REVIEWED ON: PS4
In the grand lexicon of video games that have a lineage worth examining by playing almost every title in the series, Castlevania ranks high among them. While not every game in the series is a winner, Konami has produced a number of games over the years that are damn near masterpieces in their own right. It’s almost undeniable that you’ll find Castlevania: Symphony of the Night sitting on top of the list of all-time greats, and when it comes to ’90s PC titles, Castlevania: Rondo of Blood often receives praise for what it was able to accomplish at the time. But we were a little taken back when we discovered Konami was releasing both as a single title for the PS4 dubbed Castlevania Requiem. We got ourselves a copy and tried it out to see what they did with it.
Now for the purposes of this review, we’re not going to dive too deep into either game because both have been out for over two decades and we’re just a tad late to give them both a review that you couldn’t find a hundred times over on retro gaming sites. So we’re going to focus on the combo pack itself and what it has to offer. If you’re not familiar with these games, here’s a quick history lesson. Castlevania: Rondo of Blood was released in 1993 on PC featuring Richter Belmont in the year 1792 (a few centuries after the primary series), fighting Dracula after he kidnaps his wife Annette. You play through most of the game as Richter, but you also free a 12-year-old orphan with magical powers and lower health to fight alongside you.
Meanwhile, Castlevania: Symphony of the Night was released in 1997 on the PS1, serving as a direct sequel to Rondo of Blood, with the events taking place a few years after the run-in with Richter. The game puts you in the role of Dracula’s son Aculard, who returns to find Death stripping him of all his powers and weapons, a 17-year-old vampire hunter trying to find Richter, Richter being controlled by an evil force, and plans to resurrect the dark lord once more. We could heap a ton of praise onto this game along with the hundreds of critics before is, but let’s cut through most of the would-be clout and confirm that the game is basically a masterpiece and one of the founding titles to the term “Metroidvania” when it comes to describing games that share traits as this one has.
Now that all of that is out of the way, let’s focus on Castlevania Requiem as a whole. Both of these games have been perfectly ported over from their more recent incarnations. Rondo has been brought back a couple times, most recently on the now-defunct Virtual Console from Nintendo, where Konami cleaned it up a bit and enhanced the audio. Symphony, on the other hand, looks pretty much like it did in the PS3 version released a few years ago with all of the changes they made to that incarnation. Both of these games play and look and sound just like they’re supposed to, along with a nice set of trophies from Sony to compliment your accomplishments on both.
Unfortunately, that’s where the awesomeness ends. That’s all this entire game is. Two retro titles with some trophies thrown in with an HD look, and nothing more. Now before we dive further, let me be perfectly clear, this is not your standard Konami-bashing. Anyone with a love for Metal Gear Solid and a Twitter account can do that. Hell, my mom can do that. This is simple disappointment. Both of these games have a history in their own rights, and we’re sure sitting in a vault somewhere in Japan, there’s a ton of content they could have brought out and scanned and added to the game. You need look no further than some of Capcom’s latest retro compilations, or the upcoming SNK 40th collection to see how this can be accomplished. This company could have done sooooo much more with what they had here, and instead, we have a pair of ports with a menu no better than a hack job done for an emulator. There was no love thrown into this project, it’s very clear that this was a Castlevania comp made to be released around Halloween to get some money from PS4 players. And that is depressing.
Castlevania Requiem is what it says it is on the full-length title. Two retro games from the series in one release. They are absolutely fun and challenging and perfect examples of how to do a game from two very specific periods in gaming history, as Rondo takes cues from the NES and SNES titles, while Symphony shows off the best of what the PS1 had to offer. But as a modern compilation, it’s just a cash-grab and that is heartbreaking. The majority of our rating is based on what these games represent and how fun they are to play, but without bonus content to compliment two titles that deserved a lot more attention to detail than just being packaged together, its an average release. I had fun going down memory lane, but I wish the road had more decorations after all these years.
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