Review by ChibiMaddiChan

Reviewed: 10/26/07

Additive & fun but the difficulty will more than likely frustrate gamers used to the modern Castlevania entries.

Alas, Castlevania finally makes it's debut on the Sony PSP. And what a fun way to do that then with a port of the long awaited and elusive Castlevania title to never see the light of release in the states.

Let's begin with the basics:

This is a remake of the original Dracula X: Rondo of Blood, never to be released to the Unites States. (Until now of course.) The star of the game is one Richter Belmont, who, like his forefathers, has been given the task of venturing into the dwelling of Castlevania, to defeat the dark vampire lord of the castle, Dracula. Only this time, it becomes personal, as Dracula has kidnapped Richter beloved Annette.

The gameplay itself is quite solid. If your privy to the Castlevania games of the present, for example, Portrait of Ruin then let me say: this plays like the older Castlevania games. Meaning that you have your main weapon: a whip. And a choice of sub weapons that you can find hiding in candles, that can only be used one at a time. Richter won't have the fancy moves he does in later games or even the fancy moves of later Belmonts:

His moves are basically move left or right, jump, duck, and back flip. The whip isn’t multi directional nor can you hold it and it will spin around or can you move it around wildly to hit enemies behind you above you, below you, etc. This can become a pain, since Richter does not have a double jump either, and unless you have certain subweapons (like the ax or cross) it can make hitting aerial enemies a pain.

There are no potions or any other healing items to use in this remake--that can be stored for later use anyway. Simply, you break a wall and find meat, to which if your low on health, depending on the size, you'll get some of your energy restored. So it pits the task of kicking butt and taking names a bit further since you won't have the luxury of healing yourself.

And this is where I find the 'coin toss' statement to come to pass the most. You definitely can't play this game as you can the modern versions in the series, for example, pushing forward and simply hitting attack. The lack of Richter having the more modern basic Belmont functions, such as backdash or um, running, won't allow for that. Besides, the normal enemies are practically unrelenting, as the ones that can continue to come in swarms, they take nice chunks of health from Richter, and the bosses...can be a pain.

So be prepared to die. A lot. Because the key to success here, is learning to exploit the weaknesses the enemies process and the best way to get out of otherwise seemingly impossible situations. Some bosses are weaker against certain sub weapons than others. Some normal enemies fall faster when you use certain subweapons against them. Sometimes it's actually better to simply get out of the area than stay and fight the unrelenting swarms. It can and will take a while in a lot of instances and this game will definitely will take some patients and frustrated moments to get through, so be prepared.

Really, it's hard to find a Castlevania where the soundtrack does completely suck. It's simply a remixed version of the original Rondo of Blood soundtrack, though a few more popular tracks (such as Opus 13 and Den) are completely missing from the remake. The music sounds wonderful the PSP however and quite enjoyable to hum along to while you keep butt.

Yet another thing I find to be a coin toss. I personally loved the 2.5D graphics of this game. A lot of the stages are far more detailed than in the original and couldn't help but find myself looking at the stages. Though I will admit that some stages aren't as good as they could be.

Replay Value:
TONS. You can unlock the original Rondo and Symphony of the Night. In all three, you can play with different characters that make the gameplay experience different. For example, after you unlock Maria in the RoB remake, the game gets a lot easier. Her primary weapons fires both, to the left and the right at once. They also go in a slight arch, which hits ariel enemies better and return to her like boomerangs. She moves a little faster than Richter does, she can slide and double jump, and her subweapons often appear to be stronger as well and have better range. (The cat easily tops the Holy Water as the ground based sub weapon.)

Saving certain women in the remake will dictate later boss battles, as well as effect the ending you can receive. There are things to find throughout the game and different branching paths to be taken, some of which can't be reached until completing the game or with an alternate player.

There's a lot to do in this game, so you could be playing for quite some time.

As for SOTN, even if you have played the original, you'll want to give this one another play through once unlocked. The game has brand new VA's, a script, unlockable players, new boss fights, familiars...there's enough to see and do to keep you interested.

However, know that the game isn't fitted to take up the full screen of the PSP: there is a normal view and full view, but both have borders on either sides.

Overall, the game is a blast to play, despite the difficulty. It may take some time getting used to if you haven't played any Castlevania games pre SOTN, but I find that this title is quite rewarding. It's quite a lot of fun, very additive to play once gotten into and has loads of things to do.

Definitely pick the game up and give it a try!

Rating:   4.0 - Great

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

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