Castlevania: Dracula X Chronicles
For: PlayStation Portable
ESRB Rating: Teen (13+)
Castlevania: Dracula X Chronicles
In the days before three-dimensional graphics, 2-d side-scrolling games were the status quo and the Castlevania games were among the cream of the crop. Castlevania: Dracula X for the PSP is a remake of rare Japanese entry into the franchise.
The opening cinematic of Dracula X begs the question, "why can't Dracula stay dead?" Yes, the undead/dead-again/re-undead Romanian king is resurrected once more so as to carry on with the blood sucking, damsel abducting, and village enslaving. As a member of the famous vampire-killing Belmont bloodline, you're tasked with making him re-dead-again, rescuing your girlfriend, and saving an entire town while you're at it.
Sticking true to Castlevania gameplay, Richter Belmont, (of the same Belmont's as Simon from the original Castlevania) uses the Belmont family's magical whip, to, well, whip any number of unholy creatures, including, but not limited to, zombies, werewolves, and, of course, vampires.
Dracula and his army of undead aren't so eager to become dead-undead, so expect a challenge. Beating them takes some quick reflexes and, just like every other Castlevania game, a mix of standing and whipping, kneeling and whipping, and sometimes, jumping and whipping, gameplay familiar to anyone who played a Castlevania game more than ten years ago, but now feels simple and clunky.
Dracula X Chronicles is rendered in full three-dimensions, but plays as a 2-d side scrolling game, often referred to as 2.5-D graphics, and they are a striking improvement over the 2-d graphics of the old Castlevania games, making the a translated port of an old game worth looking at again.
Though there's little fresh in the way of game mechanics in Dracula X Chronicles, a little exploration does allow for some bonus play, which must be unlocked.
In fact, the game hides an additional full and fully playable game, Castlevania: Symphony of the Night in entirety, a hugely popular PSone and Saturn game whose influence can be seen in all Castlevania games since. Getting access to Symphony of the Night is worth the price alone, and the unlockable version includes brand-new translations and voice-overs that sound far less hokey than the original, though it's disappointing the visual-improvement effort wasn't put into Symphony of the Night. However, if you can follow this, as Symphony of the Night is the chronological sequel to Dracula X, it also has the decency to feature improvements to the 2-d action mechanics if not the visuals, with gameplay up to snuff with the newer prequel. Nope, that doesn`t make much sense at all, does it?
Anyway, also unlockable is a port of the original Castlevania: Dracula X game (the one original and only available in Japan), also in all is pixilated glory, showing just how far game design has come in ten years, especially with visuals.
It's a shame the extra content is such a hassle to unlock. You can`t choose which title you'd like to play right off the bat; you have to find the extras hidden within the levels of Dracula X.
All told, Castlevania: Dracula X Chronicles doesn't stray far from the formula of the earliest Castlevania games, but if you like the side-scrolling classics, you won't be disappointed by just how much whipping and jumping this game packs.