As a lifelong fan of Nintendo's Gameboy Advance, I've played through the GBA Castlevania titles many times over. Like many fans of the series, I’ve wanted to revisit what are considered some of the best Castlevania games of all time on new hardware. While I’ve always had the option to play these games via emulation or through the Wii U's virtual console, those ports were never faithful to the original GBA. With the rising cost of retro games, these specific titles have been a bit out of reach until now.
The Full Package
The Castlevania Advanced Collection contains four games from the series. Three from the GBA and one from the SNES. Castlevania: Circle of the Moon, Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance, Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow, and Castlevania: Dracula X. In addition to these four excellent games, the collection also includes an image gallery, ROM selection, music library, lore encyclopedia, and some modern quality of life features such as save states and the ability to rewind time. From a pure value perspective, this collection is one of the better deals you can get at the moment.
The image library includes hyper-clear and detailed scans of game and concept art, as well as scans of the original boxes that are pretty neat to look at when you consider most cardboard game boxes have been lost to time. The lore encyclopedia is a welcome addition. With a series like Castlevania, it's nice to be able to just see why I'm fighting Dracula for the 1000th time and who I'm bonking over the head with my whip.
The ROM selection is an interesting inclusion. You can choose what version of each title you want to play between the Japanese, US, and PAL ports. Besides a difference in language and a change of 60 to 50 fps between the PAL and US/Japanese ports, there isn't too much of a difference between each version of the game. While this is a feature very few will use, its inclusion shows the amount of care and fan service that went into this collection.
The real highlight of the collection is the quality of life enhancements. Save states in a Metroidvania are always a welcome addition and the ability to undo a badly timed jump saves some frustration, elevating these legendary games to new heights. The ability to rewind time, while a very welcome addition to these games. Can be a bit of a pain to figure out how to use it intuitively due to its awkward button layout. We’ve all been spoiled with emulation so it would have been nice to see this collection's QOL selection go even further and let me play with the game in different ways such as 2x speed and invincibility. As someone who has beaten Harmony of Dissonance more times than I can count, it would have been cool to be able to break the game and have fun with it.
A Legacy of Greatness
The games included in the collection are arguably some of the best titles in the entire Castlevania series. While all of these games are considered classics, they can be pretty difficult for someone new to the series, but once you get over that initial difficulty curve, it's clear why games like Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance and Aria of Sorrow are so well revered almost 20 years after their initial releases.
Castlevania: Circle of the Moon Is the first title to release on the Game Boy Advance. It has an interesting card leveling system and the graphics are very much what you would expect from a launch window GBA game. This game's RPG lite gameplay is exceptional and the plot involving non-Belmont vampire hunters makes it one of the more unique entries in the Castlevania series. Since its release, it has been overshadowed by the other games on this list but if you're a fan of the series or Metroidvania in general, this is a must-play.
Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance is the follow-up to Circle of the Moon. The game drops the card system in favor of a more traditional RPG-like gameplay loop and lets you play as a Belmont again. Overall the gameplay here is great, but when compared to the other offerings in this collection it's definitely the weakest entry. This is mostly due to its safe and at times bland dungeon design and mediocre at worst gameplay. That being said, Harmony of Dissonance is still considered one of the better games in the series and is absolutely worth checking out, it's just not as good as the other offerings here.
Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow is considered one of the best Castlevania games, second only to Symphony of the Night, as well as one of the best games available on the Game Boy Advance. Everything about this game makes it a must play. It introduces a new mechanic dubbed tactical soul, in which you will be able to steal attacks from enemies and create a loadout of sorts. This gameplay mechanic ads a massive amount of replayability and diversity depending on your play type. An intriguing story, refined and intuitive RPG and enemy skill mechanics, and beautiful visuals make Aria of Sorrow the main reason to get this collection.
The one stand-out title here is the lone SNES inclusion, Castlevania: Dracula X. While this game is not as well known as the collection's Game Boy Advance ports, this SNES remake of Castlevania: Rondo of Blood is well worth checking out. Be warned: this is possibly the most difficult Castlevania game ever made, so if you're having trouble with the GBA entries, maybe save this one for last. The game itself is fun and a rewarding experience. Mostly due to how difficult but fair the game design is. Like the classic Castlevania games, you're going to die a lot here, but once you figure out enemy patterns and how to efficiently vanquish evil, it becomes a really fun and rewarding experience. Regardless of the game's difficulty, it's definitely worth checking out.
Castlevania Advance Collection Review | Final Thoughts
Castlevania Advance Collection Is one of those rare game collections that does everything you would want a collection to and more. Its inclusion of legendary Game Boy Advance titles and rare SNES game make it worth checking out if you're a fan of the series or just looking to dive into some of the best Metroidvanias ever made. That's not to say it's a perfect port though, while the extras are a welcome addition and the ability to play each title in its various regional ports is cool, the lack of features most people have become accustomed to via emulation and modding is a bit of a disappointment. Needless to say, this is still one of the best game collections on the market today and the easiest (and cheapest) way to play a legit copy of Aria of Sorrow and Dracula X. If you’re a fan of the series or are just looking for something challenging but rewarding to play then this collection is absolutely worth picking up.
Techraptor's Castlevania Advance Collection review was conducted with a Nintendo Switch code provided by the game's publisher. The game is also available on, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, and Steam.
- The most affordable way to play these games legitimately
- Quality of life features are a welcome addition
- Includes one of the best Castlevania games ever made
- Music playlist, encyclopedia, and image gallery are neat bonus content
- Incredible value
- Could have used a few more quality of life features
- Time rewind mechanic can be awkward to control