Castlevania Anniversary Collection rather introduces me to a franchise with which I’m not very familiar.
The Castlevania games are generally side-scrolling beat-em-ups (or whip-em-ups, as you have a whip!), evading some monsters whilst trying to take down others including bosses, along with the key difference that there’s not just one path or main boss to defeat, thus adding to the replay value.
This collection contains eight games from the Nintendo systems NES, SNES, Gameboy, the Sega Megadrive (aka Genesis in the US), and even the Japanese equivalent of the NES, the Famicom (aka Family Computer – a bizarre looking machine, but still a cool unit).
The games are as follows:
- Castlevania (1987, NES): This one was fun, despite the very old-school graphics. It didn’t penalise me too much as I tried to get to grips with the game, although one problem which came up with this and the other games is that it was occasionally hit and miss whether it would work fully with the Xbox One controller I have USB’d up to my PC, as I couldn’t start/select a new game from the controller itself, even though this works fine in the main menu, and playing the game also works fine.
Quite why I have to use a keyboard for certain actions within a game is rather odd, especially since I worked out they went for TAB to select one of the options, and ENTER to confirm.
- Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest (1988, NES): Also, I came across a stumbling block where I seemed to just jump onto the inside of a wall and could float up… erm… but then when I tried to turn and jump onto another platform, I fell from the invisible platform I was on. Just weird.
- Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse (1990, NES): More like the first game, and again with some stupidly-difficult enemies taking you down.
- Super Castlevania IV (1991, SNES): The SNES release brings some improved visuals, and an overall better flow to the game as I leap about and kill baddies.
And more Castlevania titles in this package:
- Castlevania: The Adventure (1989, Gameboy): A little bit more difficult to control, it shows just how much power was in these little units that they can show such a fantastic title, and it’s a lot of fun to play on a big TV screen!
- Castlevania II: Belmont’s Revenge (1991, Gameboy): The other Gameboy title, and I’d say I enjoyed this one a bit more, as there were a lot of ropes taking me up and down the screens, which I didn’t come across so much in the non-Gameboy versions.
- Castlevania Bloodlines (1994, Megadrive/Genesis – in its North American version, and it was known elsewhere as Castlevania: The New Generation): Like the SNES game, this is more colourful and tuneful than most, and a great addition to the package.
- Kid Dracula (Famicom, 1990 – albeit given a 2019 date in this compilation since it’s the first time it’s had an official release outside of Japan): Another little platformer, coming across similar to Castlevania, but not quite, so you can’t just apply the exact same processes to this one. Keep your wits about you and see how far you can get.
- There’s also a ‘Bonus Book’, the 80-page The History of Castlevania: Book of the Crescent Moon, which shows plenty of info about the games including box art, a presentation of each title, interviews, research reports and design archives.
I’m very late to the party with this franchise, although I have dabbled a bit recently with the Sony PSP title, Castlevania: The Dracula X Chronicles, and it’s fantastic fun.
However, here, each of these titles have a number of different visual options, whether showing in the original 4:3, stretching to 16:9, or being Pixel Perfect, so they’re a bit smaller onscreen, but more reflective of the original scale and resolution; and the Gameboy titles even have Colour filters and Dot Matrix options.
Overall, for a retail price of £15.99, for which you get 8 fun games that’ll keep you busy for hours, you can’t complain whatsoever… well, I find it sometimes difficult to do anything but whip everything since I can’t quite always get my alternative weapon to kick in, nor any special moves.
Castlevania Anniversary Collection is out now on PC, PS4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch, all on their respective online stores.
Overall Score: 8/10
- Developer: Konami
- Publisher: Konami
- Players: single player
- Languages: English
- Captions: English
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.