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Reviewing Castlevania: Dracula X Chronicles
First it started off as a mega SNES hit in Japan with the title Rondo of Blood, then it made its way to the United States under the name Dracula X, now the remake is on Sony’s Playstation Portable. This game mixes the classic feel of Castlevania game play with the challenges that the fans adore such as non stop whip cracking and jumping across obstacles. Dracula X Chronicles does not only feature Rondo of Blood, but the one of the most popular games to grace the late 1990’s; Symphony of the Night.
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In 1792, a young warrior named Richter Belmont is travel towards Dracula’s castle to safe his would be wife Annette. Annette was kidnapped named by the sorcerer who goes by the name Shaft, who has to use a young girl’s blood in order to resurrect lord Dracula. Richter discovers his younger sister, the 12 year old Maria who was also locked up in the castle and asks her to join him in his quest due to her magical ability. The story follows the premise of almost all the Castlevania games where a Belmont must stop Dracula before he controls the world with darkness. In Symphony of the Night, you play as Alucard, the son of Dracula who must once again stop him before it is too late.
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With the game being a side scroller, you can move Richter across the screen to collect objects such as throwing knives, holy water, crosses, and crystals which can hurt the enemy. The objective of the game is simple, just keep going along the path that is laid out for you while trying to kill enemies and jumping across platforms. The game play is a little difficult when playing as Richter, but once you save Maria, you can use her which puts the game in easy mode. Maria can use her animal friends to hit enemies from afar and she can also double jump and roll under tight areas. It is a good idea to use Maria right when you obtain her and use Richter for the second play through.
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The controls are simple to put bluntly. Use the X button to jump and weave your way around things, use square to attack with the whip, and O to use a throwing item which will deplete your hearts. The same control scheme is used for Maria with the exception of moving and pressing the triangle button to make her roll. There is no fancy finger work involved when playing this game so practicing the controls is the easiest part, its just the way the levels are set out and how the enemies attack is what makes the game hair pulling at times.
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There are two ways to play Dracula X Chronicles, one is with the updated graphics and the other with the classic SNES graphics. The new graphics are 2D with a 3D edge and look very similar to the Castlevania 64, which was for the Nintendo 64 in the mid 90’s. With that said, it may look a little outdated to some people but keep in mind close ups of the character models do not appear often. The new character artwork is hauntingly beautiful and the level design looks more life like compared to its SNES version. For those that want to play the game in the classic style, the colors are more vibrant and the animation is smoother, the pixels are also less noticable.
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The voice acting in the game is definitely a step up, especially when compared to the original Symphony of the Night game. The acting is no where near award winning, but it is nice to know that Castlevania finally got its hands on some real voice actors. The music in the enhanced version are remixes of the classic which added sounds of 1790’s instruments, making it somewhat serene. The old music is back in the classic version, with the rocking sounds of the 80’s and early 90’s that many Castlevania fans would find nostalgic.
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Dracula X Chronicles is a very difficult game for those that are just starting out with the series, but for the hardcore players they will find the challenge tremendously welcomed. The game plays like the classic with a few minor tweaks in the upgraded version that actually makes it seem a bit harder. With catchy music and no change to the levels or story this remake is well done and perfectly placed with the PSP. Hopefully more Castlevania games will make their way onto the Playstation Portable or the new system which is out in the coming years.