Castlevania Chronicles

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Castlevania Chronicles PS1 box cover art

Castlevania Chronicles has the interesting distinction of being an early port of a previously Japan-exclusive game. But as for gameplay…

ConsoleX68000, PlayStation
DeveloperKonami, KCET (PlayStation)
PublisherKonami
GenrePlatformer, action
Release Year1993 (X68000), 2001 (PS1)
Purchase (PSN)Purchase from PlayStation Store.
Purchase (PS1)Purchase from eBay.

The Castlevania series has a pretty complex release history, doesn’t it? For the most part, its entries kept popping up on Nintendo and Sony consoles. Even Sega had a couple of the games. But titles like Vampire KillerHaunted CastleCastlevania: Rondo of Blood and Akumajō Dracula for the Sharp X68000 were largely inaccessible at the time of their release years. Thanks to today’s emulation, these games are readily available to a larger crowd.

But Akumajō Dracula for the Sharp X68000 came the earliest to be emulated and ported. As you can probably tell, this game (and its respective gaming computer) were only available in Japan at the time. It first came out in 1993, after the release of Super Castlevania IV on the SNES. Almost ten years later, Akumajō Dracula for the X68000 got its first international release under the name Castlevania Chronicles, released for the PlayStation.

Now you might be wondering why I kept saying “for the Sharp X68000.” Well, that’s because the very first Castlevania (the NES game) is also called Akumajō Dracula in Japan. They’re two very different games. Just wanted to make that clear to avoid confusion.

Another interesting thing is that Castlevania Chronicles is yet another retelling of the original Castlevania, just like Super Castlevania IV. It stars Simon Belmont visiting Dracula’s castle in order to slay the Prince of Darkness himself. Let’s see just what kind of remake this is, anyhow.

 

Here We Go Again…

Castlevania Chronicles Original Mode gameplay

The Castlevania Chronicles disc included two variations of the game: Original Mode and Arrange Mode. First, I’m going to talk about Original Mode.

From the very first stage, Castlevania Chronicles instantly reminds you of the classic NES game. It plays the leitmotif “Vampire Killer.” The art design of the first stages looks very similar to each other. The first boss is even a giant bat.

Castlevania Chronicles Original Mode gameplay

But from the second stage and onward, it’s like playing a different title. To say the least, this Castlevania game is yet another quality title to add to the series. The soundtrack might be best described as something you hear from a 16-bit game, as the chiptunes remind me of the SNES and the Sega Genesis.

List of Tracks

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But I have to admit, the original game is actually pretty damn hard. Every time you get hit, you take 4 HP of damage. It doesn’t matter if you’re getting burned by a dragon or a bat ran into you. All the damage is the same. Since you have 16 HP, you die in four hits. And considering the difficulty and chaotic nature of classic Castlevania titles, you’re going to be dying a lot.

But hey, what do you expect? We love the tough gameplay. We love the rockin’ soundtracks that the series spoiled us with.

Castlevania Chronicles Original Mode gameplay

As for the graphics, they’re a bit odd to describe. It’s like a cross between the 8-bit and 16-bit Castlevania games in terms of  the art style. Simon himself looks a bit odd, with his whole body being this weird sepia tone color.

Castlevania Chronicles Original Mode gameplay

And surprisingly, this game has clear visuals of blood, crosses and even minor nudity (Medusa is topless and the werewolf boss turns into a naked woman). I guess if this game was ported to a Nintendo system, it would’ve been censored. Still, it’s a pretty cool thing to see; being able to play a game in its original state, with no censorship in the way.

Castlevania Chronicles Original Mode gameplay

While the Original Mode of Castlevania Chronicles is a tough and solid game, the one annoying flaw it has is its jumping controls. I don’t know what it is, but this game seems to punish you for trying to jump off from a ledge to reach another far platform. Instead of making the jump, you just tumble down to your death. It’s the strangest thing. I can never get this kind of jump right, so I avoid taking risky jumps like that for the rest of the playthrough.

And well… there’s not really much else to talk about! Oh, but I will bring up the Arrange Mode.

 

And Again…

Castlevania Chronicles Arrange Mode gameplay

I guess you could say that Arrange Mode for Castlevania Chronicles is the “definitive” version of the game. Simon Belmont has a new sprite and animations, the soundtrack was arranged and the controls were more responsive. And on your first playthrough, enemies in general do less damage. Even the jumping issue I mentioned for the Original Mode was fixed, so you’re less likely to die from cheap deaths due to your character not jumping off a ledge correctly.

The arranged soundtrack has a pretty different feel from the original, consisting of more electronic tunes. Not that it’s a bad thing. I just thought I’d point it out. For example, the cavern level’s music was previously this fast-paced song that could easily pass as a heavy metal remix. But the arranged tune had this mellow electronic sound to it.

List of Tracks

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And… yeah… there’s not really much else to say about this game. It doesn’t really bring anything new to the table in terms of gameplay mechanics and artistic design. At least, for the Castlevania series. There is one new sub-weapon, which isn’t really a weapon. It’s just a healing leaf. As for a motif for a level, I don’t remember a Castlevania game having a tower full of haunted dolls (with epic orchestral music), which is probably the most creative thing it brought to the game. Otherwise, all of the typical motifs are there: castle interior, cathedral interior, garden, clock tower interior, moonlit bridge, etc.

Keep in mind the original game came out after Super Castlevania IV, which was a big game-changer for the series at the time. As for the international release, Symphony of the Night was out for the PlayStation and Sega Saturn for four years at the time.

I guess you could say this is by far the most average Castlevania game I played yet. Aside the novelty of being playable on a gaming computer (a trait shared with Vampire Killer), Castlevania Chronicles didn’t make a big leap in. It played like the NES trilogy of Castlevania games, only with 16-bit graphics and sound.

It’s not a bad thing, though. I was a little disappointed that this title lacked any sort of innovation, because nearly every classic Castlevania title brought something new: playable characters, special abilities, branching paths, different scenarios, etc. Regardless, I had fun. Castlevania Chronicles is a solid entry in the series.

Castlevania Chronicles

Price Varies
8.3

GAMEPLAY

8.0/10

GRAPHICS

8.5/10

SOUNDTRACK

8.5/10

Pros

  • Solid platforming gameplay.
  • Some well made graphics that could probably pass as arcade quality.
  • Some cool original tunes, as chiptunes and arranged songs.
  • Arrange Mode improved the controls, lowered the difficulty curve for first-time players and fix a jumping issue with the original game.

Cons

  • Original Mode had this weird issue with jumping, where you tend to fall off of ledges when you try jumping off the edge.
  • Lack of real innovation compared to other entries of the series.
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