Wednesday 6 February 2013

Castlevania: The Dracula X Chronicles (PSP)

The recent retro revival has thrown many great games and collections in our direction. Rez has hit XBLA, Contra is back on top form on the DS, and collections from the likes of Capcom, Taito and Sega have put a smile back on many a face. Konami's announcement of a PSP remake of the Japan only Rondo of Blood was good news for Castlevania fans (well, the ones who shy from imports and emulation, at least).

If you're reading this, chances are you know the original game was released on the PC Engine CD in Japan. You might even know it was the last title to play in a linear fashion, being followed by the Metroid style Symphony of the Night. Rondo of Blood is considered a classic game, and is one of the most rare and sought after titles in the series.

As is the trend for remakes on shiny new consoles, the graphics have had a polygon facelift. All characters are 3D, as are the backgrounds, yet the game sticks to its 2D plane. Other titles have tried this (XBLA's fantastic Prince of Persia remake, for example), but Castlevania seems to suffer. The collision detection is often ropey which makes dodging spikes and enemies awkward and jumps tricky.

The re-recorded soundtrack is a welcome addition, with a great orchestral score and English voice acting which gives the game more grandeur than other, lazier remakes. Even the cut scenes are a nice touch. Short and sweet, they usually indicate a boss battle, and look lovely on the PSP's gorgeous screen. In terms of presentation, Konami really has put the effort in.

As a collection, the Dracula X Chronicles is a good buy – the original Rondo of Blood and Symphony of the Night are essential titles for any self respecting gamer. Yet judged alone, the remake seems a bit pointless. It's essentially a flawed version of a much loved game, and considering that game is included on the same UMD, it makes the whole idea a little redundant. It won't win Konami any new fans for the franchise and its likely most people will be playing through the first three or four levels with the sole purpose of unlocking the two classic titles.

So we come to the score. It is great to finally have both Symphony of the Night and Rondo of Blood available on the move. But you can’t disguise the fact that the main game is flawed and average at best. This leaves you paying for a Playstation and PC Engine Port and that really isn’t good enough for a full price game


Written by Dan Gill

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