Review by PickHut
"I pity the foo who messes wit da vampire killa!"
Okay, I have never played Dracula X: Rondo of Blood and probably never will. And even though others have said that the SNES version is a disappointment compared to the original, from what I played of CV Dracula X, it appears to be a very solid and fun ''remake'' for the SNES. Much MUCH better then that other CV game for the SNES....
Drac is back, and he's pissed. He wants revenge for what Simon Belmont did to him (getting his ass kicked, of course), and since Simon is long gone he's gonna take it out on the latest Belmont, Richter. He kidnaps Richter's girlfriend Annet and her sister Maria, and so it's now up to Richter to save them both and put an end to Dracula once again....well....until he comes back like he always does. Since this game is a remake, the story in CV DX really doesn't fit in with overall CV storyline, just think of it as an alternative universe of the original Dracula X.
You have played a Castlevania game right? Then you know the deal, kill anything that resembles hell on earth, walk up and down stairs, and brake open candles that just happen to have big pieces of meat inside them. Controlling Richter is just the same as previous Belmonts, walks around like he owns the place, uses his super kneeling ability to jump, and falls back to earth as if he'd weighed ten tons (maybe I'm exaggerating a bit on the last one, damn you Castlevania Adventure!). Gone from the previous SNES installment is the ability to whip in any direction, which is probably the best thing Konami decided to never bring back again. It made CV IV way too easy, something a Castlevania game shouldn't be.
But a couple of other moves have been added, like Item Crash. With this ability, you can do a special attack by using one of your five secondary weapons: axe, holy water, boomerang, knife, and stopwatch. They cause twice the damage and also use up more hearts then usual. Each weapon has a different effect when used with Item Crash, for example: when using the boomerang, dozens of boomerangs will appear on screen bouncing all over the place, hitting every thing in sight. And if you use holy water, the entire screen will be rain with holy water (green holy water? o_O). It's also the only way you can ''power up'' your whip for a limited time, since the whip power ups are absent in this game. Some of the weapons, when used with Item Crash, aren't really that useful during the actual levels and are mostly just effective during boss battles. The other move you get is probably the most useless move in the entire game, a backflip. Performed when pressing the jump button a second after you just jumped, it does more harm then good to poor Richter. If you have an itchy trigger finger or nervous, then you'll most likely execute the move on accident and end up bumping into an enemy, or even worse, falling into a pit. It's a totally useless move and it was a waste of time to include it. Another complaint I have about the game is the seconds of invincibility you get after being hit is now gone. You'd think it wouldn't make much of a difference, but it does. If you get hit by an enemy and bounce into another enemy, you'll bounce off of him too and get knocked into another enemy (etc. etc.) until you find a safe place to land or end up falling into a pit.
Enemies from past CV games return once again in their usual ''OMG WHY HERE!?!?!'' places. From skeletons that throw bones at you, zombies that roam the halls, axe knights. And then, of course, those damn medusa heads, a CV game wouldn't be a CV game without those bastards bugging the hell out of you. Then there are the bosses, each with their own unique attack patterns that you must memorize and avoid with timing to defeat them. Like the giant bat boss (Phantom Bat) that turns into a bunch of little bats when you hit it, or the wolf boss that jumps all over the place and have about half a dozens ways of attacking. With just your whip, some will give you quite a workout, but if you have the right sub weapon and plenty of hearts, you can easily defeat most of the bosses with Item Crash. And fighting Dracula at the end will require a lot of patience and quick reflexes (and it doesn't hurt to be equipped with the right sub weapon either).
There are a total of 9 stages in the game, only 7 of which you will venture across each time through. The 2 other stages are alternative stages, one of which you'll most likely stumble unto by accident. And depending on what you found, what path you take, and what you uncover, will effect the outcome of a certain boss battle and different endings (if you consider those endings....). Thus, giving you an excuse to play through the game more then once.
The graphics, although not as impressive looking as in past CV games (mainly IV and Bloodlines), still look pretty good. The first thing you'll notice is how colorful everything seems to be. It doesn't go over board, though, and still manages to keep that Castlevania look intact. Richter himself looks good in blue clothing and a nice departure from the usual brownish colors that past Belmonts wore. His animations aren't that bad either, from walking, climbing stairs, whipping, and jumping, all look animated smoothly. All of the weapons, when used normally or with Item Crash, have some pretty good animations, too. The enemies have a nice makeover to them also, although some of the movements for the enemies are decent. Some good ones are the sword lords when they swing their swords (that sounded lame), or the skeletons that fall to pieces when you kill them. The same goes for the bosses, some are impressive, like Death/Grim Reaper, especially in his second form when he slashes you or does a spin attack. Others look just average, like Cerberus (1st stage boss), who is just a bunch of grey and the only main thing he does is just jump around.
The backgrounds are neat, too, with a good amount of detail, although not really impressive. Most backgrounds, while nice looking, are lifeless with not much going on with them. I was even surprised that the water doesn't have any effect when you fall in, it just blends in with the background. The only real impressive ones I can point out is the 1st stage with the town on fire, the underground water stage with nice structure and water flowing everywhere, and the clock tower that has a bunch of gears and other little pieces moving around. Don't get me wrong, the backgrounds look good, but from what Konami did with past CV games, you would've expected them to do much better.
The music is undoubtedly the best thing about the game. They sound wonderful, not one tune in the game is below average, even when you're not playing, the tunes will get stuck in your head. Along with some new ones, a couple of old themes from past CV games make a return as really good remixes. The boss music is good too, giving you a dramatic vibe that will really get you in the mood to fight. Although some tracks will start over a bit too quickly, it doesn't get on your nerves because they just sound that good. Unfortunately, there isn't a Sound Test option in the game, so you'll have to force yourself to play through the game just to listen to your favorite tunes. Damn you Konami!!....um....anyway....
With alternative stages, secrets, and different outcomes, there is plenty of replay value in the game. Overall, Castlevania Dracula X is a really fun and enjoyable game. It's not the best or worst CV game, but it's tons of fun and has that old school Castlevania feel to it. Did I forget to mention that it's fun?......fun......It's a fun game and that's what counts.........fun.
Okay, I'll stop. :P
Reviewer's Rating: 4.0 - Great
Originally Posted: 04/04/03, Updated 06/27/04
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