Castlevania: Dracula X is another red-headed stepchild in the series. It is often unfavorably compared to Rondo of Blood, and to be fair, Dracula X takes a lot from it including characters, music, etc. When the game was announced, fans expected it to be a SNES port of the PC Engine game.
Sadly, we ended up with a flawed, but overall good, Castlevania title. A lot of what made Rondo of Blood great is still in the package, but there’s more than a few cons that bring it down.
Castlevania: Dracula X isn’t exactly a port or a remake…
Dracula X stars Richter Belmont (Author’s Note: My personal favorite out of all the Belmonts, to be honest…) once again, as Dracula has risen again and has taken over Transylvania and has kidnapped his girlfriend…blah blah blah. The story is an all too well-traveled road. However, that is just the beginning of the issues.
The game doesn’t have anime-inspired cut scenes and characters are completely cut from the story. Level design, while pretty good in the sense that it focuses on platforming rather than straightforward combat, is very OK. There is also a complete lack of open-ended levels and you cannot play as Maria. Much of this can be chopped up to the SNES’ limitations, though.
Worse yet, Richter doesn’t have the same mobility he did in Rondo of Blood making this game rather slow. However, it’s not all bad.
Dracula X takes parts of Rondo of Blood and makes it a whole new experience. There are different levels and bosses and the remixed music sounds fantastic.
The SNES doesn’t have the graphics or sound capabilities the PC Engine does, but Dracula X does hold its own against a superior console. Seriously, the fire effects in the first stage are nice to look at. The whip sounds are also, strangely enough, nice to hear. Dracula X might have some of the best sound design in the entire series.
Gameplay is simplistic but still as satisfying as ever. Ritcher’s whip gets the job done, as well as his Item Crash technique. The Item Crash now takes up hearts instead of health and it’s much easier to pull off.
Castlevania: Dracula X turns up the difficulty to 11
Castlevania: Dracula X’s biggest flaw is its monstrous difficulty. Richter’s backflip, which was previously useful in Rondo of Blood, now has a huge emphasis placed on it. Getting hearts from candles almost becomes a chore because some are placed high above Richter’s head. Boss fights also focus on it, which is strange considering how sluggish the game can be.
Count Dracula is also a significantly difficult boss fight, but more so than usual. Instead of one plane to fight on, Richter has to constantly jump all over the place in order to avoid Drac’s attacks. Oh, this game also reintroduces the infamous “knock-back” from the first game.
If fans were to rank Dracula X in the whole series, it would probably be head-and-shoulders above the “bad” titles of the series, but fall just short underneath Bloodlines and other 16-bit entries. By all means, not a terrible game, but a very, very generic Castlevania experience.