Also know as Akumajo Dracula X: Chi no Rondo, Rondo of Blood is a famous entry in Konami‘s Castlevania series that was initially made exclusively for the PC Engine CD-ROM and first published in 1993.
In it you guide the main character, Richter Belmont, through nine different stages as he searches for his girlfriend, Annette, and to ultimately confront and defeat Dracula in his castle.
Richter’s main weapon is his chain whip, and he also can choose between six different secondary weapons, such as an axe, a dagger, holy water, a grimoire, a pocket watch, and a cross (although he can only hold one of these at a time – picking up another will drop the previously held weapon). These secondary weapons can also be used as an ‘Item Crash’ ability which allows the main characters to use them in an occasional ‘super attack’.
While battling the forces of darkness and exploring Dracula’s castle Richter can rescue four women, one of whom is his relative, Maria Renard, who then becomes a playable character. Maria’s main attack is with a flock of doves (yes: birds!) and this attack is useful because the doves that fly out can do double damage if they hit an enemy on the way out, then on the way back to her. Maria’s secondary weapons include a white tiger kitten, a dragon whelp, a baby phoenix turtle, an egg, or musical notes, which are all rather weird. Maria is also more agile than Richter and has a double jump (which is very useful).
Rondo of Blood has a number of alternate routes through the game but is a mostly linear experience. Levels are not timed, and some have more than one ending; the route you take determines which boss battle you get at the end of that particular stage and the monsters and environment you make your way through to get there.
Graphically, the game is beautiful, with exquisitely-coloured, smoothly-scrolling backdrops and huge sprites moving around the screen. Rondo of Blood shows just how good the PC Engine was at doing things other consoles and home computers could only dream of at the time of its release.
Castlevania: Rondo of Blood was a big success on the PC Engine CD and has been re-made and re-released on various platforms over the years. It also had a big influence on subsequent Castlevania games; many of them using elements of this game – in particular the classic Symphony of the Night, which reuses many of the monsters from Rondo of Blood.
Rondo of Blood is considered a classic in the Castlevania series and the original PC Engine CD version is a fantastic game to play. Since the game comes on CD-ROM it has amazing Red Book audio and anime-style cut sequences that you don’t usually get in Castlevania games (at least not in the early Castlevania games). There’s even an English fan translation patch available which replaces all the voiced dialogue with the official Konami English dub from the PSP remake. That is the version I’ve chosen to show here.