Konami, once thought to be bowing out of video games almost entirely after all the Hideo Kojima drama, has been supporting its library of legendary retro games and its Pro Evolution Soccer series. While Super Bomberman R was an awesome new title as well, it benefited from the Nintendo Switch launch to wring it out of its relative niche. Since then, Konami has seemingly bounced from that to the success of Netflix and Adi Shankar’s Castlevania animated series and has leveraged Super Smash Bros. to keep that brand awareness alive. Now, for the company’s 50th anniversary, a series of collections has been announced for every major platform. Life is pretty good if you’re into the Konami legacy, even if brand new games aren’t trickling out often.
Three sets have been announced for 2019: One for arcade games, one for classic run and gun Contra, and one for my favorite, the venerable Castlevania. That series got the short end of the stick, back in the bizarre “Japanese games aren’t cool enough for big budgets” era of the previous generation, but here we are with a celebration of the good old days. What’s intriguing about these sets is that each one appears to have eight slots, but the Castlevania and Contra sets haven’t been fully revealed.
For my part, while I’m no Contra historian, I can go hard on some Castlevania nonsense. Those four empty slots are akin to brain torture. In an exercise to harness some of that nervous energy, I figured, why not take a stab at what those unannounced titles might be? At least one of them is probably obvious, but that leaves plenty of room for the other three to be who knows what.
Here’s what I think.
Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest
Here’s the obvious one. We see the first and the third game already announced, and frankly, those are the two you absolutely need to see upfront for a Castlevania Anniversary Collection. But the second game is a bit more divisive and probably not an immediate seller. It’s a weird game and, despite its soundtrack being “the Bloody Tears one,” doesn’t lend itself well to multiple runs outside of the most dedicated fans.
Still, it’s part of the Simon Belmont story, and Castlevania has a mostly linear lore to it that must be respected. Simon’s Quest is an easy first reveal to keep that hype building.
This set needs to have this game in particular or I will be sorely disappointed. We haven’t seen Bloodlines since it landed on the dang ol’ Sega Genesis, and it’s an important piece of the Castlevania timeline! Eventually, we might be revisiting the “Metroidvania” part of the series, since the collection’s website says this is the “first” one. Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin is a literal sequel to this.
As wacky as it sounds, Bloodlines tries to integrate Bram Stoker’s original Dracula into Castlevania, bringing the Morris family from the novel into the Belmont bloodline. Aside from the lore stuff, this is also an awesome, classic Castlevania experience and is frankly way better than Super Castlevania IV. But really, the fact Bloodlines has never before been re-released makes it a must here for history’s sake.
Castlevania: The Adventure ReBirth
You’ve probably noticed that Castlevania II: Belmont’s Revenge is part of the Castlevania Anniversary Collection games list already. But that isn’t the “real” Castlevania II, as we’ve demonstrated above. It’s a (canon) off-shoot, a sequel to early Game Boy disaster Castlevania: The Adventure. It’s a direct sequel too, continuing the story of Christopher Belmont from the first game.
Konami knows the first game is bad, but Konami is also sitting on an excellent remake of it, called Castlevania: The Adventure ReBirth. This remake was introduced as part of the WiiWare marketplace, which was recently shut down. Now it’s impossible to play this game legally, which is a crying shame. But look! Here we are with an opportunity to right that wrong. This is an important piece of the Belmont puzzle, so hopefully the inclusion of the sequel is a sign this is on the list as well.
At this point, we go into territory that doesn’t really count as “classic” Castlevania anymore. This is the complete 8 to 16-bit storyline that doesn’t include games erased from the official canon, such as Castlevania Legends. Dracula X is an option, but that’s just a weird version of Rondo of Blood, which is already represented in its full glory in both Castlevania Requiem and Dracula X Chronicles, both of which are playable now. Instead, let’s use the last remaining slot for something fun and silly, but still a legitimate part of Castlevania history. Kid Dracula is exactly that.
Originally a Famicom game that never left Japan, Kid Dracula is a pseudo remake/sequel that was released on the Game Boy and is not financially viable to get a hold of on the secondary market. Since we already have a Game Boy game on the list officially, and the other two Castlevania Game Boy titles aren’t any good, why not drop the silly spin-off in here for the super hardcore fans?
That’s all for now! We might be able to revisit this topic sometime down the line, if a second Castlevania Anniversary Collection comes rolling along, but I think this would be the most logical and efficient use of those last four slots. It tells the complete Castlevania story of that era, and leaves a little room at the end to have fun as well. Sure, it isn’t comprehensive, but while games like Bloodlines are forgotten in a sad way, some of the games we’re leaving out may better be left to a larger collection, or the secondhand market.
What do you think, PlayStation Lifestyle readers? Am I a fool for not including Castlevania 64? Or do you think Dracula X is something that needs to be included? Let me know in the comments, because I’m hankering to talk to some folks about Castlevania. Hell, while we’re at it, what could the future sets look like?