Adrian "Alucard" Fahrenheit Tepes
The Castlevania series can easily be broken into two camps: fans of the older platforming series (a la the original Castlevania), and fans of the newer, Metroidvania games started with Symphony of the Night. As the star of Symphony, Alucard became the poster character for that sub-genre and, with all the new fans flooding into the series from the success of that game, the new-beloved star of the series (sorry Simon).
Not that Symphony was Alucard's first game. The son of Dracula showed up before, in the NES classic Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse. There he was one of three optional characters the player could select (along with Sypha Belnades and Grant DaNasty) who would aid Trevor Belmont in his battle against Dracula. It's an interesting dynamic, actually, with the son going after the father despite also being a vampire himself. This backstory would become the basis for many of Alucard's important character moments in Symphony.
In fact, Alucard's inclusion in that game (instead of just making a new character or sticking with the Belmont family, as had been the norm for years) can be traced to series director Koji Igarashi and his love for Castlevania III. References to that game would show up in many later titles as well, which further highlights many of the reasons why Alucard came back time and again after Symphony -- he was a favorite of the fans and the director because of the games he was in and his interesting backstory that was more than simply "hero with whip goes to castle, kills bad man."
Of course, getting back to the split between the fandom, whether Alucard deserves his place at the poster child for the series is up for debate. If you're a fan of the classic-style gameplay, Simon Belmont is probably the character you think of when you think "Castlevania". For an entire generation, though -- because of his games, the genre he helped to propagate, and his interesting, more detailed backstory -- Alucard has become the fan-favorite. For good or ill, he's who many (maybe even most) think of when they think about the series.
Chronologically, Alucard's first appearance in the series was not in Castlevania III but in Castlevania: Legends (at least, if you consider that game a part of Castlevania continuity). There, Alucard worked with the Belmont of the era, Sonia, to thwart the Dark Lord (his father, Dracula) in the evil one's plans for world domination. Why was Alucard helping Sonia? Well, that actually is part of his backstory that was detailed more heavily in Symphony of the Night.
As discussed in that later game (through the Nightmare sequence part-way through and then Dracula's dialogue near the end of the game) Dracula had a wife, Elizabeth, and the two of them had a son, Adrian (aka Alucard). Elizabeth, though, was also a practicing healer (read: witch) and the citizens of the region felt unkindly towards her and her powers (well, and the fact that she was married to a vampire megalomaniac with delusions of grandeur). As such, they burned her.
Needless to say, Dracula did not take kindly to this action -- he went off the deep end, declaring that he would rule the world and wipe it clean of humans. Alucard, though, didn't blame the dumb, stupid mortals for doing dumb stupid things and vowed to protect the land from his father. Thus, when a Belmont showed up at Dracula's castle, Alucard jumped at the chance to work with her, training her in combat so she'd be ready to take on his father, the dark vampire lord.
Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse
Of course, as we well know Dracula comes back from the dead on a regular basis. It wasn't long after Dracula was defeated by Sonia that the vampire lord came back and he was none-too-happy with his son (either because Alucard had aided Sonia or, if you don't count that as part of continuity, simply because the son disagreed with the father's plans). Using his dark powers, Dracula dominated Alucard, turning his son into a mindless minion. Alucard was put in charge of a lower area in Dracula's castle to await an eventual hero that would come looking to stop Dracula and his evil plans. And as it happened, that's exactly the scenario that occurred.
Trevor Belmont, heir to the family whip, came to Dracula's castle looking to put the dark lord back in the ground. Encountering Alucard, Trevor battled the younger vampire, eventually defeating Alucard, freeing him from his father's dark magic. Sensing that the Belmont had good intentions and could aid Alucard in his own quest to defeat Dracula, the two teamed up.
Together, with the aid of the sorceress Sypha Belnades and the heroic rogue Grant DaNasty, Alucard 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 his companions, Alucard watched the castle crumble into the sea, confident that, for a time, the land was free of Dracula's dark magic.
However, Alucard sensed that Dracula's dark magic could, once again, spread across the land. To try and stop that from happening, and knowing that his own dark magic was linked to his father's, Alucard willingly sealed himself in the ground to sleep for all eternity -- he trusted that the Belmont clan could handle any future reappearance's of Dracula.
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
For Alucard, it was over three centuries before he sensed any disturbance in the dark magics of the land. As the dark magic grew, Alucard awoke, feeling that something had gone wrong and balance between good and evil had become unaligned. Rising from his grave, Alucard went to investigate, finding that once again Dracula's castle had appeared.
Exploring the castle, Alucard ran into Death, servant of Dracula. Death worked to send Alucard away so that the son couldn't, once again, work against his father. Alucard, of course, refused, and Death punished him by stealing his equipment and leaving the younger vampire low-level and weak (so, kind of a dick move). This was, presumably, because Dracula didn't want his son dead, just out of the way, so Death couldn't specifically stop Alucard, just annoy him enough that maybe the vampire would leave... which he didn't.
Throughout the castle, Alucard heard about a new master of the land. From Maria Renard, a girl he met in the halls, Alucard heard the story of how Richter Belmont, current heir to the vampire hunting whip and defender of the land, had gone missing. Exploring further, Alucard came across Richter, discovering that the Belmont had declared himself lord of the castle. It was only with Maria's aid, though, that Alucard discovered that Richter wasn't in control of himself. Much like when Alucard had been made into the Dark Lord's minion, Richter had befallen a similar fate under the control of the dark priest Shaft. Alucard managed to free the Belmont, defeating Shaft. This saved the vampire hunter, but there was still more for Alucard to do.
Upon Shaft's defeat, a magical portal opened revealing a second, inverted version of Dracula's castle floating above the normal one. Alucard ventured deep into that castle, fighting many foes while collecting the five pieces of Dracula that had once similarly been collected by Simon. Finding the heart of the castle, Alucard was able to finally gain access, taking on Shaft a second time before finally coming face to face with Dracula. The two had a heated discussion, with Dracula blaming humans for the death of his wife while Alucard defended them. It was only after battling, with Dracula falling to the superior power of Alucard, that the vampire lord saw some small measure of the error of his ways and renounced his feud with the mortals... for a time.
Leaving the castle, watching it crumble to the ground, Alucard told Maria and Richter that the only way to ensure Dracula never came back would be to seal his power away once again. Alucard went off to find his tomb once again, with Maria chasing after him to declare her love for him (a guy she'd known for, what, fifteen minutes) and to stop him from locking himself away forever.
Symphony of the Night received an audio drama sequel, Castlevania: Nocturne of Recollection in which Alucard confronts people claiming he was an incubus. His backstory was further explored, and he and Maria had some moments together. That said, it was a Japanese-only radio release, one that was never brought, in official form, to western shores. While it may hold a place in official continuity, we at the Inverted Dungeon don't consider it official canon, mostly because we can't understand it (as we don't speak Japanese).
Officially the game also had two remakes and a semi-remake. After its initial release on the Sony PlayStation, Konami ported the game over to the Sega Saturn. To tell the two apart, the Saturn port is referred to as Nocturne in the Moonlight (which was the Japanese name for Symphony). Although the game introduced a couple of features fans wanted (like a larger castle and an additional playable character: Maria), the port suffered from some major hardware issues, making it an inferior port in comparison to the original.
A better remake was found in the later release, The Dracula X Chronicles, as a bonus unlockable mode. Like with Nocturne, Symphony Chronicles featured Mari as a playable character. It also didn't suffer the engine issues the Saturn port did, making it a superior version of the original game (so long as you wanted to spend the time unlocking it in the larger package).
Finally, the game was "remade" for Apple iOS, turning it into a puzzle game for Castlevania Puzzle: Encore of the Night. At its core, the game is a retelling of Symphony but instead of an action game everything is told via and one-on-one puzzle mode. The game is a bit of an oddity, something far afield from the normal Castlevania mechanics.
Soon after the events of Symphony, Alucard was actively working to find a way to defeat his father. Sensing that his father would simply come back time and again, Alucard created a spear (the creatively named Alucard Spear) as a tool to permanently send his father to the grave. When a dimensional rift is opened by a mystical traveler, Aeon, Alucard ventures in after his father (who had similarly been drawn in). Within this rift, Alucard learned about a greater danger: 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).
Alucard met with another hero in the rift, the young warrior Eric Lecard. At that time Alucard bequeathed his spear to Lecard in the hopes that the young man would one day be able to wield it in a fight with Dracula. Then Alucard participated in the tournament against friend a foe (including his old companions, Trevor, Sypha, and Grant) to see who was strong enough to take on the Time Reaper and end Galamoth's plans before they could begin.
(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.)
After the tournament, we're shown that Alucard continued to work against his father. Learning of a prophesy that in 1999 AD Dracula would be defeated and sealed within an eclipse, Alucard ventures to the Hakuba Shrine to lend his power and ensure that, two hundred years later, his father would be sealed in the eclipse, ending his life forever.
Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow
We jump ahead over 200 years, then to after the prohesized eclipse. A young man, Soma Cruz, and his friend, Mina Hakuba, visit the shrine of her family. There, though, they are caught up in a mysterious castle, one that appears around them most unexpectedly. Within the castle Soma begins to exhibit most unusual powers, ones he has never seen or used before -- the ability to collect and use the souls of monsters. A mysterious stranger, Genya Arikado, explains that Soma has to explore the castle to learn about his power and find a way to escape the castle itself.
As it turns out, though, the stranger knew much more than he let on. The stranger was actually Alucard, and he had come to the shrine and castle to prevent the possible resurrection of Dracula. As Soma discovered, though, Dracula had been reborn in a way -- Soma was Dracula reincarnated, and only through self-control and Alucard's guidance would Soma be able to resist the temptation to turn evil and become Dracula incarnate. Alucard helped Soma figure out his powers, defeat the foes that hoped to turn Soma into Dracula, and prevent the dark lord from taking his true form again.
Aria of Sorrow was later repackaged with another Castlevania Game Boy Advance game, Harmony of Dissonance. The game played exactly the same (with some very minor patching for bugs), making this just a simple re-release and not a full remake.
It did, however, have a true remake for cellphones. Although tweaked to fit on phone screens, so far as we can tell the game otherwise played the same as on the GBA. When we find more information, we'll report further.
Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow
A year passed, but the followers of Dracula would not be stopped -- they planned for his resurrection and, one way or another, they would ensure it. Constructing a new castle, the cultists, lead by the sorceress Celia, had two new potential hosts for Dracula's power. Luring Soma, Genya, and the other characters from Aria to this new fortress, they planned to steal Soma's power away, creating a new body for Dracula so he could rule the world.
Thankfully, Genya was there to once again advise Soma and aid him in battle. Through his advise and tutelage, Soma was able to keep control of his power, defeating the false pretenders to Dracula's power, stopping a possible resurrection before it could occur. Genya and Soma were able to prevent Dracula from coming back ensuring that, for a time, the world would be safe once again.
Of course, that's officially what happened. There was an alternate mode in the game, though, that showed what happened if Soma wasn't able to keep a lid on his powers, eventually giving in and becoming Dracula. In that version Alucard, along with Julius Belmont and Yoko Belnades, went through the castle on a quest to confront Soma and defeat the soul of Dracula. The trio are able to confront Soma and defeat him. Sadly, while Dracula's resurrection is stopped, Soma is killed as well. The heroes depart the castle, relieved the dark lord is gone but sad that their friend was lost to the dark magics.
Castlevania: Harmony of Despair
Alucard, in his traditional form, makes one additional appearance in Harmony of Despair. He's one of the starting characters in that game, and he plays largely like his Symphony incarnation (as that's where most of his sprites come from).
Castlevania (Netflix Series)
We don't see much of Alucard in the first season of the Netflix series based on Castlevania III. He shows up for a brief moment to demand his father (Dracula) give up his quest for revenge (over the death of Dracula's wife, Lisa). This demand has little sway and then Alucard disappears for a few episodes. We're lead to believe this is because Dracula has trapped Alucard under the city that eventually sees both Trevor and Sypha as its defenders. As it so happens, Sypha explored under the city for a "great defender" who, it turns out, was Alucard. There's a bit of mumbo-jumbo about knowledge passing backwards in time and somehow Alucard was the legendary warrior that had defeated/would defeat Dracula in the future (but "past" as per the tale because time travel is awful). So the two warriors eventually wake the half-vampire (although they didn't realize he was a half-vampire at the time).
Not that Alucard was at all pleased to be awoken -- he really didn't think the two heroes were up for the task of defeating Dracula, nor was he at all willing to aid them. Instead, after a heated exchange with Trevor (who has his own qualms about letting a vampire, even a half-vampire, live) the two alpha-males fought out their issues. In the end, Alucard learned that Trevor was a stronger warrior than he gave the Belmont credit for and agreed to aid the other warriors in their quest.
Alucard is capable of great fighting capacity with his sword, both in hand-to-hand as well as magically propelling it as if it were a sword familiar (from Symphony of the Night). He can also float and move very quickly (even showing off a little bit of teleportation, ala his fancy tricks with the Alucard Sword). He also seems to enjoy fighting without a shirt on which was... odd. We assume this was just for artsy effect, but he does (thankfully) put on a shirt and cloak eventually, as otherwise topless Alucard would have needed some explaining.
Kid Dracula History:
Although not officially part of the main continuity, Konami did release two games that referenced and played with the main Castlevania. Starting with Demon Castle Special: I'm Kid Dracula (the "Demon Castle" from "Akumajo", classically part of the Castlevania name in Japan), the series tells the story of Kid Dracula and his lighthearted battles with the evil lizard king Galamoth. It is all but agreed that the "Kid Dracula" featured in these games is Alucard -- he has vampire powers, uses a ball of destruction for his main weapon, and is always trying to impress his father, the lord of the castle. If that's not Alucard, it would have to be Dracula (presumably trying to get the respect of his father, Vlad Dracul).
Now, these games hold a rather nebulous place in the Castlevania continuity -- although officially they aren't part of the series, Galamoth is a bonus villain in Symphony of the Night and the is big bad behind the events of Judgment, so these games both are and aren't part of continuity. We at the Inverted Dungeon do not consider these games canon, despite some continuity between the games and the larger series, but if you want to try and shoehorn them in, feel free.
Demon Castle Special: I'm Kid Dracula
The first game recounts the tale of Kid Dracula, mighty heir to the throne and... well we don't want to say "hero of the realm" because he's a vampire lord, but maybe "antihero of the realm" will do. Whatever the case, one day the evil lizard king, Galamoth, sent Kid Dracula a rather pointed message, calling him out for not being nearly as tough as the kid boasts. Galamoth declared himself the baddest motha' in the world (shut yo' mouth!) and Kid Dracula had to venture out across the world to Galamoth's fortress to defeat the lizard king and... well, okay, again "saving the day" isn't exactly right, but something akin to being awesome and feared for his power will probably do. Kid Dracula was on top of the world, and that's all he cared about.
Officially I'm Kid Dracula never came state-side. While it did have a remake/sequel released on the Game Boy worldwide (which we'll discuss momentarily), the original game remains a Japan-exclusive release. It did have one additional remake for cellphones, but that, too, was Japan-only.
Full of himself and high on his power, Kid Dracula rested well on the knowledge that he was the biggest lord of the land and none could stand up to him (well, except for his father, naturally). However, after a year had passed (more or less), Galamoth was at it again, once again declaring himself the most evil lord of the world. Aided by Death and a variety of Dracula's minions, Kid Dracula set out once again to take on the evil lizard king and defend his reputation. His adventure, similar to the one he had before, took him to many locations around the world before finally putting the littlest vampire lord in a confrontation with Galamoth. In the end, Kid Dracula came out on top and went home to bask in the praise of his minions.
Lords of Shadows History:
Castlevania: Lords of Shadows - Mirror of Fate
While the first Lords of Shadow game focused on new series lead (and start for the clan) Gabriel Belmont, the following two games fleshed out his descendents, showing up Trevor and Simon Belmont at the heights of their own vampire hunting careers... and for Trevor, his eventual fall and turning into the vampire Alucard.
For Trevor, his story begins before the plot of the first game even kicks off. Conceived a yer before the events of Lords of Shadow, Trevor's birth was kept a secret from his father at the urging of the Brotherhood of Light (and order dedicated to wiping out the Lords of Shadow). This proved wise, saving the child, as Gabriel fell to darkness -- without this ruse, Trevor would have died along with his mother, Marie, when Gabriel (now going under the name "Dracula") returned from his quest against the Lords of Shadow.
Instead, Trevor was raised by the order to be a warrior. He also married a young woman, Sypha Belnades, and together that had a child, Simon. The Brotherhood, though, had plans for Trevor and, When the time was right, they revealed to the young vampire hunter his true lineage, explaining that is father killed his mother, and that the only way to clear the stain on his family's name would be to head to Bernhard Castle (now Dracula's Castle or, simply, Castlevania) to kill the demon lord living there.
Trevor, of course, took up the quest and headed off to the castle to face off with his vampiric father. The battle rage, but in the end Trevor was killed by Dracula. Before he died he revealed to his father who he really was: the son of the vampire lord. Bereft, Dracula tried to revive the boy by giving him some of his own blood, but it seemed too late -- the boy was dead. Dracula buried him under the name "Alucard" (since Trevor never revealed his real name).
Alucard, though, wasn't truly dead. Awakening 30 years later, the new vampire lord crawled from his grave to spy Dracula's castle still standing. Vowing to once again try to defeat his father, Alucard ventured into the castle only to encounter his own son, Simon, there as well. Simon had arrived on his own quest to defeat Dracula. Sensing the two might have been able to aid each other, Alucard assists the young Belmont, and together they face off against Dracula.
However despite seemingly defeating Dracula, Alucard notes that the vampire lord didn't die in the way a vampire normally does (Dracula dies in a splash of red light instead of, I dunno, imploding or turning to dust or crawling off screen and moaning for a few minutes -- yes, we just referenced Buffy the Vampire Slayer). Alucard, though, convince the boy to give up the quest, and the two parted ways.
Castlevania: Lords of Shadows 2
Staying close over the years, the younger vampire lord was there when the Brotherhood was defeated by Dracula years later after a failed assault against the vampire master. It was then that Alucard approached his father and explained a plan he had devised to rid the land of evil and defeat Satan once and for all. With Dracula's agreement, Alucard plunged his sword into Dracula's chest, putting the vampire to sleep for ages until the time was right to resurrect him and finish off what Gabriel had started so many centuries ago.
Finally, but the time the future rolled around, over 500 yeas later, Satan and his disciple, Zobek were in a position to finalize their plans and take over/destroy/whatever the world. Alucard had, by this point, insinuated himself into Zobek's operation, working undercover as one of his lieutenants and personal bodyguard. Under cover of darkness, Alucard removed the shard of his sword from Dracula's chest, reviving the vampire lord.
While Dracula went about, regaining his power, visions of the young Alucard, a child-like Trevor, guided Dracula on a quest to collect the shards of the Mirror of Fate. This would, eventually, restore Dracula's memories of his plan with Alucard. He then teamed up with Alucard to defeat Zobek and take on Satan. Alucard, sadly, was taken over by the soul of Satan, and had to be nearly killed to be freed of the evil force. Dracula then defeated Satan, impaling him on the Vampire Killer.
Reviving his son with his blood one again, Dracula then ignores the part of the plan where he was supposed to die to restore Gabriel's final part of the ages old quest. Instead he, and Alucard, each go on living, leaving a chance for their darkness to potentially spill, once again, across the land.
Playing as Alucard:
In his first appearance, Castlevania III, Alucard played much differently than in his later incarnations. Lacking a normal weapon, Alucard instead fought by hurling balls of destruction, fiery orbs that flew out from him in a straight line. He also could turn into a bat, giving him a fair bit of mobility as he could fly around the screen, reaching out of the way areas (and avoing dangers).
For I'm Kid Dracula and its sequel, Alucard (Kid Dracula) retained his ball of destruction (fireball), gaining abilities he could combine with it (by holding down the attack button). He had the ability to transform into a bat, invert his gravity, and cause a variety of attacks with his fireball. Most of these powers were lost in later games, but the inversion of gravity could potentially be an influence on the Inverted Castle in Symphony (certainly there's a parallel to be drawn between them).
Speaking of, it was his next appearance in Symphony of the Night, though, that really set the mold for the Alucard fans know. In that game, Alucard uses a sword, shield, and sub-weapons for his basic combat -- unlike Richter Belmont (who featured in the previous game, Castlevania Dracula X: The Rondo of Blood as well as an unlockable mode in Symphony, Alucard cannot perform item crashes of subweapons. Instead, Alucard can learn (or figure out, if you know the combos) various magic spells (such as shooting fire and summoning spirits). These, combined with a host of powers Alucard can gain (bat, wolf, and mist transformations and attacks) and familiars he could summon gave Alucard a diverse amount of attacks and an incredible amount of mobility.
When he showed up in Castlevania: Legends, Alucard retained a small semblance of his Symphony style, looking very similar to his 32-bit incarnation. He also retained his sword, hellfire spell, and bat transformation during his battle with Sonia, but the rest of his powers went unused in this game (which makes sense since it took place before Castlevania III and he didn't have them there, either).
Although Alucard was not playable in Aria of Sorrow, and you never had to see him fight in that game, he did see combat in an alternate mode in Dawn of Sorrow. There he fulfilling the same role he had in Castlevania III, teaming up with a Belmont (Julius) and a Belnades (Sypha) to take on Dracula. Sadly, no Grant analog was included in that game to finish the quartet (although Hammer was though to be included for that mode, his part in it was cut due to time).
By the time Judgment came out, Alucard had his full range of powers locked in. Like in Symphony and later games, Alucard relied on his sword and sub-weapons for his main attacks. He could summon spirits for his more powerful moves as well as summon a sword familiar and do a play on bat and mist transformations. He's a strong, competent fighter, one many fans would probably choose to play for his skill (as well as fan appreciation).
His final appearance in the main series was as part of Harmony of Despair. In that game, Alucard once again plays much like his Symphony counterpart, although this time he's lost the ability to transform into a bat. This was obviously done so Alucard wasn't exponentially better at exploration than any other character in the game, but it's an odd omission considering that the bat transformation has been part of his character since his first appearance. Still, his wolf and mist forms make small appearances, and his normal compliment of spells and weapons are available to him.
Once Trevor Belmont becomes Alucard in Lords of Shadow - Mirror of Fate he plays as a hybrid of the two character styles. He has access to vampiric powers (mist, wolf, and bat forms as well as a the ability to summon bats) while at the same time starting off with a whip of his own, the Dark Pain.
By Lords of Shadow 2, Alucard has gained new weapons and abilities to be an even more formidable foe, using swords (including the Crissaegrim, made famous in Symphony). Alucard, though, is not the main character of that game at all, so the time spent with him is brief in comparison to Mirror.
Alucard in Popular Culture:
Although the name "Alucard" has been used for a variety of characters in popular media, the most famous incarnation is certainly the character we know from the Castlevania series. The series helped to push the character into the minds of so many gamers that most might be surprised to know he didn't originate there.
No, officially the character of Count Alucard first appeared in the third English-language movie in the Universal Dracula cycle, Son of Dracula. While the title of the movie indicates that Alucard is the son of the dark prince (as the title of the movie would imply), the details are actual fuzzy in the film itself -- the characters figure out Alucard is a vampire by noticing his name is "Dracula" spelled backwards. The character never specifically calls himself the "son of Dracula", and everyone seems to assume he's Dracula after they figure out this detail. Officially Alucard is the son of the vampire in his one movie but the script leaves it murky.
Since that appearance Alucard has not shown up in any other Universal media. The name, though, has appeared in other productions, from the anime Hellsing (where it's also used as an alias of Dracula), to Batman vs. Dracula (again, as an alias), and even the kids show Wizards of Waverly Place. Almost invariably he's depicted as a vampire, usually with some connection to Dracula (if not Dracula in disguise).