Review by DarkSaiyan20

"A review from a gamer who hasn't played the PC Engine Dracula X."

After a very successful release in Japan, Konami decided to bring us a port of Akumajou Dracula X: Chi no Rondo for the PC Engine. Unfortunately we never got a true port of the game. I am told that it is one of the best in the series but until they release it here I'm not bothering tracking it or the hardware to run it. So the only options myself and the rest of us loyal Castlevania freaks have is to play Dracula X on the Super NES. It may be nowhere near a direct port but it's good enough to satisfy us. If we can find it that is. Dracula X ends up being one of the more rare Super NES titles along with Mega Man X3. Why it has to be like this I'll never know. The primary question is whether or not this one is worth it considering it's not a direct port. Well it depends on what you're looking for. If you're after a direct port then avoid this one at all costs. If you're after challenging Castlevania gameplay then this one is all for you. I'd like the reader of this review to know that I'm rating this game by itself as opposed to rating it against it's inspiration. It was never released stateside and I've never played it so basing a review on it would be illogical. So read on if you've never played the PC Engine version.

Story - 7/10
It's the late 1700s and Dracula has again been resurrected. This time by the dark priest Shaft. Knowing the Belmonts have been a thorn in his side since the beginning Dracula decides to kidnap Richter Belmont's girlfriend and her sister. Richter grabs the infamous family whip and heads out to save the two girls and confront his destiny by slaying Dracula. Interesting little plot twist here as there are damsels in distress. Not a bad story for an old school Castlevania title. Of course it's just average for the time too. When and if your girlfriend and sister are rescued there is a vain attempt to move the storyline along. It doesn't come out real well though.

Graphics/Sound/Music - 9/10
For a Super NES title the graphics are impressive as you see Richter moving around alot. When at a standstill he bounces up and down as if he were in a fighting game. All enemy and boss sprites are easily distinguishable. The backgrounds are impressive as well. Especially that first stage. Between stages a map screen appears as it has in recent Castlevania titles but it looks alot better here. More drawn out then say Bloodlines or Castlevania IV. As for sound it's pretty good as well. The whip doesn't really make that slashing sound anymore. Of course a game like this doesn't need to have spectacular sound effects so don't expect to be wowed by them. Now that leaves us with music. Man I have to say I'm impressed. The music gets you more pumped up than it did in Super Castlevania IV. If only they had included Simon Belmont's theme. All the recurring themes have a more upbeat feel here. Excellent job in sound and graphics.

Gameplay - 8/10
Classic Castlevania gameplay so there's not really much to tell. The multi-directional whip is gone but the stairway jumping returns from Bloodlines. All the sub-weapons have returned with a couple new features. You can now drop sub-weapons upon picking a new one up. It gives you a chance to get your boomerang back in case you picked up the stopwatch or something to that effect. Also a new item crash system has been added. How this works is that with a certain number of hearts you can use your sub-weapon to perform a super desperation attack and usually wipe out most enemies on the screen. It's not really that useful though but it is funny to try it out when you have the key. Another feature is the multiple path system we last saw in Dracula's Curse. It's not as great here but it gives more control over which ending you see. As always the handy password feature returns to save your progress so always have a pen and paper ready. Overall most of the gameplay is average. I give more points for trying something new though.

Fun Factor - 6/10
An interesting addition to the series. It's not really great but not really bad either. It would've been nice to play in it's original form but I don't see that happening here in the US anytime soon. However this one suits me fine. It's not too difficult compared to some of the older games. At least until you fight Dracula anyway. Prepare for a major headache in that battle. I won't spoil it for you though so you'll just have to see for yourself. As for replay value I can't really see myself playing this one very often. I was satisfied when I finished it and haven't touched it since. However there are several endings but once you see one of them the final boss battle will keep you from wanting to see the others. Overall I'd say beat it once if you must then put it in your collection and just be happy you own it as it is really hard to find for a decent price.

To buy or not to buy?
I only recommend this one to the hardcore Castlevania fan or the Super NES collector. It's hard to find and can be really expensive. I paid $80 for mine on Ebay with the box and instructions a few months ago. That's right $80. I paid the same for Mega Man X3 but at least I had more fun with it than I did with this title. If you're someone out there just looking for a few fun and cheap Super NES games than avoid this one. Unless of course some sap is selling it dirt cheap then pick it up because it is valuable.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.0 - Great

Originally Posted: 10/08/04

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