Castlevania: The Dracula X Chronicles Review
Castlevania has historically been one of the few gaming franchises that almost never disappoints the fans. While the 3D entries of recent years haven’t been all that great, the 2D “stick to the roots” releases are never short of fantastic. Early 2D Castlevania games were side-scrolling platform games with huge, unforgettable boss fights. As the series aged, Castlevania games began to more closely resemble the Metroid series, placing the player in a large environment that grew as items and upgrades were collected. Both approaches to the Castlevania series have some truly amazing titles to their credit, and the debate over which is better has become as epic as the Kirk Vs. Picard Star Trek Internet nerd-off.
With such a dedicated following, one wonders why Konami, in their infinite wisdom, never got around to releasing one of the last “platform” Castlevania titles here in the states. Castlevania: Rondo of Blood (Chi no Rondo in Japanese) has become the stuff of legend, mostly due to the fact that few Americans have heard of it and even less actually got the chance to play it through. Being one of those lucky few, I always wondered if the game would be anywhere near as discussed if it wasn’t a rarity. Super Castlevania IV (SNES) was another of the last “platform” Castlevania games and personally, I never felt that Rondo could hold a candle to IV’s unbelievable level and boss design (IV’s Clock Tower level easily ranks in my top 5 video game levels of all time).
Now, thanks to the PSP and Konami, Americans will finally have the chance to play Rondo of Blood for themselves. The remake shares a few of the problems of the original Japanese title, but the graphical update and one of the very best unlockables in video game history make Rondo’s American debut, Castlevania: The Dracula X Chronicles, a must-own for every Castlevania fan.
Rondo of Blood tells the story of Richter Belmont, the son of the legendary Simon Belmont, star of the first Castlevania adventures. It seems some crazies have resurrected Count Dracula and it’s up to Richter to send him packing again. The oft-recycled “kill Dracula” story still works here, especially since the more recent Nintendo DS and GBA Castlevania games have had unappealing main characters and enemies that must have come from Dracula’s third or fourth string. The story may not be fresh, but it is nice to see a Belmont and the Count going at it again after years of spin-off characters and effeminate weirdoes have diluted the Castlevania legend.