Castlevania: The Dracula X Chronicles Review

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Game Title: Castlevania The Dracula X Chronicles
Developer: Konami
Platform: PlayStation Vita
Game Type: PSP
Download: 715 MB
NA Availability: Digital Download
EU Availability: Digital Download
PSTV Support: No

Vampires have been popular in media for a long time now, and no, I’m not talking about Twilight. Vampires have been in popular media culture for long before the Twilight phenomenon began. The Universal Studios original Dracula movie came out in 1931, 85 years ago. Before any video games were ever even being conceived and decades before Stephanie Meyer was born.

In video games, though, most of the well-known vampire lore comes from a single franchise, Castlevania. Ever since 1986, it has been the top gaming franchise around Count Dracula and vampires in general. With countless main series games and even a cross-over fighting game, there’s a lot to Castlevania. It is also home to what is considered to be one of the best PS One RPGs ever made, Castlevania: Symphony of the Night.

Some don’t realize, though, that Symphony of the Night is a sequel to a previous game, and that game was completely remade for the PSP. Sporting the idea of a remake as well as a game collection, here is my retro review of Castlevania: The Dracula X Chronicles!

Story

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Back in the 1700s, there was a time of darkness, when dark sorcerers conspired against humankind. They remained faithful to the Dark Lord of old, and performed a dark ritual in order to revive him. With the spilling of human blood, Count Dracula was once again reborn into the world of the living and his castle, Castlevania appeared as well.

As soon as this happened, Richter Belmont set out to enter the castle and rid the world of the evil vampire. Donning the legendary Vampire Killer Whip that had been passed down in his family, he was more than encouraged to enter Castlevania when Dracula kidnaps the love of his life. On the way, he is also joined by Maria Renard, once kidnapped but fighting with the power to control animals and magical creatures.

People who played the original Rondo of Blood will probably think that’s a drastically over dramatized version of the game’s story. However, in this remake, there is a much larger aspect of the storyline. There are more story scenes, and a long CG intro to add more to the mythos behind the game.

Gameplay

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Dracula X Chronicles is a remake, collection, some cross between the two. Let’s put it down to the basics. Dracula X Chronicles lets you play a remake of the original Castlevania: Rondo of Blood, but remains true to its original with being a side-scrolling action game. But the best part about this is that it’s a game collection. You can unlock the original Rondo of Blood and famed Symphony of the Night as you play the game. It’s 3 games for the price of one.

So, the remake. Rondo of Blood was a 2D side-scrolling action game and so is DXC. You explore the game through lengthy stages that have you traversing dangerous environments, fighting off enemies, and ending with squaring off with a boss to gain access to the next area. Pretty simple, right? There’s a bit more depth and replayability because there are alternate paths and alternate versions of nearly every stage, so you can go through the game several times in a row and never have the exact, same stages as the last run.

Even though this is a remake, the game is still difficult like Rondo was. Every stage has tricky enemy placement and platform locations. While boss patterns can be learned quickly, navigating stages is tricky even when you know the layout. There’s only so much planning when you know that as soon as you jump down into a room, you’ll be surrounded within moments.

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The way the balance works is that you can find and unlock Maria Renard as a playable character. Playing as Richter is a constant challenge, but Maria’s increased speed and way of attacking makes things a lot easier. Her Dragon Subweapon is every boss’s worst nightmare. It also adds more replayability because many scenes and endings are different depending on whether you’re playing as Richter or Maria when you fight off the final boss.

Now, with time, that’s where this being a collection really comes in handy. Dracula X might only take you a couple hours to beat if you’ve played it before. Take that 2-3 hours and then add on the 8-10 hours it takes to play Symphony of the Night and another 2-3 hours if you want to play the original Rondo of Blood. That 2-3 hours of game just turned into 15-20. There’s a lot of game here.

Controls

Moving around isn’t really that difficult. You can move around with the D-Pad, jump with X, attack with Square, and press up + Square to fire your sub-weapon. Finally, Triangle can be used for an “Item Crash”. There’s not a whole lot to look for or worry about.

Also, this is a no-go for PlayStation TV owners. Dracula X Chronicles does not launch on the PSTV, so if you have the micro-console and do not own a Vita, you’re out of luck. You can probably use a certain home brew application to get it working, but we won’t get into that. It’s not PSTV Compatible.

Presentation

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Now, visuals. You remember how the Mega Man X 3D graphics PSP remake looked with all of those jagged edges on the character models? The same thing happened here. The environments and some enemies look pretty nice, but the character models just look so rough. There are jagged edges all over the place. Just something to note on. I know some of you are big on graphics when deciding a purchase.

How about the rest of the presentation? You should note that there are new Voice-Actors in the remake as well as this game’s version of Symphony of the Night. Honestly, I think it’s done a lot nicer in the remake, but that’s just my personal opinion.

Summary

Castlevania: The Dracula X Chronicles is a remake of the game the led to what is still considered Castlevania’s greatest adventure. The visuals are a little rough on the eyes when playing on the PS Vita, but it’s still a worthwhile and challenging journey for Castlevania fans. Some may consider it worth the purchase for Symphony of the Night, alone.

9/10

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