Castlevania Anniversary Collection is a retro collection of eight retro games from the side-scrolling action adventure platformer series available for download from the PlayStation Store for the PS4. The Castlevania franchise has came a long way and utilised many gameplay mechanics within varying genres on every generation of gaming since the original Castlevania made its debut on the NES in 1986 with over 30 Castlevania games having been released. Can Castlevania Anniversary Collection deliver the best port of classic retro Castlevania games?

Castlevania Anniversary Collection features eight retro era side-scrolling Castlevania games including the NES version of Castlevania from 1987; Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest from 1988 on NES; the NES version of Castlevania: Dracula’s Curse from 1990; Super Castlevania IV from 1991 on SNES; the Game Boy version of Castlevania: The Adventure from 1989; Castlevania II: Belmont’s Revenge from 1991 on Game Boy; the SEGA Genesis version of Castlevania Bloodlines: Castlevania The New Generation from 1994; and a first time ever English localisation of the previously Japan exclusive Kid Dracula from Famicom in 1990.

A bonus book titled The History of Castlevania: Book of the Crescent Moon comprising 80 pages worth of high quality images of the front cover and back cover artwork from multiple region releases for each game within the collection; an overview of each game including story, controls and gameplay elements; two major interviews with Castlevania music composer Michiru Yamane and one of the main people involved in the production of the Castlevania animated series named Adi Shankar; a historical chronology of when each Castlevania story is set and character relations; and design archives encompassing game design documents and rough sketches with notes localised into English from the development stage of various Castlevania games.

Given that Castlevania has been synonymous with portable gaming since Castlevania: The Adventure on Game Boy in 1989 as well as numerous Castlevania games on Game Boy, Game Boy Colour and Game Boy Advance, DS and 3DS, alongside Castlevania: The Dracula X Chronicles that released on PSP in 2007; it is disappointing to not see a Vita native Castlevania game or collection, although there is digital backwards compatibility for Castlevania: Symphony of the Night on the PS1 Classics range and the PSP release of Castlevania: The Dracula X Chronicles on Vita and PlayStation TV. Castlevania Anniversary Collection’s remote play performance is pretty good for all eight games as the graphics, audio and general performance maintains the quality of the PS4 version. Castlevania Anniversary Collection’s controls are the same as the DualShock 4 controller resulting in a very playable remote play experience for Castlevania fans.

The controls are well mapped to the DualShock 4 controller with the majority of the games consisting of pressing O or square to jump; pressing X or triangle to perform a lash whip; moving the left analogue stick upwards or pressing up on the d-pad and X or triangle to use an item; changing the direction of the left analogue stick or pressing left or right on the d-pad to move your character; moving the left analogue stick downwards or pressing down on the d-pad to duck; pressing the share button takes you to the share feature menu; pressing L2 to display the options menu; and tapping the touch pad to pause the game. There is no vibration that could have followed Castlevania Requiem by vibration occurring when an enemy hits your character or landing after a jump, while there is no light bar support that could have produced a colour representing your character’s health.

Despite Castlevania Requiem including interlacing that seemingly provided a flickering for lighting and shadow effects, alongside smoothing to reduce pixelation; Castlevania Anniversary Collection takes a different path of emulation instead of enhanced emulation, while there is a 1080p resolution graphical enhancement, but no 4K resolution. There are borders on the left and right as well as the top and bottom of the screen by default within the original display setting, while pixel perfect expands the aspect ratio marginally further, alongside a full screen 16:9, a retro styled 4:3 aspect ratio with scanlines, pixel perfect with scanlines and 16:9 with scanlines. Meanwhile, the player also has a choice of two wallpaper designs related to the subject matter as the backdrop for the gameplay area, although it would have been even better if the front cover artwork and perhaps even the back cover artwork from each of the eight Castlevania games within the collection as further subject matter related wallpapers.

Castlevania Anniversary Collection’s presentation is solid with a great user interface across various menus such as the main menu, game selection menu, bonus book, options menu and gameplay menus with support for navigation via the left analogue stick, directional pad and face buttons, while the touch pad is used to pause a game, although it does not include support for navigation via the right analogue stick. Menu backgrounds focus on Dracula’s castle with an overlay of the backstory for each game, the title logo for each game and a screenshot from each game.

Sound effects include performing melee attacks on enemies, enemies attacking your character, jumping and ambience; complimented by climactic instrumental music. The DualShock 4 speaker does not produce any audio, despite Castlevania Requiem producing sound effects when collecting items or performing specific fighting moves.

Castlevania Anniversary Collection has a single trophy list containing trophies for all eight Castlevania games including 14 trophies with 12 bronze trophies, 1 silver trophy and 1 gold trophy, although there is no platinum trophy, despite Castlevania Requiem and Konami Arcade Classics 50th Anniversary Collection both having a platinum trophy in each of those respective collections. Easier trophies include the Castlevania Connoisseur silver trophy for playing each Castlevania game within the collection, while harder trophies include 12 bronze trophies for completing each Castlevania game and some with particular characters, alongside the Heir of the Belmont Clan gold trophy for completing games. It is estimated that depending upon skill and a good trophy guide to provide some helpful tips that it would take between 50 to 100 hours to 100% the trophy list.

Castlevania Anniversary Collection does not have any difficulty levels, although every Castlevania game within the collection is capable of being quite hard due to the quantity of enemies that the player has to defeat and how a fair few enemies can regularly be in close proximity to your character, alongside the fact that your character is not always at his best or most powerful at the beginning of each game.

Castlevania Anniversary Collection does not have any multiplayer or online functionality; despite the Xbox Live Arcade port of Castlevania: Symphony of the Night actually featuring online leaderboards throughout various areas of the castle, so it would have been great to see online leaderboards included in each Castlevania game within the collection. It would have been nice to see some local multiplayer functionality introduced into the games as Castlevania: Harmony of Despair showcased how local co-operative multiplayer could be implemented into a wider range of Castlevania games, while local competitive multiplayer would be possible by the second player controlling the enemies to prevent the progression of the hero during exploration of Dracula’s castle.

Castlevania Anniversary Collection’s replayability originates from the inclusion of eight classic retro Castlevania games including Castlevania, Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest and Castlevania: Dracula’s Curse on NES; Super Castlevania IV on SNES; Castlevania: The Adventure and Castlevania II: Belmont’s Revenge on Game Boy; Castlevania Bloodlines: Castlevania The New Generation on SEGA Genesis; and a debut English localisation of the previously Japanese only Kid Dracula that will collectively bring Castlevania fans back for more classic Castlevania gameplay for dozens of hours. Meanwhile, an additional feature allows the player to save a replay of their gameplay to watch at a later time.

Analysis
• Title: Castlevania Anniversary Collection
• Developer: Konami/M2
• Publisher: Konami Digital Entertainment
• System: PS4
• Format: PSN Download
• Cross-Buy: No
• Cross-Play: No
• Players: 1
• Hard Drive Space Required: 620.8MB

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