Friday, August 11, 2000

Castlevania: The Dracula X Chronicles | 9.0

First and foremost, I gotta start out with the one aspect of the game I hated the most-- the voice acting. Oh sure, you've heard whining about it countless times, but this game seems to find room near the bottom of my list of worsts. It's not sound quality, that's definetly there. But if you've played Castlevania: Symphony Of The Night and loved the voices in that game, you'll feel cheated here. I can't help but comment how late-20th century "American" the new voices sound --both in accented speech and in chosen words-- for something supposedly set in 16th century central Europe. Anyone remember how erotic Maria sounded as she pronounced "Richter" in CSOTN? That's gone. Gone is the deep, dark voice of Shaft, replaced with what sounds like a mid-20-year-old. So is Dracula's commanding voice of grandeur. It may just be me, but almost all the voices are replaced with, what seems like, an almost identicle voice actor to every character in the game (aside a few of the females). I'm sure they are different, but...they are just TOO similar for my tastes. I haven't played through completely to give my full accessment, but there IS an option to change it to the original Japanese voices. Are these the same Japanese voices as 10 years ago? Probably not, but Japan does a much better job picking appropriate voice actors for their games than we (Americans) do.

I really don't mean to b*tch and moan, but the game had alot of other things that kind of irritated me. For instance, if you want to play CSOTN or Rondo of Blood from the main menu, select it, then go grab yourself a Latte, because it takes at LEAST 45 seconds for the game to load. Music, too, from these classic games takes a few seconds to load. No, it's not the end of the world, and this is a minor nitpick, but when you're used to the PSX version smoothly transitioning music between tracks, you really notice the 3 - 4 second silence. This probably could not be helped.

Okay, now for the good stuff. The plot is the same as almost every other Castlevania-- Dracula is back, and your job is to kill 'im. The graphics are GREAT in the remake game. The backgrounds, baddies, and cut scenes, though short, are a real treat for something on this platform. It has alot of replay value, since you need to accomplish a few things before getting the best ending. The music, most remixed, a few new "replaced" themes, is fantatic (EXCEPT for Dance Of Illusions, which kind of disappointed me). The sound effects-- most were really good, and some were...not. For example, a few of the cut scenes were stock. The "crashing" door the Minotaur made sounded like loud knocking. The skulls Death controlled made a humming harmonica-ish sound, which just came off as silly. Other than that, the rest was gravy.

Before you purchase, take note that this is modeled after classic Castlevania, where the controls are stiff, the baddies have the upper hand in movement, and it takes REAL skill to maneuver your character around and out of danger. This means 4 - 5 hits equals death, whether it be at the blade of an enormous ax, balls of fire and chaos, or simply landing on a frog. Also note that because of it's age and genre, the characters can be slow for some. This is old school at it's finest, my friend.

If you've trained yourself not to care at all about some aspects and love the Castlevania series, then give this game a shot. But if it's the complete package of cutting-edge graphics, music, control, plot, and voice work, you'll have some complaints.

PROS:
It's Castlevania
Original Games Symphony Of the Night, Rondo Of Blood
Improved Graphics and music on the remake
Switch between Japanese/English voices
Old school feel / Challenging

CONS:
Nothing too new
Voices and dialogue completely changed, and suck big time
Old school feel / Difficult for some
If you beat the game, viewing the ENTIRE list of credits is mandatory... EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.

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