Thursday, August 2, 2012

Review: Castlevania: The Dracula X Chronicles

Of all of the pre-Symphony of the Night Castlevania games that were released during the eight and sixteen bit eras, Dracula X Chronicles is the one that people look the least fondly on. It's not a bad game by any stretch of the imagination but the other games in the series include Castlevania I, III, IV & Rondo of Blood, some of the finest platformers of their time (Bloodlines was awesome as well). Dracula X was also looked down on because it was an inferior remake of the original Rondo of Blood. This lead many people to (wrongly) believe that Dracula X was the reason that Rondo of Blood was never released outside of Japan. This is similar to the dismissal of Secret of Evermore because it was also wrongly believed to be the reason that the West never got Seiken Denstesu 3. However unlike Square Enix, Konami would rectify their mistake with Castlevania Dracula X Chronicles, which has everything a Castlevania fan could ask for.

The game was billed as a remake of Dracula X, in the style of Mega Man Maverick Hunter X. On the surface level, it succeeds very well. The character models look remarkably similar to those in Maverick Hunter X with very blocky textures and a brain to the models that tried to emulate the jagged edges of the original Dracula X, and the music is also very nice. The biggest problem with this game is the gameplay.

Like the Mega Man series, Castlevania has prided itself for giving the player a set of tight controls and abilities and let the player navigate the environments. The key difference between this and Mega Man is one of exploration as while they are both linear games. Castlevania is more secretive in this regard while Mega Man is more broadly focused. The problem with this remake is that the physics of the game are, for a lack of a better word, awful.

The weirdest thing about this is that the gameplay feels exactly the same as Maverick Hunter X. The difference is that in that game the changes in the engine gave Mega Man character, replicating his anatomy to that of a robot. This applies to Castlevania but it comes off as awkward especially when more timed jumps are required. Everything feels stiff and unnatural and when the appeal of the original Castlevania games was how well they controlled, this is a big disappointment, especially when it could have improved on a weaker entry in the series like Ys: Oath in Felghana did.

The biggest draw of this collection is the unlockables. For the first time ever the original version of Rondo of Blood, one of the best Castlevania games ever, was avalaible in English. Speaking of the best Castlevania games ever, the other important extra is a version of Symphony of the Night with new voice acting, and the modes that were originally included in the subsequent Saturn version. These two games are worth buying the collection for, even if the main game is rather lackluster and even then, at least it's not Castlevania 64!

Find Castlevania: The Dracula X Chronicles on ebay | Amazon

Released: 2007-10-23
Publisher: Konami
Developer: Konami


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