Thursday, October 30, 2014

Nerdicus SNES Review #46: Castlevania: Dracula X

Title : Castlevania: Dracula X

Publisher : Konami

Developer : Konami

Genre : Action Adventure Platformer

Players : 1 Player

Release Date : 1995

Estimated Value (as of today's date) : $150-$175

Alright, Halloween is tomorrow and I need to do some horror game reviews, don't I? I've got another one planned for tomorrow which is going to be a lot of fun, but I have been resisting temptation to do this particular game for awhile and now I am finally going to cave.

I have been trying to get my hands on Castlevania: DRACULA X for some time now. It's slipped through my fingers a few times when trying to purchase it on eBay, and not to mention I saw the damn game in a thirft store not too long ago, but they decided to price it through the roof. Well, the game does go for roughly $150-$175 JUST FOR THE DAMN CART, so I would REALLY want to shell out the money if I want it. One day...I'm going to have to it seems.

Dracula X is actually a port of the game, RONDO OF BLOOD that was released for the PC ENGINE (TurboGrafx 16) by Konami. Yes, that's right Konami dumped Castlevania games on the PC Engine. Bastards. Now if you didn't play RONDO OF BLOOD, you need to get off your arse and do that now. It is seriously one of the best games in the Castlevania series. And when you think about how they ported it to the SNES, you would expect something close.

Well, it's close. But unfortunately they took out a lot from the game in order to port it from the PC over to the SNES. A damn shame too, because a lot of the features they removed were the features that made RONDO such a classic. No more cutscenes, no more secret characters, less weapons, level design was more straight forward, and the controls were changed quite a bit. A damn shame too.

Not to say Dracula X wasn't good. It was. And it's incredibly underrated. I would actually compare it to Simon's Quest. Good game, and a decent Castlevania, but nowhere near the quality of some of the others (especially not Castlevania 4...OH BOY...can't wait for that one).

But, let's give it a whirl, shall we?

Let's sum up the story real quick. You play as Richter Belmont, the famed vampire slayer living in a life of luxury now. It doesn't last long, as the Prince of Darkness has returned and he has kidnapped your girlfriend Annette, and her sister Maria. He's probably wanting to feast on their blood supply and turn them into his wench slaves. Or maybe he just wants an excuse to get his arse beat by Richter again. Come on, Dracula. Learn your lesson.

When the game starts, you'll immediately be impressed by some of the visual changes that Castlevania has gone through. This is probably the closest connection to the old Castlevania and the new castlevania series. The game was kind of a stepping stone for Castlevania on console systems. The style has shifted, and the characters are more animated with an appearance more in lines with "anime-esque" characters. Of course, you play a Castlevania game now and you can't even escape the way the characters look. It's not a bad thing, I like that look. It's the artistic direction I wanted it to go into anyway.

The elements are exactly the same as other Castelvania games. Work your way through various levels of Dracula's castle, defeat massive bosses, collect various power ups, and try not to die. Of course, you'll have your traditional whip, but the controls are different from 4 - the whip is back to what it was in the older Castlevania games. Not bad, but not as fluid. Come on, who remembers Castlevania 4 and it's epic control format. BRILLIANT.

One of the new interesting features added into Richter Belmont's arsenal was a little attack called "ITEM SMASH" - You can use up 10 of your sacred hearts to introduce a special attack that differs depending on the item you have equipped. Think of it as a screen clearing attack that can save your arse if you find yourself overwhelmed by the denizens of Dracula's abode.

In terms of difficulty, I'm not sure about everyone else who has played this game, but DRACULA X falls in one of the "easier" Castlevania game categories. I always felt as if the levels were a tad simplistic in design, with none of those semi-impossible platforming elements, and the enemies were lacking their annoyance factor that they had in the past games. Nothing seemed overly difficult. Or maybe I have just become a pro at Castlevania games....nah..

Boss battles of course are the cream of the crop in Dracula X. This is where the real challenge lies. Be prepared to be slaughtered by some of the bosses in this game. The satisfaction of watching them explode is just as epic as it was when you played the first game.

So, Dracula X seems like a great addition to the line up, right? Well, it lacks in a few places.

First of all, the level designs as I said before are way too simplistic, and besides the first level they are not that visually pleasing. In fact, they are downright bland. While the character designs are brilliant, the art teams could have made the extra effort to produce some really amazing levels. In fact, after the first stage set in a town on fire, each level gets progressively weaker in design.

The controls are insanely stiff in this game. Going from Castlevania 4, which besides symphony of the night, has some of the most fluid controls in Castlevania history, Dracula X leaves a lot to be wanting. The game just moves a lot slower too, which although most older Castlevania games were, this just seems a tad too much.

And I won't even say a BAD thing about the music. It's a Castlevania game. Of course the music is brilliant.

It doesn't matter though, if you are a Castlevnia fan, and you are looking to add one of the rarest games of the Castlevnia mix into your collection, you need to get your hands on it. Or, if you have one, and you are feeling generous and want to give it to me. Send me an email and I'll give you my address. See? I'm smiling.

Final Score (out of 5) :

Until next time, keep on gaming!



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