Castlevania: The Dracula X Chronicles
Developer: Konami | Publisher: Konami | Release Date: 2008 | Genre: Platformer / Compilation | Website: N/A | Purchase: Amazon
Castlevania: Symphony Of The Night is easily one of my favourite Playstation games of all time and I have to admit it was purely because its inclusion that I bought The Dracula X Chronicles. The main focus of this Castlevania compilation is actually the remake of “Rondo Of Blood”, a classic PC-Engine game which was only available to Japanese audiences. Spruced up with new (almost) 3D graphics and updated sound, this prequel to SOTN is something western audiences have been clamouring for, for a long time and besides the enhanced version Konami has kindly included the 1993 original as well to round off this compilation.
Like I said SOTN was my main reason for buying this compilation so imagine my annoyance when I discovered that it was actually hidden away somewhere in the depths of Rondo and had to be “unlocked” first. This wouldn’t have been so bad if Rondo wasn’t such an unforgiving game but as it is it takes some real perseverance to make any progress let alone unlock things!
Starring a young Richter Belmont it’s up to you to once gain defeat the evil Count Dracula who is busy making a nuisance of himself. Richter’s girlfriend Annette has been kidnapped along with his niece Maria so with the legendary vampire killing whip in his hand he sets off to save the day.
Rondo is from an era before SOTN broke the Castlevania mould and as such might deliver a few headaches to players more familiar with the recent titles that leaned more towards the Metroid style of gameplay. Levels are hard with unforgiving checkpoints and limited lives so forget about levelling up before boss fights or tackling harder areas armed with loads of items. Enemies can make short work of your health bar and the stiff controls can make things even harder. The game looks nice and updated but you can really feel its age in the limited controls. Jumps are especially fiddly to pull off but luckily falling down chasms often lead to alternate routes instead of instant death. Since Rondo is one of the rarest and most expensive games in the series its nice to have a visually updated version with enhanced audio, in the palm of your hand. The original is also locked away for intrepid players to uncover. If that’s still not enough there’s even a new character hidden away for you to use.
The highlight for me was undoubtedly SOTN and once I unlocked it Rondo was forgotten. Taking control of Alucard in portable form is just as awesome as it was all those years ago on PSone. The game might not have been remade for widescreen but it still looks pretty good for its age and even has a few enhancements of its own. The voice overs have been redone to fit in with the new ones in Rondo which makes them sound less cheesy but also takes away some of the emotion they had. Alucards new voice also caused some unhappiness but it didn’t detract from the game for me.
Apart from having the unlock the other games and the sheer difficulty of Rondo I was overjoyed with this title. A part of me wishes that they included even more classic Castlevania games on the disc but I guess I’m just being greedy. What’s on offer here is already terrific value for money and I don’t know many Castlevania fans that would be able to pass this one up. If you are not into retro games then this might not appeal to you but even so SOTN is a must play title for all platform fans.
If you have the skill and patience for this collection you’ll discover many hours of entertainment and I can wholeheartedly recommend this title to anyone that has even a passing interest in the genre.
*Review originally published 2007.