- Developer: Konami
- Publisher: Konami
- Release Date: 16/05/2019
- Price: $19.99/ £15.99
- Review code provided by Konami
What a Horrible Night…
The battle between the Belmont Clan and Vlad Tepes Dracula has existed for as long as I can remember. This eternal struggle has had highs and lows, but it has been constant. Or at least it was until 2014’s Lords of Shadow 2. There was a long silence, and finally the Count reappeared! Spurred on by the success of the fantastic Castlevania Netflix series, Konami has unearthed the Belmont Clan for a new generation of gamers worldwide.
The Castlevania Anniversary Collection is a set of 8 “Classicvania” games, ranging from the original NES title, all the way up to Bloodlines on the Genesis/Mega Drive. The total list of games includes:
- Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest
- Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse
- Super Castlevania IV
- Castlevania: The Adventure
- Castlevania II: Belmont’s Revenge
- Castlevania: Bloodlines / The New Generation
- Kid Dracula
For someone diving into the series for the first time or for a long-time fan, there is a large amount of content to sink your teeth into. It is worthwhile to mention this collection represents the series from 1986-1994, except for Rondo of Blood, which is absent most likely to it appearing in Castlevania Requiem, a smaller collection of Castlevania titles exclusive to the PS4. Since this is a multiplatform game, it makes since that Rondo is excluded for PS4 owners, but it would have been nice to have it appear for the sake of having the complete set from 86-94.
…To Have a Curse!
The basic formula throughout the series puts you in control of a whip wielding Belmont (or descendant) as you traverse through the outskirts of Transylvania until you reach Dracula’s castle. Along the way, you follow a treacherous path filled with terrifying minions of the night and even more horrifying platforming sections. Each game contains between four to twelve side scrolling levels. Each game has slight deviations to this formula, such as Castlevania III’s multiple paths and playable characters. The two oddballs in this collection are Simon’s Quest and Kid Dracula. The former being an open world action RPG and the latter being an action shooter akin to Mega Man.
With eight games in this collection, there is quite a bit to do. Each game is filled with secrets, such as the infamous “wall meat” or diverging paths of Dracula’s Curse and Belmont’s Revenge. Just seeing everything in both games would take multiple playthroughs. But not every game is created equally, and some games hold up better than others. The standouts of this Collection are IV, Bloodlines, Belmont’s Revenge and Kid Dracula.
While playing this collection, I attempted completing the games in order, and this led me to discover a few sad things about my own personal feelings toward two of the games in this collection. The first being that I didn’t care for Dracula’s Curse as much as I did when I first played it on the NES. I found the platforming sections to be too unforgiving and frustrating. Secondly, I found myself in love with Super IV, I game that I did not like when it came out. Everything in Super IV was bigger, bolder and better than the NES games and playing them in order made me appreciate it that much more.
Dracula’s Curse was one of the lower moments in this collection for me. It is not a bad game by any means, but I feel that it would be ranked #7 on this list. The game I would rank lowest out of this collection would be Castlevania Adventure. The gameplay is extremely slow and bare bones. Thankfully, there are only four levels and it features the easiest final boss in the series. While the bosses may be easy, the rest of the game is tough as nails and completing it will test your mettle, if you can handle moving at a snail’s pace.
Aside from the games available, there is also a hefty sized eBook included in this collection. It features detailed information about each of the eight games as well as interviews with key people involved in the series. Even if you aren’t a diehard, just flipping through the pages and seeing the art and tips provided, makes this a worthy addition. Fans of the Netflix show will also have something to look forward to as the head producer, Adi Shankar, is featured in the interview section.
You Now ‘Prossess’ Dracula’s Rib
The main menu design is simple, yet effective. The list of available games is on the right of the screen, while the story of each game is displayed. This is a nice touch as many times the stories of these early games were present more in the manuals than the games themselves. Each game is depicted faithfully in their own original sprite work, ranging from NES, Gameboy, SNES and Mega Drive. While playing each game, different resolutions and display settings are available to give each player their desired display. Want to play a pixel perfect recreation in 4×3? You can. Want scanlines? 16×9 widescreen? Even dot matrix green is available for the Gameboy titles. There is a style for everyone, and these little touches are sure to go a long way.
Now I must admit my bias, Castlevania holds some of my favorite video game music of all time. One of the best aspects of revisiting these classics was to hear all the various chip tune classics. This collection does not disappoint. It did allow me to discover certain songs, such as “The Sinking Old Sanctuary” of Bloodlines or “Praying Hands” from Belmont’s Revenge. Both songs were stunning, and I found myself humming them long after my play time was over.
The Castlevania Anniversary Collection is a fantastic collection of games that needs to be experienced by all. Not every game is perfect, but as a package, it is hard to find reasons to complain. As a retrospective of the series early roots, it is odd that certain titles are missing, Rondo of Blood & Haunted Castle (which is available in the Konami’s Arcade Collection). Even with these titles missing, for the price tag, you are getting more than enough bang for your buck.
- Eight Games!
- Epic Chiptune Classics
- Challenging Yet Rewarding Gameplay
- Not All Games are Great
- Missing Rondo of Blood