Published by: Konami
Developed by: Konami
Release Date: Out Now
Castlevania: The Dracula X Chronicles is a compilation that is squarely aimed at longstanding fans of the Castlevania series. If you are a fan of the series you'll know that Castlevania: Rondo of Blood was never released here in Europe. What this compilation offers is a graphically enhanced 3D version of Rondo of Blood. In addition you'll find that a pixel-perfect version of the PC Engine Rondo of Blood has been included. That's not the only unlockable extra you'll find. In fact the other unlockable game you'll find in here is arguably the finest Castlevania game in this long running series.
In Castlevania: The Dracula X Chronicles you'll take on the role of Richter Belmont as he tries to put an end to Dracula. The game is set in 1792 and Richter has had his beloved Annette kidnapped by Dracula. Together with his friend, Maria, Richter has to make his way through the treacherous countryside and into Chez Dracula to exact his revenge. Thankfully Richter has his trusty vampire hunter whip to assist him in this side-scrolling action platform game. To add replay value to the game you can go back and play levels you've previously completed in order to improve your score and search for rare items. In addition to the graphical remake of Rondo of Blood, you'll also have access to the original PC Engine version of Rondo of Blood and Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. It's rather odd that neither the original version Rondo of Blood nor Symphony of the Night are initially available however, and you'll have to unlock them by playing the 3D remake of Rondo of Blood.
If you're only used to the more recent Castlevania titles you might be surprised at how challenging a game this is and at times it's more than a little testing. There are a couple of reasons for this. The game can be very unforgiving and whilst the graphics have been improved significantly, the updated game is just as punishing as the original PC Engine version. We played the game on an original PSP and in all honesty the buttons, particularly the directional buttons weren't as responsive as they could have been, particularly when making jumps or attempting to use stairs. That said; the directional buttons on the original PSP aren't the greatest when accuracy is required.
Graphically the improved version of Rondo of Blood actually looks quite good and the visuals have been suitably bought up to date. The original PC Engine of Rondo of Blood doesn't look that bad in all honesty, despite its age. Symphony of the Night looks noticeably better, understandable given that it's a more recent title, and it has to be said that the visuals have aged pretty well. Both the original Rondo of Blood and Symphony of the Night can be played in their original aspect ratio or in full screen mode. There are some long load times when you first load a game up but aside from that there are no complaints to be had with either the presentation or performance of either of the games on offer.
The games on offer in Castlevania: The Dracula X Chronicles won't give deaf gamers any real problems. All of the main dialogue in the games is shown in speech so you'll be aware of the storyline, not that there's much in the way of storyline. There is some digitized speed in the games that isn't subtitled but in all honesty it's not a problem and it certainly doesn't detract from the experience.
Castlevania aficionados will definitely consider Castlevania: The Dracula X Chronicles a must own title for the simple reason that they can finally get their hands on Castlevania: Rondo Blood. Those who aren't used to the rather unforgiving nature of these games (particularly Rondo of Blood) might be surprised at how frustrating the early Castlevania games are. It's worth mentioning that Symphony of the Night isn't nearly so bad in this respect but, you'll have to unlock it first of course. For those who enjoy the Castlevania series the deal is really sweetened by the inclusion of Castlevania: Symphony of the Night and it's great that Konami have included a game that would have undoubtedly sold very nicely as a standalone title. Some may be a little irritated that Symphony of the Night and the original Rondo of Blood aren't initially available and have to be unlocked. You have to admit however, that Symphony of the Night is probably the finest unlockable item that you'll ever find in a handheld game.