The Castlevania series is well loved by gamers. The last iteration of the series, Lords of Shadow 2, though, was not very well received and has left a bad taste in many gamers’ mouths. There is one sure fix for this, re-release Symphony of the Night. Castlevania: Requiem does exactly this but also includes Rondo of Blood for good measure. It’s a compilation that’s a safe bet, and an easy way to get two of the best Castlevania games on a modern platform.
What Is It?
Requiem is, simply put, a compilation of the 1993 PC Engine CD game Rondo of Blood and the 1997 Symphony of the Night. Great, that’s it, this section is done! Actually, it’s a bit more involved than that and what’s going on here is intriguing. When I first played it, I thought this was a melange of the original PlayStation version of Symphony with assets from the PSP Dracula X Chronicles. It seems more like this compilation is actually a somewhat stripped down version of the PSP original with some modifications. The audio is from the PSP original and you have the choice of Japanese or English dialog.
Both games seem to be running under emulation, which makes me wonder if Sony’s been keeping a PSP Emulator under their hat for a while. Some have brought forth evidence to make this point, and it honestly wouldn’t surprise me to know that Sony has this capability. In the case of the emulation of these two games, though, for the most part, things work just fine. Though, there are some issues that crop up now and then with audio stuttering after beating a boss or weird scrolling glitches in Rondo of Blood. None of these issues is game breaking, and it’s possible that Konami could fix these via a patch in the future.
The game offers a number of borders and video filters that you can toggle through. There is an Original and Full video mode. Original displays the games at their normal aspect ratio for the most part. Symphony of the Night’s image in Original mode presentation seems to be slightly narrower than it should be. Then there’s the Full mode. Of the two modes, this is probably the one you’ll want to use. It preserves the proper aspect ratio of both games, making them look in the correct proportions, but it also fills the vertical height of the screen. The scaling is also done very well and doesn’t suffer from the typical scaling artifacts like pixel shimmering when scrolling. I’m not sure why the game wasn’t just presented like this by default. For the PS4 Pro owners, Castlevania: Requiem supports 4K output. There are a number of borders you can use to fill the rest of the screen, or you can turn them off if you find them distracting.
Requiem also offers three video filters that you can use. There is a scanline filter for that retro look. This is probably one of the worst implementations of this type of effect. It’s just a layer over the whole screen, including the borders. There is also an Interlace mode available. If you hate your eyeballs and you want to subject them to flickering, this is the mode for you. Avoid this one, it really doesn’t look good at all. Finally, there’s a Smoothing filter. This one isn’t too bad. It smooths out the pixel edges giving the game a softer look. So of the three filters, only the Smoothing is what I’d call usable. For me, the best way to play is with the Full mode and no filers enabled.
Why Should I Care?
With the rough edges, this compilation has, one shouldn’t forget that the two games included in it are two absolute classics. Rondo of Blood is without a doubt the height of the traditional platformer genre. While Symphony of the Night re-invented the series. These are two shining examples of developers at the top of their game.
With Rondo of Blood, you could play as Richter Belmont and play the game as a traditional Castlevania, or unlock the young Maria Renard and give the game a very different feel. Maria had the ability to attack using familiars as well as a double-jump and slide moves. She was a far more nimble character, so if you played as her, you had a distinct advantage. That’s not to say the game was easy, but it was certainly easier.
Then with Symphony of the Night, you had a game that was part RPG, part platformer. You played as Alucard, Dracula’s estranged son. He wasn’t too pleased with his father and has sided with the humans in their fight against him. Instead of levels, you had a whole sprawling castle to explore. There were secrets to uncover, including the entire second half of the game. At the time, it was a real revelation to find out that no, you hadn’t actually finished the game.
The original PSP version had a 3D remake of Rondo of Blood as its centerpiece. That’s completely absent from this compilation. While the intent was probably to present as close to the original versions of the two games as possible, it would have been a nice bonus to have the 3D version available. Not having it doesn’t hurt this compilation, but if it was based on the PSP version, it could’ve been thrown in as an unlockable bonus.
What Makes It Worth My Time And Money?
The caliber of the two games on this collection more than makes up for any rough edges it has. Both games still play as well as they ever have, Having them in one easy to access collection is a big plus, seeing as getting original discs for them is getting prohibitively expensive now. There is also the chance that a collection like this, coupled with the popularity of the recent Netflix series, may signal to Konami that there is life left in this franchise. With the right developers at the helm, I’d love to see where a Castlevania reboot could be. In the meantime, we have this collection to remind us how good the series can be.