him. Plus, since Trevor, Simon's father, had married one of the Belnades ladies, Sypha, Simon had a connection to the magic of the clan. With his magic he could summon spirit helpers to aid him in combat for short periods of time.