Back in the '90s, very few companies produced as many quality games as Konami. Now, 2 of their best are available in one must-have compilation for PlayStation 4. Grab your favourite whip and a few dozen swords so we can stop Dracula's evil plans yet again!
For the record, I consider myself one of the biggest Castlevania fans on the planet. I've been enjoying the series ever since the NES days and as far as I'm concerned, no 2D game has ever surpassed the awesomeness of this classic horror-themed franchise.
With that out of the way, just what the heck is Castlevania Requiem? Back in 2007 (funnily enough, on my birthday), Konami released Castlevania: The Dracula X Chronicles for PSP which contained Symphony of the Night and Rondo of Blood along with a 2.5D remake of Rondo of Blood which acted as the main event. Castlevania Requiem is merely a port of this collection except without the 2.5D remake. That being said, the PSP's screen is quite small and has poor resolution so Castlevania Requiem is definitely a step up in that regard.
Of course, the quality of this port is a significant deal so allow me to explain how these games hold up before I get into the specific games themselves. Unfortunately, although both games look as fantastic as you would hope, the audio could use a lot of work. In both titles, the sound has a tendency to crack when it gets too loud which is especially noticeable while using most item crashes in Rondo of Blood. Symphony of the Night suffers from some specific glitches and performance issues as well but I'll discuss those later on.
On the plus side, the trophies featured in this collection are incredible. I don't usually care much for trophies but I was excited when I saw the list as it contains many tricky achievements as well as downright hilarious names which make references to past games in the series as well as Missy Elliott and Elton John songs and the awful indie movie The Room for some strange reason. Cowstlevania: Portrait of Mooin' had me laughing out loud when I unlocked it. The trophies definitely add a lot of fun to these classic games.
Castlevania: Symphony of the Night
A few years ago, I reviewed Castlevania: Symphony of the Night for my 100th game review simply because it's my favourite game of all time. So, if you want to learn more about it then please read my full Castlevania: Symphony of the Night Review before continuing this section. Are you done yet? That was fast. Anyway, Symphony of the Night remains the highest scored game on Video Chums (that's right; we don't hand out 10s like they're gold stars in a kindergarten art class) and for good reason. It's pure gaming bliss from start to finish and I can't imagine anyone not being addicted as soon as they start playing it. I could go on all day but I'll save you a few minutes by simply saying that if you haven't played it yet then you need to. Nostalgia aside, it's a near-perfect gaming experience.
I promised that I would discuss the issues I encountered while playing through Symphony of the Night on Castlevania Requiem so here we go! First, the items look dim instead of flashy and bright so it's easy to miss them. In the PS1 version, they flash for a bit then stay glowing but here, they flash then go dark. What the heck is up with that? Next, the same voices from The Dracula X Chronicles are used and there's no option to switch to the PS1 voice cast. You can select the Japanese voices but I much prefer the English PS1 cast. There's also a slight stutter every once in a while which is odd but it doesn't take much away from the gameplay.
Another annoying issue is that the Alucard transformations only use 2 shoulder buttons because the PSP just had L and R. The PS1 version allowed you to use 3: one for each transformation. Having to press L1 and R1 together just feels clumsy and it caused some problems for me in a couple of sticky situations. Anyway, the map is also kind of weird in that it sometimes takes a short while to update. Sometimes, you visit a square in the middle of a large room then it doesn't get filled in for a couple of minutes. Finally, there are some severe glitches in the Reverse Clock Tower. Certain gears cause you and the camera to erratically jump and you can end up stuck in the wall as a result. This happened to me multiple times but after avoiding those kinds of gears, I managed to work through it.
Even though all of these issues sound bad, I'm not going to let them affect my overall score much simply because it's still an amazing game and all of these issues barely take away from the incredible experience that Symphony of the Night provides. That being said, I deeply hope that Konami reads this review and works on these bugs and performance issues because if they iron all of these out, this version of Symphony of the Night could be the best one available. So, get to work Konami! There's fixing to be done.
Castlevania: Rondo of Blood
I must admit, I'm not as familiar with Rondo of Blood as I am with Symphony of the Night although I played through it multiple times. Considering I played Symphony of the Night first in this pack (and got 200.6% while I was at it), transitioning to Rondo of Blood was brutal. The smooth controls of the former contrast with the classic stiff Castlevania gameplay in a way that I never fully realised before playing through this collection. With that said, once I got re-accustomed to the timing and everything began to click, playing Rondo of Blood immediately became addictive. For the unfamiliar, this is more of a traditional Castlevania but with a few very cool additions. Namely, you can save your progress, the stages feature multiple paths that can be quite clever, and there are extra playable characters that you can rescue. Although I prefer Super Castlevania IV, many consider Rondo of Blood to be the best classic game in the franchise.
Playing as Richter Belmont is an absolute thrill due to the steep challenge, tight classic gameplay, and phenomenal boss fights that make you feel like a gaming badass whenever you beat one. The goofy cutscenes, awesome soundtrack, and intricately detailed environments are just the icing on the cake. Honestly, after playing through Rondo of Blood again, I can't help but feel that this memorable era in gaming has passed. No 2D game since has captured its rewarding sense of challenge so I commend Konami for allowing a whole new generation to enjoy it in its entirety. That is, if they have the discipline to hone their skills to finally beat Dracula.
It may not feature perfect ports but Castlevania Requiem still contains 2 of the best games ever made. However, after playing through these gems, it's hard not to feel bittersweet. On one hand, the era of perfectly crafted gaming experiences has passed in favour of Hollywood-style rubbish and wannabe indie developers. On the other, enjoying these timeless classics again is an absolute treat.
- + Contains a couple of the greatest games of all time in one convenient package
- + Offers endlessly enjoyable replay value
- + Awesome and often hilarious trophies
- - Merely a port of The Dracula X Chronicles sans the 2.5D Rondo of Blood remake
- - Some glitches and performance issues