Castlevania Requiem shows now we have Konami re-releasing older generation games on modern platforms, and here we have Rondo of Blood and Symphony of the Night!
Rondo of Blood is a more traditional Castlevania game, initially released on the PC Engine CD-ROM during 1993 and later ported to the SNES (Super Nintendo Entertainment System) in 1995 as Dracula X, albeit with a few level redesigns with a new art style and a few altered gameplay elements. It was that popular, is was even ported to the PSP as Dracula X Chronicles during 2008 and is similar to Requiem today but you had to unlock Symphony of the Night.
Both of these games have quite a storied history going back 25 years since the original release of Rondo of Blood!
Castlevania: Rondo of Blood is more a traditional Castlevania experience and a precursor to Symphony of the Night. You play as Richter Belmont across 9 levels, rescuing 4 maidens of which one is his distant relative Maria Renard. Richter has his chain whip and a few secondary weapons like an axe, daggers, holy water and watch, to name but a few. You will also play through a few sections as Maria, whose main attack is doves that shoot out, causing a lot more damage than Richter’s primary weapon. Alongside this, she is more agile, being able to double jump and has six secondary weapons.
Rondo of Blood‘s 9 levels has each of them split into smaller sub-sections. Once you know what you are doing, you can get through the entire game in little over an hour, given it is a linear experience. Granted, there are a few hidden areas, and from what I understand, four alternative routes (which I don’t believe I have used as of yet!). I had never played Rondo of Blood prior to this review. It is an old school experience and will test your memory muscle if you have played it before, or dexterity for new players like myself! It is pretty tough, with some nasty enemy placement requiring nigh on pixel-perfect timing to not get hit from multiple enemies at once. There are also some really tough boss battles at the end of each level, which again, will test your mettle & resolve.
All in all, it is a decent game with mechanics that are from an age gone.
For most, myself included, Symphony of the Night is what we’re here for!
Castlevania: Symphony of the Night is the first game in the long running series to introduce RPG elements alongside non-linear exploration and progression. You play as Alucard (read that one backwards!), who is the son of Dracula setting, out to kill his father after the mysterious castle appears. This version has players of mixed opinion, unfortunately, as it is not the original PS1 version which was later released as a classic on PS3. Konami have decided to release the Dracula X version from the PSP. The main complaint I have seen with this, including some who are refusing to buy Requiem, is that the “What is a Man” line is missing from the opening sequence when talking to Dracula! Yeah you read that right…..go figure! There are a voice changes also, but it is still Symphony of the night that you know and is worthwhile playing.
‘Symphony’ gives you full exploration. Some areas can have you wandering into enemies which are way too hard to defeat, so you will need to head back later to explore the areas once levelled-up. Thankfully, there is a map available to help you get around and not forgetting, at a certain point in the game, you get a mirror version of the castle shaking up areas you have already visited making the game even bigger! There’s also some familiar enemies and locations from Rondo of Blood as you play.
Whilst you explore you will find the items that Death takes from you at the start, which gives you extra skills like turning into a bat, wolf or mist. There is also a selection of spells and not forgetting various weapons and armour. With these new systems, it adds extra depth and you will find weapons that suit your play style, the norm being single-handed are faster than two-handed and you can also equip a shield when you find one.
These are two great games from the Castlevania series. Granted, Rondo of Blood is a little dated now with it’s design and can be pretty frustrating at times to play, but it is still worth playing. Symphony of the Night is the must-have title here, even though it is the PSP Dracula X version.
The port to PS4 hasn’t had much done at all, but you can have a larger screen if you wish… which really shows the pixels. Alongside this, you can smooth things out which I feel takes some of the detail away. There is also the option to add CRT scanlines and add interlacing which I personally don’t like, as it looks like the screen flickers. Additionally, you can choose to have plain black borders to each side of the screen or there is a selection of high-resolution artwork.
Bare minimum work has been done with these ports but the package is worth it alone for Symphony of the Night. If you already own these games, either digitally or on an older platform, you may not feel the need to buy Castlevania Requiem, except for convenience. Either way, it is nice seeing them re-released albeit on PS4 only, as they are well worth having for £16.
With a bit of luck, Konami will venture into Castlevania territory again after the excellent Castlevania: Lords of Shadow a few years back (although, the sequel is a bit poor) and this release may pave the way.
Castlevania Requiem: Symphony of the Night and Rondo of Blood is out now on the Playstation Store.
- Developer: Konami
- Publisher: Konami
- Players: Single player
Retro at heart and lover of all things ’80s, especially the computers, the music and the awesome movies and TV shows! Crazy huge retro gaming collection spanning the ’80s and ’90s with hundreds of tapes, discs and carts for various machines on top of a 600+ strong Steam library that is ever-growing. No I am not a serial hoarder, just a dedicated retro gamer!