Retro game collections are a big (and profitable) deal right now, so it's no surprise Konami said, "We want in!" and cooked up Castlevania Requiem for the PlayStation 4. I, for one, welcome any chance to replay Castlevania: Symphony of the Night—one of the best 2D action games of all time, and one of the games included in Konami's new collection—so I bit eagerly into Requiem.
Unfortunately, my meal proved watery and unfulfilling. The kindest thing I can say about Castlevania Requiem is that it's convenient: It collects two of the most beloved games in the series, Symphony of the Night and Rondo of Blood, into one package (and I find Rondo of Blood more frustrating than fun, but that's a ghost-horse of a different shade). Otherwise, Castlevania Requiem is the most unspectacular "collection" to come out in ages, let alone in a console generation that boasts Mega Man Legacy Collection and The Disney Afternoon collection. It's a huge disappointment when you think about all the under-represented Castlevania games Konami could've included.
Weirdly, Castlevania Requiem is a collection of a collection. Or, if you allow me to break out an awesome new term I just came up with: "Colleception" (OK, it sounded more awesome in my head). The included versions of Symphony of the Night and Rondo of Blood are from the iterations packed on 2007's Dracula X Chronicles for the PSP. That means Symphony of the Night has the corrected scripts that offer a more accurate translation of the game's lore—though it also means you miss out on the infamous "Die, monster!" monologue that helped Symphony of the Night's popularity spread via word-of-mouth. I'll gladly take Symphony of the Night's more accurate PSP translation over a few silly throwaway lines I can look up on YouTube, but the option to switch between the old and new localization wouldn't be amiss. That wasn't an option on the PSP, however, so it sure as heck isn't an option in the flaccid Castlevania Requiem.
In fact, when you hold up Castlevania Requiem against its PSP "parent," you quickly notice it's missing a whole game: The 2.5D remake of Rondo of Blood. While there are Castlevania purists who prefer the sprite-based Rondo of Blood (which is unlockable in Dracula X Chronicles), yanking out the 2.5D option is a crummy thing to do. Really, if you have a PSP or PS Vita, you might be better off just buying Dracula X Chronicles for $14.99 USD. It's a good collection, Symphony of the Night is well-suited for portability, and you're not missing much with the PlayStation 4 option. Just some trophies, some standard screen filters (scan lines, "smoothing"), and a quicksave option that doesn't appear to work. I quicksaved after Symphony of the Night's first boss battle with Slogra and Gaibon, loaded my file, and discovered I was sent back to the last in-game save point before the battle—with the boss duo undefeated. Nice. The quicksave I made for Rondo of Blood likewise shunted me backwards.
(Sidenote: Beating Slogra and Gaibon earned me a "Close Associates" Trophy, which I appreciate since it's a reference to "The Room of Close Associates," one of my favourite tunes in Castelvania IV for the SNES. Actually, all the Trophies have great names.)
Is Castlevania Requiem worth picking up? That's a big "Eh." Dracula X Chronicles is a better purchase, but if your Vita's been scrapped ("Vita means liiiiife!"), Requiem isn't bad. It's just as bare-bones as a week-old corpse at a family reunion of crows. Both games on the collection are worth playing, definitely; Symphony of the Night is still a masterpiece, and Rondo of Blood deserves at least one playthrough.
What a downer, though. Konami has every right to capitalize on Castlevania nostalgia by giving us a collection, but there are so many wayward games it could have parked on Castlevania Requiem. Aria of Sorrow, Dawn of Sorrow, Portrait of Ruin, and Order of Ecclesia are all hard-to-get Castlevania games that would be amazing additions to a collection. If nothing else, give us Castlevania Bloodlines. Bloodlines, which is exclusive to the Sega Genesis (and boasts a visual style wholly to itself), never even received a Virtual Console release. Rumor has it a clerical error kept Bloodlines—and several other retro Konami games—off the Virtual Console, and Konami simply never bothered fixing it.
There's no confirmation on this rumor, but sadly, "Konami simply never bothered" sums up Castlevania Requiem. Symphony of the Night and Rondo of Blood deserve much better than a few piffling screen filters, some border art, a handful of trophies, and a game select menu that looks like it was cobbled together in an early 2000's edition of Macromedia Flash. What a horrible night for two of the best action games ever made.