Castlevania: The Dracula X Chronicles, PSP

Castlevania: The Dracula X Chronicles is a 2007 remake of the 1993 PC Engine CD game, Castlevania: Rondo of Blood, with 3D graphics, but used in a 2D, side-scrolling manner.

Gameplay is identical to most other Castlevania games – even though it uses 3D graphics – and Konami must be given credit for not mucking it up, even though they could easily have done that.

Castlevania: The Dracula X Chronicles is a superb survival horror platform game, with all the hallmarks of the series – like the recognisable enemies, the whip, and the impressive boss battles – plus a few cool added extras, such as a single and multiplayer ‘Boss Rush’ challenge modes.

In this game you’re playing Richter Belmont, a 19 year-old descendent of Simon Belmont (the original Castlevania protagonist), on a quest to destroy his arch nemesis, Dracula, and to rescue any of the women Dracula’s kidnapped to feed on. One of the women you can rescue is Maria Renard, a 12 year-old orphan who – if you do find her (not easy) – she will insist on joining you and become a playable character.

The PSP version includes the original PC Engine game (with both Japanese and English voice-overs), and a port of its brilliant sequel, Symphony of the Night, available as an un-lockable secret within the base game. This hidden version of Symphony of the Night is significant because it includes the option to play as Maria (by using a secret code name after beating the game as Alucard), as well as some script tweaks, new voice acting, and also the option to play the game with the original Japanese voices. So quite a package!

Unfortunately the unlockables do take some effort to reach and unlock. Some are quite easy, but if you want to unlock Symphony of the Night, for example, you’re going to have to get to alternative stage three, and then follow a specific path to reach the item that unlocks it. Not easy. But if you manage it, give yourself a pat on the back and enjoy some of the best unlockables in any game ever!

Overall, Castlevania: The Dracula X Chronicles is a class package. The base game is challenging, and great-looking and sounding, but with the extras unlocked it becomes something rather special.

More: Castlevania: The Dracula X Chronicles on Wikipedia

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