Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Castlevania Requiem - The Dub Is Fine. It's All Fine. Buy It.

Konami has released a bare bones Castlevania collection on PS4 that includes Symphony of the Night and Rondo of Blood. Series purists will tell you it is bad for dumb nitpicky reasons, but they're d-bags so don't listen to them. Listen to me. Castlevania Requiem is fine. It's fine. You get two solid games for $20 - and SOTN is worth that on its own, in my book - so even if it isn't perfect or full of extra content, it is hard to argue that Castlevania Requiem isn't still worth playing. Continue reading for all of the details.

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Castlevania Requim is a bit of an odd release because it is sort of a mix and match of different parts. It is mostly based off of the PSP title Castlevania: The Dracula X Chronicles that included Sympthony of the Night and a 2.5D remake of Rondo of Blood (along with the original version), but it isn't exactly the same. This Requiem collection does not include the 2.5D Rondo of Blood remake, for example, and is just the original version initially released on the PC Engine. Symphony of the Night is also slightly altered from the PSP version in that Maria is a playable character here, which she has never been before outside of the Japanese-only Saturn version of the game.

Why is it a bunch of pieces and parts and not even as complete as the previously released version? Who the heck knows. Other aspects are odd, too. When you first load it up it is pretty embarrassing, honestly, as the opening menu where you select a game or adjust options are as bare bones as possible. There also isn't any sort of bonus content or artwork or behind the scenes development-type stuff we've come to expect from retro collections like this (from Capcom, anyway ...). It all feels pretty soulless and shallow and like a cash grab just to get a "new" Castlevania out for the first time in forever.

That doesn't mean that it is bad, though. The two games themselves are absolutely worth playing even if the package around them is lackluster. Rondo of Blood is one of the most beloved "Classic-vania" games ever where your progression is straightforward through linear levels while Symphony of the Night radically altered the Castlevania formula with a large open world and RPG-style progression and items. Personally, I don't necessarily love Rondo of Blood, because I don't particularly enjoy Classicvanias or 2D platformers in general, but plenty of people still do and it's held in high regard by fans for a reason. Symphony of the Night, on the other hand, is one of my top 3 favorite games ever and this version is every bit as good as the previously released PSX or XBLA versions. SOTN is an impeccably designed game that is nearly perfect and being able to play it on PS4 is awesome.

Symphony of the Night does have a couple nitpicky issues here, though. First is that the game uses the PSP dub and script for the cutscenes. This is significant because the original campy so-bad-it's-good translation of SOTN is pretty iconic at this point. It's totally shit nonsense, but it's iconic and people liked it. The new dub makes more sense and is much better acted, but doesn't have any derpy moments people remember. Honestly, though, the PSP dub is objectively better in every way. I got used to it immediately and think it's fine. Some other folks think it's a deal-breaker, but they're selfish fools wallowing in the past. 

Another slight issue with SOTN is that the sound is a little different than you may be used to from the PSX or XBLA versions. Either the mix is weird or it is running at a different speed, or something, but the sound effects for items and enemies and everything else are slightly different here. Not a deal breaker, certainly, but it's weird.

With all of that said, who cares if Castlevania Requiem has little nitpicky problems! The games are still great and play amazingly well and the collection, as bare bones as it may be, is still easily worth $20. If you have never played SOTN there is no reason not to play it here simply because it is the most convenient option these days. Ultimately, you're getting two all time great games in a crummy package, but for the price it's hard to complain unless you just have a grudge against Konami (which far too many "fans" do). Buy it.