Release Date: October 26, 2018Platform: PS4Developer: KonamiPublisher: KonamiGenre: Platformer
On the one hand, Castlevania Requiem is an affordably priced collection of one of the greatest Castlevania games ever made and its rarely seen (in the U.S.) predecessor. But it’s also a lazy port of these games timed to release as an obvious cash-in with the second season of the excellent Netflix show.
Fans hoping for an epic celebration of these titles akin to the Mega Man and Metal Gear Solid legacy collections will be sorely disappointed with this bundle, which is nothing more than another way to re-sell these games. There’s no digital artbook or making-of commentary, nothing to show that Konami realizes that Castlevania Requiem is the first Castlevania game product it’s released in four years. Those looking forward to playing these games with trophy support will be pleased, though.
Yet, even if this version doesn’t have much new to offer, it’s impossible to hate the Symphony of the Night half of this collection. More than two decades after its release, Alucard’s journey through Dracula’s massive interconnected castle (and then the second inverted castle) remains as addictive and entertaining as ever.
Even with the bump to 4K resolution, the graphics are beginning to show their age, though. The emulation has smoothed out the backgrounds just a tad, making the character sprites look a little blurrier. Still, the controls remain tight and the gothic orchestral soundtrack stands up against any modern game. More frustrating is the occasional slowdown and noticeable loading times. Sure, those were in the original game, but it’s a good indication of how little effort went into this port.
For better or for worse, this version of Symphony of the Night is based off of the 2007 PSP release and not the PlayStation original, so there are some translation differences. No longer is a man “a miserable little pile of secrets” in this version. It’s a pretty minor change really, and I still found the updated voice acting to be of high quality.
The other half of the Requiem collection is Rondo of Blood and it hasn’t held up nearly as well as Symphony of the Night. Rondo of Blood was originally released for the PC Engine in 1993 exclusively in Japan and didn’t make its way to the U.S. in any official capacity until a decade ago. It’s one of the final “traditional” Castlevania games, meaning there’s no interconnected castle or variety of equipable weapons. Until you unlock the additional character, it’s just you, your trusty whip, and a subweapon, though this title introduced the “item crash” super attack as well.
Nevertheless, Rondo of Blood is still a very tough game. Like, ridiculously, almost unfairly tough. I can’t see many gamers who didn’t grow up on the original Castlevania games spending much time with it before frustration sets in. But while the gameplay might not be everyone’s forte now, the soundtrack and graphics (some of which are recycled in Symphony of the Night), have also aged quite gracefully, even if they don’t benefit much from the HD facelift. Curiously, Konami opted out of including the 2.5D remake of Rondo of Blood released on the PSP, which would have rounded out the collection nicely.
So what exactly is new in this collection to warrant the re-release? Remarkably little. As already mentioned, there are the obligatory trophies as well as the option to customize controls in Rondo of Blood. Additionally, when you pick up an item in either game, the sound effect plays through the Dualshock’s built-in speaker.
Ultimately, whether the collection is worth it depends on your familiarity with Castlevania. If you’ve never played Symphony of the Night in any form, this is a must-buy. If you’re a longtime Castlevania fan who somehow missed out on Rondo of Blood up to this point, Requiem is also worth checking out. But if you’ve played both these games to death, there’s little reason to download this unless you really want those trophies.
Chris Freiberg is a freelance contributor. Read more of his work here.