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Castlevania: Dracula X

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Reviewed by McAnder This is one of those games that most people skipped over since it came out after the Playstation and N64. Who really wants to go back to 16 bit without a good reason? Of course, Castlevania has always been one of the best reasons, and this game proves to be no exception.

Graphics 8 out of 10

The graphics in this game are very good. They didn't floor me like a lot of the stuff did when I first saw Castlevania 4, but I think that the graphics and specifically the character design is much better. The game has a bit more of an anima look to it, with all the enemies being noticeable redesigned (whereas all the characters in CV 4 looked like they got a 16 bit update.) The special weapons and crash attacks all look really cool, and the bosses are--as seems true with every Castlevania--excellent.

Music and Sound 10 out of 10

This was one of those games where I would play, turn up the stereo, play some more, turn the stereo up again and so on. The music rocks. It also has some serious bass, low to the point where I didn't hear everything until I played the game at a friend's house who had a subwoofer. The tunes are more gleam rock (similar to the clocktower in Symphony of the Night) than usual. A lot of the songs are sort of rock remixes of old Castlevania tunes, and all of them sound excellent.

Game Challenge 10 out of 10

I personally love hard games. Castlevania 1 is great for many reasons, but the main one is because it is still the hardest game I have ever played. Dracula X is no where near as difficult as it's 8bit parent, but it does make 4 look like a cakewalk. The frustration factor is high, notably on Stage 3 when you are trying not to fall to stage 4' (there are alternate routes that provide different endings), and on a lot of the bosses. The bosses are very hard as well. The "Item Crash" (hitting a certain button makes you do a special attack that changes depending on which weapon you have) helps, but is never enough. Bosses attack patterns are what I'd say are 'half-easy' to predict in that you can usually guess what they are going to do, but getting around it is a whole nother matter. This is one of those games that you will get very good at each level because you have to play it though so many times (a lot like Ninja Gaiden, which I am pretty sure you could play with your eyes closed if you had your rhythm down.) So if you have beaten the original Castlevania, this one will provide a lot of the same stress (right down to the last guy, who is seriously hard.)

Game Play-Fun 7 out of 10

I remember this game fondly, I also remember it being a pain. It is the sort of abusive relationship that we games seem to seek out a lot of the time. The controls are spot on, and there is a lot of potential for slick maneuvers and developing your own little tricks, which has always been the greatest part of any platformer. It is very hard and frustrating however, and that somehow both reinforces and detracts from the appeal of the game. To put it simply, this game is worth of the Castlevania name.

Frustration

Hoo boy, lots. Trying to carry the key through level 4 and 5 is high on the frustration list, as it getting knocked off a pillar by Dracula when you fight him. This game is loaded with frustrating moments.

Replayability 8 out of 10

The game would only get about a 5 on the replay scale if it weren't for the different routes you can take through the game (not nearly as extensive as Castlevania 3 however) and for the fact that even after you beat a level there is a lot of room for improvement. The different endings are all pretty lame (which Castlevania has had a GOOD ending?) but the alternate levels are good.

Game Value 5 out of 10

This is really totally variable--the game is not worth 60 or 70 bucks since "Symphony"is only 40 bucks these days, but no one is paying full price these days, and if you can get it for 20 bucks it is totally worth it.

Overall 8 out of 10

I think this game is awesome, and pleasantly difficult. It is an especially good game now that sprite based games are becoming more and more rare, especially platformers.

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