In the world of gaming, there are many games that can be considered great but there are very few games or franchises that are seen as an iconic piece of gaming history. Games that have inspired many after it, or had such an impact with their audience that they are still considered some of the best in the medium 20+ years after release. Castlevania is one of the series that has managed to do this, not just once but a number of times over it’s lifetime. And here in the Requiem collection Konami have bundled together two of the most iconic Castlevania stories, allowing them to be enjoyed by a brand new gaming audience and played on the PS4 for the first time.
The Castlevania Requiem collection contains Rondo of Blood, originally released in Japan back in 1993 on the PC Engine and it’s
1996 direct sequel Symphony of the Night. A game that still defines the Metroidvania genre to this day and is often regarded as a masterpiece by many of the world’s largest gaming outlets.
Fans of the Castlevania series will know that although Rondo of Blood was the direct prequel to Symphony of the Night, arguably the most loved Castlevania games, it was largely unplayable for many years unless you lived in Japan. It was not available outside the country until 2008 when it was ported to the PSP and Wii Virtual Console. Obviously this caused the people that wanted to play the game legally to pay exorbitant amounts for a copy on eBay. Thankfully now with this collection Rondo of Blood is now easily accessible and is bundled with it’s fantastic sequel for a very reasonable price.
In Rondo of Blood you play as the whip-wielding Richter Belmont. A vampire hunter on a quest to retrieve his kidnapped girlfriend by travelling to and defeating Dracula in his castle. The game offers a blend between the classic ‘old school’ Castlevania game design and new Metroidvania non-linear approach seen in Symphony of the Night and the games following it. It is still very much a linear experience where you are controlling Richter from the starting point of the level across to the end point for the 9 stages but there are numerous paths you can take to get to the end goal. This provides some incentive to play through the game multiple times, not only to see what’s in store for you on the other paths but to also rescue the 4 hidden maidens in the game. One of which, Maria, becomes a fully playable character in the game upon rescuing her.
The story of Symphony of the Night picks up 4 years after the events of Rondo of Blood and has you playing as Dracula’s son Alucard, exploring the depths of Dracula’s castle in what was the first non-linear Castlevania game. It was this very game that added the ‘Vania’ to the Metroidvania genre. Where previous games in the series had the player travelling through the stages from left to right until you reached the end goal, Symphony of the Night had players backtracking through sections of the castle once you’ve gained new abilities such as the double jump, dash or long leap, allowing you to open up pathways that were locked off when initially passing through to reach new areas of Dracula’s monster riddled home.
Symphony of the Night is where the real meat of this collection lies. Rondo of Blood, although difficult will only take you a few hours to complete all of its stages. You can add a couple more if you want to play through as Maria or see the separate paths. Symphony however will take you closer to 10 hours to get through Dracula’s maze-like castle with the potential for much more replayability at the end.
Both games feel absolutely great to play using the Dualshock 4. The platforming gameplay is tight and precise with both Richter and Alucard moving around the stages just the way you want them too.
And the newest addition that comes to these ports now that they’ve hit the PlayStation 4 is trophy support. Both games now come with the ability to unlock trophies and even have a platinum trophy available to obtain if you fully complete both Rondo of Blood and Symphony of the Night. The trophy list itself is great and does a good job of encouraging players to think outside the box or complete second playthroughs and rewards them when they do.
Both games in the Requiem collection feature the option to switch between English or Japanese audio options. Legacy fans should be aware that the dub in these games is based off the PSP port and not the original PSOne version you may be so fond of, even though this version uses the far superior script.
For players that want to relive as much classic nostalgia as possible the Requiem collection comes with a number of filter effects you can apply to the game such as scan-lines and interlacing to replicate the look of the game on a CRT TV screen. The game retains it’s original 4:3 aspect ratio and also has a ‘full’ mode which maintains the ratio but fills the screen meaning some content from the top and bottom of the level is lost. A number of borders can be selected that fill in the black bars present on the side of the screen if you wish or you can do as I did for the most part and leave them off. These options are purely for visual aesthetics and don’t change how the game plays and quite honestly I don’t think many players will be interested in changing from the game’s default settings other than maybe choosing an image to fill in the borders.
While the games included in the collection are great I found the overall port and it’s presentation to be quite lazy. Minimal effort went into it’s menu screen which appears to be made up of two swappable static images and I was quite disappointed to see no extra’s included in the collection to complement the games either. After other recently released collections such as Capcom’s Mega Man Legacy Collection included character galleries, artwork and other behind the scenes bonuses I was really hoping I’d find something similar here.
While this was disappointing to see it’s hard to be too critical on the collection for this based on how well the games themselves perform (which is really what we’re playing it for at the end of the day) and it’s really reasonable price point. If you’ve played these games before there isn’t anything new here besides being on a new system for the first time with enabled trophy support. But for those that haven’t, do yourselves a favour and spend the $24.95 and pick this collection up.
A PS4 review code was provided by the publisher for the purpose of this review.
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