It feels good to get back into daily features...really good. I've left this idea by the wayside for far too long, and I should have never stopped. Having a little spot to share thoughts outside of the day-to-day news just makes sense. I'm really happy to be back doing them, and I'm hoping you're happy to see them too!
There are a handful of game franchises that I hold in very, very high regard. Mega Man is up there, Nintendo's first party efforts certainly sit near the top, and Castlevania is another. When it comes to the Castlevania franchise in particular, there are just so many stellar installments. Classic after classic, amazing experience after amazing experience. The Castlevania franchise has given us so much in the way of engaging content, both from gameplay and audio standpoints. That's why it hurts so much to see Konami treating the franchise so poorly lately.
To be quite honest, I have no idea what's going on with Konami in general. They used to be among the upper echelon of video game developers. Their logo on a box really stood for something. More often than not, it meant you were getting a high-quality experience, be it or an original title or arcade-to-console port. They were a major player back in the 8 and 16-bit days, and while they held their own moving forward for a number of years, they've really fallen by the wayside last decade. They just don't seem to know what to do with most of their major franchises anymore, especially Castlevania.
While there have been spin-offs and side appearances for the Castlevania franchise, did you know that the last major installment came back in 2014 with Lords of Shadow 2? What on earth has been going on with Castlevania since then? Sure, we've gotten a wonderful animated series on Netflix, but when it comes to games, there's honestly a whole lot of nothing going down.
There have been some mobile releases in the Castlevania series in those years, and while I have nothing against mobile games at all, those entries haven't exactly been up to snuff. They're either re-releases of classics with touch screen controls, or odd mash-ups that try to play on nostalgia to grab a buck or two. The latest mobile game is Castlevania: Grimoire of Souls, which is a brand-new experience featuring iconic series characters. The game is only available in Canada right now, and worldwide launch plans haven't been announced yet. I'm certainly looking forward to playing it, and I've heard good things, but I think we can all agree that most of us want to see what's next for Castlevania on traditional hardware.
It's sad to say that the best thing going for Castlevania fans since 2014 is Castlevania Anniversary Collection, a gathering of some fantastic Castlevania titles in one package. Getting an anniversary collection is certainly a great thing, but it also serves as a reminder of how prolific the series once was, and how little Konami is doing with it now. The whole reason a collection is possible is because of all the great games Konami put out in the franchise! Hell, to be honest, the collection doesn't even include half of the amazing entries in the series that have come out. Looking back on what made Castlevania great is one thing, but right now we're looking at a future that seems...blank.
Right now seems like the time to remind the gaming community how great the Castlevania franchise can be. The franchise has a very long history with Nintendo platforms, especially on the portable side of things. The Switch seems like the perfect platform for a new side-scrolling entry in the franchise. Whether it takes on a more old-school approach of action platforming or the Metroidvania style doesn't matter much to me. I don't think it would matter that much to fans either. A return of Castlevania with a new console outing would certainly be welcome.
There's such a huge appreciation for pixel art right now as well, which is yet another thing Castlevania is known for. The game's pixel entries have been absolutely gorgeous over the years. Wonderful animations, beautiful monster designs, and gorgeous backdrops. With Konami seeming so interested in cashing in on the nostalgia of Castlevania with half-steps and ports, why not play that retro card with a new entry that takes an old-school approach visually? It's the perfect way to tug at the heartstrings and get people to take notice.
Perhaps the whole Castlevania series has fallen apart due to Koji Igarashi's departure from Konami. For a long, long time, he was the man when it came to Castlevania. Say what you will about Bloodstained, but that man knows how to make a 2D Castlevania. His direction, married with the team at Konami, made some really masterful experiences. Igarashi and Konami parted ways in 2014 as well, and it can't be a coincidence that the series went south after that.
Igarashi has said in multiple interviews that he would be happy to return to a Castlevania title if given the chance. Konami has had 6 years since Igarashi left, and they seemingly have no idea what to do with Castlevania. It might be time for Konami to swallow their pride and start a working relationship with the man again. Castlevania has too long of a history to let it fade away with lackluster mobile efforts and compilation cash-ins. The brand was once a powerhouse, and given the right care, it can be again.
I'm not kidding when I say I'm depressed with the state of Castlevania. Thinking about the game side of things really does make me sad. One of my favorite franchises ever is getting mistreated, and it seems like there's no end in sight. All I can hope is that the success of the Netflix series has shown Konami that there's interest in Castlevania, and fans want more. I'll keep crossing fingers and toes for a true return of the series, but to be honest, I feel like it's a waste. Please, Konami...let me be wrong about that.