Castlevania: The Dracula X Chronicles
Review by Mike Finkelstein
Although we've previously covered Castlevania: The Dracula X Chronicles as it pertained to the various games included within -- the compilation's 2.5D remake of Castlevania: Rondo of Blood, along with the original faithful port of that game and the enhanced port of Castlevania: Symphony of the Night -- we felt there was value in actually tackling the package as a whole to discuss it's overall value. Is this a game worth adding to your collection?
For a true Castlevania fan the answer is of course "yes", but then we're sure you already have a copy (or at least are looking at how to get one from a third-party reseller at this point). However, for anyone on the fence, there are pros and cons to this collection worth pointing out. In this current market, we'd say, this isn't the absolute obvious purchase it might have been around the time it came out. If you're even slightly hesitant to pay the (what is not an exorbitant) price for this game, this is the time to really think about what you're getting.
The main show piece of the collection is the enhanced remake of Rondo of Blood. That game sports new, 2.5 graphics and a remixed soundtrack. Arguably the graphics haven't exactly aged that well as there are better looking 3D games in the series at this point, but for the time it came out it was pretty decent looking. That, along with the music, does make this game seem pretty decent, a nice way to enjoy the original game.
It also has remixed game play. The original title was a pretty solid adventure, with branching paths and ladies to save, but the newer edition includes a fair bit of Metroidvania flair. Not as much as, say, Symphony of the Night (also included in the package, of course), but there are rewards for saving the woman and exploring all aspects of the adventure. Even for people that have played the original game there's some merit to revisiting the story via this adventure.
And, at the time, this was the only way, legally, to play Rondo of Blood, in either it's original or enhanced form, in the U.S. That game was a Japan only release back in 1993 and it took over two decades for any version to finally come out here in the States. At the time, this was a big deal and a huge selling point for The Dracula X Chronicles. Now, however, that's not nearly the case anymore.
While the 2.5D iteration of this adventure is locked to the PlayStation Portable release, the original version (in all it's pixel glory) is available in multiple editions across platforms. There's a version packed into Castlevania: Requiem, available on the PS4 in both digital and physical versions. There's the version included on the TurboGraphix Mini console. There are digital releases of it in other forms as well. We don't lack for Rondo of Blood at this point, meaning this is hardly the easiest, or even best way to play this title anymore.
Sure this is the only way to play the 2.5D edition (until Konami releases that at some point down the road, which feels inevitable). But for Symphony of the Night, this enhanced version is now Konami's default release. It also appeared in Castlevania: Requiem, and has been ported to mobile devices since. Hell, Symphony is everywhere and if you don't need a playable Maria (the only really big bonus to this edition) you can go find whatever other port of the game you want (like the version on the Xbox Live Arcade).
In short, it's hard to say that this version of the game is truly worth the effort it takes to play it now. You'd need a PlayStation Portable (one that works and hasn't had its battery blimp out and die like happened with this reviewer's device). You'd also have to get this game, in just this precise form, which isn't cheap. All of that to play games that are (largely) available elsewhere for much cheaper (and in formats easier to play currently). We like what The Dracula X Chronicles did at the time but time has not be kind to the value proposition of this collection.