This is a remake of a Castlevania title called Akumajo Dracula which was released in 1996 for the Japanese X68000 computer and never saw American shores. The game itself is a remake of the very first Castlevania game, as was Super Castlevania IV for the Snes, which this game resembles. However there is a definite step down in gameplay mechanics going on here. Longtime Castlevania fans may appreciate the retro feel but fans of Symphony of the Night are going to be disappointed.
First off there are two modes:Tthe original game and a "remix" mode with better graphics. About the only thing that's been changed in the remix though are new character sprites, amount of colors, and some lighting effects around the candles and such. Thing is these graphical touches don't amount to much. Some dripping stuff on a wall and flickering candles don't really take advantage of the Playstation's hardware. There is nothing that inspires awe or even makes you sit up and take notice, all the levels are pretty drab, with the same sprites and tiles and such used over and over again. The Playstation can handle way more than that.
There are a few extras on the disc, an interview with the developers (who hit that a remake of Dracula X: Ronaldo of Blood is their next project, which sadly never happened,) as well as some artwork from this game as well as Symphony of the Night. But it seems almost like this extra content was pasted in there as an afterthought, like they had all this free space on the disc to fill up and had to throw something in there.
As for gameplay it's pure Castlevania all the way. You get the basics here and that's it, knife, axe, holy water, boomerang cross. No item crashes, no collecting ten thousand swords and crap that you never use, no backflips, swinging on rings, gathering spirits, etc. Just hardcore whip-everything-unitl-it's-dead action. Actually the game does feel somewhat "bare" because of the lack of frills as well as the linear nature of the levels. There are a few divergent paths but they all lead to the same bosses at the end. The levels that are there however run the gamut of the by now familiar Castlevania game regions, front foyer, dungeon, clock tower, etc. And you get the same classic monsters nipping at you all the way, bone towers, ghost knights, floating medusa heads, etc. Although this is a remake of the first game it would have been cool to get a little variation here and there.
A decent port of an otherwise unavailable game, although it feels somewhat empty compared to it's modern day equivalents (or even it's Super Nintendo contemporaries.) A game for Castlevania purists only who need to have ever edition ever released.
Graphics: The classic version actually looks almost as good as the remix version. Thing is the remixed version should have looked a lot better.
Sound: The remixed version has a completely remade soundtrack with a full orchestra, some of the best Castlevania music ever.
Gameplay: Classic vampire hunting all the way, but feels maybe a bit too basic for when this game came out.
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