Review by VdeBoule
"Old-school, addicting, and tough as nails"
Castlevania Chronicle: Akumajo Dracula is a rerelease of Akumajo Dracula X68000, a remake of the original Castlevania, previously only available on the Japanese X68000 computer. Included along with the original version is the new Arrange mode, featuring all-new music, new character sprites for Simon and Dracula, and selectable difficulty level. So, it's a rerelease and remake of a remake of the original Castlevania. Got that?
The first level is almost a carbon copy of the first level from the NES classic, but that's pretty much as far as Akumajo Dracula X68000 follows the original game. Although elements of the original game's stages are sprinkled throughout the game (like broken bridge with the giant bats from the last level of CV1), the majority of the game is totally new. In fact, AD X68000 features some of the best-designed levels in the entire series. The final part of Level 2, for instance, involves riding on a collapsing raft as the water level quickly rises and mermen leap out of the depths. The werewolf atop the clock tower in Level 5 tears the numbers off of the giant clock face and throws them at you, and when they are gone, tears off a clock hand and attacks you with that! In Level 7, you travel through a truly bizarre hall of possessed paintings. This variety makes the game less likely to become monotonous, thus increasing its replay value. Furthermore, after beating Arrange Mode, you gain access to Time Attack, in which you select a level, and try to beat it as quickly as possible.
The Arrange mode isn't too drastically different from the Original game, although the new music is very nice (ESPECIALLY the haunting organ/orchestral theme on Level 7). All the tracks used in the Original mode have been remixed for Castlevania Chronicle, except for the music in Level 2, which was changed entirely. And speaking of the music, the Original mode allows you select from three different sets of MIDI instruments. Although one is vastly superior to the others, it still is an interesting feature.
Unfortunately, as much as I love this game, I can't give it a score higher than an 8, as it has problems too large to be ignored. First, as attested to by people on the message board, the music on Level 2 of Arrange mode skips occasionally (probably 4-5 times during the level, on average). It's not too annoying, but you'd think Konami would have spotted this bug during testing— it's hard to not notice it. Also, Castlevania Chronicle is far too difficult for the casual gamer (even on Easy mode), and offers a challenge even to Castlevania veterans— Level 5 is quite possibly the hardest level in the entire Castlevania series.
Furthermore, because Arrange Mode doesn't offer too much more than Original Mode, I can't recommend Castlevania Chronicle to those who have already played Akumajo Dracula X68000 emulated, except as a collector's item. Skilled gamers and fans of the series, however, should import Castlevania Chronicle: Akumajo Dracula as soon as possible, as it is sure to become one of their favorites.
Reviewer's Rating: 4.0 - Great
Originally Posted: 07/03/01, Updated 07/03/01
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