Monday, 3 October 2011

Castlevania: Vampire's Kiss (SNES)

Also known as Castlevania: Dracula X in the US, and Akumajo Dracula XX in Japan (because they already used 'Dracula X' for the title of Rondo of Blood.)

That's a damn weird looking style of writing they've gone with. Also why change the title to Vampire's Kiss anyway? Will this be a tale of Richter Belmont and Dracula's forbidden love?

Sorry Richter, but that's just not a very heroic pose. You look like you're about to fall over backwards.

When Simon and the others posed in front of Castle Dracula it was fortress of shadows against the night sky, menacing and dramatic. A brave hero standing defiantly before an imposing stronghold of evil.

Not some guy stumbling upon a bright purple villa in the distance and nearly dropping his whip in shock.

This is actually supposed to be a remake of Rondo of Blood, in the same way half the series so far has been remake of Castlevania 1. So I'm expecting it to start off similar, then go in an entirely different direction.

Nice to see Richter getting some time as the main Castlevania hero instead of Simon constantly stealing the spotlight though.

Well Rondo started with Richter fighting Death on horseback in the middle of a storm and this... doesn't. It seems we're skipping straight to the burning village.

It's a nice wavy fire effect in the background though.

Akumajou Dracula: Rondo no Chi (PC Engine)
It's definitely bolder and more impressive than the original's burning village level, but it's also more cartoony looking.

Richter still looks the same though. In fact he seems to be exactly as he was in Rondo of Blood. He can still jump off stairs but can't steer in mid air. He can't swing the whip around but he can backflip out of trouble.

Also the two games seem to have the same music. Rondo of Blood had a CD soundtrack, but the SNES is doing a damn good job of mimicking it.

The graphics look almost painted, which is an unusual look for the series. To be honest I think I preferred Rondo's art style, but I'm not sure why.

Medusa heads and bottomless pits already? I can see this isn't going to be one of the easier games in the series.

Actually this is all really familiar to me somehow. There was one Castlevania game I played years ago, before I'd even really heard of the Castlevania series, and it pissed me off so much that I decided I didn't much want to know about the other games. A game so annoying it took me until now to go back and give the series a second chance.

And I'm starting to think that this is the game.

Huh, I went all that way, jumped all those pits, dodged all those Medusa heads... and I get a dead end? Well okay they gave me a health pickup too, and I'm grateful, but that's kind of annoying too. If I'd gone the top route first I'd have totally missed out on this.

At least there's no time limit in this.

Hey, I remember this guy! He chased me down a corridor in Rondo of Blood, across lots of pits I had to jump over. And there were zombies wandering around next to the pits to knock me in if I accidentally landed on them. So really this is just the burning village version of that level.

I don't remember this guy though. He keeps breathing fire across the floor, then jumping at me when I step up here to avoid it.

Let's see how he likes a sub-weapon ITEM CRASH! I burn through a good chunk of heart ammo to release a devastating screen clearing super attack!

Trouble is, that bastard isn't even on screen right now. So I just wasted all those hearts.

Whoa, I totally expect that fight to go the other way. And if I hadn't gotten that last second hit in before he landed on me, it probably would have.

Stage clear! That was way shorter than Castlevania: New Generation's stages and I get all my health refilled at the end.

I'm guessing that stuff in the background is the password. No saving in this sadly, so Rondo of Blood wins again.

Wow, this merman is an asshole. He jumped up here onto this crumbling bridge just to knock me off. He knew that a single collision on this part of the stage is an instant kill for me, but he did it anyway.

And then because I'm tired and annoyed I manage to just walk straight into the first hole on my second attempt.

I don't know what it is about this game. It's not like it's doing anything that the other Castlevanias haven't done, but I'm starting to lose my patience with it already. Maybe I just need a break.


ONE COLLAPSING BRIDGE LATER.


Wow, I remember this drawbridge being bigger in the other games.

This is not what Castle Dracula's entrance hallway looks like! Those windows and pillars are totally wrong. Plus where are the red curtains, huh?

At least the shambling zombies are just as I remember them.

Oh great, it's these bastards again. I didn't much like them in Rondo of Blood and I definitely don't like them here.

They spin their spear around to deflect my attacks, charge into me to knock me flying, and even stab me from the top floor. While I'm wasting all my hearts trying to kill this guy on the left with my boomerang, the top one is sneaking into position to impale me.


LATER.


By some miracle I got out of there without a single death and what the fuck is up with this guy's neck? I think I'll just hang back and throw a few axes his way. Just to be safe.

Secret food! Just when I needed it too.

It's not really secret though. Sure I had to chip away the floor to reveal it, but anyone trying to kill that enemy would have found it. The stage is designed for me to find this food, and that makes me worried about what's in the next room.

Oh, it's just another giant bat boss!

Castlevania and Castlevania Chronicles had a giant bat after the entrance hallway too, but in those games I had the axe sub-weapon with me. This time all I have is the lowly dagger.

Hey, what the fuck? I'm not sure how the hell I was meant to dodge that.

Maybe I'm supposed to lure the bat to one side of the screen, then whip it into minibats and run to the other side. Though hitting the thing without standing on the platforms might be hard.

Well I got him over here, but he didn't really leave me much of a gap to escape through.

Agh, you little bastards.

These guys zigzag up and down in a wave before returning to the center and reforming as the big bat, so they should be easy enough to predict. But I am doing a really shitty job of avoiding them.

Huh, that's it? That's all my lives gone and I'm back to the bridge again? For fuck's sake...

Okay okay, I'm staying positive. I'm calm. Looking on the bright side, at least the game has infinite continues (unlike Castlevania: New Generation). That's definitely a huge plus in the game's favour.


ONE STAGE LATER.


Agh, you motherfucking bat! Bats. Whatever.

Of course I want to bloody continue. Kind of.


HALF A STAGE LATER.


This always happens to me. The more attempts I make at a section of game, the worse I get. Until I get killed before even reaching the boss. Entire screens before the boss in fact.


ONE STAGE LATER.


I made it over the bats! Escaped unharmed.

Now all I have to do is repeat that another 20 times or whatever, and this boss is done with.

Son of a bitch...

I'm sure there's a trick to beating this guy, and I'll probably stumble onto it eventually. But it's hard to test new tactics out when every time I lose a continue I have to walk all the way back through the level again.

By the time I get back I've forgotten what I'm doing.


LATER.


You know, I'm starting to see why I hated this game so much. Because it hates me, and wants me to suffer. I seriously can't be bothered to play through that entire stage again. If the boss wants another fight, he can fly down and meet me at the start of the collapsing bridge because this is getting ridiculous.


Like I expected, this turned out to be pretty much an entirely different game to Rondo of Blood, and I can't really think of anything this has done better. And I think out of the two SNES games, Super Castlevania IV is the winner. And not just because I can spin the whip around in it... though that definitely helps. Next game.

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)

1 comment:

  1. this is the most powerful review for dracula xx

    ReplyDelete

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