Review by Shadowruler

"Dracula Ex"

The SNES has seen it's fair share of good games over the years, some mediocre, some downright superb. Super Castlevania IV was an excellent game, and those that dug that game, waited for a year or so, and anxiously awaited the release of the next series installment. We heard this game was to be a remake of Dracula X-Rondo of Blood, that was only released in Japan. Ok, that's cool, we get an import game, and yet another game added to the Castlevania franchise. So, once it finally hit shores, people were sorely disappointed with it. Why? Let's find out.

Story: 6/10

Ok, so Castlevania games don't ever have awesome storylines, or innovative ones in the least. Dracula is ressurected, let's kill him again, and wait for him to appear in another game. Usually, gamers are very glad to have another romp through ol' Drac's castle, and I assume that's what most gamers were expecting. In this game, you play as Richter Belmont, saving your girlfriend Maria from Dracula's grip. How was she kidnapped? We'll never know. But it is an excuse to go through the castle again i suppose. Story is a 6.

Gameplay: 4/10

Gameplay makes or breaks a game, and in this game, it breaks it. The heart and soul of Castlevania games are wandering through the depthes of Drac's castle, and making your way to the top. Now usually, agreed, there are 1 or 2 stages until you get to the castle, and then you work your way to the top for a showdown. The formula of working to the castle worked for SC 4, because it was fun to play. Dracula X is not. I think there are maybe.MAYBE 20 different types of enemies in the game, but after you see em all, they get recycled. Not just once either, you might see this same enemy 6 times during one room, and that's downright crazy. So, with that said, be prepared to go through around 6 levels before reaching Dracula's castle. once you get there, it's one stage, not very difficult either. In old CV games, you got to see all the different rooms in the castle by working your way through, not so here. You go straight up, and then fight Dracula. The End.

Control 6/10

Perhaps one of the few areas of the game that is acceptable is the control. Richter moves rather well, the whip only goes one direction this time, whichever way you are facing, unlike SC4 where it went 8 directions. this brings back the challenge however, and there is a good deal of challenge in this game, we'll get to that later. The jump is a little higher than usual, which makes some platform jumping easier, but not always. You only have one whip as well, which means that you will never be able to kill a certain enemy faster, they will always take as many hits as they did in the beginning of the game. That's right, the beginning, because remember, you will see the same enemies alot. You also have the standard array of sub-weapons, axe, holy water, knife, boomerang, this is about all that was retained from previous Vanias.

Graphics 7/10

I can't make fun of the graphics for this game, they are decent and get the job done, but that's about all. Character sprites for enemies and Richter are for the most part bright and easy to see. The backround is ok, the coolest backround is the first stage, the flames in the backround, but after that, it's rather dull. There is never slow down, which is good, the game CAN handle alot of enemis on the screen which is a plus as well. However, the result doesn't seem classic CV, it kinda looks like Street Fighter. Graphics earn a 7.

Difficulty 10/10

Having a high score is not a good thing. Not at all. this game is so downright hard in some points, what with all the enemies on screen, jumping on moving gears at the same time, and avoiding spikes. That is an example of one room, and that room could take you a long time to get through. I mentioned earlier that the whip is never upgraded, therefore enemies are never easier, as well as their damge dealt to you. The damage you receive from touching one enemy is massive, and you get bounced back at the same time. this means, that you might be fighting an enemy on a platform and it hits you, for alot of damage, and if you dont get knocked off, fighting it again and finally killing it could take half of your energy, just in time fo the next enemy to come at you, and possibly knock you off for good. Restart, do it over. A lot, and then, you move on to the next room to attempt to get past it again. Fun? hardly.

Boss Difficulty 10/10

I know what you're thinking. I never heard of this section before. Well, now you have, I need to put this in a seperate section, just to show you how hard these are. Take the damage received by say a medusa head ( alot as it is) multiply that by 2 or 3 depending on the attack the boss uses, and you got yourself only 4 or 5 hits before your dead. The first boss took me a couple tries to kill, let alone the other bosses, some of which take place on platforms, where if you fall off you die. Dracula's difficulty should also have a seperate section, but let's not get TOO crazy. But Drac baby is crazy. Let me put it this way, whoever designed the stage for fighting Dracula obviously was distracted, because the end result ended up being five or six little pillars to stand on, which if you fall you die. Jumping even from them without avoiding his attcks is hard enough to not miss and die. Add dodging meteors and fireballs, not to mention getting hit by the Dark lord himself, and you've got one heck of a fight. If and only if you somehow manage to kill him, you will treated by a very anticlimatic end scene, which is not rewarding at all. Then, your done. Fun, right?

Replay Value: 3/10

I really can't see after going through the pain of managing to beat the game once, why you would want to play again, as there are no other characters to play as, and there were in the Japanese version. Not so here. If for some reason you would want to play this game again, it would only be to pass the time, not to have fun.

Overall: 4/10 (not an average)

The fun you will have playing this game is kept to a minimum, by the extreme difficulty, even on Normal difficulty, not to mention Hard. Bosses are impossible, enemies will cripple your life meter, and levels will make you go insane. If you are just playing this game because you want to play all Castlevania games, rent it, or borrow it. But do not buy it. The game is a short ride through insanity, and ultimately will leave much to be desired if you beat it.

Reviewer's Rating:   2.0 - Poor

Originally Posted: 11/08/03

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