While Castlevania fans are rightfully nervous about the future of the long running action series, they can at least take comfort in knowing that Nintendo is doing what it can to make its past more accessible. A duo of classics from the series is bound for the Wii U Virtual Console in October, just in time for Halloween to boot.
October 2nd will see the release of Castlevania: Dracula X. This is a Super Nintendo port of the far superior Castlevania X: Rondo of Blood released on the Japanese PC Engine in 1993. Dracula X is by no means a terrible game, but if you want the real version, it is readily available through the Wii’s Virtual Console service. It can be played on the Wii U, but not with native support of the GamePad’s controls.
The first game in the Game Boy Advance revival series, Castlevania: Circle of the Moon, will also be released on October 9th. Konami took a long time to follow up on the revolutionary formula of Castlevania: Symphony of the Night from 1997, but it tried to with this 2001 hit. It’s not 100 percent in recapturing the quality of its PlayStation predecessor, but it’s a solid game on its own.
The biggest complaint about it back in the day was that the sprites were too dark for the original Game Boy Advance’s screen. This was before Nintendo adopted backlighting into its handhelds. Luckily, that will not be a problem with the Wii U’s GamePad or a monstrous HDTV.
Both are solid Castlevania games, but, as mentioned before, there are better available on the Wii U. Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse, Super Castlevania IV and Castlevania X: Rondo of Blood all come to mind, and the masterpiece Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow is rumored to be getting a release. If we are looking at the Game Boy Advance series, we still need Harmony of Dissonance to see a release as well, but honestly, I was never a fan of that one.
Where do we go from here? Konami did a pretty good job running Castlevania right into the ground by turning it over to an inexperienced development team with ambitions of morphing it into a substandard God of War clone. The first Castlevania: Lords of Shadow was the best selling title in the series and not that horrible, but we can go without mentioning Lords of Shadow 2. Fans of the older series can’t help but blame these two for banishing the series back into purgatory.
Add to that, Konami seems more focused on bigger, more profitable franchises like Metal Gear Solid and Silent Hill these days when it isn’t making smartphone games. Will we ever see our beloved vampire hunting series return to true form, or is it the latest victim in the mass extinction of video game series from our childhood?