Title: Castlevania Anniversary Collection
Developer: Konami Digital Entertainment
Publisher: Konami Digital Entertainment
Genre: Platformer, Action
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Audience: PEGI 7
Release Date: 16/05/2019
Price: £15.99 – Rapid Reviews UK were very kindly provided with a review code for this title.
What the Developers say
Konami’s Castlevania Anniversary Collection traces the origins of the historic vampire franchise. Included is a unique eBook with details provided by developers, artists and others inspired by the Castlevania legacy which sheds a fresh light into the world of Castlevania.
Released as part of the Konami 50th Anniversary celebration, now is the best time to relive these timeless classics that helped define the platformer genre. From the Belmont clan to their extended bloodlines and allies, the Castlevania Anniversary Collection is the best first step for anyone to take into the world of Castlevania and the fight against Dracula!
This is the first time I’ve sunk my teeth into the retro Castlevania games, and while they are bloodthirstily tricky, the majority of the games are worthy of being played by modern audiences. The majority of this review is based on the NES original, but I will dive into the other titles too briefly.
The collection includes:
- Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest
- Castlevania II: Belmont’s Revenge
- Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse
- Super Castlevania IV
- Castlevania The Adventure
- Castlevania Bloodlines
- Kid Dracula
In the original game, you play as Simon Belmont, a vampire hunter who must reach the top of the castle to face against the powerful Dracula. However, the journey is vigorous with tough bosses and enemies blocking his path.
Audio & Visuals
You can tell Konami truly cared about this title. It’s lovingly crafted. The pixel art is gorgeous, and the enemy designs are interesting to look at. The walking animation that Simon has is iconic, and the levels ooze personality, despite how simple the graphics were back in 1986. What adds to these atmospheric levels, is the music by Kinuyo Yamashita. Despite its 8-bit roots, the themes are iconic, from the opening Vampire Killer song to the Credits. They add to the gothic look of the series, the challenging nature of the game, and sense of accomplishment whenever Simon is victorious after a fierce battle.
However, it seems as though the other games haven’t received as much attention as the original game. Kid Dracula suffers from frame rate issues at random points, and in some instances, for example, in Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest, the pixels flicker in odd ways for a slight second. Despite these minor issues, Konami has provided other screen options for the games.
You can play it in the pixel perfect mode, which is my preferred mode, the original 4:3 mode, or widescreen (don’t do this! It looks so stretched!). Each screen option also comes with the ability to use scanlines, like an old CRT. Any of these options, except for widescreen, seriously, don’t do this, look gorgeous on the Nintendo Switch, docked and in portable mode.
Gameplay & Replayability
Castlevania is indeed a classic. Wielding the whip is satisfying as you take on incoming monsters. The whip can be upgraded as you take out hovering candles, revealing power-ups and hearts. Despite how simple the concept is, there is a lot of strategy in how you time your jumps and take out incoming enemies. You have to learn the patterns, but at the same time, it would be tricky to go through a level on your first try. Also, an enemy off screen that you don’t expect can ruin your run.
Thankfully, there is a save state option that reloads instantaneous when loaded. This is what made Castlevania playable for a modern audience and this relative newcomer to the NES spectrum of titles. Despite a few doubts, each stage is well designed with interesting feats that you and Simon must overcome.
Dracula, the end boss, is a ridiculous two-stage section that has a tough pattern to avoid, even for the most dedicated of gamers. Through the save state system, I was able to beat him; I saved every time I took four bars of health. The other bosses are easier to defeat, but they’re not pushovers either. You’ll have to use your mind and dexterity to finish this game, and it’s a welcome punch in the teeth for those who have missed a good challenge in the more mainstream era of gaming.
In addition, the rest of the games play great on the Switch. Your inputs are precise, and it feels just like you’re playing a game on the NES. The games vary in quality. The Game Boy games feel slower to their console counterparts, and honestly, I would have preferred the DS games be included instead. They still play like Castlevania, but there is indeed a drop in quality. However, it’s cool that these games are being preserved for modern audiences. Perhaps, Konami is leaving room for another collection!
Kid Dracula is a nice change of pace. Yes, there are frame rate issues, but it’s an excellent option for those who want less of a challenge. It’s a good way to cool off, and it’s a more kid-friendly option! It’s great that all the NES games, as well as Super Castlevania IV and Castlevania Bloodlines, are included. You can see the evolution that the series took with every entry.
As a bonus, the Castlevania Anniversary Collection also includes a digital bonus book that consists of a box art gallery, design archives, and interviews from the series. It’s clear that Konami truly cares about the preservation of these games and this classic era of development.
The Castlevania Anniversary Collection is an excellent set of classic games that should be played for any fan of the platforming genre. While there are a few technical errors like framerate issues, the pixels look fantastic on a TV screen and the Nintendo Switch. The original Castlevania is worthy of playing through, alone. If you’ve ever thought of taking a bite into the Castlevania series, this is an excellent way to start.
Rapid Reviews UK Rating
You can purchase Castlevania Anniversary Collection from the Nintendo eShop at the following link, https://www.nintendo.co.uk/Games/Nintendo-Switch-download-software/Castlevania-Anniversary-Collection-1559688.html
You can find and read our reviews on OpenCritic.