Release date: October 26th, 2018
If you’re a fan of the Castlevania series like myself, you may have noticed all the recent activity surrounding the series in the last few months, including soundtrack reissues, a new season of the Netflix-produced anime series, more Backwards Compatible releases on Xbox One, Smash Bros character reveals, as well as this particular game release, titled Castlevania Requiem, among other things.
Much to the dismay of long-time fans of the series, unfortunately, this is not a new entry in the series, but rather a remaster…of a remaster, to put it bluntly. The general laziness and lack of originality in the games industry lately has been something I’ve wrote about many times and just seems to keep getting worse, but I’ll at least reserve a little bit of my judgement when it comes to the Castlevania series.
This series has produced some of my favorite games of all time in any given era of gaming, and has a rich history and style behind it that is undeniable to most who have played it, and for this Requiem release, they’ve repackaged two of the most highly-regarded releases in the series together, which are 1993’s Rondo of Blood (Chi no Rondo, originally on PC Engine CD) and 1997’s Symphony of the Night (Gekka no Nocturne, originally on PS1.)
Some may recognize that this same pairing of games was already released together in 2007 under the name Dracula X Chronicles for Sony’s handheld PSP system. This makes the Requiem package fairly less unique than it might have otherwise been, but it also presents another set of problems. The Requiem package is actually missing multiple features and modes that the PSP game had, which is pretty confusing, given that there would have probably been fairly little effort required just to keep the other features of the game, but with Konami scaling back any kind of effort in releasing games nowadays after being nearly bankrupted by Hideo Kojima a few years ago, I can’t say it’s entirely surprising.
Included here are only the “original” versions of Symphony and Rondo, which does not include the 2.5D remake of Rondo that was also included on the PSP release, as well as some extra soundtracks, art galleries, and extra modes that just made the PSP version a more well-rounded package overall. This PS4 remaster is essentially a stripped-down version of the PSP game with half the content missing.
On top of this, many people have complained for years that the PSP version featured a new English audio track for Symphony (which I personally don’t care about, since the original Japanese track is also included,) as well as some shoddy new English text translations here and there, plus some major changes to Symphony, which has mostly the content from the original PS1 Japanese version, but features a toned-down version of a playable Maria character which is different from her original playable version in the Sega Saturn version of Symphony.
This makes for a little bit of a jarring experience for anyone going in and expecting this version of Symphony to be exactly as they remembered it back in the late 90s, but overall it doesn’t affect too much in the end. I also played the hell out of the PSP version back when it came out, so I’ve already had time to get used to these changes over the years.
Rondo is basically presented just as it was back on it’s original release, besides the fact that the original version on PC Engine CD was never translated or released in English, so this collection (technically the PSP version) was the first time it was ever officially translated into English, and the translation is embarrassing to say the least. Full of grammatical and spelling errors in nearly every scene of dialogue, it’s strange how this ever got past a Western QA department of any kind.
Even before the PSP version of this was released, Symphony also was remastered for Xbox 360 back in 2007, being yet another different version from both the PS1 and PSP versions, so there’s a lot of slightly different versions of this to choose from which all have slightly different content on them, so Requiem is yet another release to pile on top of the others.
One other complaint would be the PS4’s Bluetooth technology used in the controllers, which unfortunately always creates just a few extra frames of lag for your input, even if you have it plugged in with a cable, which is one of the only major complaints I have besides the missing content from the PSP collection. It gets a little irritating when trying to pull off some of the more precise movements in both games and what you push doesn’t appear quite as quickly as it should on screen.
In the end, Symphony and especially Rondo are still some of the most enjoyable games of their time and genre which both pushed the style forward in major ways, and they’re still just as enjoyable today in how well-crafted the games are from top to bottom.
All in all, with this collection only being $20 (basically $10 for each game included) it’s not too bad of a deal, but the experience won’t quite live up to the original versions in many ways and definitely does not live up to the PSP release. For fans of the series, it’s definitely fun to revisit them again, and it has a fun new trophy list to hack away at, if you’re into that kind of thing, just don’t expect anything new here.
It’s unlikely we’ll see any real new content from the Castlevania series in video game form, though there’s already some other great games in the same style, but with original ideas, such as Bloodstained, which I reviewed earlier this year, and it’s supposed to have another entry coming in 2019, but if you want to enjoy the old games again, Requiem still exists.
Final Score: 3.25 out of 5