This year marks Castlevania's 35th anniversary, a series that has since the NES era consistently delivered excellent 2D whip-cracking adventures and even the highly respectable 3D Lords of Shadow (dodge the sequel). As with many of Konami's biggest series it seems to have been on temporary hiatus barring re-releases for a while, but any hopes for a surprise new entry to mark the anniversary are dashed: instead, we're getting NFTs.
Konami has announced the 'Konami Memorial NFT collection', which does sound worryingly like a funeral, containing 14 Castlevania images consisting of game scenes, music, and some new visuals drawing from the series’ history. The collection is going to be auctioned on January 12 and has an official website. Rather brilliantly, the images provided of said NFTs are all marked 'sample' just in case anyone has the naughty idea of, y'know, right-clicking and saving them.
Here are some of the images, the whole collection can be viewed at the website link above.
This is Konami's first NFT project, though it's far from the first big publisher to get interested in the non-fungible landscape. Ubisoft is the most all-in at this point, and Square Enix thinks 2022 will be the year of the NFT, but it's part of a wider trend among big tech companies toying with the idea, not all of whom are sold. EA called NFTs 'the future of our industry', but Xbox boss Phil Spencer's worried they might be 'exploitative', Discord teased their integration then swiftly u-turned after major backlash, while Steam's just decided to ban them altogether.
As this is Konami, it's probably going to go down like a lead balloon and, as with many NFT projects, it's odd that the apparent selling point of NFTs (that they're transferable and therefore theoretically usable in different digital contexts) doesn't apply. You're just buying a picture of Dracula's castle or something. "As the company’s first project in this area and with NFTs and blockchain technology in its infancy," the press release says, "Konami will continue to explore new developments and listen to player feedback following this initial collection."
The most recent Castlevania release was Castlevania Advance Collection, which brought a load of (very good) portable titles to PC, while other older games are available on Steam and elsewhere.
One slight note of hope is sounded at the end of the official blurb about NFTs: "Looking to the future of the Castlevania series, we will continue to support the titles currently available, while also assessing new opportunities for titles that will meet and exceed player expectations." I would very much like to play a new Castlevania that meets and exceeds my expectations, so fingers, whips, rosaries, everything crossed.