Released on Sept. 24 for all major platforms, Konami’s latest Castlevania release features a robust collection of classic titles all in one bundle.
Following up on their previous Castlevania Anniversary Collection released back in May 2019, Konami has dropped the Castlevania Advance Collection focusing on all the titles that debuted on the Gameboy Advance.
Four titles are packed into this bundle, three from the GBA-era of Castlevania, and Dracula X, the reimagined version of Rondo of Blood on the SNES.
Each title is fully featured, and players can choose from the American, Japanese, or European versions of the game, should they so choose. This is an excellent feature for those players who want to experience the international versions of the beloved classics. Alongside featuring three versions of all titles, players can choose to play each title standard, pixel perfect, or full-screen viewing modes, an excellent feature for both purists and those who like to have the entire screen taken up. There is also an art gallery and soundtrack section for players who want to listen to their favorite tracks and check out some of the fantastic character artwork.
However, taking it one step further is the robust pause menu where players have access to a full encyclopedia for each title that shows all enemies, items, consumables, and weapons in the game with accompanying stats for each. A quick save and quick load option are also in the menu alongside the ability to capture and save replays, change screen settings, quick reset, change wallpapers for those not in full-screen, and in-game item trackers. This tracking feature is beneficial in both Circle of the Moon and Aria of Sorrow as it will tell you when you have or have not obtained the soul/card from each enemy you attack.
Outside of logistics, what players can expect in each title is the fundamental “Metroidvania” experience. This phrase came from the mashup of both the Metroid series-style gameplay with the combat and setting of Castlevania. As a result, players get one of the most rewarding genres in gaming; slaying Dracula’s ilk while acquiring new weapons and gear to progress through previously inaccessible corners of Dracula’s castle before defeating the final boss. This is the basis for all Metroidvania-styled Castlevanias and pervades as the backbone of the three Gameboy Advance titles present here (It is worth noting that Dracula X is in the more traditional Castlevania style where you progress on a level by level basis, and there is little to no exploration).
The narratives take something of a backseat in each title, but that’s never quite been the expectation with the series. Instead, players either play a vampire hunter or someone related to Dracula in some fashion, and it’s up to them to take down the big bad Vlad himself and/or the remnants of his castle.
As players progress through each title, they will level up, unlock new gear and abilities, solve puzzles, and face down dozens of beautifully animated enemies. The soundtracks and environment meld perfectly with the combat and exploration in each game to create genuinely timeless experiences that are worth checking out for any game hobbyist, especially fans of the genre.
The Castlevania Advance Collection provides players with the ability to experience core entries in the series, as well as a cross-section of what influenced the way the series evolved over time. Beyond that, this time capsule of a package allows fans of the series to easily access older titles that are unplayable without tracking down overly expensive vintage (at this point) handheld titles as well as the hardware to play them.
If you’re a fan of the series, or someone who appreciates video game history, this is a collection worth checking out.
You can purchase Castlevania Advance Collection on all major console digital storefronts for $19.99.
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