Castlevania: The Dracula X Chronicles

The ability to unlock the original game, as well as the much-loved Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, makes this game a must-buy for any Castlevania fan.
Michael Caleb - Staff Reviewer

Content at a glance:

Violence: Tame compared to other entries into the series, with minor amounts of blood, other than in cutscenes. The unlockable games are more graphic, however.
Spiritual Content: Occult sacrifice, mythological creatures, sorcerous enemies, magic-using protagonist, Death works for Dracula, God seems to have no power over Dracula.
Language: A few instances of d–n and d—it.
Adult Content: Scantily clad females, and a couple instances of obstructed or detail-less nudity.
Commendable Content: Protecting those in need, making a stand against evil, rebelling against ageism.

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Fourteen years after Castlevania: Rondo of Blood (“Akumajo Dracula X Chi no Rondo” in Japan) was released, an official English version has finally been released, although it came in the form of a remake. However, the ability to unlock the original game, as well as the much-loved Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, makes this game a must-buy for any Castlevania fan.

Story

The Castlevania series isn’t exactly known for its superb storytelling, and Dracula X Chronicles does nothing to help with that. Dracula has been resurrected by the dark priest Shaft, and it is up to Richter Belmont to rescue his girlfriend from him and once again cast the lord of darkness into the depths of oblivion. He is able to find and rescue a twelve-year-old girl named Maria that acts more like she is six, such as her tendency to refer to Dracula as “Mr. Bad Man.” Although there is different dialogue depending on who you are playing as and who you have or have not saved, none of it really has any impact on the story.

Sound

The sound is a mixed bag: the voice-acting is bad (other than in the opening cinematic), but the music is superb. The player is able to find extra sound items hidden throughout the game, and can set the background music of any stage to any of the sound items that have been obtained. Being able to remix the entire soundtrack of the entire game with background music from Dracula X Chronicles, Rondo of Blood, and Symphony of the Night is a welcome ability.

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Graphics

DXC is essentially a 3D remake of the original Rondo of Blood with a few new mechanics thrown in. This means that the original, animated opening of RoB has been replaced with a CGI version, which looks quite nice on the PSP screen. The backgrounds are dynamic, changing over time and distance, and the character models, although not spectacular, are sufficient. Unfortunately, projectiles are rather underwhelming.

Gameplay

This game is “old-school difficult,” and unless you are very familiar with the original or the other early Castlevania games, you will be seeing the Game Over screen quite a bit. Richter is not what I would call agile, moving slower than more recent characters in the series. His double-jump causes him to move backwards, so in a lot of cases, you are required to turn your back to a charging enemy, lest you accidentally land on top of them. This, and other maneuvers you will be forced to master, are simply a matter of practice, and it is satisfying to be able to make it through a level that used to take you multiple tries without dying.

There is a sort of easy mode available in the form of Richer’s sidekick, Maria. She is quicker in movement and attacks, and is also able to double-jump. These slight tweaks to the gameplay mechanics allow you to play the game in an almost entirely different way, depending on which of the protagonists your are currently controlling.

There are multiple paths in many levels, most of which lead to alternate subsequent levels. This greatly extends the life of the game, as the normal and alternate versions have secrets to find, such as extra background music and two other complete Castlevania games.

Violence

I found DXC to be surprisingly tame, considering it is about vampires and monsters. Other than in cutscenes, blood is sparse. An enemy is decapitated, but it is not overly graphic, seeing as how he is a skeleton. Symphony of the Night and Rondo of Blood, the unlockable games, feature blood more prominently, however.

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Spiritual Content

There is a ritual sacrifice to resurrect Dracula. Enemies are often magical or fantasy-inspired, such as werewolves, minotaurs, and walking skeletons. Major characters use sorcery, such as the dark priest, Shaft. Unfortunately, Maria’s attacks also prominently feature sorcery, as she summons creatures such as doves, dragons, and even a kitten to attack for her. Death is personified as the grim reaper, and works for the dark lord. Dracula is brought back from the dead yet again, and some might find it offensive that God does not seem to have power over him in the context of the series.

Language

The phrase, “Son of a…” is uttered, but not finished. “D–n” and “d—it” are spoken, but not frequently.

Adult Content

Certain female characters are scantily clad, or not at all in a couple instances: a naked woman is seen hugging a gigantic skull, which blocks anything that would be indecent, and there are exposed, but detail-less, breasts.

Commendable

Richter sets out to protect those who cannot protect themselves. When he initially refuses to take Maria along, she refuses to let the issue drop, refusing to let Richter think less of her because of her age. Together, they make a stand against evil, even though the odds are against them.

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Conclusion

In many ways, this entry into the Castlevania series is tamer than one might expect. The violence is comparatively toned down, while the spiritual content is par for the course. If you enjoyed previous entries into the series, you know what to expect content-wise. Even if you don’t like the older games, this package might be worth the buy just for a portable version of Symphony of the Night.




Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this Spotlight review are those of the reviewer (both ratings and recommendations), and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Eden Communications or the Christian Answers Network.

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