The recent Nintendo Direct came with a big surprise for Castlevania fans: a surprise release from the Castlevania Advanced Collection. This multiplatform collection follows two Castlevania collections published in recent years, this time focusing on Game Boy Advance titles. Early collectionthe offers of consist of Castlevania: the circle of the moon, Harmony of dissonance, and The air of sorrow. All three are classics and worth trying for those who have already beaten Castlevania: Symphony of the Night and Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night. However, Castlevania: Dracula X does not stick with the rest.
In return for the exclusive PlayStation 4 Castlevania Requiem, this collection includes the title SNES Castlevania: Dracula X. This is notably not a GBA game, but appears to have been included in this collection to ensure that all CastlevaniaThe main 2D games of have been re-released. Dracula X released in 1995, two years later Rondo of blood was released in Japan only on the PC Engine Super CD-ROM (an improved TurboGrafx 16). Because Rondo of blood was already called Dracula X in Japan, the SNES game was dubbed Dracula XX. While Dracula X was made non-canon and is considered a worse version of Rondo, its history is still interesting enough to discuss.
What is Castlevania: Dracula X?
Castlevania: Dracula X is an SNES remake of Rondo of blood, and was also the first version of Rondo to reach North America. The game has been remixed enough to be almost completely different, only sharing a few enemies, bosses, and mechanics with the original game. Due to the smaller storage capacity of SNES cartridges, dubbing was removed, the game became more linear due to a revised level design, the difficulty increased, and Maria was no longer playable. The story has also been altered enough to become incompatible with the Castlevania timeline, which did the game no favor in the eyes of fans.
The differences in the story appear minor, but clash with Rondo of bloodthe immediate sequel to Symphony of the night. The dark priest Shaft, a decisive encounter in Rondo and the main villain for most Symphony, has been completely deleted. Annette, the heroic Richter’s kidnapped girlfriend, can transform into Carmilla if she is not saved, and will share Shaft’s attacks. Between that and Dracula X saying that it takes place in the Middle Ages, with the adventures of Simon Belmont having taken place several hundred years before, it is safe to say that this game is not an essential part of a Castlevania historian’s library.
Problems with Castlevania: Dracula X
Canon incongruity is far from the only problem Castlevania: Dracula X is guilty of. The game is considered one of the most difficult Castlevania titles for all the wrong reasons. Richter is slightly slower than he is in Rondo of blood, later enemies are placed in earlier levels, and the redesigned stages are riddled with bottomless pits. The game also only has two alternate routes instead of four, one of which will doom players to a bad ending and is accessed via a normal-looking bottomless pit. Even the final fight with Dracula hangs over a pit. Anyone knowing CastlevaniaThe penchant for overturning, steep jumps, and flying enemies can probably tell how Dracula X gained its reputation.
Things aren’t all bad, however. The spritework and soundtrack are excellent, and its added difficulty may appeal to some. The heart of the game is always Rondo of blood, but with so many beloved parts removed, this version cannot be recommended when Rondo of blood itself is available elsewhere. The Castlevania Advanced Collection still worth owning, and it’s nice to have even that lesser title preserved, but there are a lot of better ways to kill Dracula than Dracula X.
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