Review by Crunkman2000
Better than what you've heard
Many of you have no doubt heard of the legendary PC-Engine gem "Dracula X: Rondo of Blood". Some of you may have even been granted the privilege of playing said gem. For those who haven't played or can't play Rondo, Castlevania: Dracula X (AKA Dracula XX or Castlevania V: Vampire's Kiss) is the nearest you can get to RoB's stellar gameplay. But I'm not here to review Rondo: I came to talk about CVDX, and CVDX I shall review, with very little references to Rondo.
The graphics in this game are, dare I say, slightly better than the PCE's. The first level (which I assume is still Aljiba) has a great "haze" effect running constantly in the background. The enemy and character sprites are amazing, and the effects are great. There's some odd color choices (Teal Behemoth? Ugh...), the graphics work.
Considering what Konami had to work with here (going from CD-quality to SNES cart audio), the music is amazing. The opening level theme (a remix of "Opposing Bloodlines") is awesome. As for the rest of the music, it's great, and oftentimes sounds near to IV-quality.
The sound effects are more prominent here than in RoB at times, shockingly. Richter's whip is louder and more fierce-sounding, and the rest of the effects fit well.
Despite what many fans say about the gameplay, it's not too bad. Richter moves slightly slow and has floaty jumps, but whips at a good speed and can still pull off his famous Item Crushes (with some compromises to fit both Nintendo's content policies and the SNES' limitations). However, there is a severe abundance of difficulty and poor enemy placement. Granted, anyone who has semi-mastered the older CVs or any of the NES Ninja Gaidens will be used to the difficulty and will find a way around it quickly. There are some flaws when compared to RoB: Maria is no longer playable, and there are less alternate paths. Even then, the gameplay isn't too bad.
Now for the inevitable Rondo comparison: The story is the same, except for the fact that out of the four women that Richter had to save in Rondo, only Maria and Annet appear here. Also, no Shaft, and the anime cutscenes are replaced with Americanized comic stills.
Many see Castlevania Dracula X as a "watered-down" version of Rondo. Sure, when you compare it to Rondo, there's going to be some glaring flaws, but it's like comparing The original Resident Evil with Resident Evil 3: There's no concievable way one can compare the two without noticing the severe differences between them. As the only version of Rondo's story that is available to non-Japanese gamers until Fall of 2007 (when Drac X Chronicles hits US shores), in anime terms, CVDX is a great "filler" episode for those who never could play Rondo. Despite some flaws in the gameplay and severe divergence from RoB's gameplay, CVDX is still a good game. It's not the best Castlevania title, but just being part of the series makes it worth the time.
BUY OR RENT/EMULATE: It's up to you. If you can get your hands on Rondo, pass on this if you wish, but you'll miss out on a decent CV title that is, despite being panned universally by many fans of the series, still good.
Rating: 3.5 - Good
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