Review by shenloken
"Old Simon Belmont or "Belmondo" is back; in the old-school CastleVania. (P.S. What's with Simon's Hair?)"
After Symphony of the night; Legends, 64, and Circle of the Moon...the creators of this series realized that they ran outta vampire hunters. (Not to mention concepts.) The actual name of this version of 'CastleVania'; is 'Akumajo Dracula X68000.' Uh huh. (I have no idea what the numbers have to do with this.) But Konami called it 'Chronicles' ;cause there are two alternate versions of Simon, Dracula, and the game music. There's Original Mode (the hardest), and Arranged Mode (The easiest.) In the Original Mode; Simon looks like his old self. (Yellow with tints of brown. Go fig. :-p) And in Arranged; Simon has; for some odd reason..pink hair. Pink hair? (Why do vampire hunters decide to dye their hair pink all of a sudden?) Oh well; anyways..the game itself goes back to the old-school way of playing the original 'CastleVania'. (This being in terms of challenge, item power ups; and even a few senses of 'Deja Vu' when players of the original NES version see certain familiar backgrounds.) This game I recieved for Christmas did not dissapoint me. As a CastleVania fan; I'm pleased with it. But like any game; it's flaws are pretty apparent.
Back then; this game woulda made an imapct for graphics. But we're in the 22nd century now; these graphics are pretty standard. For one thing; textures look like they came from SNES. (So did Symphony of the Night; but I never really cared.) Then there are certain enemies who look kinda odd. (Skeletons, wall widows, hunchbacks, and dragon skulls being some of them.) Simon hasn't really improved his image either. Why the creators gave him pink hair is beyond me. (I can't tell you how fruity he looks in the 'Arranged Version.') I think you could judge that for yourself when looking at the cover of the game. The animations are pretty good though. Not only in terms of gears; but in the torture chambers; you see helpless townsfolk in cages looking like their crying for help. (Now Simon's supposed to be a hero; but you he just ignores all these poor saps; who if not getting killed by Dracula, will probably go with the castle once Simon kills Dracula.) In some instances; enemies really have no special features; and in fact look very plain. BGacktorunds are pretty good tho'. My only thing is; that this is Playstation; and the year 2001. Shouldn't they have at least given this game better graphics?
While not the greatest soundtrack to the series; it does offer some nice music. But if you want my advice; the music in 'Arranged' is a whole lot better. It has some nice techno remixes; as well as classical versions. Bloody Tears has a nice reverb to it; as does 'Theme of Simon..um..Belmondo as he's referred to.:-p) In the beginning; it's a mixture of both 'VampirE Killer' and 'Stalker' from CastleVanai 1. It sounds pretty good techno style. And for harder music; 'Tower of Dolls' does pretty well. But 'Original' really pales comapred to Arranged for music. They sound like old computer music MIDIs. (no..actually, the MIDIs have more richer sound.) Sometimes; the tracks can be annoying. And sometimes; the tracks lose their beat. Now um; to sound, we got Simon Belmont(do) who doesn't do anything; excpet groan when hit. And when he lashes his whip; it sounds like cutting vegetables; pulling out a pump, or a carftoon dash. But it really doesn't sound like a whip crack at all. Oh yeah; and some of the sounds you'll hear; like the heart total-up; is oddly reminiscent to 'Final Fantasy' sounds. (I cna't believe I memorize those.) in any case; it's the music that makes CastleVania sounds good.
Even for old-school; control's pretty decent. Simon Belmont moves like he normally can. In arranged; if he gets hit, he won't fall back; but he'll just jump in one place. This works well in open areas; but over pits, it's deadly. In Original mode; he suffers the backwards death; in which he'll get knocked back into a pit or water. But as for jumping and hitting; Simon can do well. Remember'CastleVanai 4; when he used a multi-directional whip? Well now; Simon borrowed a few techniques from that. He can whip diagonally down or straight down. But he can't do it up. (Why? I dunno.) Beating bosses can be easy too. You can easily beat em without help of your items. Some enemies are ahrd tog et back at tho'. Blood skeletons revive quicker this time around; and are more of a nuiscance than ever. But even so; Simon mastered stair climbing, raft riding,pit jumping, and brdige crossing here. Now if he could only master a more effect way of running.
Um...what Storyline!?? The answer is, there isn't really any. It's in the manual; but it's just similar to the CastleVania 1 plot. And it's still the same thing; minus dialogue. Have Simon enter Dracula's castle and kill him. (Breaking and entering; that's Simon's racquet.) And the ending is like the 1st; watching the castle sink. (You're not even sure if Simon made it safely out. But at least Dracula's dead right?) Well even so; games should offer you more gratification for going through all that trouble to help Simon kill Dracula; again. So um..no storyline here; even for a CastleVania game.
This game is fun to play at first. But even as a devoted CastleVanai fan; I find this game will end up being like the old NES versions. (With the acception of CastleVania 3.) That is; low replay value. But hey; the game's only 20 bucks. (Thank God.) It is worth 20 bucks of entertainment; even if it is for a short while. It's also worth to reminesce on days of old when playing this. And as a bonus; it's longer than the original. Plus; you can awlays do the ahrder (Original) version of this game. But even so; the replay value isn't that high here. Oh well; fun while it lasted.
This isn't a revolutionary trademark in the series. (I don't think it was meant to be.) But it did give a chance for fans of the series to play an imported game; 'AKumajo Dracula'. This game is old-school in all its respects; and can be enjoyable to play for a bit. And even if you do get tired of it; you may feel the urge to play it sometime later. (Whenever that'll be.) This game also comes with an interview with the 'CastleVania' creator. He speaks in Japanese; but sub-titles are available. You can find out some pretty neat stuff about the series from this guy. (Including his fave CastleVanai games..and no..surprisingly..it's NOT Symphony of the Night.) A nice game worth 20 dollars. CastleVanai gamers should have it for themselves. It's only 20 bucks. (That's cheaper than Dracula X.)
Reviewer's Rating: 4.0 - Great
Originally Posted: 01/11/02, Updated 01/11/02
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