The Castlevania series is often regarded to be one of the greatest series’ of all-time, certainly considered to be one of Konami’s most beloved properties, so it stands to reason that this iconic series should get its very own celebratory anniversary collection.  Spanning from 1987 to 1994, we have some of the finest games in the series with the Castlevania Anniversary Collection, my one and only gripe, is that it doesn’t include any of the classic entries that release on the original PlayStation, but that said, this is still a fine collection of gaming history.

Beginning from 1987 to 1990, we are greeted with three NES games, Castlevania (1987), Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest (1988) and Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse (1990).  The three of these games are very familiar with the first game being the most basic in terms of gameplay, visuals and audio and one of the most key changes, with the latter two having a little more freedom and exploration.  Naturally all games are restricted in terms of gameplay with you only being able to do the basics and as with most games of their time, they are quite difficult in terms of challenge too.

Moving on to the next generation of console and being my favourite game in this collection, we have Super Castlevania IV which released for the Super Nintendo in 1991.  Not only did this game have quite the leap in 16-bit graphics and audio, it plays better than any game in this collection also.  With the trend of indie 16-bit games of today, Super Castlevania IV doesn’t look out of place with its sprite visuals, more detailed enemies and multi-layered world.  Belmont’s whip also has a greater use, other than killing enemies, because you can attack at more angles and you can use it to swing to and from certain ledges.  Out of all the games in this collection, this is the one that I’ll be spending most of my time with.

Next up we have two handheld Game Boy entries and for the more advanced Game Boy Colour.  For quite obvious reasons with them being released on the original Game Boy, both Castlevania: The Adventure (1989) and Castlevania II: Belmont’s Revenge (1991) are very restricted in terms of its basic gameplay and two tone colour scheme.  However, regardless of these limitations, it’s great that we get to play two original Game Boy games in HD, something that I never thought would happen.  Then you have the Kid Dracula spin-off that released on the Game Boy Colour, which was clearly designed for the young gamer, not only with its charming and colourful visuals, but also with its quite relaxing difficulty.  Having never played this game when it originally released, it surprisingly holds up quite well today and is still fund to play.

Lastly we have Castlevania: Bloodlines which released for the Sega Mega Drive/Genesis in 1994.  Having never played this game when it launched, likewise with Super Castlevania IV, Bloodlines is also a game that holds up well with its 16-bit visuals and audio.  However, with this release, you have two playable characters to choose from, John Morris (not to be confused with Chuck Norris) who is armed with the traditional whip and is able to swing over larger gaps, and Eric Lecarde who is armed with a staff and can perform high jumps.  Bloodlines also quite interestingly features mid-way bosses, as well as boss battles at the end of each level, and this is a much faster paced Castlevania then any of the other games in this collection.

Also, as with all three of the Konami Anniversary Collection’s, we have a bonus eBook, which features information on the development of each game, art work (some of which never released to the public), and even interviews with Castlevania music composer Michiru Yamane and Adi Shankar, the creator of the brilliant Castlevania Netflix series.  Other nice touches included in this collection is that the save checkpoints are quite forgiving and like in the Arcade Collection, you can manual save at any point.  You have a selection of filters from pixel perfect to retro TV’s with scanlines and for those that want something extra pure, it seems that each of the Castlevania games included, even have their original screen tears and subtle graphical glitches.  I Know that latter seems odd to praise, but as it doesn’t lesson any of the enjoyment, it just makes the experience all that more pure, in my opinion.

In conclusion, while there is some exclusion in this Castlevania collection with it being limited to eight games, you can’t have everything.  But with the choice of games selected, from Game Boy, NES, SNES and Mega Drive, you’ve got games from the series that span over a wide variety of generations which helps you appreciate even more how much this series has evolved from 1987 to 1994.  Whether you’re a returning fan or new to the series, it’s easy to admire why this iconic series is so beloved and is a true testament to gaming history.  If you like retro gaming, in particular old-school action-adventure with a spot of platforming, then the Castlevania Anniversary Collection might just be for you.  Now Konami, would you kindly bring us a new Castlevania game at E3 please?