|System: PSP||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Konami||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Konami||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Oct. 25, 2007||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-2||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Matthew Walker
Konami has brought us some of the coolest male leads in video game history like - Solid Snake. Perhaps the most memorable name other than Snake would be the name Belmont. For years, the name Belmont has instilled a sense of eerie giddiness in gamers. Unfortunately, there has not really been a revolutionary Castlevania experience since Symphony of Night. It is only fitting that the antagonist of Symphony of Night has the story of his hero-ship retold for us to enjoy while on the go. That will be the case come this Fall when Castlevania: The Dracula X Chronicles arrives on the PSP.
Originally titled Castlevania: Rondo of Blood in 1993 for the Japan based PC Engine, known as the Turbographx 16 in the U.S., it was never released on the system in the states. Then, in 1995, it was retitled and retooled for its SNES debut as Castlevania: Dracula X, which many fans felt did a great disservice to the title. The design of the game relied heavily on the anime feel that was growing in popularity more and more. Granted, the previous games had anime influences but it was not until this edition that you could visually see every angle of anime to the game. Castlevania: Dracula X also brought recorded voice-over work to the genre as well. Much like previous installments, this Castlevania's Dracula hunter was a Belmont- Richter Belmont to more precise.
The beginning of the story was simple. In 1792, Dracula has been revived once more, this time by the dark priest Shaft. Then, Dracula builds his evil army and sets out to devastate a village. The village is inhabited by the 19-year-old Richter. Dracula and his crew arrive, ravage the village, and kidnap several villagers. Among them are Richter's girlfriend, Annette, and her 12-year-old sister, Maria Renard. From here, Richter faces the burden of doing the right thing and taking his place in his family's lineage. With whip in hand, Richter sets out to Castlevania to destroy Dracula.
Without giving too much away, Dracula X brought more twists and turns than previous installments. It was the improved graphics and traditional gameplay over the other Castlevanias of the past that made this game shine brighter than all of the others. It was a light that fans had been waiting for in the series, and it is a light that has not been present since Symphony of Night. The emotion behind Dracula X was summed up during an integral moment between the main hero and villain. Dracula states in a very smug voice, "It is the evil will of humans that bring me back, not my own dark nature. My return is inevitable." To which Richter replies, "There will always be a member of my clan there to fight you." That one segment in the game instilled so much power into the player that was not felt in almost any other game on the market then. p>
In fact, the PSP version coming this fall will focus mainly on the PC Engine version of the title. New 3D graphics, a few hidden features, and even new symphonic music will be included into the PSP version of the title. The environments for the game have had a nice update as well, utilizing the power of the PSP to breathe new life into the eerie landscape of Castlevania. Rondo means the repetition of the first section of music in the tonic or the first note in a musical scale. If this is any indication of what to expect from the new music, then we are in for one beautiful score.
Those advancements and inclusions, however, will not be the only drawing point to the game. While the rearranged version of Rondo of Blood will be your focus in the stages of the game, the unlockable content, upon completion, could send you into a vampire slaying frenzy. Once completing the Rondo Arranged version of the game, you will have not one but two additional games unlocked - the original Castlevania: Rondo of Blood PC Engine version and Castlevania: Symphony of Night PSOne version. The reason they are including the PSOne version of the game is because, even though the Saturn version had a couple of add-ons, Koji Igarashi was not impressed with the added content. Another reason behind the inclusion of Symphony of Night is that it is a direct sequel to Castlevania: Rondo of Blood. So we are going to get three games for the price of one, and it is for the player on the go; how can you beat that?
A great game that has never truly been experienced outside of Japan finally is making its way onto the PSP. Not only will this be a great advantage to players of the series to finally get to play the true prequel to Symphony of Night, but it will also be the first time PSP owners will have a Belmont to carry along with them. Castlevania: Dracula X Chronicles is set for a fall release, which is just enough time for us to sharpen our whip skills. Keep checking back with us at CCC for all the latest info and the review for what is sure to be an enjoyable handheld game in side-scrolling fashion.
CCC Project Coordinator