We’re into our second collection of Konami’s most renowned titles and this time, we’re focusing on the legendary vampire killing series of them all. Castlevania debuted over 30 years ago and has had a remarkable life that’s highly celebrated to this day. Konami hope to share some of the series most famous moments and bring us the best of the best. Is this true or have they missed the mark?
Castlevania has gone through many changes and ups and downs over the last 30 years. This anniversary collection brings together the most famous titles (most of them) from the period spanning from the early 80’s to mid-90’s. This covers a range of titles including:
Castlevania: The original granddaddy of the vampire hunting series. This classic 2D side scroller has Simon Belmont infiltrate Dracular’s Castle in a bid to destroy the ultimate evil once and for all.
Castlevania 2: Simon’s Quest: The outcast of the family and one that was not well received back upon its original release. However it was given new life in recent years with updates that made it easier to understand the vital clues, a faster transition of the day/night cycle and better visuals. It’s still overly difficult at times and is a little confusing to navigate the world at times, but still remains an interesting instalment that breaks up the rest of the series until Bloodlines.
Castlevania 3: This was a return to the old and one which was solid if not a just a repeat of before. Still a solid outing and an adventure that’s highly enjoyable and improves some features that held the first game back.
Castlevania 4 (Super Castlevania): This was a milestone for the series and a major outing on the SNES. Castlevania 4 is often regarded as one of the best side-scrolling adventures for the SNES and one of the best ever made. It’s visually stunning for the hardware at the time, great sound design and new additions to the controls which made it much more fluent and enjoyable. Although there were new characters and a much grander scale to the lore, at this stage the stories were being repeated and just amounted to Dracula comes back and must be dealt with. This would change with the next major instalment to the series.
Castlevania GB: This being the first outing for the Game Boy, just a simple (and I mean simple) port of the original. One game that was fine for the time but now shows its age and a few glaring problems that make it extremely difficult to complete.
Castlevania 2 Belmont’s Revenge - GB: Thankfully we also get the sequel which is visually more interesting, has engaging gameplay and a kickass soundtrack. Plus the controls are a whole lot better and the level design is a much improvement over the bland, linear design of the first outing on the Game Boy.
Castlevania - The New Generation: A hidden gem and one which showcased some fresh blood in the series. This was a Castlevania title that allowed you to choose between two heroes, had a WW1 setting which gave the game a bleak and fascinating edge over previous instalments and was noted for its bloodier and more gruesome tone. New Generation is a great game in the genre and one that stands high with Super Castlevania 4.
Kid Dracula: Another hidden gem and one which is gracing Europe and the US for the first time ever! This was originally a Japanese exclusive and features a more family friendly vibe but still packs in the ultra-fun of the other games.
The collection is pretty strong and showcases some of the finest hours of the series. The original was a ground breaker for the time and it’s nice to relive what was the beginning of one of Konami’s greatest series. Then we have some of the best games in the series including Castlevania 4, The New Generation, Kid Dracula and Belmont’s Revenge. All of which are highly entertaining, still play well and have aged with great respect.
The worst offenders are the original Gameboy release which has not aged well at all. Buggy, dull and with clumsy controls, it’s difficult to play and just becomes a nightmare (but not in the right way). Then we have Castlevania 2 which is not all bad and I do admire they ambitious change of direction, but it’s not as strong as the early Zelda entries and comes off as being difficult and disjointed (despite the best efforts to correct many of the issues that plagued the original release).
It is true that the absences of Rando of Blood and Symphony of the Night are the biggest missed opportunities this collection could have. But these titles being MIA is most likely due to the release of both games on the PS4 last year. It’s a shame they’re not included as this would make it the ultimate Castlevania package and been great for PC and Xbox One users. But this is a great collection of the classic titles and a couple which should be played again or for the first time by fans.
Konami understand what great series they have made and their impact on the industry. It’s a shame that Konami have not brought back Castlevania in recent years, but this is an incredible reminder of how amazing the series was and still is to this day. This collection includes the technical documents behind the creation of each game here and it’s fascinating to read and see how it came to be. Definitely a must have for collectors, Castlevania fans and those new to the series.
++ Great collection of some of the best Castlevania games
+ Most of the work well, run smoothly and play great
+ Great behind the scenes extras
-- Castlevania (Gameboy) is buggy, tedious and downright annoying to play
- Castlevania 2 is a worthy concept but highly flawed
A PS4 Review copy of Konami Anniversary: Castlevania Collection was provided by the publisher for the purpose of this review.