It cost its own after multiple leaks in various regulatory bodies, but Nintendo had to arrive with its recent Nintendo Direct to confirm what was an open secret: Castlevania Advance Collection in current systems.
As the name suggests, it is a collection with all three Castlevania that came out in Game Boy Advance, with the added surprise of the old Castlevania: Vampire’s Kiss from Super Nintendo. All this with a series of extras and improvements that we will analyze below, although few excuses have to be given as an entry for an attractive lot in itself due to its once exclusive nature.
A collection of Castlevania at a bargain price
That exclusivity to which we refer has to do with its origin in the Game Boy Advance, where Castlevania: Circle of the Moon (2001), Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance (2002) and the revolutionary Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow (2003) were exclusive to said laptop until Nintendo rescued them for the Wii U Virtual Console more than a decade later for less than 7 euros every classic. A ridiculous price compared to what the original versions are quoted …
The appeal is undeniable for anyone who hasn’t been able to enjoy these games at the time, by now losing Nintendo exclusivity in favor of PlayStation, Xbox and Steam. This in itself makes this set essential for every fan of the saga, especially for all those people who venerate its most recent aspect as metroidvania. In fact, the recently feedback Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance it was the most blatant attempt to have Castlevania: Symphony of the Night on that fabulous Nintendo laptop.
Each GBA Castlevania had its own hallmark, with greater or lesser fortune. The first adventure starring Nathan Graves did not forget the origins of the long-lived Castlevania saga by incorporating the iconic whip as its main weapon. However, its level design wasn’t particularly brilliant, partly due to an exaggerated verticality that didn’t start to explode until we got Nathan’s third ability with some boots to bounce off the walls. And that the double jump, along with the ability to run, was the first thing we got. But this did not prevent it from having a slow cadence.
His unique stamp was given by the so-called DSS letters, with improvement of attributes or a series of actions that changed the properties of the whip, adding magical elements or even modifying its shape to turn it into another weapon, such as a sword, a mace, a pistol … There were a limited number of enemies that they dropped those cards that, combined, created all those kinds of enhancements.
Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance was more technically evolved, and it was also halfway between classic and style metroidvania, preserving the famous whip (with different types to unlock), but having a series of combined spells of great power for older people. However, his attempt to be like Alucard’s huge adventure on PlayStation inevitably worked against him.
Of the three GBA games where there is unanimity when it comes to making it clear which was and continues to be the best, we have it in Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow. The reason is simple: it was the most original of the three, as well as revolutionary thanks to the inclusion of the soul system. Yes, that system that would inherit almost two decades later Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night, a new work by Koji Igarashi himself.
Three GBA classics plus one from Super Nintendo
Just by replaying (or discovering) Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow In today’s big screen systems this collection is worth it. It is not that the other two are bad (which they are not), but it is true that it leaves them at the height of the bitumen. The designs of many of the monsters (especially the bosses) in Circle of the Moon I think they are one of the worst in the saga and Juste Belmont’s adventure is less inspired than Alucard’s, but they are still Castlevania, with all the good that that entails. Also now they come with improvements and extras.
From the outset this lot includes the Japanese, American and European versions of each one. Secondly, we can adjust the size of the screen or apply basic filters (respecting or not the pixels as grips) for those classics. And the best thing is that now we can save the game at any time (something very useful in the demanding Castlevania: Vampire’s Kiss from SNES, being old school with passwords, like Super Castlevania IV), to the point of power rewind with a simple two button combination and as a complement to seniors.
Castlevania Advance Collection offers much more facilities and more content than the classic Castlevania Anniversary Collection. The menu is optimized and navigation is more comfortable, highlighting a exhaustive and complete encyclopedia for each game from which to consult all the objects, enemies and other elements in detail. Even in the gallery, within the main menu, we have not only a lot of designs, covers and others, but also the Color instruction manuals in their Japanese and American versions. Here the librettos for Europe are missing, where in Spain they were translated into Spanish, such as the Double Pack by Juste + Soma.
Obviously, being a collection for current systems we have another series of advantages, such as the option to reprogram buttons at pleasure, have various save slots complementary to those that already came standard with the three Game Boy Advance classics, without depending in this case on the save rooms themselves, save repetitions of our games or listen to anyone’s soundtrack of the games with total comfort from the main menu.
There is a feature, yes, that is not available for all games, but it has an explanation. We refer to the so-called “Gadget Settings”. It is an option that serves to activate a help / visual reference in order to obtain certain unlockables. For example, the letters for Nathan, the secret objects for Juste (with question marks in each region) or the souls of Soma. The only one that does not have this option is the Castlevania: Vampire’s Kiss, of course.
We are pleased that it has been included in this collection, although it breaks our schemes as it is a lot dedicated to GBA classics if we stick to its title. And also for being the only one who is not a metroidvania. It would make more sense in the aforementioned Castlevania Anniversary Collection, where was the first SNES along with the exclusive of Mega Drive, among other classics of 8 and 16 bits, where there was even room for a strange rarity exclusive to Famicom: Kid Dracula.
Castlevania Advance Collection
In short, if you didn’t play any of the three Game Boy Advance classics, Castlevania Advance Collection is a must-have bundle. Even if only for Aria of Sorrow, which is the best of GBA by far. The additions help make the experience more playable and bearable and having that surprise in the form of a second Super Nintendo game is something that we will never despise, no matter how much it breaks the coherence of the collection itself. And the best? That for the first time in its history these games reach systems other than Nintendo.
Castlevania Advance Collection
|Platforms||PS4 (analyzed version), Xbox One, Nintendo Switch and Steam|
|Launching||September 24, 2021|
- The return of three exclusive GBA classics and a straggling one from Brain of the Beast
- Aria of Sorrow is still a wonder
- The extras and improvements are much appreciated
- Unbeatable quality / price ratio
- When will a collection of the DS ones?
- That the manuals are not in Spanish