Ever since the first Castlevania game was released on the NES I’ve been an avid Castlevania fan. I love just about everything Castlevania with the exception of a Gameboy game or two. Granted the games were difficult and still remain as one of the most difficult series, to me it’s also the most fun. Through the whole series it’s had some visually stunning areas, monsters, and bosses. Anyone who has played these games especially on the NES could probably relate that the Grim Reaper could be more difficult than Dracula himself. There are still a couple of Castlevania games I didn’t really play or really knew existed back before the Internet. Castlevania Bloodlines for the Genesis and the game I’ll be reviewing now Castlevania: Dracula X.
Now before going into the story of this game I’ll go into a bit of a real short history of it. This is basically a chopped up version of a much better game called Castlevania: Rondo of Blood for the Turbografx CD. Now this game used to be really obscure, but has made its way onto the Virtual Console and I would highly recommend this one. However what we Americans got was this version on the Super Nintendo.
It is the year 1792 (but, “Several hundred years have passed since legendary hero Simon Belmont defeated the evil Count Dracula”) and the evil Count Dracula has been resurrected. This time he has kidnapped the girlfriend of Richter Belmont, Annette, and her little sister, Maria. Enraged by this, Richter sets out to save both his girlfriend and his girlfriend’s little sister, as well as to put an end to Dracula. In Rondo of Blood there were 2 more maidens who were kidnapped, they are absent in this version. (Probably an early snack for Dracula.) Also the Turbografx CD version had nice anime style cartoons in it. This version had some well drawn cut scenes and lots of text to read at the beginning. It’s a pretty bare bones story, but most of the Castlevania’s are.
The gameplay and controls are pretty Castlevania standard. You whip baddies, use items, and jump alot. This to me is a bit confusing and frustrating mainly due to the fact that the controls in Super Castlevania 4 were spot on perfect. Granted being able to whip in all 8 directions sort of negated the fact that you had to use your secondary items most of the time. However I still used them on the bosses and tougher enemies. One thing they did in this game I did like was the ability to have a power attack with all the secondary weapons. Even if you didn’t have one and pushed the Y button Richter would have a pretty powerful flame whip for one attack. Although instead of having the R button as the item button they went back with holding up and the whip button. Some of the jumping was ridiculous in this game also. The game taxes your jumping abilities and some of the gaps require you to be on the very edge of a platform to be able to make a jump. Also something that’s made a return in this game is the frustrating factor! There had been times that in certain areas of the game that due to level design and enemy placement that I was going to get hit (more than once.) Sections like this had me hoping for a pork chop all the time. Now Castlevania games are difficult and due to certain times the deaths are “cheap.” However these sections made it more the games fault than my own. Whenever playing one on the NES for example and I jump into a medusa head or a bat and I get hit and fall back into a pit, I can blame myself for jumping like an idiot. And cheap doesn’t even begin to describe the final battle with Dracula, with his 50 death pits in his throne room! It’s not really 50, but the battle has you not only fighting Dracula, but also trying to not fall to your death every second. Make Dracula more difficult and challenging, don’t make the room a lovely room of death to compensate for it.
The graphics in the game were decent enough some of the levels were pretty to look at and the fire effect in the first level was pretty cool. However again compared to what they did with Super Castlevania 4 they fail in comparison. The backgrounds seemed stagnant and alot of the areas just seemed bland. Most of the bosses didn’t really “wow” me either. Again I’d have to compare it with Super Castlevania 4 where some of the rooms and bosses were visually stunning due to Mode 7. To the best of my ability I really couldn’t see it used in this game at all. I’m not saying the graphics are bad, but they’re not real good either.
Sound & Music:
The sounds are pretty standard, I did enjoy some of the evil laughs they threw in there. The music although supposed to be the same music from Rondo of Blood obviously do not compare. CD quality most of the time always wins. As I’ve stated in the graphics section above this doesn’t make the music bad, it’s just not the same quality. There were a couple of tracks that seemed like they didn’t belong. One sounded like a jazz track it just really took me out of the experience. The music is standard nothing too great, but not that bad either.
In my opinion this is a very weak entry of the series, it’s not Castlevania Adventure bad. (It’s defiantly no Super Castlevania 4 or SOTN.) If I had written this review right after playing through this game and my 5,000 deaths on Dracula alone it would get very poor points. After taking some time and getting more information on the game there are secrets to be found in this game. Although unlike Rondo of Blood there is no other playable characters. And some levels I missed from my rushed playthrough. At this point I really don’t want to play this one again for a long time, having to look forward to fighting Dracula and his horribly designed throne room with 6 or so pitfalls. There were some fun times to be had although far and few between. It didn’t really seem to push the SNES anything like Super Castlevania 4 no spinning rooms, or a tilting room of death that’s for sure! Originally after playing through initially I was going to give this a 3 or 4, but like I stated before there is reason to play this one again. Not that I will be playing it again, but others might. It just seemed to me that they took a step back by releasing this game. They did some cool things with it, but the previous one was just so engrossing and fun. If you’re an avid Castlevania fan I recommend this just to complete your collection. If you’re looking for a great platformer and want to get a great game on the cheap I would recommend getting Rondo of Blood on the Virtual Console it’s a far superior game.
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