Castlevania Requiem Review.
Castlevania Requiem is a port of two of the finest titles in the series. The first title, Rondo of Blood, was released in Japan for the PC-Engine. The second, Symphony of the Night, came out for PlayStation. Not only did Symphony of the Night become one of the PlayStation’s finest titles, it’s also known as one of the greatest games of all time. We’ll cover the good and bad parts of both games in our Castlevania Requiem review.
Rondo of Blood tells the story of Richter Belmont. He goes to Castlevania to defeat Dracula and save his wife, Annette. Meanwhile, Symphony of the Night tells the story of Alucard, Dracula’s son from Castlevania III. After the disappearance of Richter, he awakens upon the return of Castlevania to go and defeat his father once again. Both games involve the resurrection of Dracula and contrast their protagonists starkly. In addition, Alucard has his own, personal reasons for battling against his father. While both games are given an introduction, I feel Symphony’s shines with the introduction theme, “Moonlight Nocturne.”
Right off the bat, Rondo of Blood creates an impression in its opening. The German voiceover details a human sacrifice in order to revive Dracula. Rendered in a still-motion anime cutscene, you’ll witness the rebirth of the Dark Lord before entering the title screen. Once you enter your name and start the game, it briefs you with another cutscene featuring Richter Belmont.
These motion videos are littered through the game’s rescue segments. Moreover, the in-game visuals are brightly colored as well. In comparison to Super Castlevania IV, for instance, it breathes a brighter life in it with more dynamic animations. Couple that with its soundtrack that varies with rock, smooth jazz, and other genres, and it becomes a treat all around.
Symphony of the Night continues the tradition of 2D sprites. Despite being on the 3D PlayStation, its use of 3D was limited to rotating backgrounds and several sequences in the game involving the castle itself. The PS1 took advantage of special effects, such as Alucard’s afterimages trailing his every move.
Bright and brilliant, Symphony features detailed, beautiful backgrounds that change with each area. The animation includes even unconventional, little details, such as the Fairy that sits on Alucard’s shoulder or Alucard getting stuck in a wall.
Symphony’s claim to fame, however, is its beautiful soundtrack. As Michiru Yamane’s second Castlevania title in the series (the first being Bloodlines on Genesis), her compositions became well-known among the fanbase.
Themes like “Dracula’s Castle,” “Crystal Teardrops,” and “The Tragic Prince” became well-known in the first area. The second area, however, brings about some of the most beautiful compositions in gaming, such as “Final Toccata” and “Lost Painting.”
Unfortunately, Symphony uses the PSP version as its base. This means any fans of “Die, monster” will not get to hear the infamous exchange between Richter and Dracula. Also, you’ll hear the occasional sound cut or notice a freeze frame. While this is by no means frequent or gamebreaking, it’s a leftover consequence from the port to PSP.
Gameplay in Rondo.
Rondo of Blood was one of the last traditional 2D platformers of Castlevania before Symphony of the Night. With stage-by-stage progression, Richter was in danger of falling through pits and his movements were a bit more restricted. The game was very similar to the original Castlevania, to include familiar areas and bosses based directly on the first NES title. Richter’s jumps were stiff and he needed to rely heavily on subweapons.
You could unlock his sidekick, Maria Renard, however, and turn the game into a breeze. Despite her lack of HP, her ability to damage enemies with her doves outclassed Richter’s whip in every way. She could control her jumps and even double jump as well. It’s similar to how useful Grant was in the Japanese version of Castlevania III.
Mobility makes the difference for Maria and it shows in several facets. Some areas start to feel extremely difficult for Richter, such as one particular passage in the final stage filled with sword knights or a gauntlet boss battle prior to the fight with the dark priest, Shaft. Unfortunately, this made choosing Maria less of an option and more of a requirement.
Gameplay in Symphony.
Similar to Super Metroid, Symphony of the Night went the the route of exploration. While maintaining the 2D platforming roots of the series, Symphony was presented using the entire castle as a stage, divided into multiple areas. You could explore these areas at any given time, so long as you had the proper equipment. If you couldn’t reach it, you would have to uncover the Bat or Mist transformation. The compelling factor came from unlocking these new abilities and exploring new areas of the castle.
Another cue from Symphony of the Night was the RPG mechanic. As opposed to a health bar, you use HP. Additionally, Symphony of the Night features MP, Subweapons, and various equips to boost your stats. Alucard’s variety of weapons included small swords, knives, greatswords, and even use items, such as bombs or pentagrams.
Clearing Symphony of the Night once allows you to play as Richter and Maria. They don’t have the RPG mechanic with the only upgrades being the health upgrades to boost their defense. Richter and Maria’s movesets are both based on their abilities from Rondo of Blood. For the sake of exploration, however, they can also utilize a super jump to cover higher ground. They also have several new attacks not featured in Rondo of Blood, such as Richter’s sliding dash.
One major glitch.
While you cover map progression, however, there is the occasional glitch where a spot on your map doesn’t get covered. While I have yet to determine how to fix it, the only thing I would do is turn into a Bat and fly around the square repeatedly until I got it. Leaving the area is where I could confirm it was filled. I found this to be extremely tedious.
Final Thoughts (Rondo).
On one hand, Rondo of Blood is a clean port of the original title, dubbed in English. However, by no means was the game perfect to begin with. Its lopsided difficulty gave players little reason to stick to Richter once they unlocked Maria. It’s known for being an incredibly challenging game as Richter, and one I argue is harder than even the original Castlevania.
The stage design’s cues from the original Castlevania are a nice touch. Thanks to the ability to search for and discover extra stages, you have 12 total levels in all. There’s five extra stages in all.
Final Thoughts (Symphony).
Symphony of the Night is a fantastic game overall. However, even legends have their faults. The original game’s biggest flaws involved the lack of travel points, which meant a good deal of backtracking. Fortunately, Alucard’s dash and Wolf Transformation meant transitioning through areas fairly quick.
I’ve seen arguments that detail the overpowered weapons in the game destroy the challenge. Thus, I will explain this notion as best as I can. The Crissaegrim (properly translated as Valmanway) is an extremely powerful weapon. However, you must farm from the Schmoo enemy for many minutes at a time. First-time players who know nothing of the secret will likely not even get it. Likewise, the Shield Rod + Alucard Shield combination is not available until very late in the game. While the fight against Dracula still ends up being a joke for those who acquire these weapons, they’re gained only by those who choose to acquire them.
It’s a shame, however, that Konami used the PSP version of Castlevania Requiem. With the lack of infamous dialogue, sound issues, and filters that don’t serve to enhance the performance of the game (with no widescreen option), I feel it’s a fairly barebones port of an inferior version. However, if you’re looking for a Trophy run, it’s a fun reason to beat both games 100%. Moreover, Symphony of the Night still captures the same beautiful gameplay and soundtrack from the original. I consider Symphony to be one of my favorite games of all time.
While I will be frank about the flaws, thankfully they only happen occasionally. From personal experience, nothing was detrimental enough of the game to keep me from enjoying it 100%. I have my preference, but for anyone without the PS1 version, I can safely recommend this title.
If you’re a first-time Castlevania fan, this is a great place to start with the series. Those seeking knowledge about Castlevania’s presence in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate will get everything they need to know from this compilation. For veteran fans, if you’re missing Rondo from your collection, then this is already worth it. Whether you’re playing for one or both games, it’s a solid compilation of two games from the legendary Castlevania series.
As Konami’s first true Castlevania release in nearly a decade, and among Super Smash Bros. Ultimate and the Netflix Castlevania series, this might be a hint. This release may be a hint of reestablishing the Castlevania fanbase and perhaps continuing the series after a long hiatus. One can only hope.
Thank you for reading our Castlevania Requiem review. Have you played either game in the series? Are you new to Castlevania? Let us know in the comments below!