Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Video Game Review: Dracula X Chronicles

One of the things I like about Castlevania is the multitude of enemies with interesting attacks and tactics. In level 3 you'll find the Armor Knight, an enemy in armor that weilds a spear. In a normal game, a spear-weilding enemy would walk around and damage you if you touch it. In a good game, he might jab a little. In Dracula X Chronicles he will stab in four directions, slice for extra reach, and block your attacks. And that's a random mook.

Dracula X Chronicles for the PSP has a simple enough premise. It's a 2.5d remake of the previously Japan-only Castlevania game Chi no Rondo, or Rondo of Blood.

The good is obvious. Enemy AI is good. Presentation is beautiful. All the visuals have been rerendered and voices rerecorded.

The bad news is noticable only after you play a little while. While the presentation has gotten a revamp gameplay really hasn't. And that's not entirely a good thing. Don't get me wrong, I'm not a Castleroid-maniac or anything. But what the old school fanboys sometimes fail to realize is that old games were not hard because of smart enemies or anything. They were hard because they were poorly programmed with near-impossible jumps en masse, tiny hitboxes on attacks, and often players would die simply by random happenstance such as an enemy that just happens to turn right before you jump or an enemy respawning right where you're standing. Dracula X Chronicles doesn't really change that. Controls are VERY unforgiving and this game will require lots of luck and lots of tries to beat, assuming you can stand the annoying game over screen which, oh yeah, forces you to look at it for a good minute or two.

There's three unlockable games included as well: the original unaltered Rondo of Blood, Symphony of the Night (the first Castleroid and still widely regarded as the best game of the franchise), and a game called Peke that was originally an add-on for Chi no Rondo.

My advice: unlock Symphony of the Night as early as possible and play the shit out of it. You'll enjoy it a lot more than the game they wanted you to play. Hell, if any Castlevania game SHOULD have gotten this 2.5 update it's Symphony of the Night.

KR Rating from The Future: [4] GOOD

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