Club Retro 2018: October Horror Oct 2, 2018 11:15:41 GMT -5
Post by nullPointer on Oct 2, 2018 11:15:41 GMT -5
I really need to dive into the Fatal Frame series one of these days. It seems like something I'd enjoy a lot. Looks like you've got a great month planned out Ex !
I don't have much of a plan other than one definite and one tentative selection (which I'll get to in a later post). I did get a bit of an early start this weekend though!
I knew my first game this month would be Silent Hill 2, but after finishing Koudelka I needed a bit of a palate cleanser between two games of more or less unrelenting darkness. So Castlevania: Dracula X (SNES) was just what the doctor ordered! Devoting some time to Castlevania during the month of October is a time honored tradition for me. In point of fact it's often how I kick off the Halloween season, and this year was clearly no different.
So I have to say, I think Dracula X gets a bad rap in a couple of ways. It's not a bad game at all. It's just not a top notch Castlevania game. I think it suffers from the following:
1) It came out after Super Castlevania IV. Regardless of where you stand on the SCIV from a mechanical perspective (I frickin' love it, but also understand the ways in which it subverted the 'classic' style gameplay and why some folks were turned off by that ), it undeniably set the bar for how Castlevania could look/sound/operate on a 16 bit system. Almost anything would have had a hard time following up SCIV. Right out of the gate, Konami created one of the best games not only in franchise, but for the SNES altogether. I suspect if Castlevania: Dracula X had come out before SCIV we might remember it in a slightly better light. It is after all much more in keeping with the classic feel of Castlevania.
2) It's too short, like remarkably short. I'm pretty sure that even CVIII has at least 1.5X the playtime of Dracula X; possibly even more if you account for all the available paths. Dracula X is one of those games where it's suddenly over just as you were really finding your groove. I started the game on Saturday morning and had finished it before anyone else in the house was even up yet. I might add to this minor grievance that the Dracula fight in this title is probably one of the easiest in the entire series (and particularly so if you're using the Axe ... although it's nice to see the Axe finally getting some love!). It's a weird moment of incongruity because Dracula X really does have some challenging moments which hold their own against anything else in the series. I'm not generally one to knock a game based on brevity (hey free time is at a premium!), but in this case it might have been nice to have just a bit more ya know?
3) The looming specter that is Rondo of Blood. Look, Dracula X is not a port of Rondo of Blood. It's more like a (very) scaled back re-imagining of RoB. But if you go into Dracula X expecting Rondo of Blood on the SNES, you're inevitably going to be disappointed. And I'm not one to claim that Rondo of Blood is the be-all and end-all of classic-vania (though there's certainly an argument to be made there), but one cannot deny that RoB a much richer and deeper Castlevania experience than you'll have with Dracula X. So once again Dracula X suffers a bit here when compared against an arguably better Castlevania title that came out earlier in the same generation.
You'll notice though that in this list of grievances, #1 and #3 have nothing to do with the actual content of Castlevania: Dracula X. And in fact #2 is a backhanded compliment insofar as the game leaves you wanting more. On top of all of this, the music is pretty darned fantastic and plays like a greatest hits list of Castlevania favorites. The graphics are quite good as well (though unfortunately can't hold a candle to SCIV in this department). And if you do want a 'classic-vania' experience on the SNES, look no further than Dracula X which replicates the classic feel of the series in a way that SCIV does not. So I'll reiterate to say that Dracula X is not a bad game at all, it's just a bit lackluster for a Castlevania game. There are certainly worse Castlevania titles though! Castlevania: The Adventure, I'm looking in your general direction. And don't even get me started on the horror show that is Vampire Killer for MSX2.