When the Castlevania Anniversary Collection was revealed, the announcement made it seem like it was the first of multiple Castlevania collections coming to modern consoles and PC. Following that release back in 2019, there hadn’t been any news for potential collections until ratings boards leaked the Castlevania Advance Collection. At the recent Nintendo Direct, Konami revealed and released the Castlevania Advance Collection for Nintendo Switch, PS4, Xbox One, and Steam. This collection brings the three Game Boy Advance games, a bonus game, a lot of extras, and some very useful features to modern platforms in a single collection, and it is pretty damn amazing even for newcomers to the series.
Castlevania Advance Collection includes Castlevania: Circle of the Moon, Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance, and Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow from the Game Boy Advance with Castlevania: Dracula X (SNES) included as a bonus game. I had heard a lot about the Game Boy Advance and Nintendo DS Castlevania games and I can see why after playing this collection via backward compatibility on PS5. While the three games vary in quality, the artwork, gameplay, soundtrack, and new features in this collection have made them a joy to play.
Aria of Sorrow is definitely the highlight of the collection and while the other two Game Boy Advance didn’t reach the same highs, they are well worth playing. Dracula X is a questionable addition and I didn’t really get into it. Treating it as a bonus addition to this package is probably for the best and just the three Game Boy Advance games would’ve made this collection worth the asking price. M2 isn’t about just doing the bare minimum though and the developer has delivered in spades with not just the emulation, but also extras and bonus content in Castlevania Advance Collection.
Barring the four games included, Castlevania Advance Collection lets you play the European and Japanese ROMs, view a wealth of artwork from the games, listen to the soundtracks and create your own playlists, and use a few new features that vary depending on the game. M2 remains a fantastic developer and the Konami collections continue to prove to me that every publisher should work with M2 to bring older games to modern platforms.
When it comes to visuals, the Game Boy Advance games look superb. For aspect ratio, you can use pixel perfect, standard, or full. The letterboxed options let you choose wallpapers as well. The screen settings are available in the pause menu in each game and this menu also lets you select the sound quality, use save states, save a replay, change control settings, reset the game, choose the gadget setting, and more. The gadget option lets you track cards or souls depending on the game while the sound quality option lets you stick with the original Game Boy Advance soundtrack quality or use high quality music.
These features and additions make the Castlevania Advance Collection feel like a labor of love, but the collection does even more. The encyclopedia lets you view items, enemies, mechanics, and more with a beautiful presentation. Instead of just doing a sound test, M2 lets you listen to all the music from the four games and create your own playlists. For accessibility, there’s even a rewind option available to make things easier for newcomers.
Visually, there are two aspects to Castlevania Advance Collection. The first is the games themselves which are excellently emulated. The second is the presentation of the extras and the collection’s interface. Both of these are brilliantly done with high quality artwork and transitions. Having heard about the music in the Game Boy Advance Castlevania games for years, I finally saw why these soundtracks were praised that much. Having easy access to all the songs here definitely helps. The only place this collection (and the previous ones) felt a little lacklustre is in the saving pop up that shows up when you do almost anything in the game.
Castlevania Advance Collection is one of the best value collections available today. Not only are the three Game Boy Advance games worth playing, but M2 went the extra mile with quality of life features, higher quality music, bonus content, and more. I already thought the initial three Konami collections were underpriced but Castlevania Advance Collection feels like a whole other level of offering too much value for its low asking price. If you have even the smallest interest in Castlevania, this collection is an essential and I hope Konami brings more games from the series to modern systems with future collections and ports.