|System: PSP||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Konami||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Konami||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Oct. 25, 2007||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-2||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
The overall presentation of the game is wonderful. The opening cutscenes are phenomenal. The intro is dark and foreboding. The experience is heightened by the fact that the scene is dubbed in German. The overall effect is powerful and memorable. The visuals are nice, especially for the re-mastered Rondo of Blood. The emulated original Rondo is graphically sketchy, but it is nice to have it to serve as a talisman of your hard work. The new Rondo of Blood looks very polished and modern. Even when I sent the image to a 37 inch LCD screen via the PSP 2001's composite adapter, it still looks quite good. Symphony of the Night looks as good as ever, and the departure in gameplay is a nice change of pace.
The music is very good, and there are a lot of unlockable tracks. Additionally, you can apply unlocked tracks to the stages you have opened to make for a fresh approach when going back to specific levels and opening up the paths and extras you missed on the first play through. All of your favorite Castlevania tunes are here and crisply re-mastered. The sound is great through earbuds and the PSP's tiny speakers, but it sounds even better when you pump it through your television or A/V receiver. The voiceover work is well done if not perfect. You can choose from English or Japanese spoken language. For some reason they left off a German option after teasing us with the opening scene. Of the available options, I prefer the Japanese language setting, but certain scenes are inexplicably not subtitled in English. That includes the opening prologue of Rondo when Death comes to test your strength. Death sounds awesome in Japanese; he doesn't say anything of real importance, but even still, the lack of subtitles is disconcerting.
In addition to the nice graphics and great sound, the box art is fantastic! The game case just exudes quality and beckons you to purchase the goods. When you get it home to fire it up, you'll be pleasantly surprised to see a lovely hand drawn picture of Maria Renard releasing one of her deadly doves. It's a nice touch that acts as a testament to the quality and attention lavished upon the compilation. As if all of this wasn't enough, there is another mode of play to further the experience. I liked Boss Rush Mode because it pits you against the cream of the crop, truly testing your skill. It also times you so you can continually try and best former records. To make Boss Rush Mode even better, the PSP allows you to host or join an Ad Hoc battle against a buddy to see who the real Belmont truly is.
This is an experience that any PSP owner should have. Rondo of Blood is the precursor to Symphony of the Night and tells an interesting story that only a few fortunate souls outside Japan have witnessed. That's one of the reasons this compilation is so good. The inclusion of both games is a natural pairing that fills in the story gaps, and is a must buy for any self-ascribed Castlevania fan. The gameplay is challenging and interesting, the content is varied and encompasses two full games, and the attention to detail is great. This is not a UMD for the casual gamer, this a compilation that will challenge even technical gamers. Despite the sheer torture the game put me through, this is a title and an experience I will always remember.
CCC Freelance Writer