Review by bloodelfking
Castlevania Chronicles brings a blast from the past with this PSOne port
Released in 2001, Castlevania Chronicles gives Castlevania fans the chance to play the once-obscure Sharp X68000 classic Demon Castle Dracula. This is no straight port- along with the original game, a new enhanced version is bundled along with it. This Arranged mode contains not only an all-new remixed soundtrack and updated graphics, but also new Simon and Dracula sprites based on designs by Symphony of the Night artist Ayami Kojima. So how does this game stand up to its counterparts? Read on...
Every Castlevania fan knows this one: Simon Belmont, descendant of legendary vampire hunter Christopher Belmont, wields his enchanted Vampire Killer whip to slay the forces of Count Dracula. Only by navigating the wicked vampire's Demon Castle and banishing the monstrosities within can Simon hope to confront the Count for the reckoning. It is the same story as the initial Castlevania game and its other countless remakes.
Background music and Sound- 10/10
The soundtrack is fairly diverse and possesses several classics. As you would expect, the original game has sound quality one would expect from 1993. There are three sound modules; each have the same songs, but the compositions and quality vary. The soundtrack itself is quite good, with recognizable tunes like Vampire Killer (now slightly extended from its NES debut) and Wicked Child appearing along with newcomers like Thrashard in the Cave and Moon Fight.
The Arrange Mode's soundtrack has been fully remixed by Konami composer Sota Fujimori, who does justice in bringing it to Playstation standards. Some songs now sport an electronic flair, but most are fully orchestrated versions of their 16-bit counterparts. Tracks like Bloody Tears are much, much more powerful in their presentation. The soundtrack is certain to leave its mark on players.
The sound effects do their job, and it is worth noting that some in the Arrange mode have been replaced with much better examples.
This is more controversial. If you are a casual gamer or new to the series, it is most likely that you will be disappointed by the difficulty and old-school gameplay. And it's with good reason- this is a game from 1993. It will not hold your hand, though that is easily remedied with the difficulty settings and gameplay tweaks that is available in the options. In short, if you are expecting a laid back free-roaming Castlevania, stick to the newer games.
Now, if you are a die-hard Castlevania fan or old-school gamer, you'll enjoy the gameplay with gusto. There are two modes- Original and Arrange. As the titles state, Original mode is the, well, original game. Arrange mode sports graphical and audio enhancements, plus adjustable difficulty, continues, and other general options.
The game itself is laid out like any classic platformer- progress through stages, fighting varied enemies until you reach a boss at the end. Compared to his NES debut, Simon is much more controllable this time around. You can whip diagonally and straight down, as well as change direction in midair. The controls are smooth and responsive, and the game itself is suitably action-packed. You're kept on your toes by the onslaught of enemies. Expect some harrowing situations such as scaling a statue weeping cursed blood, dodging bizarre torture traps and mutated freaks in a gloomy laboratory, and running across a bridge collapsing bridge while being attacked by flying monstrosities.
Again, don't expect Symphony of the Night-quality. For its time, Demon Castle Dracula boasted sharp visuals that rivaled that of the SNES. As expected, these appear dated now. The Arrange Mode does some to improve them: some stages have had their entire backgrounds replaced, while others have been given added effects. Enemies now burst into bright flames compared to the duller sprites of the original, and candles visibly glow. Still, more could have been done to bring the overall graphical quality up to date.
The main hero's and Dracula's sprites have been redrawn for Arrange mode by Japanese artist Ayami Kojima, who bestows the duo with a more gothic appearance. Simon now appears much different than his past incarnations. He ditches the traditional square-jaw Conan look for fiery crimson hair, yellow eyes, and generally more bestial. Instead of the humorous Bela Lugosi outfit, Dracula now opts for sorcerer-like garb complete with wolfish grin. The original sprites were too corny in my opinion, and the darker character designs lend much atmosphere to the game.
Castlevania Chronicles is a dream-come-true for Castlevania fans. You get what was one of the rarest Castlevania games along with excellent bonus content (including an artwork gallery and an interview with producer Koji Igarashi). Admittedly more could have been to the Arrange Mode- the few major enhancements leaves you wondering why didn't go further. But if you're seeking some old-school action with a contemporary flair, look no further than this title.
Rating: 3.5 - Good
Product Release: Castlevania Chronicles (US, 10/08/01)
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