Monday, 19 September 2011

Akumajō Dracula X: Chi no Rondo (TurboGrafx-CD)

Also known as... Castlevania: Rondo of Blood.

The intro tells the story of how Dracula is resurrected with the sacrifice of an innocent, and how professional vampire slayer Richter Belmont steps to up save the world from his reign of terror... with weirdly cheerful music playing.

At least that's what I think is happening there. The text is in Japanese and the narration seems to be spoken in German.

This looks awesome in motion. The horses gallop, Richter's cape flutters, it's raining, and lightning flashes across the sky in the background.

Oh crap, I thought this was still the intro! I was wondering why Richter wasn't fighting back.

Yeah, this is definitely an old school Castlevania game. Richter stomps around like the earlier protagonists instead of his slicker incarnation in Symphony of the Night. He can't swing his whip around like in Super Castlevania IV, he can't move while attacking, can't double jump, can't even steer in the air mid-jump.

But he can moonwalk, backflip, and jump on stairs.

You know, I've suddenly come to the realisation that if I don't move my ass elsewhere in next couple of seconds I'm going to find myself pulling barrel splinters out of my skull.

Oh by the way, the water doesn't lead anywhere but a watery death. I checked.

You know, I think I've just figured out where I am.

Castlevania II: Simon's Quest (NES)
Yeah, it's the first town in Castlevania II: Simon's Quest. Don't worry, these people are used to monsters wrecking the place, they come out every night.

Damn, it's a bit early for a boss fight isn't it? Fortunately this guy is a pushover. Unfortunately... there's another one of him right afterwards. It seems he's more of a lowly enemy than a full mid-boss. 

That looks a lot like the Tower of Pisa in the background, except not so leaning. I don't even know where this game is meant to be set except 'Europe', so we could be in Italy for all I know.

Now there's a proper boss! Health bar and everything. Unfortunately they didn't think I deserved a life refill, so I barely last a couple seconds against his deadly bouncing fire assault.

At least I'm not put back far when I lose a life, but it would have been nice to have been given a fighting chance against the guy first time around.

Fortunately they do provide me with an axe special weapon and plenty of ammo at the start of the level, so second time around I'm actually in a position where I can win.

...and then a couple of deaths later I actually manage to defeat the bastard.

And then I immediately get killed by a bird at the start of the next stage. Game over.


Well fuck that game then. I am through with it. There's no way on Earth I'm gonna replay all that from the start.

Huh, the game has saves... and a level select?


Okay FINE, I'll give it one more shot. To be honest I mostly just want to listen to the music some more. Stage 2 has 'Vampire Killer' from the first Castlevania playing in the background, and I love that track.


SEVERAL EMBARRASSING BIRD RELATED DEATHS LATER.


Okay I really need to stop jumping until I'm absolutely certain I'm not going to land on an enemy.

On the section I have to keep moving to avoid being stomped by the thing chasing me, while jumping the gaps in the ground. Trouble is, this is the entrance hall to the castle so it's full of those zombies everywhere. And if I jump into a zombie, then I'm going to get knocked back into the bottomless pit I just leaped over. Then I'm put back at the start of the level and I have to try again.


SEVERAL DEATHS, A CONTINUE, AND A REPLAY OF ALL OF STAGE 2 LATER.


A werewolf boss! My holy water attacks would be much more effective here if he'd just stay on the damn ground for a second or two.

He keeps running up the walls, across the ceiling sky, diving down at me, jumping around... he's a pain in the ass to evade really. And so I totally failed to do that.


GAME OVER.

I'm just flipping through the menu options now to see what they all do. I guess this could either be a way to buy skills used by the bosses I've faced, or maybe hints on how to defeat them. Either way I don't have the cash, and the only way to get it is to replay one of the stages again and I have zero interest in doing that.

...

Okay, FINE! I'll replay all of stage 2 one more time. Just because I want to get past this asshole werewolf boss.



HALF OF STAGE 2 LATER.


This is interesting. I somehow managed to pick up a key as my super weapon a while back, and now I've come across a locked door I didn't see first time around. Hmm, perhaps there could be some connection here.

Hey, it's a captured villager!

Yeah, I totally rescued that girl! Fortunately this is a video game rescue, where I only have to release her from her prison for her to be totally safe. No escort mission here.

I... don't believe I actually managed that.

2 health left!

Stage 3! Finally.

I don't like the look of these guys. They've got a pretty big attack range, and I'm almost out of holy water. If I have to fight many more of them I might be in serious trouble.


AND SURE ENOUGH.
 

I'm in serious trouble! Game over again, so soon.

Well at least I made it 22% of the way through, and with only three continues! I haven't the faintest idea if that's good or not.

Wait... player select? I can play as the girl I rescued? Well it's worth checking out before I turn this off.

Maria is awesome. She fires birds that make people explode. She can double jump, skid across the floor, and attack while moving. Plus she fires birds that make people explode.


BUT SOON...


Crap, these damn Medusa heads pushed me down a hole. I tried to double jump out but I just couldn't make it.

Uh, hang on... this is new.

The fall led to a different path! (Fortunately there's no falling damage in this).

And then the path led to a minotaur boss, which led to me getting caught on a dip in the floor and axe murdered.

Well that explains the holes in the floor. The guy is tearing out chunks of the ground and throwing it at me. I've got no clue how I'm intended to dodge that.

Hey, Maria gets a different game over screen! Doesn't make me any less miserable though.

Okay I'm going to try stage 3 again one more time, but that's it. Then I'm done playing.

This time I took the top path and found it actually led to the exact same place. But it's a place with ammo and cake so I can live with that.

It's nice that this time I can actually find a health refill before the boss fight for once. Also I brought a secret weapon.

Not so tough against my army of cats are you? Have some birds as well.

He dies in seconds without even getting a hit on me. Cats 1, minotaurs 0.

What the FUCK? The vindictive son of a bitch. Enemies are not supposed to hit me in the middle of their death animation! He didn't even have a life bar any more!

Wounded, Maria struggles onwards. Failure is now inevitable, but every enemy killed and obstacle overcome is another chance to laugh in the face of inevitability.

This would be more heroic if I hadn't lost most of my health to a stupid bone throwing skeleton enemy.


Oh. It turns out that these red floor tiles are actually a trigger for an arrow trap.

I manage to get past all those enemies with a hit point and a half left in the tank, and then I'm taken down by some red floor tiles. Tragic.


I don't know if this is a better game than Super Castlevania IV, but it's got a level select, player select, cutscenes, cd music... all kinds of extra stuff. It doesn't let me spin my whip around however, and I miss being able to steer my character in the air.

I'm pretty sure it's one of the better ones in the franchise at least, and starting to see why out of all the 16 bit era Castlevanias, this is the one that led to Symphony of the Night.

1986 - Castlevania (NES)
1986 - Vampire Killer (MSX2)
1987 - Castlevania II: Simon's Quest (NES)
1988 - Haunted Castle (Arcade)
1989 - Castlevania: The Adventure (Game Boy)
1990 - Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse (NES)
1991 - Castlevania II: Belmont's Revenge (Game Boy)
1991 - Super Castlevania IV (SNES)
1993 - Akumajō Dracula / Castlevania Chronicles (X68000)
1993 - Akumajō Dracula X: Chi no Rondo / Rondo of Blood (TurboGrafx-CD)
1994 - Castlevania: The New Generation / Castlevania: Bloodlines (Genesis/Mega Drive)
1995 - Castlevania: Vampire's Kiss / Castlevania: Dracula X (SNES)
1997 - Castlevania Legends (Game Boy)

3 comments:

  1. Way to go! You recognized it as a good game :D Funny review as ever :)

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  2. Thanks for this great review!

    I just got this game recently, but I haven't found the time to play it yet. After reading through this review, I'm inspired to try to find some time to play it.

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  3. You can kinda steer in the air. You can't during a full jump, but you can inch forward or backward during a vertical jump. Very useful for spacing.

    Nearly every stage has some alternate path through it, usually with a different boss. These can even throw you to a totally different stage with its own alternate paths (though they have the same bosses as the regular stages), sorta like Castlevania III. There are thirteen stages and bosses in all, not counting the Prologue bit on the horse.

    The werewolf boss does a death attack too... not sure how you missed it, it gets a lot of people.

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