By Justin Guillou / February 22nd, 2014
|Title||Castlevania: Rondo of Blood|
|Release Date||March 15, 2010(US), March 19, 2010(PAL)|
|Platform||Turbo GrafxCD(DUO), Wii Virtual Console|
|Age Rating||ESRB T|
If you were a hardcore Castlevania fan during the last two decades, you know that there was one game that most Westerners were unable to get their hands on in the 90s. One Castlevania adventure that further refined the classic formula established by the NES games. One Castlevania game that was released on a system considered to be a failure in the Western market. I am talking, of course, about Akumajou Dracula X Chi no Rondo for the PC Engine Super CD Rom 2. Before you open up another tab in the browser to look up what in the world I just wrote, allow me to explain. The PC Engine was a console released in Japan during the late 80s. Eventually, the system was released in the West as the TurboGrafx-16 and, later, the TurboDuo. If you owned one of these systems back in the day, Like, Comment, Subsc…never mind. In any case, to those that owned or played it, Chi no Rondo was known as one of the system’s best games. For the rest of the review, I will be referring to the game by its translated name, Castlevania: Rondo of Blood.
Some of you may be saying: “Wait a second! We got that game, it was called Dracula X and came out on the Super Nintendo.” To which I would reply: “NO! We got a version that was so altered, it may as well be a completely different game!” Originally released in 1993, Westerners who did not import would have to wait until 2010 to experience the TRUE story of Richter Belmont, when the game was made available for the Wii Virtual Console. Due to the fact that it is an import release, the text and dialogue is in Japanese. However, do not let that discourage you from playing this fantastic game! Rondo of blood is quite playable, as the gameplay, visuals and level design say more than any of the Japanese text or dialogue ever will.
Our story begins with an animated opening that features not Japanese but German voice acting! A woman is sacrificed, and her blood is used to revive Dracula. I have to say, the Japanese did not hold back with violence in the early 90s. Afterwards, you view a cutscene with monsters attacking a village, and see Richter getting ready to take on Dracula and save his girlfriend, Annette!
You are then taken to the prologue, which is a brief encounter with Death! Eventually, he flies away, and you begin the first level. Stage 1 takes place in a town that should look familiar to the five Castlevania 2: Simon’s Quest fans out there! Okay… I will stop there, that game gets enough hate. The town is in flames, and is filled with monsters. Richer controls in a similar manner to his ancestors, though, he is much more agile. For one, you can alter your direction in mid-air, he can perform a surprisingly useful back flip AND show us that Billie Jean is not his lover, which will be explained later I promise!
Like previous games, you can break lights and walls to reveal hearts, subweapons or food to recover health. Subweapons include the Axe, Knife, Holy Water, Cross or the Bible. If Richter has enough hearts, he can perform an Item Crash, which involves him screaming in pure anime fashion and unleashing a special move based on what subweapon he is currently holding. If you perform the Item Crash without holding items, Richter will charge up and scream Dragon Ball Z-style as usual, but he will perform a fire attack with his whip. Simon’s Quest fans should get a kick out of it.
Players who dare to explore the destroyed town may find themselves at a fork in the road. Here lies one of Rondo of Blood’s more unique characteristics. Taking a page from Castlevania III, there are alternate paths which can lead to different levels. There is a really nice variety of levels, including the aforementioned town, a bridge over a massive lake, the castle itself, a cemetery, clock tower or even a ghost ship! Players can expect to complete the main story in about 2 hours. For those of you who need to take a break, Rondo of Blood saves your progress and has a level select mode so you can pick up where you left off. While it may seem like a short game, players are encouraged to go back and explore the game to unlock the hidden stages and discover all of the secrets. For example, hidden throughout the stages are four women whom Richter can rescue. One of them even ends up being a playable character!
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