When Konami surprisingly announced a re-release of two amazing games within the Castlevania series, I was beyond excited. Symphony of the Night remains one of my all-time favorite games, and Rondo of Blood is one of my favorite in the classic entries within the franchise. While I’ve owned the games on a multitude of other consoles, it certainly seemed like a no-brainer to just re-release the games for PlayStation 4, arguably my main gaming console. For longtime fans and owners of the games, is the re-release worth it? Are the ports solid and not botched in some way? Read on to find out, as well as how I liked the package overall!
Castlevania Requiem Symphony of the Night & Rondo of Blood
Platform: PlayStation 4 (Reviewed)
Release Date: October 26th, 2018
Players: 1 Player
What can be said about the Castlevania games like Rondo of Blood and Symphony of the Night in terms of visuals and themes? Both games exude such brilliant, dark, mysterious, and ultimately enrapturing scenarios. They are shining examples of old 2D pixel art done masterfully well, and they hold up very nicely in crisp high-definition.
As the games were originally developed for standard definition and a 4:3 aspect ratio, there’s a stylized vertical letter box on each side of the screen. The games can also be upscaled to a whopping 4K, as well as have a smoothing effect on the pixel art, but I’m not sure why you’d do the latter. Overall, performance on the ports seems top notch, and I never ran into performance issues.
While both games originally launched on different platforms with different hardware, they are directly connected in terms of storyline and overall style. Many western gamers first played Rondo of Blood in the PSP remake, The Dracula X Chronicles. Thus, you should bear in mind this does not include the 2.5D remake, instead it has the original PC Engine CD visuals.
Honestly, going back into Rondo of Blood with this classic and original style was reinvigorating. I enjoyed the 2.5D remake for what it was, but in my heart of hearts I’m a pixel art Castlevania fanboy till the day I die. I thoroughly encourage you to dive into Rondo of Blood first and experience its more classical style, as it translated very nicely to its sequel, Symphony of the Night.
Both Rondo of Blood and Symphony of the Night exist at a crossroads for the Castlevania series in terms of gameplay. The former is classic platforming action where protagonist Richter Belmont generally feels the same way the previous Belmont’s have, and the game mostly plays the same. Symphony of the Night, however, changed things up massively and ushered in a new era.
If you somehow never played Symphony of the Night, it trades a Belmont protagonist for Alucard, the son of Dracula himself, and boy does he play differently. Movement and attacks can be wildly different from the previous entries in the series, and there’s even some RPG lite elements. You level up, gain more HP, magic, and even increase four other attributes as you gain strength.
I’d go as far to say this is probably now the best entry to the series for total newcomers. You’re getting thoroughbred and classic Castlevania gameplay in the first game, while the second game turns things upside down (quite literally too, heyoo) by introducing a host of new gameplay features. You really can’t go wrong in playing both games back to back.
Nothing is really changed from the original releases of these games to their high-definition re-release on PlayStation 4. The tried and true formula of the classic Castlevania games is still here in Rondo of Blood, and the Igavania style RPG mechanics that followed – beginning with Symphony of the Night – are also here in full force. I really love both of these games.
The latest Castlevania saga featured in these two titles starts with Rondo of Blood protagonist Richter Belmont. His lover Annette kidnapped by Dracula, he sets out to vanquish the evil vampiric lord with his holy whip, the Vampire Killer. Richter goes on a long and treacherous journey, only to ultimately reach his goal and save the world from the resurrected Dracula.
Symphony of the Night changes things up quite a bit in gameplay – but is still a direct sequel to Rondo of Blood. Richter, despite saving the world and his bonny lass, has mysteriously vanished and Dracula is seemingly resurrected once again. Alucard wakes up from his intentional slumber, and goes out to investigate. You can probably guess how things end, but there are some twists.
The Castlevania series, due to its gameplay and its age, has never really been one heralded as a great example of narrative, because it doesn’t really need it. There’s dialogue and iconic characters, various storylines and enough lore to keep fans going, but ultimately the story takes a backseat to the real meat: the gameplay. The world and characters here, though, are wonderful.
Oh, the soundtrack of multitudes of Castlevania games. Both Rondo of Blood and Symphony of the Night have absolutely spellbinding and masterful soundtracks composed by multiple extremely talented musicians. The musical scores for both games are as legendary as the games themselves, and have aged perfectly – for me at least. The various tunes never get old, and sound great.
There is a major point of contention here with this HD re-release, and that’s the rewritten script and redone voices in Symphony of the Night. I get it, many fans (including myself) grew up with the goofy lines and voicework like the infamous “What is a Man?” dialogue, but honestly this feels like a non-issue to me. It’d be nice to have this as an option, but I’m not losing sleep over it.
I’d say my only gripe with this collection is that it lacks extra goodies you can unlock, things you’d see in rival Capcom’s throwback re-releases. While I’ve never really gone out of my way to unlock the art, images, music, and so on – it’s a nice thing to have for diehard fans that really want to fully complete and experience those older games.
Overall, I think Konami has nicely and tightly packaged two of the best Castlevania games ever made, Rondo of Blood and Symphony of the Night, into a reasonably priced and perfectly ported high-definition release. Both games are worthy of your time, and together, this is an extremely hard bundle to turn down.
While this re-release lacks bonus goodies to unlock, the faithfulness of the ports has me hoping Konami is exploring the possibility of an honest-to-goodness return to form, for Castlevania. Everything they’ve been doing lately – like the Netflix show – points to the company wholly embracing the true DNA, or bloodline, of the series, and I couldn’t be happier.
I think any fan of these two games can’t really ask for anything more considering both games have been perfectly ported, in full high-definition, to PlayStation 4. The added trophies are nice, and the games basically feel just as they did all those years ago – they just look way crisper now. I really can’t recommend this package enough, if only it had a physical release too.
Castlevania Requiem Symphony of the Night & Rondo of Blood was reviewed on PlayStation 4 using a review copy provided by Konami. You can find additional information about Niche Gamer’s review/ethics policy here.
The Verdict: 9.5
- Two legendary Castlevania games, together in full HD
- Rock solid performance of both ports
- Trophy support scratches that completionist itch
- Would have been nice for a toggle between original voices/script and new versions
- A limited, physical run version would be nice for collectors
- Lack bonus goodies seen in other retro re-releases (image/art galleries, music, etc)