A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Castlevania: Anniversary Collection is a downloadable collection of action games for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and Windows PCs. The set of classic games tell stories about a family of fighters that take on the vampire Dracula and his minions. The games' stories tell simple tales of good and evil, with heroes following their noble and sacred duty to hunt down and destroy villainous monsters. Though most of the games are largely focused on combat involving whips, axes, knives, and other medieval-style weapons, the rudimentary graphics reveal little in the way of blood or gore beyond pools and drips of blood evident in a handful of environments. The pixelated presentation also means that the torsos of (technically) topless harpy enemies show little detail beyond blocks of color. Parents should also be aware that this long-running game franchise has spawned a wide variety of products -- from comics and TV shows to toys and clothing -- that new fans may be inclined to seek out and purchase.
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What's it about?
CASTLEVANIA: ANNIVERSARY COLLECTION is a compendium of eight classic games from the 1980s and 1990s set in the Castlevania universe. It includes Castlevania, Castlevania II: Simon's Quest, Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse, Super Castlevania IV, Castlevania: The Adventure, Castlevania II: Belmont's Revenge, Castlevania Bloodlines, and Kid Dracula. Most of these games place players in the role of a member of the Belmont family -- including legendary original hero Simon Belmont -- as they explore castles and dungeons fighting all manner of fantastical minions on their way to facing down either Dracula himself or one of his clan. Action takes place in side-scrolling environments rendered in the deeply pixelated aesthetic of their era, with players wielding whips and other medieval weaponry while breaking objects to collect hearts, money, and power-ups. The collection of games have been slightly augmented to allow players to save on command, view replays, and apply color filters. Players also have access to a lengthy digital book that exhibits original box art, interviews with the franchise's key figures, and a collection of original sketches and game design documents showing how each game went from initial concept to finished work.
Is it any good?
Older games don't always maintain their appeal through the years, but most of these early entries in Konami's vampire hunting series have aged fairly well. That said, some of the games in Castlevania: Anniversary Collection stand apart from the rest, for good and ill. The original Castlevania remains an irrefutable classic thanks to its simple mechanics and moody atmosphere, and similar praise can be laid at the feet of both Castlevania II: Simon's Quest (though it has more of an action/role-playing game vibe) and the challenging Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse. Controls may feel a little stiff compared to modern games, and the difficulty can be almost aggravating at times, but once a player gets used to them, these landmark games provide ample justification for the franchise's enduring popularity and iconic status within the video game community.
Other games in this assortment probably won't appeal as broadly, though they'll still find welcoming niche audiences. The two Game Boy games included -- Castlevania: The Adventure and the follow-up Castlevania II: Belmont's Revenge -- are so rudimentary in look and feel that they'll likely find love only from those who remember playing the originals nearly 30 years ago. And the witty Kid Dracula, which switches things up by putting players in the role of Dracula's son, feels like the black sheep of the family. It has solid controls and combat, but projects a light comic book style that doesn't quite fit in with the atmosphere of the rest of the games. But even playing through just one or two of the entries included in Castlevania: Anniversary Collection will likely be enough for most players to justify its bargain price.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the impact of violence in media. Is the impact of the violence in Castlevania: Anniversary Collection affected by the fact that the visuals aren't nearly as realistic or graphically detailed as other games? Would the impact be intensified if there was more blood and gore shown in these classic titles?
Does fighting evil automatically make one a hero? What other motives, traits, and tasks might also go into making a person properly heroic?
- Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Windows, Xbox One
- Price: $19.99
- Pricing structure: Paid
- Available online? Available online
- Developer: Konami
- Release date: May 16, 2019
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires
- ESRB rating: T for Blood, Fantasy Violence, Partial Nudity
- Last updated: June 19, 2019
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