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Castlevania Requiem Review - Two For One On Vampires

Gaming article by Dan Hodges on Saturday, November 10, 2018 - 14:00
Review

Following the success of the recent Castlevania Netflix series, Konami has presumably decided to cash-in on some good-old-fashioned nostalgia. Castlevania Requiem collects two of the best Castlevania games and, arguably, two of the best games of the 90’s. For one flat fee, you get both Symphony of the Night and Rondo of Blood. The packaging on this collection may be a little rough, but the ports are solid and the games are excellent.

First, a little background. Symphony of the Night is the classic action-platformer that put the “Vania” in Metroidvania. It’s a game you’ll rightfully see at the top of a “best PlayStation games” list time and time again. It merges tight platforming with fluid action, massive depth, and rewarding RPG systems to make a truly memorable experience. It looks good and sounds even better.

 

Meanwhile, Rondo of Blood is a PC Engine game from 1993 that never came to the US properly. There was Dracula X, an inferior adaptation of the game ported to the SNES, but it wasn’t quite the same. Rondo of Blood was hugely ahead of its time thanks to the PC Engine's CD-ROM technology. The extra room on the disc afforded for better sound quality and sweet anime cutscenes. Due to its rarity and the later popularity of Symphony, it developed quite a mystique in the West over time.

castlevania requiem menu
The menu selection screen is bafflingly ugly and confusing

 

Both Rondo and Symphony are well-established classics. The problems arise with the packaging that surrounds them. With remasters/re-releases of old games, you expect there to be a few extras. Bonus content or special features, perhaps, like the Mega Man Legacy Collection’s extensive gallery and challenging bonus stages. Not only does Castlevania Requiem come with a perplexingly spartan selection screen for the two games, but it also features limited and ugly display options.

There’s a small selection of wallpapers you can apply to the background. If your TV doesn't do it automatically, you can adjust the size of the screen. You also get the option to turn on scanlines or interlacing. That’s about it. I’ve never been a fan of adding fake scanlines to old games, but these look especially bad. They’re overly large and just plain obnoxious. Meanwhile, the interlacing is too strong and comes off as extremely unappealing. Neither of these settings adds anything to either game and it’s disappointing that there aren't more options here.

 

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Symphony of the Night's upscaling looks excellent. It's still a blast to play

If nothing else, the packaging is just extremely thin. You get the two games and nothing else. It’s fine if you just want to play these two greats, and there’s more than enough content between them both to make it worthwhile. It still would be nice if they offered more. The only new feature added to either game is the ability to quicksave, which is certainly a nice option for when you find yourself in a dire situation. Thankfully, the games themselves get the treatment they deserve, with a resolution upscaling that makes them look fabulous on a modern display.

Unfortunately, one of the most iconic parts of Symphony of the Night has been ruined. The classic “what is a man?” intro part has been re-written and the acting has changed. These alterations originated in a PSP rerelease, so it’s not unexpected but still disappointing. The frustrating part is that the “improved” writing just comes off as boring and forgettable. Meanwhile, the voice acting is slightly better but still not great, so the changes serve no real purpose. This may just be a personal gripe, but I found it pretty disappointing.

Aside from these changes, this is a faithful version of the original PlayStation game. My only problem with it being such a faithful port is that you’re sent back to the main menu after every death, requiring you to load back in. It would nice if they provided a way to get you back into the action faster after dying. It’s one of the few things that shows the game’s age.

 

castlevania requiem symphony of the night z
Playing Rondo of Blood as Maria is the way to play!

Symphony of the Night holds up brilliantly. Upscaled to a 4K resolution, the game looks exceptional and the music is still as slick as ever. Someone new to gaming could mistake this for a brand new indie game easily. The challenging gameplay is timelessly fun. The huge variety of secrets, winding corridors, and bizarre encounters make for a memorable experience. There’s such an impressive depth to the huge map. As someone who hadn’t played it for years, it was a joy to revisit.

Meanwhile, Rondo of Blood matches with Symphony's quality with crisp and vibrant visuals. The amazing music, which was ahead of its time back in the day, is infectiously funky. Rondo of Blood is a very different game to Symphony of the Night, and people who love SotN may find Rondo to be a stiff and punishing experience. If you can get used to the clunky platforming, you’ll find Rondo to be a remarkable game with tough and memorable bosses, an amazing soundtrack, and absurd cutscenes.

Just be sure to unlock Maria as a playable character early on and you’ll find things much more enjoyable. Playing as Richter, the default character, feels difficult, less fun, and, frankly, not the way the developers wanted you to play. There are multiple playable characters to unlock throughout Rondo of Blood and each plays quite differently.

 

castlevania requiem rondo of blood
Rondo of Blood looks great in this package

Richter is the traditional old-Castlevania character, he has slow, stiff movement and a whip. Meanwhile, Maria can double-jump, slide, attack while moving, and utilize her own unique set of items. Honestly, she’s a little over-powered, but it makes the game all the better. It’s been a blast to play through Rondo of Blood, again, and the addition of trophies is a nice incentive to play through it. There aren't that many ways to play the original Japanese version of Rondo of Blood in the West, so it’s great to have it on a modern console.

Ultimately, Castlevania Requiem is a great collection of games in a passable but somewhat underwhelming package. There are no extras to speak of and a limited options menu. The things you can change feel like a very bad oversight. Nonetheless, this is still a tight package of two excellent games at a reasonable price. The addition of trophies and a higher resolution is sure to be enough reason for fans of these classic games to jump back in.

TechRaptor reviewed Castlevania Requiem on PlayStation 4 with a copy provided by the publisher.

Review Summary

7.5

Castlevania Requiem provides good versions of two great games. The trophies and upscaled resolution go a long way to reigniting interest in these games, but the packaging is bad and disappointingly limited.

Pros

  • Both Great Games That Hold Up Well
  • Solid Ports Of Both Games
  • Two Classic Castlevania Games For A Reasonable Price

Cons

  • Terrible Menus
  • Bad Display Options Add Nothing

About the Author

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Dan Hodges

Staff Writer

Dan is a lover of games, music, and movies from the UK. He can usually be found buried in RPGs, shooters, roguelikes, and sometimes World of Warcraft, but he'll play anything he can get his hands on really.