Konami has been bringing its classic Castlevania series back under the limelight lately, thanks to the success of the recent Netflix series. First, some of the characters showed up in Super Bomberman R. After that, Konami released the Castlevania Requiem collection, which comprised the Richter Belmont story, or Rondo of Blood and Symphony of the Night. Then, Richter, Simon, Alucard, and a ton of awesome music showed up in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. Now, a bunch of classic collections are coming out from Konami, and one of them is all Castlevania. Big things are happening with the series, and while a new game isn’t likely, it’s good to see all this love for the classics on contemporary platforms. Konami has hinted that there is more to come, so let’s take a look at why the first set is what it is, and talk about what we’d like to see next.
Castlevania, for the most part, is all connected. There’s an official timeline and, while there has been a retcon or two, for the most part you can trace a path all the way to beyond the present day. While in the timeline Dracula has nearly outlived the Belmont clan, the first Castlevania Anniversary Collection is all about the classics. We’re talking chronological releases, rather than going by the timeline. This makes sense, since starting with a PlayStation 2 game then going to the NES would be weird. Thus, with one exception, this initial set is all about the Belmonts, particularly the weird, Viking-like, burly ones, instead of the more elegant members of the family.
Naturally, we start with Simon Belmont. While he isn’t the progenitor of the Belmont clan, he is one of the most famous, particularly because of his unique relationship with Dracula. He defeats Dracula in the original game, but is cursed and forced to actually revive him and win a second fight. It’s difficult enough to beat Dracula once, but our boy Simon does it twice. This happens across the first two games in the series and collection, so their inclusion is as necessary as the next one. Castlevania III is a prequel, starring Trevor Belmont. This is the game the Netflix series is based on, and some folks’ favorite in the series. The North American version is absurdly difficult, because it came out during the era of rental drama, but a patch is planned to allow players to access the easier Japanese version.
Trevor’s story is important, because he starts the Belmonts on a path to greatness. See, the Belmonts during his time are seen as outcasts, strange weirdos who live in obscurity due to their superhuman abilities. As Trevor defeats Dracula for the “first” time (more on that later), the Belmonts start to be seen as heroes. Simon’s later exploits cement the deal, and from then on are looked fondly upon by history and rejoin normal society. But while Trevor and Simon get most of the credit, another Belmont was able to challenge Dracula in-between the two.
Dracula returns every 100 years, and Christopher Belmont rose to the challenge 100 years after Trevor. He’s the star of the two Game Boy titles, which are also included in the Anniversary Collection. These games aren’t as well known, largely because the first one is really bad. It’s here for historical/timeline purposes only, and also to make sense of the much more playable sequel. Christopher actually fails to defeat Dracula the first time, as the count manages to narrowly escape by turning into mist. In the sequel, he captures Christopher’s son Soleiyu and magically turns him evil. An aging Christopher has to take up the whip again, this time managing to defeat Dracula properly and save his son.
One of the more important inclusions in the set is Bloodlines, which is the only entry that appeared on the Sega Genesis. Instead of being about the Belmont clan, we are introduced to the Morris family, which is a connection to Bram Stoker's original Dracula novel. Set in World War II, Bloodlines started a whole new thread of Castlevania lore, which would eventually be revisited in a later Nintendo DS title.
One oddity in the Castlevania Anniversary Collection is Super Castlevania IV. It isn’t a sequel, so much as a remake of sorts of the original game. It stars Simon Belmont, and he does the fighting Dracula thing just like the first game. That said, there’s a lot more going on, and this game was an early Super Nintendo title, meaning tons of Mode 7 scrolling abuse. Much of the creative team on this one was new to the series, so it features distinct differences such as a much easier difficulty, huge sprites, and the ability to twirl the whip around and strike in multiple directions. It’s worth a shot, but not really an essential part of the story.
The final game in the collection is an odd one. It’s Kid Dracula, a silly, cartoony spinoff that was originally released on the Famicom and never localized for North America. A Game Boy sequel was, but that game isn’t included in the set. Instead, with a brand new localization, we can finally play the original Kid Dracula in English. Wild! This is definitely a bonus for fans, as while it’s fun and cute, it doesn’t have the innate appeal of the other games.
The marketing material for the Castlevania Anniversary Collection strongly hinted that this was the first of multiple planned sets. And since there’s plenty more to the Castlevania timeline, we hope to see a comprehensive set or two more that really allow fans to collect the entire story. It would be really cool if the next collection was reminiscent of Capcom’s Mega Man X set, and isn’t afraid to include PS1 and PS2 games despite their relatively large size. It would also be fun to see the Nintendo 64 Castlevania, despite its odd qualities. If we can justify the awful Game Boy game, then that should be no problem. Fitting the PlayStation era titles into one collection would round out the Belmont stories for the most part, although we likely won’t see Rondo or Symphony due to the Requiem set. That’s PS4 exclusive though, so who knows! Finally, a “Metroidvania” set would be a must, including all the Game Boy Advance and Nintendo DS games together. That would be an insane deal, but having a collection of some of the best games of all time together would be a real godsend.