As one of the four heroes of Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse, Sypha Belnades would be remembered by fans simply for her place in one of the most revered games in the series, but there's more to Sypha's legacy than one game --it's important to note they various things the character started for the series that contributed to making the name "Belnades" nearly as important the mythology of Castlevania as "Belmont" is.
For starters, Sypha was the first female protagonist in the series. This is a huge deal that should not be downplayed (which, it's worth noting the English manual basically did by mistakenly listing her as a "Mystic Warlord"). it's not as though there were many female characters in the NES landscape by that point, with Super Mario Bros. 2 and Metroid being the only games we can remember offhand with a female in any kind of playable role (well, unless you count White Mage from Final Fantasy, but we're still unclear if she was a girl or not). TO have another female playable is great for the series, showing a greater diversity for the characters than one might expect.
Of course, then it almost seems like Konami went out of their way to downplay the role of women after this. Very few of the playable characters have been men, and almost all of them have had to be rescued first (Sypha included), or were simply pawns of men (I'm lookin' at you, Order of Ecclesia), or, even worse, are simply kidnapped or killed off to give their men motivation (without being playable at all). Only two characters spring to mind, Carrie Fernandez and Sonia Belmont, who were agents of their own destiny, and even Sonia had to have a man (Alucard) help her from the background... and then she was wiped from continuity altogether. Damn.
So maybe Sypha set some bad precedents as well as some good ones. Still, because of her the series gained a band of female magic users -- all female, mind you, with only one man, Juste Belmont, showing any inclination towards the magical field they dominate (and he got those genes from Sypha). The Belnades clan recurs again and again, agents of good working against Dracula even when the Belmonts are no where to be seen. That's not such a bad legacy at all, really.
Raised from an early age to be a witch, among a coven of witches, Sypha Belnades grew to have great powers of the elemental spirits of the land -- ice, fire, and lightning. When darkness spread through the land, the witches of Wallachia (Sypha included) worked to protect the people and stop the evil from spreading. As elaborated upon in Castlevania: Judgment, the evil vampiress Carmilla sense that these witches would be a threat to the lord Dracula's plans. Spreading rumors and lies about the witches, Carmilla was able to make the villagers doubt the intentions of the witches, and thus began a series of vengeful witch trials -- trials that left most of Sypha's sister's dead, and Sypha alone to wander the countryside.
Eventually Sypha was taken in by the church for protection and training, as they sensed within her the goodness and light she could bring to the land. The Church employed her to battle the forces of darkness and to work against any threats Romania might experience. One such threat came when a dimensional rift was opened 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 Galamoth 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... by pitting them against each other in combat (via a fighting tournament, naturally).
Although Sypha would met her eventually companions (see: Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse below), including her eventual husband, Trevor Belmont, Sypha was still early in her timeline and did not realize the relevance of these encounters. She did, however, prove to be a formidable opponent in the tournament, one quite capable of taking on Galamoth and his minions.
(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 Trevor officially cast the fatal blow or not.)
Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse
Eventually Dracula's power grew and spread, sending the legions of evil once more across the land. The church, realizing this was a threat that had to dealt with quickly, sent their best warriors to the evil vampire's lands to try and defeat him and send his soul to Hell. Sypha joined this group, vowing her own revenge towards the vampire and his minions for their hand in the slaughter of her coven. Unfortunately, Sypha's quest was cut short when she was captured by the Cyclopes and turned to stone (not a power normally attributed to Cyclopes, but since it's in the series, we'll let it slide).
Not long after, Trevor Belmont came to Dracula's lands to try his hand at defeating the dark lord. Searching through the swamps around Dracula's castle, Trevor came across the Cyclops, engaging the beast in battle. Upon the Cyclops's defeat the magic that bound Sypha to her statue form dispelled and the sorceress was freed. After a brief discussion, Sypha willing joined with Trevor on his quest against Dracula.
Together, with the aid of the heroic rogue Grant DaNasty and the vampire lord Alucard, Sypha and Trevor were able to make it to Dracula's throne room and take on the vampire. Though the battle was tough, the vampire was defeated. With the rest of her companions, Sypha watched the castle crumble into the sea, confident that, for a time, the land was free of Dracula's dark magic.
Eventually, she and Trevor were married, and her bloodline would go on to influence the heroes of the Belmont clan for generations to come.
To note, Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse did receive one remake, a cellphone-only edition. From what we can find, the game was largely the same as the original, just modified to work on mobile devices.
Castlevania: Symphony of the Night
Officially, in Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, Alucard has to face off against three zombies in the Inverted Coliseum -- three zombies that look like his old friends (from Castlevania III): Trevor Belmont, Sypha Belnades, and Grant DaNasty. This is a nice nod to the previous title, but this isn't considered an official reappearance of Sypha (or the other two) since these are just zombie look a-likes.
Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin
Similarly, in Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin, the Zombie Trio make a second appearance, this time in the Nest of Evil. That area serves as a kind of "best of" for various Castlevania bosses from the Metroidvania era of the series. They don't serve any specific plot points here and, as before, these are just zombie look a-likes and not the real characters brought back to life.
Lords of Shadows History:
Castlevania: Lords of Shadows - Mirror of Fate
In the Lords of Shadow universe, Sypha shows up alongside Trevor. In Mirror of Fate, Sypha Belnades becomes Trevor Belmont's wife, eventually giving birth to Simon Belmont. When Trevor goes off to fight his father, Gabriel Belmont (who has, himself, become the vampire lord Dracula), Sypha is supportive of his decision, only hoping he comes back alive. He does not, in in revenge for the attack on his castle, Dracula sends his minions to attack the town where Sypha and Trevor lived. Sypha was killed in the attack (once again showing that women in Castlevania have it really hard), leaving Simon an orphan.
That's not the last we see of Sypha, though. When Simon eventually tries his hand at taking on Dracula, he gains a spirit guide along the way. This woman (who is actually Sypha) can be summoned to aid him in combat (in a nice nod to her role in Castlevania III).
Castlevania Netflix History:
Although not seen for the first couple of episodes of the first season of the show, Sypha (voiced by Alejandra Reynoso) does eventually appear in the Netflix series based on Castlevania III. One among a clan of Speakers, keepers of knowledge (and the magical arts), Sypha ventured off on her own to try and find a "great protector" that lived beneath the town of Gresit (which was under threat not only from demonic attack, due to Dracula and his quest for vengeance against all humanity, but also a crazed Bishop and his Church-empowered goons).
While she explored beneath the city she came into an an ancient area that, in many ways, resembled Dracula castle. This was a problem, though, as one of the Dark Lord's monsters was lurking there as well, a cyclops with the power to turn men to stone. Sypha, sadly, was caught in the gaze and turned into statue (not unlike what happened to her in the events leading up to Castlevania III), seemingly left for dead as the cyclops fed on her fear while she was trapped for all eternity.
Thankfully for Sypha a hero, Trevor Belmont, came into the underground area at the behest of the Elder of the Speakers tribe (who was also Sypha's grandfather). Trevor fought the cyclops, killing the beast and, in the process, freeing Sypha in the process. The two returned topside and it was through her cajoling (outright guilt, really) that Trevor elected to take up his whip properly and fight against the Church and then, later, Dracula's forces in an epic showdown.
This leads the heroes, by the second season, to head to the old Belmont estates. There, Trevor promised, existed the knowledge needed to take on Dracula and stop his evil reign. Though the estates themselves had been burned down, the library the family had amassed, it's whole collection of treasures and knowledge, had been seals in the crypts beneath the estate, magically protected against intruders. With Sypha's aid, the heroes were able to enter the crypts and seek out the knowledge they needed.
Eventually Sypha figured out a way to control Dracula's own castle (which could move around the countryside via clockwork and magic). With Alucard's aid, Sypha magically grabbed ahold of the castle (via a magic scrying mirror), and transported the castle on top of the Belmont keep. The two handled this while Trevor had to fight off the forces off Dracula, who had come to the Belmont estate to finish off the last of the clan and defeat anyone that might stop Dracula's plans.
Once the monsters were defeated, and Dracula's castle was permanently affixed atop the Belmont lands, the heroes then ventured into Castle Dracula where they fought off the vampire's lieutenants before, eventually, taking on the master vampire himself. Any one of the heroes would have been no match for the vampire, but together their powers proved greater. The battle raged from the front hall through the many levels of the castle before, in the end, Dracula was defeated. The heroes had been successful and humanity was saved from extinction at the hands of the Prince of Darkness.
With the castle stuck in Belmont territory, Trevor ended up bequeathing his hold to Alucard, leaving the half-vampire as the protector of all of the Belmont knowledge along with Dracula's own considerable libraries. Then Trevor and Sypha ventured off together to try and find the rest of her clan.
The third season of the series finds Trevor and Sypha riding together across the countryside, fighting Night Creatures while they searched for the rest of her clan. Although they could find no trace of the Speakers, they did stumble upon the town of Lindenfeld, a little hamlet with its own issues. Having killed the Night creatures outside of town, Trevor and Sypha were hailed as heroes, but it did also gain them then attention from the Judge, overseer of the town, and Saint Germain, a con man (who secretly had real magical power), as well as Prior Sala, the leader of the monks in town who seemed none to happy to have Night Creature-killing heroes around.
As it turned out, months before (when Dracula was waging his campaign against the humans, sending Night Creatures out into every corner of the world), a hulking Night Creature (known simply as the Visitor) came to Lindenfeld. The monks, having seen the evil Dracula was perpetrating, had lost their faith in God and when this beast came to them, sending words into their heads telepathically, they found themselves with a new god to worship. As Trevor and Sypha investigated the town they found many clues about the fate of this massive Night Creature, and just what influence it had on the monks in town. These monks had changed their holy symbols, to that of alchemical symbols representing the alchemical symbol for Hell, and were etching the symbol for "change" all around town. Whatever they were up to, Trevor and Sypha feared, it wasn't good.
Taking their evidence to the Judge, the leader of Lindenfeld agreed and promptly went about gathering his men. However, before they could launch an attach on the priory, the monks made their move. Chanting before the beast they put their spell into action. All the symbols around town flared to life, burning all the denizens of the town in their homes, sending their flaming souls to the massive beast the monks had beneath their holy building. This allowed the Night Creature to open a gateway into Hell itself in an attempt at summoning Dracula back to the mortal plane. It also unleashed a horde of demons from Hell, eager and willing to fight the heroes as the Dark Lord was resurrected.
Trevor and Sypha, with Saint Germain in tow, were forced to fight their way through the demons, down into the crypt under the priory. There, Trevor and Sypha held back the demons while Saint Germain worked his magic to close the rift (keeping Dracula back from the mortal world). Once the rift was closing, Saint Germain bid his new associates farewell, diving into the rift to search out a lover who had once disappeared into the series of connecting rifts, the Infinite Corridor. Trevor and Sypha just had to finish off the great Night Creature, which they managed, wiping the demonic taint from the priory.
When the heroes went back outside they found the town completely ruined, everyone dead. On his back, bleeding to death, the Judge asked that the heroes burn his house without going inside it as a last act of kindness. He also explained that he'd sent the fleeing Prior Sala down a secret path through the woods. Following the path, the heroes found Sala dead in a spike pit, surrounded by the bones of so many other dead (including the bones of children). Going to the Judge's house, they went inside suspecting the worst, and they were proven right: the judge had a room in the back filled with the trophies of so many people he had killed, most of them young children. He'd secretly been a serial killer dressed up like a good person.
Horrified, the heroes burned the house. As the flames licked the bodies they stared, hollowed out, and wondered just what they were fighting for when even the "good" people in the world were truly evil.
For the next six weeks Trevor and Sypha traveled the countryside. It's fair to say that the darkness they saw at Lindenfeld left them reeling, but they really didn't have time to move on as at every place they went they discovered more cults trying to resurrect Dracula. None of these groups had the true means to perform the ritual; as Sypha pointed out, they had poorly translated incantations, scraps of magic without the full meaning, so their rituals never would have worked. These cults did, however, cause carnage and strife each time to cropped up.
After defeating one particularly nasty group, a set of cultists who seemed to worship he visage of Death, Trevor and Sypha move to the nearby city of Targoviste, the site where Dracula first unleashed his attack on man. There they found a city racked by the carnage of the Night Creatures, a land plunged into war with the darkness for months, barely able to keep its citizens alive. The problems with Targoviste were two-fold. First was a corrupt government, overseen by the leader of the royal guard, Zamfir. This guardian had little respect for the low citizens of the town, instead more concerned with keeping the supplies flowing to the underground sanctuary of the royal court. Only those that could be trusted were allowed access to the court, and Zamfir was the sole arbiter of this trust and access.
The other major issue at Targoviste were he night creatures, led by two vampires: Varney (a foul-smelling vampire from England) and Ratko (an ancient warrior of immense skill). These two battled Trevor and Sypha more than once and, were it not for the assistance of Zamfir and the guards, the two vampire hunters might have been killed. Zamfir, seeing strength in the heroes, invited them to the inner court. Even with this invitation, though, Trevor and Sypha were wary as they suspected something sinister was going on with Zamfir and the court (more than just ignoring the people on the surface of the town).
Things came to a head in Targoviste after Trevor and Sypha went to the court. There they found people living in fear, of course (as Targoviste was a war zone), but they also saw vast riches amassed in this underground court, piles of treasure that could have been used to feed the needy on the surface. Disgusted, Sypha railed at Zamfir and the other members of the court about the inequality of it all (meanwhile, Trevor picked through the treasure and found a holy relic, a powerful vampire hunting cross, that he assembled because why not). And then war came to the underground court.
The vampires had found their own way in, trailing the humans, and they launched a strike. The Night Creatures poured in and it forced Trevor, Sypha, and Zamfir to battle together to defeat the demons. While Ratko and the Night Creatures were there to kill the humans (following the orders Dracula had laid upon them months ago), Varney had other plans. He was actually interested in a relic hidden in the court and, using the carnage of the battle as cover, he forced his way into the royal chamber and found what he wanted: a magical mirror, a device not only of seeing but also transportation. He made haste and transported himself through, zapping over to the wreckage of Dracula's castle.
The Night Creatures were defeated by Sypha and Trevor but, sadly, Zamfir fell in the battle, a half-mad victim of the war. Half-mad because she'd been protecting the royals but the king and queen had died months early. The only things sitting on their thrones were the dessicated bodies, the last vestiges of the royal line of Targoviste. Zamfir has done her duty even after the duty no longer made sense, and she drove herself mad keeping the secret intact. With Zamfir gone, though, Trevor and Sypha saw the mirror, activated and still showing the way to Dracula's castle ruins. More to the point, though, they also saw that the castle was under attack and that their friend, Alucard, was there, defending it (and the poor people he had there for their own protection).
Alucard and his companion, Greta of Danesti, battled against a power contingent of Night Creatures but they could feel the tide of battle turning. Thankfully for them Trevor and Sypha appeared. With the four heroes united they were easily able to beat back the minions of Hell and save those townspeople still alive. Greta then went to work to aid her people while the other heroes went up into the castle to stop Varney and the dark magics at play.
Due to the actions of those heroes the plan to resurrect Dracula was thwarted and the rebis was destroyed. Varney then revealed himself to be Death and, in a one-on-one fight Trevor was forced to battle the undead super-vampire while the other heroes were stuck on the sidelines, helpless to assist. It seemed that Trevor wouldn't be able to defeat Death but he gave the fight his all, pulling out every trick and willing sacrificing all his power to the fight. It seemed, in the last strike, that both Death and Trevor were defeated at once, a blast of magic wiping them both out, leaving the other heroes forlorn over the death of their friend.
The next day, Alucard and Greta started the process of rebuilding the castle. With Greta's encouragement Alucard agreed to let the townspeople stay on the grounds, building a new town in and around the ruins. Sypha initially elects to leave, saddened at the loss of her lover, Trevor, simply wishing to go find he people, the Speakers, and reunite with them as she grieved. However, as she prepared to leave up rode Trevor. Apparently, in the blast he'd been transported away (thanks to a dying Saint Germain who had a change of heart in his last moments), saving the hero even as the evil super-vampire died. It had taken him time to ride back to the castle, but he made it, bruised and lightly injured from the whole affair.
Reunited, all four planned for the future of the castle and the town that would come.
As depicted in the show, the Speakers all dress like Sypha in the game series -- namely, long blue cloaks and huge hoods. Sypha keeps her blond hair and Spanish accent (she is a Belnades after all) and gains a fiery attitude in the process (becoming one of the best characters in the series). She augments her steely sense of honor and justice with powerful magics, brandishing blasts of fire and massive walls of ice to help defend the innocent from demons and monsters.
Playing as Sypha:
Unlike her companions, Sypha is neither a strong fighter nor a very agile one. Additionally, her attack power with her staff is very weak and she has the worst defense of any of the characters in the game. Despite this, though, Sypha can be very useful in battle due to her magic spells (which take the place of sub-weapons for the other heroes). Her ice spell can freeze lesser enemies in place, and these frozen enemies can be used as platforms (for a time). Meanwhile, her lightning spell creates three homing orbs, very useful for tight areas with lots of enemies.
That said, a team-up of Trevor and Sypha is at a disadvantage during the platforming sections. Sypha has neither the benefit of wall climbing, like Grant, nor the ability to fly, like Alucard, leaving her grounded much like Trevor. Players have to decide if her devastating magic is worth the trade off in maneuverability.
Later in the series, the dynamic between the various team members was directly referenced in "Julius Mode" from the DS Castlevania, Dawn of Sorrow. In that unlockable mode, Yoko Belnades (the analog for Sypha in that game) teams up with Julius Belmont (Trevor's analog) and Alucard (as Alucard), to take on Soma Cruz (who has turned to the "dark side" by embracing the Dracula soul within him) to defeat the evil power Soma is threatening to spread across the land. Sadly, there was no Grant analog -- audio clips hidden in the game seem to indicate Hammer, a shopkeep in the game, was to be playable, presumably as the Grant for the team up, but was most likely cut for time.
Although she plays a lot like Sypha, Yoko has a benefit that Sypha lacked -- healing. Her physical attacks, while weak, gave Yoko small boosts to her HP. This edge was sometimes very useful, especially for speed runners who needed an advantage against certain bosses.
Although the Fake Trevor and Fake Grant Alucard encounters in Symphony of the Night (and who later show up in Portrait of Ruin) are based on their respective characters from Castlevania III, Sypha's double plays very differently. She floats around the room, throwing magic at the player. She also has necromantic magic, with the ability to revive Fake Trevor if he is defeated first by the player.
Sypha benefited greatly from her makeover in Castlevania: Judgment. Her magic received a strong boost, making her, offensively, a powerhouse. She also gain a breadth of additional spells (like Gale Force and Disintegrate) that weren't part of the elements traditionally associated with the Belnades clan. Beyond that, she also gained the ability to use traditional sub-weapons, which before this game she's never been able to use. Overall, Sypha proved to be a tough foe (even if, physically, she still wasn't the strongest character).
Finally, a version of Sypha appeared as a background character in Castlevania: Lords of Shadow - Mirror of Fate. Although not a playable character (unlike Trevor and Simon), Sypha does get to lend a hand in battle, acting as one of the spirit guide for Simon, providing a defense boost for him while in combat.