Castlevania Advance Collection Review

By Published On: October 13, 2021Categories: Gaming

Source: Konami

Where there’s a whip, there’s a way.

At one point, they were one of the most prominent game companies in the world. But then they became a sad tale in the industry, between the treatment of Hideo Kojima over Metal Gear Solid V and the release of so many pachinko machines instead of, you know, actual games.

But they’re seeing a turnaround as of late. Some classic collections are out there, celebrating their most storied and popular franchises; they’ve dared indie companies to make new adventures based on some of their older hits; and they’re rumored to be working on fresh entries in both the Metal Gear and Silent Hill franchises.

And now we have Castlevania Advance Collection, a surprise release of four long lost games, three of which celebrate the style of open-world play that made Symphony of the Night so significant. They’re a pleasure to see again, reminding us of the older side of Konami that, hopefully, will once again make its way to the surface. This is a hell of a start.

A Packed Collection

Though the count of games in this lesson is low – four compared to, say, ten – the titles included here are significant. You have handheld gems like Circle of the Moon, Harmony of Dissonance, and Aria of Sorrow, all of which carved out an amazing niche in their own right years ago. To boot, there’s also the SNES version of Castlevania: Dracula X, which has been long lost to collectors and now goes for hundreds of dollars a pop physically, despite being an inferior game to the Rondo of Blood adventure on TurboDuo that inspired it.

Anyway, let’s focus here. All three of the main games here are lengthy adventures, with compelling gameplay that reminds us of the classic side of Castlevania, while carving out something new in their own right. They’re a joy to revisit, wonderfully re-emulated without missing a beat on the big screen. Sure, some of the sprites may look a slight bit aged, but they’re retaining the way the games used to look, so we’re fine with that.

Source: Konami

And, surprisingly enough, the gameplay translates very well for each one. Aria of Sorrow in particular is a stunner; and, yep, even Circle of the Moon holds its own as the oldest of the Game Boy Advance entries, with hours’ worth of gameplay and some great looking visuals and music to boot.

Each has some stellar gameplay to spare, with some particular systems that stand out, such as the Souls system, which is really something in their own right. They’re all worth exploring, with lots of secrets to find and some truly amazing boss fights to rediscover.

Perhaps the real question here is…why Dracula X? Could Konami not have included Symphony of the Night with the package to truly make it a dramatic offering? Sure, the game saw digital release before on Xbox platforms, as well as with Castlevania Requiem on the PS4 (with text editing, grrrr), but a release on Switch with this package would’ve been right at home.

That said, Dracula X isn’t bad at all. Again, it’s no Rondo, but it’s a great Castlevania adventure with good music and lots of thrilling gameplay. It’s the least packaged of the included games, as it’ll take you just a little while to beat. But it’s a nostalgic trip, and, thanks to this package, won’t provide a beating to your wallet.

Extras Aplenty

Along with the main games, the Castlevania Advance Collection also features some other goodies. There’s a music player that explores the entirety of this collection with a number of tunes, which you can play however you see fit.

Source: Konami

In addition, you can also check out a ton of concept art included with each game, including manuals and draw-ups that really take you back to the classic design stages where Konami used to come from. You can also change up languages however you see fit, though the default English is the best way to go if you’re trying to get the gist of what the story is all about. For these games – particularly Aria, which is my favorite – that’s the best way to go.

A Turning Point?

With Castlevania Advance Collection, Konami seems to be indicating that it’s going back to the company it used to be. Sure, it’s still messing with pachinko, but it seems like there have been lessons learned when it comes to how it used to do games, and what worked best. It’s a lovingly made collection packed with goodies and lots of great gameplay, even if you’re just going through Dracula X on a quick run. It’s an absolute must-have, especially if you grew up with any of these.

With that, here’s hoping we see more collections like this. What I wouldn’t give to see the Rebirth games from the Wii era make a comeback again, if only because you can’t really play them any more. C’mon, Konami, keep goin’.

RATING: 9/10

About the Author: Captain Steve