Review by TrueMuerte

"I've not played many Castlevania, and none of the old, here's my thoughts."

Alright now, to begin I must say I've never really played many Castlevania games. In fact the only one I had actually finished prior to this is Portrait of Ruin, in Symphony of the Night I never even went so far as to get the Bat form. This was however enough to interest me to the point where I had decided to give this title a go since it was a 2.5D remake on the PSP.

This basically consists of three games which are the remake of Rondo of Blood, Symphony of the Night, and the classic Rondo of Blood. From everything I've read Rondo of Blood was originally for PC and only released in Japan, so this remake along with the original would be quite good for a fan of the series. I'll also just mention now that both the English voice acting and the Japanese voice acting is available, which to me is quite a nice feature, even just to hear the differences.

I suppose I'll start off with Symphony of the Night since that is probably the reason the majority would buy this. It's pretty much the same game that you all know and love, with a few extra glitches here, and a lot of changed dialog there. It's changed yes, but if you've not played SOTN then it doesn't matter overly much, if you are fanatic about the old dialog and voices then you're going to have to get used to not just the new text, but also new voice acting. Personally in the beginning I thought that the old voices were better, but the longer I played the more fondly I thought of the new, it's as I've heard, one can get used to anything. Though if you truly hate the game that much just because of some audio, then you can always switch it over to Japanese and just read the English text, the Japanese voices themselves are quite good also in my opinion. Other than that there are a few extra goodies that are available that weren't in the PSX version which you can look forward to. Unfortunately there are also some glitches that shouldn't be there so just don't be unlucky and you should be able to avoid them just fine. =P

So now that's over its time to talk about the main game, which would of course be the Rondo of Blood remake. Before playing this I searched up a few screens here and there on the original Rondo of Blood and a couple of youtube videos so I had something to initially compare it to.

Gameplay
I must say here again that I hadn't played many Castlevania games, of those I finished Portrait and only got through a small amount of Symphony. Having played Symphony I tried to do a few moves with Richter that I had known about from Symphony, but much to my surprise nothing came out, thinking I may have to unlock them later I started playing the game. I was sorely disappointed when I found out I couldn't run, no matter what I tried or do any other neat little tricks that I had seen in the other two Castlevania games I had played. Grumbling to myself I continued with what felt like awkward controls, stages instead of exploration, stupid difficulty, and slow pace until I unlocked Symphony. Now here I had a short break and got as far as I had done in Symphony previously, took a day or two break from it entirely then on a whim decided to give the remake another go.

I played more and controls sort of slipped into place, feeling far better than what I remembered. The slow walk began feeling normal, and then rather natural to the point I wouldn't have had it any other way. I still would have like the ability to explore sure, but then it wouldn't have been so much a remake, rather a new game with the same characters and concepts. As I got used to the controls the enemies seemed that much easier, and the pace began feeling even somewhat rushed in some places. I still had problems and did a fair bit of cursing here and there, but in the end I found it ridiculously fun. That said, the game is still what most people would call difficult for today's standards, so many people will be turned off it there. I however think that difficulty ends with a larger sense of achievement when you have finished it, or reached a goal that you have set yourself for it (Monster Hunter comes to mind here, another extremely frustrating game in many ways) and in the end, when you've learnt how the game works its just as simple as most others. Sure you're not spoon fed everything in this game, and that's what makes it so good.

Just quickly mentioning here to, many have also said that they were disappointed that the remake was easier than the original, but I tend to think that just because they've played the original so they know the patterns of many things, and adapt faster than most to the new things. I tried both and they seemed for the most part very similar in difficulty.

Story
I don't really think story is a huge factor in a game like this, but what there was of it made me at least interested enough to want to know where it was going with it. I do like the fact that you can go straight from this to Symphony and get even more for the whole story bit. It was interesting, but nothing truly spectacular, but then I would say if you want story then go play a full on RPG.

Graphics/Sound
Okay, since I had seen some original Rondo of Blood stuff I wasn't expecting anything too spectacular even though I had known they had redone the graphics, but I was quite pleasantly surprised when I started. I'm not generally one to care about graphics overly much since they don't make the game (at least not in this genre), but I found myself enjoying just looking at some of the nice detail here and there. It was fairly smooth compared to some things I've seen on the PSP and in general just really easy to take in, everything just seemed to fit flawlessly in the way it was done.

As for sound, all I can say is that it was quite superb, the background music, the sound effects, it fit as well as the graphics did. The voice acting was excellent and the ability to change languages at a whim just made it more so.

Playtime/Replayability
This will largely depend on your ability with this sort of game, but it can last a long time if you let it. Especially since there's not only Rondo, but Symphony also, it can give you a fair amount of time and some good replaying when you've nothing else you feel like doing.

So saying …
If you're considering this game I would strongly recommend you at least try it, and give it more than 10-20 minutes before deciding it isn't for you. Yes, the play style is older fashioned, but you get used to it rather fast and it becomes an extremely enjoyable game. Besides, anything to do with vampires is always nice. =P

Original Rondo of Blood
Alrighty, the original here is pretty much the same thing, a few things are easier or more difficult because of the slightly different mechanics, the graphics obviously aren't as good, and the sound effects are somewhat old, its more for nostalgia than anything else. Though I do recommend giving it a whirl anyway if you've the time and interest to do so.


Reviewer's Score: 7/10 | Originally Posted: 11/05/07

Game Release: Castlevania: The Dracula X Chronicles (US, 10/23/07)


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