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Review of the Castlevania Anniversary Collection (Switch eShop)

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Konami recently launched his trio of Anniversary Collection compilations with a selection of arcade shooters that are certainly classics but have since had limited emulation options (though Konami does since then) confirmed that most problems are fixed with a patch). Now it's time for the second serving, this time for the Castlevania series, especially for most 8-bit and 16-bit entries. Fortunately, it is an improvement on the last offer, but there are still some areas where it could be better.

The eight games here cover (with one exception) the early Castlevania games on Nintendo systems. Of course, the original NES version of Castlevania is the first on the list, and it remains outstanding 33 years after its first release. The same does not apply to Castlevania II: Simon's Quest NES sequel, notorious for its decision to rewrite things to a more open role-playing style similar to Zelda II . Although the attempt of a deeper adventure was a classy one, the awful translated clues and chunky day / night cycle make it a real job to play today (not that it was a dream in the late eighties or something). [1

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This is resolved with Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse of the final NES-Vania and the result of a wise decision by Konami to make things simple and focused again Keeping only on the type of action platform of the original game (although there are now several routes through the game, which means that you are on different stages playing different games). If you run out of NES games, the next logical step is to switch to SNES. Super Castlevania IV is all there with its fantastic music and pretty gimmicks (like a mode) the fourth game in the collection 7 Spinning Room).

A pleasant surprise follows in the form of Castlevania: Bloodlines known in Europe as Castlevania: The New Generation . This Mega Drive title is relatively rare and is being re-released for the first time since its release in 1994 (a few months before the upcoming Mega Drive Mini, to which it also belongs). It's great to have it here as well: it's an extremely underrated Castlevania with a slightly darker and nicer tone to the Nintendo titles.

At this point the collection takes a strange turn. We were hoping it would have passed to a PC Engine game Rondo of Blood (or, if that's too dark, its SNES remake Castlevania: Dracula X / Vampire's Kiss ). Then we dared to dream and wondered if Konami would actually go far enough to record the legendary PlayStation game Castlevania: Symphony of the Night . Unfortunately, if you have expected this, you are out of luck: The collection encounters a chronological dead end in the Mega Drive game and then goes backwards.

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Instead, the next image follows Castlevania: The Adventure and Castlevania II: Belmont's Revenge . The first of these Game Boy trips serves no real purpose except to remind us that it exists. It's a technical catastrophe that stutters and stutters everywhere and runs at a speed of about half a mile an hour (and yes, that's the way it happened that day – it was one of the very first games for Nintendo's monochrome miracle). It was superbly reworked by M2 for WiiWare, and why this version was not included is unclear. Finally, M2 is the team responsible for this collection, and Castlevania: The Adventure ReBirth is no longer available after the closure of the Wii's online services. Talk about a missed opportunity. Luckily, Belmont's Revenge is another fish tank and is considered one of the best action titles by the Game Boy – it also has an absolutely amazing soundtrack.

After all, the rounding off is something interesting. A game that many will dismiss as a ridiculous decision, but that's a pretty big deal for the rest of the Castlevania series. Kid Dracula (or Akumajō Special: Boku Dracula-kun to give him the proper Japanese title) was only released on the Famicom in Japan while the West later released a Game Boy remake, the original was never published here. This is not only the first time that Konami has released it around our (bitten) neck of the forest, but it has also been localized with an English "Kid Dracula" title screen and the entire Japanese text changed to English. A nice effort, and it's a fun little game with charming cartoon sprites. You can make fun of recording other titles, but try it first: you'll be surprised.

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This is not the only surprise in the package. When starting the game, you may see the above M2 logo. While the previous arcade collection was developed by the Hamster Corporation using the Arcade Archives emulation system, Konami has used the talented chaps responsible for the stunning Sega-Ages retro releases for the Castlevania collection. It's a smart move to make sure the emulation is as accurate as possible.

However, the options are still a bit poor. There are now six display filters for most games: In addition to the 4: 3 original (which sometimes produces a slightly shimmering effect when scrolling), the pixel-accurate and the 16: 9 widescreen, you can also select a "scanlines" version of any of these who do the trick when you're in that sort of thing.

Those who like their games to fill their screen will be disappointed: unless you choose 4: 3 with scanlines or the God-awesome super-stretchy 16: 9 filter, every other option brings the game in a window in the middle of the screen and leaves visible edges above and below. This is supposed to make sure that pixel scaling is perfect, but we would not mind stretching the screen a bit to get a slightly softer image.

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It should be noted that the two Game Boy games, as bad as they are, are at least treated with their own special display filters: standard black and white (in 4: 3 and pixels perfect), a "dot matrix" effect (which emulates the gorgeous sickly green-and-yellow Game Boy screen, which has a very weak grid), and a "color" filter that does it all in a delightful way doing a weird brown the way a game boy is used to half-heartedly give color to non-GBC games.

Apart from screen filters, there are no real other options to choose from. You can not change the key mapping, you can not select the Japanese versions of the games (but Konami thinks they're in the works) and you can not really do much else but have one basic feature to save the state for each game. It also appears that the version of Castlevania (NES) used in the English version of the game is the original PRG0 version, which occasionally crashes after defeating Death in the 15th phase: Konami is likely to mend this and have to exchange for PRG1 version, although if the patch with Japanese versions at some point, this is a workaround (the Japanese game does not have this bug).

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As in the In The Arcade collection, there is also a digital bonus book that breaks down every game and includes interviews with the developers and the likes. This is much better than the previous attempt, with more interesting sketches (a personal highlight is a rough sketch of the famous rotation room in Super Castlevania IV). It's a great addition and one that fans of the series appreciate.

So the whole package consists of a relatively strong collection of Castlevania titles. There will undoubtedly be questions about how some games have been selected over others: The majority of today's players do not particularly like Simon's Quest, and the first Game Boy game was rated as mediocre 30 years ago, so we are unsure who thought it would be a worthy shot. Even the third Game Boy game – the oft-slandered, but now highly collectable Castlevania Legends – would have been a better choice.

Many will rightly ask why Dracula X and Symphony of the Night are missing. and if we were allowed to dream for a minute, we would have liked to see the aforementioned WiiWare title Castlevania: The Adventure ReBirth here. Nevertheless, there is more good here than bad, and Castlevania I, III, IV, Bloodlines and yes, even Kid Dracula should keep you entertained for a long time. The Castlevania Anniversary Collection is a slightly mixed bag from Konami, packed with ice-cold classics Meet some undead clunkers who should have been dead and buried. Despite the questionable inclusion of Simons Quest and Castlevania: The Adventure, the highs offered are among the highest points in the entire franchise, and a western debut for Kid Dracula is a wonderful treat for retro gamers looking for something new. As long as you're prepared to ignore the smaller titles in this package, and you're not overwhelmed by omitting other classic entries, you'll have a great time with what's left – and there's always room for Castlevania Anniversary Collection 2 we advise.

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