I discovered just how good the Castlevania games were when they came to the DS. I’d tried the N64 version which left a lot to be desired but was very im pressed with the last two old-school side-scrolling adventures on the dual-screened device. Hearing about Castlevania: The Dracula X Chronicles on the PSP excited me with the prospect of the same great gameplay but with improved 3d graphics.
What you get with this one is a reversion of an old game which never saw the light of day called Rondo of Blood, with unlockable games being the original game without improved graphics and the already much-loved Symphony of the Night – so in a way you get three games for the price of one.
Unfortunately, if you’ve played the two previous games on the DS you’ll be a bit disappointed by the simple gameplay mechanics and the frustrating difficulty, mostly due to the weapons and control system.
You play as Richter Belmont, a descendent of Simon Belmont as you whip ghouls, goblins and monsters into shape on your way to defeat Dracula. You also have sub-weapons you can pick up such as Holy Water, Axes and Crosses, and you can use a bit of the old hocus pocus magic now and again. Paul Daniels eat your heart out. My problems with the game are that the whip’s just not very effective and often misses enemies that jump around from above and below, and you just have to be very careful when jumping to avoid them as well as you can’t alter your jump height and have limited movement in the air. Stairs are also difficult to negotiate as if you jump near them and don’t hold UP on the d-pad, you fall through and can often end up landing on an enemy or worse still, to your death.
Checkpoints are also in odd places which sees you going back a long way if you die and if you have to continue, you have to go all the way back to the start.
Having said all this, if you’re into your hardcore side-scrolling games which hark back to the old days then you may find this a worthy title to add to your collection. Another very strange decision is to not let you play Symphony of the Night from the start. In fact, not only do you have to finish Rondo of Blood, you have to find a secret item within a level to unlock it – one which I missed and couldn’t be bothered to play through again to find it. Without playing it on the PSP though, I can tell you it’s a great game but do find out where the item is if you want to unlock it whilst playing Rondo of Blood.
It’s only 9 levels long too, but you can replay the game as Maria once you rescue her and she uses a number of animals to help hey through the game which does make the game feel quite different.
From my point of view, The Dracula X Chronicles gets an average 5 out of 10. Hardcore gamers can add a point or two onto that score.