Review by jack_gllghr
Slaying vampires and getting value for your money, what more could you want?
Castlevania Dracula X Chronicles Review
Castlevania, The Dracula X Chronicles for the PSP is an enhanced 2.5D remake of Castlevania Rondo of Blood on the SNES, which never recieved an official Release outside of Japan and is the first installment in the Castlevania franchise to be released on the Playstation Portable.
The Dark Priest Shaft has decided to revive the good old Count and descend the world into chaos, whilst nabbing a few maidans along the way. It's up to Richter Belmont to stop Shaft, Slay Dracula and save the maidens(one of whom is Richter's love interest) And that's basicly it for the story, this isn't your modern over-the-top dramatic epic akin to the Metal Gear Solid or Final Fantasy series'. The Story is here to give you just enough incentive to move on, which is a godsend, as the game never bogs you down with dialogue and instead focuses on its classic side-scrolling gameplay.
Dracula X Chronicles is very similar to earlier entries in the series in that You go through each stage battling all forms of demons and ghouls, until you reach a boss fight, then proceed to the next stage. The game has a total of 13 stages, although it will only take you 8 stages to get to the encounter with Dracula. Most stages offer multiple paths which can lead the player to find new songs, an extra playable character Maria, (sister of Richter's love) and even unlockable games. Its no secret that the fantastic Symphony of the Night and original Rondo of Blood are unlockable, but you'll have to search every nook and cranny to find the games. Along with this there is a Boss Rush mode(in which you face all the bosses consecutively) and a Boss demo mode which gives helpful videos to aid you in defeating the various bosses in the game(at a price) This gives the game incredible replay value and essentially you're getting three games in one. But is the gameplay enjoyable enough to warrant searching for these hidden gems?
Dracula X Chronicles plays almost exactly like any other game in the series(Which is not a bad thing by any means).Richter's primary attack is his horizontal whip attack. He also comes equipped with a variety of sub-weapons which you pick up along the way (which cost you hearts to use). Along with these, the player can use an Item Crash, which cost a large amount of hearts, but creates an attack which usually attacks everything on screen. These Item Crashes vary depending on what sub-weapon is equipped. The last move at Richter's disposal is a backflip, useful for retreating and can become indispensible if used correctly. The platforming can feel quite clunky due to Richters tendency to fall through stairs, and inability to move during any descent, yet you'll find yourself adjust in no time. Maria on the other hand is a very nimble character and replaces Richters backflip with a double jump, which also allows her to reach area Richter can't. The game is very challenging for the average joe, yet the feeling of accomlplishment after beating a boss is on par with finishing an entire game. As this is a remake, this doesn't include additions from later games such as the 8 direction whipping from Castlevania IV or the free roaming aspects of Symphony of the Night. All in all the gameplay is solid and the controls are very responsive. If you die, you'll find that it's your fault because you did something wrong yet you'll still hit that continue button because the gameplay is just that engaging and addicting.
The graphics are nothing to make a fuss about, they aren't necessarily bad, but they don't push the limits of the system like Crisis Core or God of War though. The 2D sprites in the original Rondo of Blood, and Symphony of the Night, haven't been updated in any way, although they still look quite fitting on the PSP's display. There is a CGI opening but you'll probably never view it more than once. One aspect of the presentation that is noteworthy however is the music. This has one of the most catchy and memorable soundtracks of any game, you'll find yourself humming along to these tunes more often than not. Many classics return from previous games such as the epic Vampire Killer. One nifty feature is the Sound Assign mode, which allows the player to put any song from the game as the music for any stage in the game.
Simply put, you don't get value like the Dracula X Chronicles nowadays. Essentially you're getting three games in one, each with a plethora of unlockables, and fun challenging gamplay that'll keep you hooked for hours. A must-buy for any Castlevania fan, and everybody else should definately check this one out.
Rating: 4.0 - Great
Product Release: Castlevania: The Dracula X Chronicles (EU, 02/15/08)
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