The struggle against Dracula is eternal, spanning console generations and crossing entire genres. MercurySteam is doing exciting new things with the Lords of Shadow trilogy, but the series has turned into something different than what we’ve come to love over the years. What if we took the best parts of the best Castlevania games and merged them into an unbeatable whole?

Progression – Dawn of Sorrow 

Item drops have given vampire slayers new capabilities ever since Simon got his first lucky axe, but none have done it better than the franchise’s first Nintendo DS outing. Soma’s ability to occasionally absorb the soul of a fallen enemy opened up a whole new world of passive abilities, active attacks, summon spells, and one-off powers like a spectral vacuum cleaner that absorbs HP from opponents.

Weapons – Symphony of the Night

Magic has always been a big part of the hero’s arsenal, but super-powered fireballs can’t beat having a trusty weapon at your side. Symphony of the Night has a lot of features worth stealing, but its weapon design is particularly inspired. Daggers and fist weapons sacrifice range for speed, while two-handed swords leave Alucard vulnerable to attacks during their long animations but hit like trucks. Most importantly, though, unique weapons like the Chakram throwing rings, madly overpowered Shield Rod, and room-clearing Runesword break all the rules and let players experiment with entirely new playstyles.

No matter how crazy the selection gets, though, no Castlevania game could be considered perfect without the Vampire Killer.

Multiplayer – Harmony of Despair

The almost exclusively multiplayer downloadable title wasn’t what Castlevania fans were expecting or asking for, but the concept of letting players team up and simultaneously fight through enormous levels or even an entire castle is incredible. A separate co-op mode built for two to four players, with playable heroes taken from the series’ entire history, would be a lovely addition to the ultimate Castlevania game.

Level Design – Super Castlevania IV

You’re not drunk – the room is really spinning. This title’s use of the SNES’s Mode-7 capabilities blew away our conceptions of what a 2D platformer level could be. Castlevania has always been at its best when blending traversal with combat, and bending the rules like this 16-bit outing does is the ideal way to keep both of those elements fresh.

[Next up: Boss fights, soundtracks, and heroes.]