Castlevania Dracula X Chronicles

For the past couple of months my portable games device has been my PSP. I've since I purchased my new slim PSP, I really haven't touched my DS except for a little Brain Age 2 Sudoku on trips. Once Castlevania PSP came out, I've been hooked.

Rondo of Blood Remake

Rondo of Blood is a lot like Castlevania meets Super Mario Brothers. There are secrets passageways, secret items, bonus all over each level in the game. Rondo of Blood is very nostalgic-rich with several levels going through familiar territory as seen in Castlevania 2 and 3. It is a Castlevania fans haven, which begs the question why it never came over in the first place?

Rondo of Blood was originally released on the PC-Engine (Turbo Graphix in the US). Was it really such a risk to bring it over to the states even though Nintendo and Sega was beating the shit out of it? What little ground they could have gained would have still given Americans one of the best Castlevanias ever made. meh.. but whatever.

Rondo of Blood was also known as Dracula X and had a direct sequel, Dracula XX made or ported to the Super Nintendo. Konami packaged the sequel as the original Dracula X when they released it here.. Dracula XX was a poor rendition of what made Dracula X so fantastic. Where Dracula X was challenging, mysterious and interesting, Dracula XX made it difficult by throwing hordes of enemies at you, stripped away secrets, and spewed out a derivative version of the story. But again.. whatever.

You play as Richter Belmont whose beloved Annette has been kidnapped by a servant of Dracula, Shaft. Through each level you tear through the monsters through Dracula's castle to rescue her. Along the way, you may uncover other maidens who've been kidnapped as well. One such girl is Maria who has magical powers. You can switch back and forth between Maria and Richter to topple Dracula.

Two of the biggest secrets in the game are unlocking the original PC-Engine version of Rondo of Blood, and a Playstation version of Symphony of the Night with Maria playable and faster loading times. It's really not difficult to find these two at all.. despite the fact I had a little help from Gamefaqs.

Both are easy to find, but for Symphony, you might need a little direction on how to reach it. Symphony of the Night can be found in Stage 3' (that's 3 with a tick mark behind it), and Rondo of Blood can be in Stage 4' (4 tick). As a rule of thumb, if you're looking for any secrets in this game be sure to swipe at every part of every wall and throw axes at odd parts of the ceiling.

There's another third less-publicized unlockable game that's a bit more difficult to get to. This one is Chi no Rondo no Blood, which was originally available when you put a PC-Engine cartridge in the console when trying to play Rondo of Blood, which was CD. I just pulled that explanation out of my ass, so that might be how you unlocked it. It reminds me of playing those Extra stages with Sonic & Knuckles when you put a non-Sonic game in the top slot. To unlock Chi no Rondo, you have to play through the Boss Rush 3 times.. or something like that.

Symphony of the Night

Castlevania Symphony of the Night is one of the few games I wish I had played back in the day. But I cared too much about squaresoft and rpgs at the time to care. I was able to catch up with it when I started playing Aria of Sorrow on the Gameboy Advance back in 2003 or 2004. I found a copy at Game Crazy and after experiencing Castlevania under Igarashi's reign.. I was hooked.

Symphony of the Night was when Igarashi took over the Castlevania series wasn't it? Or was it Rondo of Blood? I think Rondo of Blood may have been the first game to take the new subtitle naming scheme for each new Castlevania, even though it didn't back standard until they found their home on the portables.

When I first played through Symphony of the Night, I suddenly saw why people loved this game and why people regarded this as the greatest Castlevania. Before that point, I didn't know that Castlevania turned into Metroid. The music was fantastic and 2D graphics were beautiful... It was great. Flipping the castle upside down turned my world upside down too..

My next run-in with Symphony of the Night was in Japan about a year ago now when I found a pristine NEW copy of the Saturn version for $50. Oh god, that version is a train-wreck. Opening up the menu requires LOADING. Whenever the track changes, there's 5 seconds of LOADING. Everything fucking LOADS.. ugh. Eventually I got stuck in the game, came back to the states, and never really touched my saturn again..

But these days are amazing with the unlockable copy on the PSP. It sounds great through headphones, loading times are VERY fast, and you get a couple extras migrated from the Saturn version. This is the definite copy of Symphony of the Night, so forget about Xbox Live or PSN.. Buy this reported copy of it.

PerspectivePlaying Rondo of Blood before unlocking Symphony of the Night, puts Symphony in a whole new perspective. That scene portreyed at the beginning of Symphony.. when you are Richter fighting Dracula.. that is the end of Rondo of Blood. After you exhaust every secret and facet of Rondo, the story continues beautifully with the next installment.

You have the two greatest and most significant Castlevanias in Castlevania history, back to back. Once you are done with one amazing experience, you have the next. Two classics, Two briliant video game masterpieces..

This is my definitive game on the PSP, despite being a remake and compilation, even though all the best PSP games are either remakes or compilations (or rhythm games). Out of the 20-so PSP games on my shelf, this one stands tall against the others. I would fully recommend this game to any fan of video games.