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One of the best classic video game franchises is making a comeback. Castlevania Advance Collection launches today on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox and PC. And it brings together three of the best games for Game Boy Advance. These classic Konami Castlevanias include Circle of the Moon, Harmony of Dissonance, and Aria of Sorrow. All three are fantastic and worth returning to, and now fans of the series will have the chance to do so without digging into the GBA SP.

Publisher Konami announced the collection today at a Nintendo Direct video event. And I played the games. To be clear, I haven’t played Castlevania Advance Collection yet. It’s just that I never really stopped playing the GBA (and DS) Castlevania games in the first place.

They are true masterpieces of Metroidvania. They stand alongside Super Metroid as key pillars of what the genre can be. And while it started with Castlevania: Symphony of the Night on PlayStation, GBA games are even better.

Games that define a genre

Castlevania: Circle of the Moon launched in 2001 right alongside the Game Boy Advance. And while Circle of the Moon was dark and hard to see on the unlit screen of the original GBA, it still impressed many fans and critics alike. Konami followed with Harmony of Dissonance in 2002, then Aria of Sorrow debuted in 2003.

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It was the era that established Metroidvania as its own genre. Now we have dozens of games that use this style – and it feels like we’re getting dozens more every year now. But Symphony of the Night and GBA Castlevanias have shown that you don’t have to play exactly like Super Metroid.

And the Advance collection is so exciting precisely because of the difference between these games and Metroid. While the two share a sense of exploration, Castlevania’s style almost works best as you can treat the flashback like level grinding thanks to its implementation of RPG elements.

But maybe GBA games are more important simply because of their rate of release. Konami has shown that gamers crave this type of experience, and that a publisher can release a new game every year to capitalize on this audience. And while that market grew too slowly for a major publisher like Konami looking for massive growth, it paved the way for a generation of independent developers to fill the void.

Now, a new generation of Metroidvania fans will have the chance to see where all this inspiration comes from.

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