Friday, December 07, 2007

Tech: Castlevania: The Dracula X Chronicles review

I'm a big-time Castlevania fan. I still remember gawking at the then-new Super Castlevania IV during elementary school (actually, it was the school's after-school care program, to be precise). Creepy Gothic graphics, a great soundtrack, and level after level of platforming action? How could you not like that? To be honest, though, I didn't really own a Castlevania game until much later, and now the latest in my collection is "Castlevania: The Dracula X Chronicles" for the Sony PSP.

It's a great value - for $30, you get the 3D remake of "Castlevania: Rondo of Blood" (widely regarded as the best in the series, but never released in America), and emulations of both the original "Rondo" and another classic, "Castlevania: Symphony of the Night," a PlayStation classic that's been the template for pretty much every 'Vania since 1997. There's hours of whip-cracking, heart-collecting, skeleton-bashing fun here, and its especially suited to the PSP's pickup-and-go mentality.

If there's criticism, it's criticism that's inherent to what the Castlevania series has always been - a difficult series of action-platformers. Certain parts of "Rondo" (Stage 5', I'm talking to you) are almost tooth-gnashingly hard, and even "Symphony" can be a chore if you don't level up your character and wander into a fight you're not ready for. Plus, the translation to PSP wasn't perfect; you'll get some blurriness in the older games and even the 3D remake can look a little washed out at times. Still though, this is a required purchase for any Castlevania fan.

Rating: 87/100 (subtract 15 if you don't really like Castlevania :-P)


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