In 1986, the Japanese video game developer Konami released an 8-bit Nintendo platform title by the name of Castlevania. Deriving some form of inspiration from the various classic horror tales from humanity’s history, the story focused on a vampire killer journeying to Dracula’s eponymous estate in order to walk around in one straight line after another and dispatch any undead enemies from their present state of being. It was a pretty standard first-generation Nintendo game, through and through, but became a hit with players and critics worldwide over the course of time – going on to winning several Guinness World Records. In the near thirty years that have passed since, Konami has released several dozen sequels and spin-offs to their hit in numerous formats for various consoles. The latest mini-series to this franchise, a reboot subtitled Lords of Shadow, beget with Castlevania: Lords of Shadow on the PS3 in 2010 (with several downloadable content items made available), and a 3DS sequel, Castlevania: Lords of Shadow – Mirror of Fate, that was released several months back. Now, with another, more-direct-in-name sequel – Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 – set for a 2014 release, Konami has graciously decided to bundle up the previously-mentioned 2010 PS3 game with its DLC expansions with an HD version of the 2013 3DS title in one set in order to create Castlevania: Lords of Shadow Collection – with a demo of the upcoming entry included for good measure. But how do you measure something you don’t fully enjoy to begin with? Yes, that’s right, diehard Castlevania gamers – I wasn’t impressed with what I played here. And if you’ll please allow me, I will explain why. First off, the first Lords of Shadow was more enjoyable back in 2010 – when it was new. Since then, things have changed in the video game world. A lot. We expect better graphics now, something resembling effort when it comes to storytelling, and – most important of all – flexibility for players. Much like the old 8-bit game that started it all, Castlevania: Lords of Shadow is essentially a platform game disguised as an RPG. Though this game is three-dimensional, yes, the player still has to rely on set camera angles while they lumber about and slaughter the baddies. This may have been OK with folks in 2010, but it isn’t cutting it for me now. And frankly, the RPG elements of this game consist of little more than upgrading weaponry and backtracking to replay previously-conquered (lame) levels. Now, does the extra-added benefit of two DLC expansions and a High-Def release of this reboot’s direct sequel improve things any? My answer to that, of course, is a great big long bout of hysterical laughter. You see, normally, when a video game distributor re-releases a title with DLC expansions included, those DLC expansions are included in the game. Such is not the case here, people. Instead, Konami has literally re-released the first 2010 game. The disc you get with this title is the same damn one from before (albeit with different artwork). The very same thing, kids. Nothing is different. And as for those extra items that were added to present this shameless re-release as a Collection, well it turns out you just have to thumb your way through a brief multi-language illiterate (really) instruction booklet printed in a tiny-ass font to realize that everything else you were promised with this set – from the DLC stuff to the HD version of the mediocre 3DS item and the demo of the sequel, too – is only obtainable from online via a code stamped on the backside of the booklet. Well done, Konami. You’ve taken a three-year-old game and several items people could pick up for only a few bucks total and slapped a $40 price tag on it. If you’re a fan of the game/series, stick with what you already have. You’re not missing anything here that won’t probably be released yet again once the next installment in unveiled next year. Castlevania: Lords of Shadow Collection is rated M (Mature 17+) by the ESRB. This game can also be found on: Xbox 360.
On the crowded PAX East show floor, two very different games from publisher Dear Villagers, 'The Dungeon of Naheulbeuk' and 'Recompile', caught my eye as fun and unique titles.