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Why Hasn't Konami Remastered Its 2D Castlevania Backlog?

Metroidvania games are as popular as they've ever been, yet Konami has been quiet about remastering or making new Castlevania games.

Konami has made some odd decisions in recent years from top to bottom. From all the drama surrounding the Metal Gear series and its now-independent creator Hideo Kojima, to the whole fiasco with Silent Hills getting cancelled, the company has been subjected to a lot of criticism from its fans. 

But there's another influential IP that Konami hasn't quite been treating well lately -- Castlevania. With the industry's recent influx of reboots and remasters, a lot of fans are wondering why the heck we haven't seen some Castlevania games coming to modern devices. 

In the last few years, Konami has decided to restructure its company to be more mobile-focused, while largely forsaking the franchises that made them successful. It drove away Metal Gear Solid’s creator, Hideo Kojima, in an epic display of giving zero f*cks about what he brought to the company. The Silent Hill reboot also fell to the same fate since it was under Kojima's name. 

Konami has since announced a Kojima-less entry in the MGS series that's really more of a zombie spinoff. And aside from that, the company seems more concerned with making mobile games, pachinko machines, and ruining beloved childhood TCGs than it does with revisiting any of its iconic Castlevania games. 

A little history...

The last Castlevania game was Lords of Shadow 2, released 3 years ago in February of 2014 for the PS3 and Xbox 360. Before that, there was Castlevania Mirrors of Fate for the 3DS -- which despite being a 2.5D side scroller, was still an action-oriented game in the same vein as Lords of Shadow.

To find the last Metroidvania-style Castlevania game, you have to go back almost a decade 2008’s Order of Ecclesia. It had a killer style and top-notch bit art that earned it glowing reviews upon release. But in spite of its success, we never really saw another game like it. 

Where's My Castlevania?

Not Around Here (Not Anytime Soon, At Least)

There are two questions begging to be asked here:

  1. Why haven't there been any new 2D Castlevania games?
  2. Why haven't any of the older Castlevania games been remastered?

With the rise of mobile gaming on smart devices, the continued popularity of handhelds like the Nintendo 3DS, and the recent release of a hybrid console like the Switch, it seems like the perfect time to revisit a style/genre of game that was basically made for handheld play. The Switch provides an especially lucrative opportunity to bring those much-beloved classics into the modern day. Nintendo is doing it with many of its exclusive fighting games, so why shouldn't Castlevania get the same love?

Just imagine having Symphony of the Night and all six handheld-based Castlevania games available for one system. Heck, with all the advancements we've made in terms of storage, you could probably fit multiple games on one disc or cartridge and sell it as a bundle. 

Sure, the first two GBA Castlevania games -- Circle of the Moon and Harmony of Dissonance -- were released on the Wii U Virtual Console in 2014. But the Wii U isn't exactly a super successful console, so making those games available there doesn't make them available to their whole audience. Symphony of the Night is also available for digital download on PSN and Xbox Live, but even then it's not currently available on current-gen consoles like the PS4 and Xbox One. 

The Market Has Spoken!

Konami might be justifying the lack of new or remastered Castlevania by saying that there simply isn't any consumer interest in it. But a quick Google search will prove that's patently untrue. 

If you Google "metroidvania games", you get a massive list of modern games that are trying to emulate what Castlevania did back in the day. And it just keeps going and going and going. 

The case for Konami revisiting its Castlevania titles only gets more compelling when you look at how much the market wants more Metroidvania games. Not only does the market want them, but a lot of those that have been released in the last several years have been very successful. Here are some examples:

  • Axiom Verge
  • Guacamelee
  • Rogue Legacy
  • Owlboy
  • Apotheon
  • Salt & Sanctuary
  • Steam World Dig
  • Shadow Complex
  • Ori and the Blind Forest
  • Recent Shantae games

Hell, just recently Hollow Knight was released and has been getting great reviews across the board.

Some of these games play very close to the vest with the Metroidvania formula, while others innovate and only loosely utilize it. But the consistent theme is that the formula holds up and people love it. Chances are that you've heard of at least a few of these games, and maybe have even played (and enjoyed) some of them yourself.

This isn’t even considering the fact that the man behind the Castlevania formula, Koji Igarashi, secured $5.5 million worth of funding for his Metroidvania game, Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night, via Kickstarter.

There’s very clearly a market for these games. And it doesn’t have to be a triple AAA, high-risk venture. Konami could make a game with a smaller scope, or at least test the waters by porting older games in the series to see if the interest is still there.

Their whole purpose is to make money, just like any other company. And their rationale for the recent treatment of many of their IPs -- the Castlevania series included -- is that they can't make money off those games or genres anymore. But that's clearly not true if you look at the indie development scene and how thriving the Metroidvania market still is. They could profit off of that while pleasing their fan base. It's a win-win.

Metroidvania even has its own "tag" on Steam!

I want more 2D Metroidvania style Castlevania games. And for now, I'd be willing to settle for ports and remasters on current gen consoles or the Nintendo Switch. And I know I'm not the only one -- there are a lot of avid Castlevania lovers out there who miss the days of old.

We know you can do it, Konami. If Capcom has done a halfway decent job of porting the Mega Man games, surely you can give Castlevania a shot. After running your fans through the wringer with Silent Hills and the Kojima fiasco...you kind of owe it to us. 

Published Apr. 6th 2017

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