The alternative is the older ones where you just kill stuff and progress onto the next level & as someone said, the best ones are Castlevania III on the NES and Rondo of Blood on the PC Engine.
Super Castlevania IV, from the pre-Metroidvania games. Yeah, it's slow and sluggish at times (don't
play the PAL version, whatever you do) but rather superb, a time-weathered minor classic IMO. Lovely atmospheric music too, couldn't believe my ears when I first heard the soundtrack.
The NES games don't do anything for me, personally, just like the similarly-brutal Mega Man series. The Mega Drive one is OK, but still too much a generic hack nn' slash platformer for my tastes, and I've never been too keen on Vampire's Kiss, the second Super NES Castlevania game.
I personally recommend the three GBA Castlevanias above the DS ones, slightly.
Never played SotN, oddly enough. I should eventually.
The 3D Castlevanias are all pretty awful.
Never played the Nintendo 64 ones, but the PS2 game, Lament of Innocence, is crap, yes.