Castlevania Anniversary Collection: Review

Castlevania Anniversary Collection: Review

Overview

In honor of the fiftieth anniversary of the founding, Konami decided to release several collections of classics, including the Castlevania Anniversary Collection. Here you can also find a digital version of the book History of Castlevania: Book of the Crescent Moon, which has a lot of interesting sketches. The collection offers several interesting features. For example, players can choose Japanese versions of all the games presented, which can be a nice bonus for fans of the series. In addition, you can save and load progress at any time. Given the fact that some old games are very difficult in places, this feature helps to avoid unnecessary hassle. You can also find six graphic filters in the settings. Imitation of an old picture tube on modern screens is rarely successful, but here in some games this effect really resembles a picture from a CRT TV.  The versions with Game Boy present their options – if you wish, the screen can be painted in warm colors or simulate a green liquid crystal display with a visible pixel grid, which adds authenticity. 

All projects presented in the collection work with an aspect ratio of 4: 3, so black bars appear on the sides of the screen. In the settings, you can stretch the picture in width (but it looks ugly) or choose one of two background pictures. Castlevania originally came to NES in 1986. At first glance, the game may seem like another platformer for an eight-bit system, but at that time the gloomy surroundings and Gothic design seemed something new and unusual. The authors turned out to be a very colorful protagonist. Despite the monotonous and low detail, this character with a whip can not be confused with anyone. The debut Castlevania set certain gameplay standards by which the series worked for a long time. Jumping over various obstacles, the player cannot control the character in flight, so you have to clearly measure every step and distance to the next ledge. It is complicated by the fact that there are always several opponents on the screen, and the hero can attack only in front of him.

The gameplay requires a tactical approach and a quick reaction to what is happening. It is necessary to remember the features of locations, and also take into account the location of enemies and the trajectory of their movement. If you did not get into timing, then most likely the hero will lose health points, which are replenished only with rare items found in locations. 

Castlevania Anniversary Collection: Review

In the vicinity of the castle, you can find additional weapons and modifiers for the whip, increasing its length and strength. Auxiliary equipment, such as an ax or dagger, consumes special hearts, which can be obtained by breaking the candlesticks.  Despite the complexity, for its time the game was intense and very addictive. In many respects, this was the merit of an unusual plot in which Simon Belmont gets to Dracula’s castle in order to defeat the reborn tyrant with the help of his grandfather’s weapon – the “Vampire Slayer” whip. The player has to go deep into the location, defeat various ghouls, zombies and other evil spirits in order to meet with Dracula.

In addition to the Gothic surroundings and the main character with a whip, the first Castlevania set the standard in music. The composition “ Vampire Killer ” has become the hallmark of the series and can often be heard at various collections and concerts of game music, not to mention the numerous remakes and amateur covers. Thirty years later, the debut Castlevania is still interesting, but significantly loses to some of the sequels in terms of elaboration and diversity.

Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest originally appeared on NES in 1987. Direct continuation of the first part was not long in coming. The players wanted to once again plunge into the Gothic world, and the developers had new ideas. The plot continued the story of the original, after 7 years. After defeating Dracula, Simon fell ill, and in order to recover, he must resurrect the bloodsucker and kill him again. To do this, the main character needs to find all the parts of the villain’s body, which are scattered in different corners of the castle.

The developers expanded the concept of the action-platformer and added many adventure elements, such as quests and the open world, as well as a leveling system. All this will subsequently become fundamental to the legendary Symphony of the Night, which will have a great impact on the industry.  Unfortunately, the sequel has become hostage to excessively high ambitions, and most of the interesting ideas have not been implemented in the most successful way. Riddles are often not intuitive, and the open-world has many passages and paths that end in a dead-end. Finding out without a guide is very difficult.  The studio introduced the system of changing the day and night, as well as a counter of days that directly affect the end of the story. To get a positive outcome, you need to go through the game quickly, which is not very easy. At night, enemies become stronger, which is why the passage of some locations slows down. The longer a player is busy raising Dracula, the worse the ending will be. In total, three different finals are provided. The game is valuable precisely because here the developers first tested adventure and role-playing elements, which will subsequently be brought to mind and become an integral part of the series. Although this will not happen immediately.

Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse was originally released at NES in 1989. After an ambiguous sequel, Konami decided to return to the original concept. This is a prequel, the plot begins long before the events of the first part. The protagonist of the project is Trevor, a killer of vampires from the Belmont family, who is called on by the inhabitants of Wallachia to get rid of Count Dracula.

The character needs to overcome the surroundings of the Gothic castle, jumping over the abyss and destroying evil with a whip. However, the familiar concept this time is complemented by the ability to choose a character. Exploring the locations, the main character meets various captives, freeing whom he gets the opportunity to take them into the squad. Only one satellite can travel at a time with Trevor.

Each hero has its own unique features and equipment. For example, the girl of Seth uses the sword and elemental magic in battle, and the son of Dracula – Alucard – can throw energy balls and turn into a bat. The third hero, the pirate Grant, is able to climb walls and knows how to fight with knives.

Graphics and Features

Although the developers abandoned the idea of ​​an open world, they still retained a certain non-linearity of passage. Forks occur at certain moments, and the choice of direction affects not only the further set of levels but also the end of the story.

The third part incorporates successful solutions from previous games, and the hero change system brings the necessary variety to the gameplay. Dracula’s Curse is rightfully considered one of the best games on NES and is still playing well.

Castlevania: The Adventure – another prequel – was originally released on Game Boy in 1989. This was the first attempt to transfer the vampire saga to a portable format. The main character can use only one weapon and several modifiers. The whip is simple, chain or fiery, but there is no additional equipment.  At locations, you can still find special auxiliary items: across that gives temporary invulnerability, hearts that replenish health, and coins that add points.  There are few enemies on the screen, so it may seem that the game is easier than the main parts of the series. However, you have only three lives at your disposal, which are often not enough to complete very long and monotonous levels. The narrative begins long before the events of the first part. Count Dracula, the evil sorcerer, brings fear and horror to the inhabitants of the surrounding villages. One day there was a man who decided to confront evil. This is Christopher Belmont – the ancestor of the protagonist of the original Castlevania. As usual, the main task of the player is to walk through the castle with traps and enemies, and in the end, defeat Dracula. Due to the lack of real innovations and simplification of the concept, the game did not earn fame even at the time of release, and now it can be interesting only in the framework of studying the history of the series – no more. Super Castlevania IV is the first sixteen-bit game in the series to be released on SNES in 1991.

Castlevania Anniversary Collection: Review

Thanks to the transition to a new generation, Japanese specialists managed to significantly improve the quality of pictures and sound. In addition to excellent basic detail, at some levels the game uses the “Mode 7” mode, which allows you to simulate the volume and move the space around the hero, creating the necessary dynamics and depth of the image. Major changes have occurred in the gameplay. In Super Castlevania IV, a character can attack up, down, and diagonally in any direction. And holding the punch button, you can rotate a beautifully animated whip. At one time, the quality of the movements created by the developers really surprised and caused real delight. In addition, the hero learned to crawl on his haunches and cling to a whip for rings hanging on locations. All this made a significant difference in game situations and allowed to expand the gameplay formula. Despite the number in the title, the project completely repeats the plot of the first part and is largely a remake of it. The construction of the levels has changed, the interiors of the castle have become more diverse, new ones have been added to the old enemies and the locations themselves have become more. Unlike the eight-bit parts, Super Castlevania IV is almost out of date and is still able to captivate fans of the genre for long hours.

Castlevania II: Belmont’s Revenge was originally released on Game Boy in 1991. The second attempt to conquer the portable market turned out much better. The plot continues the story of Castlevania: The Adventure. The game begins fifteen years after Christopher Belmont killed Dracula. The main character devotes his son to vampire hunters, gives him the legendary whip, but at this moment the successor disappears. Four castles appear on the horizon, and Christopher has no choice but to go in search of his heir. Unlike the previous portable part, the gameplay has become much better. Additional armaments appeared, such as an ax and holy water, and during the passage, you can meet various forks.

In addition, the player can choose the sequence of the passage of the locks. Nevertheless, the dynamics of what is happening are still low, and the picture is significantly inferior to the versions for NES. Although playing Belmont’s Revenge is generally interesting even now. Until that moment, the saga of the Belmont family and Dracula was an exclusive Nintendo. Only in 1994, Sega managed to get the popular series on its console, albeit in the form of branches. So on Mega Drive appeared Castlevania: Bloodlines, known in Europe under the title Castlevania: New Generation. There are enough differences from the main games in the series. From the very beginning, the player can choose one of two characters. Heroes differ not only in history but also in skills. 

John Morris is a Belmont descendant from America, whose father died in a fight with Dracula. Having found the legendary whip, he goes to Europe in search of the evil Earl and his insidious niece Elizabeth. The character feels like a traditional character for the series, but there are a number of obvious changes. Like many of his ancestors, John can whip only in front of him, but in a jump, he can hit down or diagonally. To overcome some obstacles, the American hunter will have to cling to special ledges.

User Experience

The second character – Eric Lekard – the Spanish heir to the Belmont family, who decided to join John. He has his own scores with the vicious vampire. The hero is armed with an heirloom – a spear of Alucard. Unlike John, he can beat in all directions diagonally. In addition, he knows how to bounce high, which allows him to climb into hard-to-reach places, as well as attack flying enemies under the shelf.

Castlevania Anniversary Collection: Review

Among the additional items are already familiar with holy water, an ax, and a boomerang, which are available to both characters. At the same time, a powerful crystal is available only to John. Eric also has his own unique item – the magic spear tip. As in the fourth part, the use of additional weapons is assigned to a separate button, which is very convenient. The graphics looked great – largely thanks to a variety of locations that caressed the eye with a lot of details. The level with moving clockwork, for sure, squeezed all the juices from Mega Drive. Like Castlevania IV, Bloodlines is well preserved and plays well even now, despite its age. The presence of two different characters motivates to re-pass. The latest draft of the collection was Kid Dracula. Initially, the game was released only in Japan at Famicom in 1990. The comic version of Castlevania tells the story of Dracula’s son, Alucard, who was robbed by the evil demon Garamond.  The game has nothing to do with classic Castlevania and is more reminiscent of Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers or Mega Man platformers with a cartoon character that walks through bright locations and shoots with fireballs. At the end of each level, there are mini-games where you need to spend coins earned during the passage of the level. By winning, you get extra lives.  Kid Dracula is hardly any interest in the Castlevania series, but it’s a nice bonus for fans.

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