Castlevania: The Dracula X Chronicles Reader Review
Having missed the Castlevania renaissance on the SNES and the PSX, I wanted to see what all the fuss was about and picked up Dracula X Chronicles off of Ebay for around £20. I had previously been going through a couple of the games in the series on emulators ('Castlevania IV' namely and 'Rondo' namely) and loved the art style and even the high difficulty level. Although I have to say, having the quick save button handy eases the frustration somewhat ;).
For the record, I've only gone through the Rondo remake and the SOTN port so far, so I'm basing my opinions solely on my experiences with those two games.
When I started up the remake, one thing I was worried about was what I was going to do without a quicksave button? Would the game be so unbearably tough to render it unplayble for me? Actually that never happened. I was pleasently surprised to find that the game, while sometimes very hard, wasn't impossible. There are a couple of frustrating instances of level design but generally, it's challenging without being totally rage-inducing.
A lot of people simply forget that these games were made to be hard at the time. And I don't think the game is unfair in this. People complain about the controls but actually I find them to be fine. They're not easy to get used to but they are completely managable. In fact, Ricter's double-flip is now useful for something since the button-timing has been made more leniant, making timing the jump easier.
The graphics aren't as nice as the 2D version on the whole but sometimes there are some nice background effects. I really do think they increase the atmosphere in the game-world, often by uniting the foreground and background, making it seem less detached. All-in-all, the remake is a good game.
Of course, also along with the remake is a port of SOTN which I see a lot of Castlevania fans creaming their pants over...
[Oh, and by the way, the decision to make the two ports (Rondo of Blood being the other) unlockable, forcing the player to search high and low in the Rondo remake, is just about one of the most idiotic design decisions I have seen a game.]
Symphony of the Night IS a great game, for its time. The idea to combine some of the Castlevania platforming elements with RPG conventions such as stats, inventory system etc... was inspired. You have to give a lot of credit because they really broke the mould on this one. They went in a whole new direction, quite different from the standard formula which fans had grew to love. It could have gone so horribly wrong but worked out beautifully. Bravo Konami, bravo.
However... while the game is good, it also has one fault and that is - being too easy! Because the way the game works, your character will get exponentially more powerful as he goes around defeating enemies and collection power-ups. Unfortunately, about a quarter or a third through the game, the character becomes so powerful that nothing is a challenge anymore. The monsters become mere irritations. The game loses pretty much all excitement from that point on since there is no tension at all, no risk of losing anything and hence no real satisfaction either. It just gets a little boring, especially if you're stuck and don't know where to go next.
What saves the game from being tedious is the wonderful art design and the level design. The player's impetus to progress is one of exploration, discovering all the hidden areas, all the secrets the castle holds. On this level, the game works brilliantly.
So, this ends my review which ,I suppose, is not so much a review but a collection of thoughts on this compilation. For platforming fans, for those who were born in the 80's and weren't afraid of a challenge, this game is for you. For everybody else born in the era of quick saves, unlimited lives, endless restarts; then I would say that the only game you're likely get any real enjoyment out of is SOTN.
8 / 10