Release date: September 23, 2021
Players: 1 player
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One. PC, Nintendo Switch
"Review Copy Provided By Konami"
Konami releasing a Castlevania game these days is rare, well…….Konami releasing any games these days is insanely rare since 2015 they’ve made it a point to not to focus on gaming outside of Pachinko machines and yet here we are with the 3rd Castlevania collection to be released with this one focusing on the Gameboy Advance titles Circle of the Moon, Harmony of Dissonance, and Aria of Sorrow along with a special added game being the Super Nintendo only Castlevania Dracula X. With 3 genre defining entries and a remake/remix of the formerly Japan only entry Castlevania Rondo of Blood; is this collection worth your time? Let’s find out!
When it comes to the gameplay, the 3 Advance titles all are similar in that they follow the gameplay format set in motion by the iconic Castlevania Symphony of the Night which started the whole “MetroidVania” formula in the franchise which consists of Metroid style exploration which has you expecting every nook and cranny you come across and also needing certain power ups/abilities to gain access to new areas to explore. Where it differs from Metroid is the inclusion of RPG elements like showing the damage done by attacks to enemies and vice versa while also being able to gain levels and increase individual stats like strength, luck, defense, and more.
The differences between the 3 titles comes in how they each have a unique gameplay gimmick that sets them apart from one another. In Circle of the Moon you have the DSS Card System which has you combining various cards that you find from defeating enemies allowing you to use magical abilities such as adding flame to your whip, turning the Hunter Whip into a sword, and more. These usages will drain your magic meter and you’ll need to deactivate the special ability to restore the magic meter.
Harmony of Dissonance is unique in that it has you utilizing both magic books in conjunction with sub weapons as well as equipping various attachment tips to the Vampire Killer. Given that Juste Belmont is descended of not only the Belmont bloodline but also the Belnades bloodline due to Sypha; he has the strongest magical abilities demonstrated by a Belmont and can gather various magic books and merge them with the classic sub weapons to do devastatingly powerful attacks that drain your magic meter. The game encourages you to experiment and mix and match the sub weapons and the magic books to get various effects. Attaching the various tips to your whip give you everything from elemental properties added to your whip attacks along with other abilities such as being able to break specific walls that can’t normally be broken.
Aria of Sorrow is the most unique of the 3 games as it has the Soul System that has you defeating enemies and absorbing their souls which gives you access to specific sub weapons, abilities, and powers. The more souls of a specific enemy that you gain the stronger it becomes when it comes to sub weapons and powers while passive and active abilities are not affected one way or another.
The wild card in this collection is Castlevania Dracula X which is the last traditional entry of both the 16-bit era and the 90s in general with you having stages ending in a boss fight and a traditional sub weapon system while including the item crash function that debuted in both Rondo of Blood and Bloodlines. Richter Belmont moves about much slower than Nathan, Juste, and Soma and has less mobility and retains the classic “Belmont Strut”. Dracula X is the most difficult of the 4 games included because it is the most traditional of the games followed by Circle of the Moon being the most difficult of the 3 Advance games. HoD is the easiest of all 4 games and AoS has the perfect pacing and balancing of all the games. You can utilize save states along with a rewind feature which can be helpful in tough situations.
Graphically all the games look good and have stretched aspect ratios to adjust to the higher resolutions and aspect ratios of modern displays. You can play at the collections default resolution as well as a pixel perfect resolution and more.
There is a music player allowing you to play all the tracks from all 4 games for some easy listening and there’s also a gallery mode allowing you to see a lot of the artwork and manuals for each entry.
One of the last additions to this collection is the ability to select which version of the included games you’d like to play such as the American, European, or Japanese version. Each version has notable differences between them with either a different title, difficulty, and RNG for collecting items and the like.
So, is Castlevania Advance Collection worth the money? That is a most definite YES! You can’t find the included games for less than 100$ or so each and it’s on all major platforms. This collection gives you dozens of hours of fun for a price that’ll make even Dracula smile in delight. If you’re a fan of the franchise then this is a must own and if you’re a fan of the MetroidVania genre then there’s no reason for you to not go out and get this today!