Where the Heck is Castlevania Collection 3?
The existing Castlevania collections are great, but they barely scratch the surface of the series legacy. Dating all the way back to Castlevania's first releases, there are till a ton of great games that aren't available to play on modern consoles. So where the heck are they? What might we see on Castlevania Collection 3? Or 4? Or even 5?
Transcript of the video:
Castlevania. It’s one of the most prolific game series of all time, especially during the spooky Halloween season. Konami, the company behind the brand, hasn’t been most peoples favorite publisher for quite some time, but one thing they’ve been handling with excellent care is their recent game compilations. They currently have two Castlevania collections on the market, and with the exception of a few weird game choices like putting Haunted Castle on the Arcade collection with a bunch of shooters instead of on the first Anniversary collection, and including Dracula X on the Advance collection even though it has just about nothing to do with the Advance games, both collections are quite stellar. The only question is, where the heck are the rest of them?
Like I said, the existing Castlevania collections are incredibly well done. They offer a heck of a good value, and while I really wish the first collection had rewind, save states are good enough. But there are still so many important Castlevania releases missing from the current playable pantheon. Which begs the question, where the heck is Castlevania collection 3?
If you’re a fan of the series, you know there are effectively two kinds of Castlevania games. Exploratory stuff like Symphony of the Night and Action stuff like the original Castlevania. There’s also a sort of third variety, but we’ll get to that later. There’s no getting around the fact that there are enough Castlevania games left to fill at least 3 collections, but how to split them? There’s quite a mix of these varieties left, and the split is pretty uneven, especially in terms of quality and longevity. So here’s how I’d do it.
Castlevania Collection 3 would be for lack of a better title the Symphony collection. Yes, Castlevania Requiem exists, but these games deserve better, and this is where we do that.
The headliner is Symphony of the Night, which is more or less the crown jewel of the Castlevania franchise, and one that has had several interesting revisions over the years. Where Requiem has a sort of updated version that’s technically the “best” one out there, there are people like myself who want to play with the original voice actors. So for this collection, the original PlayStation version should be there front and center, iconic voices and all. And right next to it? The Saturn version that never saw release outside of Japan. This version has a handful of key differences including new areas, enemies, and items. The problem is that it’s also tragically flawed, it’s bogged down with some nasty technical issues, like slowdown and a complete lack of transparency effects. But if they could properly clean this one up, it could be a heck of an awesome thing to play through. And yes, this would finally get Symphony of the Night on a Nintendo platform, which is still crazy to me how that’s never happened.
Then comes Rondo of Blood. These two games play pretty differently, but they have a direct story connection, so keeping them together makes sense. Which makes Dracula X’s inclusion in the Advance Collection all the more weird, but whatever. There’s also a full polygonal remake of this game on the PSP’s Dracula X chronicles (a game that didn’t include Dracula X because well, I don’t even know) but I don’t know how realistic it would be to expect that to land in a collection like this. So I have other plans for that one we’ll get to later.
Next, you’d want to include the other Symphony-adjacent releases, starting with the amusing Castlevania Puzzle: Encore of the Night. It’s basically Puzzle Fighter II with Castlevania characters, and that’s not a bad thing!
Finally, Castlevania: Harmony of Despair. This game originally appeared on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, and it’s kind of awesome. It’s a weird little co-op online game and it has characters from all over the series in it. This isn’t really accessible these days, and fixing that would be very much appreciated.
While I’d love to see more than just those games bundled together, looking at how Advance Collection and Requiem were handled, I don’t think it’s realistic to think they’ll include more than 3 “metroidvania” style games in one pack. Stylistically, these games all work together nicely, and with the different versions of Symphony on there, I think that’s a reasonable cap to put on this collection. But there’s still so much more to cover!
Sticking with the exploratory style games, we have the three entries released on the Nintendo DS. Arguably some of the best games in the entire franchise, these ones would likely be sold as a single collection because they’d require the most work to be functional on modern systems. Fortunately for us all, these games didn’t rely too heavily on the DS’s dual screens, but each game utilized them to some extent, and in order to make these games properly playable on a single screen display, some minor tweaks would have to be made. It’s for this reason I think if they were to make it into a collection, it would just be these three and not a random 4th game like they did with the Advance collection. And there’s more than enough gameplay between these three releases to justify the price. They’re gorgeous games with awesome worlds to explore, interesting storylines, and killer characters to use. Especially Dawn of Sorrow, which is a sequel to the sublime Aria of Sorrow for Game Boy Advance, one of my personal favorites in the series.
Next, we have what I would call the Castlevania Origins Collection. This one here would contain all the odds and ends that haven’t been collected already. The trouble is, what do you headline a collection like this with? The first collection was all the big name classics. The second collection was the GBA games. My proposed Symphony collection sells on that all time classic’s name, and the DS games sell themselves.
Well, Front and center, I would put Castlevania: The Adventure Rebirth and Castlevania Chronicles. Rebirth is a fantastic game that’s unfortunately only ever been available as part of the now defunct WiiWare service. Konami actually made three Rebirth games, the other two being the excellent Contra Rebirth and Gradius Rebirth, but those games can find their own collections to be on. Castlevania Rebirth is a tough as nails callback to Castlevania’s origins as an action platformer, and it’s got a crazy soundtrack that sounds like Konami’s 90s arcade output to boot.
As for Chronicles, this was a PlayStation port of Akumajō Dracula for the Sharp X68000, a computer that basically had no gaming footprint in the US. It’s a retelling of the original Castlevania, and it’s really quite excellent. When it was released on PlayStation as Castlevania Chronicles, the original game was included as well as an enhanced version where Simon Belmont inexplicably has pink hair.
Next up is Vampire Killer for MSX. I still can’t believe this wasn’t on the first Castlevania Anniversary Collection. This game came out almost simultaneously with the original Akumajō Dracula on Famicom Disk System, but while it looks like the same game, and sounds like the same game, it’s actually a completely different game, and one that has more in common with Symphony of the Night than you might think at first glance. Where Castlevania was more of an arcade style action game, Vampire Killer was the birth of the exploratory angle in the series. Yes, this aspect has actually been a part of Castlevania’s DNA from the very start, just not on home consoles. There are keys to collect, backtracking, item upgrades, the whole shebang. It’s not nearly as fun as its action-y NES counterpart, but Getting this game properly localized for the first time would be such a cool thing for Castlevania fans to finally experience.
Kid Dracula was on the first collection, but the Game Boy follow up has enough unique material to make its inclusion worthy, and this is where I believe that should happen.
Speaking of Game Boy, Castlevania Legends is a game that exists. Wiped from the official canon not long after its original release, this game is still pretty fun (not as good as Belmont’s Revenge, but better than adventure) and has some great music. Considering how late it was released, it’s pretty frequently overlooked too, so again, this is a great opportunity for more people to finally play it.
That just leaves a game that I’m not sure even needs to be included anywhere, but what the heck. Let’s throw Order of Shadows on there. This Is a mobile-exclusive Castlevania game from waaaay back in the day and it’s… not very good. But it is interesting! So why not?
And on that note, let’s go ahead and dump Haunted Castle on here too. This game is terrible, but it should be on a Castlevania collection for those curious enough to give it a go.
Finally, that leaves us with a dimension that Castlevania had some big struggles with, the third dimension. I’d call this the 3D Collection, and it would obviously headline with the two PlayStation 2-era games Lament of Innocence and Curse of Darkness. Castlevania’s first forays into the world of 3D gaming weren’t exactly met with critical acclaim, and when Devil May Cry hit the PS2, people frequently said that Capcom had succeeded in making a 3D Castlevania game where Konami had failed. Thi was a bit reductive to Devil May Cry though in that game really was doing its own thing, but there were indeed aspects of that game’s success that would have made for a much better 3D Castlevania experience than fans had gotten already, which is where Lament of Innocence came in. This was the first 3D Castlevania game that properly felt like a Castlevania game, and it seems like it’s been largely forgotten in modern times. Same goes for its interesting follow up Curse of Darkness for PS2 and Xbox. These two alone would make for an excellent package, but a 3D collection wouldn’t be complete without Castlevania… for the Nintendo 64.
Castlevania or Castlevania 64 as it’s commonly referred to, isn’t great, but it’s way better than its reputation would have you believe. Castlevania and its followup Legacy of Darkness aren’t great, but they’re very interesting, and very much worth playing for Castlevania fans. Now, I could see a world where these games don’t get put on a collection in favor of landing on a service like Nintendo Switch Online, but given the option to get them in the hands of players on all platforms and not just Switch owners I think is a good thing, so my vote would be to pair them with the PS2 games. Castlevania 64 is cool, but it’s got some issues. Legacy of Darkness corrects some of its issues, but still lacks overall polish. Again, worthwhile games, just not exactly big selling points.
And since we’re already pushing polygons here, this is where I’d put the Dracula X Chronicles remake of Rondo, if at all.
Yes, this leaves out Grimoire of Souls and Castlevania The arcade and I’m sure at least one other weird Japan only Castlevania game I’m not aware of, and I didn’t even sniff Lords of Shadow, but as this is just wild speculation, I can’t say I care all that much. In fact, Grimoire of Souls is probably best forgotten by everyone. Either way, Castlevania clearly has an incredible legacy, and that so much of these games are currently unplayable on any modern hardware, even recently defunct stuff, is criminal. These collections shouldn’t just be made now, they should be made in perpetuity. Because Castlevania is an important pillar in the history of gaming, and its legacy should be experienced by all.