Ads are gone. We're using Patreon to raise funds so we can grow. Please pledge support today!
Google+   Facebook button  Twitter button 
3DS | DS | PS3 | PS4 | PSP | VITA | WII | WIIU | X360 | XB1 | All
Akumajou Dracula X: Chi no Rondo (Turbografx-CD) artwork

Akumajou Dracula X: Chi no Rondo (Turbografx-CD) review


"Rondo of Blood prides itself on following Castlevania traditions while not relying on them solely. I could yammer on for ages about awesome level designs, great ominous scenery, and fantastic soundtrack packed with modern updates of memorable themes. However, you could attribute those qualities to any great Castlevania title. Rondo of Blood uses them in such a way that they serve as both tradition and homage."



Screams echo from the scarlet horizon as Richter Belmont speeds towards it aboard his carriage. Above the distant din and the clop of his horse's feet, he hears a dry laugh. Floating amidst the tree is the haggard visage of Dracula's hitman Death, clad in a long jacket and top hat akin to a voodoo priest. Without hesitation, the demon rushes forward to put the scythe to Belmont. But handy with the legendary Vampire Killer whip is Richter, and with a few lashes he sends Death cackling into the night.

Akumajou Dracula X: Chi no Rondo (Rondo of Blood) begins in a fashion no other Castlevania title had before. It starts off with a short but climactic battle, then segues into a heart-rending and desolate first stage in a burning city, finally ending with Richter exacting justice against the winged arsonist. You don't have to see the expression on Richter's face to imagine the desperation he was likely feeling. The speeding carriage, the immolated city in the background, the music... This is a prime example of effective videogame narrative, setting up atmosphere and storytelling through presentation without force feeding you the details.

Rondo of Blood prides itself on following Castlevania traditions while not relying on them solely. I could yammer on for ages about awesome level designs, great ominous scenery, and fantastic soundtrack packed with modern updates of memorable themes. However, you could attribute those qualities to any great Castlevania title. Rondo of Blood uses them in such a way that they serve as both tradition and homage. You still whip skeletons to bits to the tune of Bloody Tears, weave around medusa heads that threaten to knock you off precarious platforms, and toss axes at anything that flies--just as you would in any great game in the franchise. Battling evil in a burning city from Simon's Quest, running along a familiar crumbling bridge, duking it out with skeletons aboard a rotting galleon, or blazing through the first stage from the original NES title down to the finest detail... These are places and situations we've seen before, loving throwbacks like memories recalled by an old friend. They're revisited, but not rehashed.

Konami has even reworked older ideas. Borrowing from Dracula's Curse, you can recruit one additional character: the animal-loving soon-to-be vampire hunter Maria. Don't giggle at the doves and cats she unleashes for weapons; they punish the wicked as surely as Richter's whip! Guiding these two, you can smash through walls and drop down secret pits to discover hidden routes to special boss battles, accessing alternate levels a la Dracula's Curse. Exploration is especially rewarded in Rondo of Blood, an aspect that separates it from most of its predecessors.

Though revisiting the old is a perk, it's not Rondo of Blood's selling point. It shines in the concepts and details that Konami expanded upon, giving Rondo of Blood its own identity.

You kick off the adventure with a fully powered Vampire Killer, with no need to increase its strength and length via upgrades. Konami didn't rely completely on reiterating what it had already established, and even expanded tiny bits of gameplay. There are still candles to destroy, hearts to collect, and subweapons to use. However, they've added a new technique called 'Item Crush' that allows you to consume extra hearts in order to execute a devastating magical attack based on your subweapon.

Richter himself has a few tricks up his sleeve that other Belmonts were not capable of. Hit the jump button twice and he can do a back flip. You can also hold down the jump button and perform useful dodging techniques. It's thanks to decreased stiffness that Richter can move with such ease, even allowing more skilled players to turn around in mid-jump and whip behind their backs. Such deft movement was unheard of in previous Castlevania titles.

You move with greater ease, and yet Rondo of Blood is still challenging. However, it's much less cheap than before, and much more addictive because of it. Rondo of Blood will rip your face off with a nasty torture chamber loaded with traps and devices that require equal measures of intellect and timing to survive. You'll run gauntlets against tough enemies, most of them clad in armor and clutching deadly weapons. As if bosses weren't enough, you'll bump into villainous mini-bosses who can stop you dead in your tracks. One of them aboard the haunted galleon, a possessed painting, can shatter your soul with a single blow.

But these guys are small fries compared to the real bosses. Classic nemeses like Frankenstein's Monster and Medusa await you in a later level, where you'll fight them one after another in an epic clash. Before that you'll square off against Dracula's newest minions, many of which have become modern mainstays to the franchise. Complete the first stage and you'll meet the stoker of the city's flames: a vicious wyvern hellbent on picking your bones clean. You'll match skill with a swift werewolf capable of raining punishing blows from afar or unleashing Street Fighter-like attacks. Rush into a charnel chamber and disturb the rest of the bone golem, complete with blade-like arms and fiery breath. None of these battles stacks up to the confrontation with Death atop the galleon's mast, a bloody duel of whip versus scythe high above bleak waters.

While fighting Death, I noticed something very small that meant a lot to me. Death took a swipe and missed by a mere pixel. It almost looked like his weapon had collided with my sprite, but you could clearly see that the two were exactly on the borderline with each other. Rondo of Blood's hit detection is so fine that objects truly have to touch you into order to interact. The incident triggered a series of thoughts. I recalled Rondo's excellent score, small graphical details, and even cinematic surprises. These were all little touches, but they made all the difference. It's the ape-like skeletons who crash through windows in level one; the climactic battles with Death and Shaft; the rugged challenge paired with decreased cheapness; the way certain bosses will appear in the background just before spotting you and rushing towards you to tear you to shreds; it's the insanely accurate hit detection... It all shows how dedicated Konami was, and how passionate about Rondo of Blood's creation they were. They weren't just making a Castlevania title, they were crafting a masterpiece and they knew it.

Final Note:
Akumajou Dracula X: Chi no Rondo, released in 1993, was unavailable outside Japan for nearly seventeen years. It was only last year that the title, in its original format, finally hit American, European and Australian homes on Wii Virtual Console under the title Castlevania: Rondo of Blood. Previous to that, the only version available outside Japan was a PSP remake released in 2008.

Rating: 10/10

JoeTheDestroyer's avatar
Community review by JoeTheDestroyer (October 27, 2011)

Rumor has it that Joe is not actually a man, but a machine that likes video games, horror movies, and long walks on the beach. His/Its first contribution to HonestGamers was a review of Breath of Fire III.

More Reviews by JoeTheDestroyer
F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin (PC) artwork
F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin (PC)

...aaaaaand here's where I step off the FEAR train.
F.E.A.R.: Perseus Mandate (PC) artwork
F.E.A.R.: Perseus Mandate (PC)

I'll miss you most of all, Scarecrow.
F.E.A.R.: Extraction Point (PC) artwork
F.E.A.R.: Extraction Point (PC)

Apparently, if your ally is burning to death and screaming himself just about hoarse, "Keep it down" is an appropriate response.

Feedback

If you enjoyed this Akumajou Dracula X: Chi no Rondo review, you're encouraged to discuss it with the author and with other members of the site's community. If you don't already have an HonestGamers account, you can sign up for one in a snap. Thank you for reading!

board icon
qxz posted October 27, 2011:

Nicely written, but I do have one catch with the ending. Rondo of Blood was actually released in 2008 as a part of the Castlevania: Dracula X Chronicles compilation on the PSP. I guess you could say it was a double release, since said disc includes a visually remade version of Rondo, as well as the original game.
board icon
Masters posted October 27, 2011:

True--and that package was freaking awesome.
board icon
Masters posted October 27, 2011:

Aside from the fix in your final note... I've now read the review, and it's amazingly well written--this might be your best review (that I've read, and I think I've read most of them).

Kudos!
board icon
overdrive posted October 27, 2011:

Everything I read anything about Rondo, I remember back to when I bought Dracula X for my Super Nintendo. And then I feel sad.
board icon
Masters posted October 27, 2011:

Yeah cuz that game... isn't great.
board icon
overdrive posted October 27, 2011:

Indeed. If I made a list of my TOP TEN MOST DISAPPOINTING PURCHASES, it would rank somewhere reasonably high.
board icon
JoeTheDestroyer posted October 27, 2011:

Thank you, folks. In the final note, I said, 'in its original format', which basically doesn't include the remake. I could offer a small side note in there on the remake, though.
board icon
Masters posted October 27, 2011:

The remake IS awesome though. AND it includes SotN? How crazy is that. It's the best package since The Orange Box.
board icon
pickhut posted October 27, 2011:

Am I the only one that actually think the SNES revision was a solid game? :|
board icon
Masters posted October 27, 2011:

But have you played the Turbo one? Cuz it's the comparison that makes the SNES one seem especially lame.
board icon
pickhut posted October 27, 2011:

I have, actually. Rondo of Blood is an awesome game, but I still think its SNES remix is a fine effort.
board icon
honestgamer posted October 27, 2011:

I haven't played Rondo, so I can't judge too harshly, but I definitely enjoyed what I played of Dracula X on the SNES. It does really seem to be a case where people don't like a good game because the better one they wanted was never localized. See also: Final Fantasy Mystic Quest. Fun game... but people wanted Final Fantasy V.
board icon
JoeTheDestroyer posted October 27, 2011:

I played the SNES one and wound up rage-quitting it. I may pick it back up in the future because I've gotten much better at games in general since playing it.
board icon
Masters posted October 27, 2011:

I actually played the SNES one first. So without Rondo for reference, I already thought it was pretty weak. It has that crappy invincibility window which allows you to get bounced around--very annoying. SCIV is like, a million times better.
board icon
honestgamer posted October 27, 2011:

I'll admit it: I just really like the graphics on Dracula X a lot and the graphics on SCIV don't do anything for me. I've never played SCIV, mind you... but I've seen so many screenshots and they have always repulsed me, even during the SNES launch window. Tragic, I'm sure.
board icon
JoeTheDestroyer posted October 27, 2011:

I like SCIV. Maybe not as much as other Castlevanias, but it's still a worthy contribution.
board icon
honestgamer posted October 28, 2011:

I believe that SCIV is probably a great game. I realize that I haven't gotten around to playing it for a really stupid reason (though obviously there's a lot more to it than that one reason; it just happened to be one of the things that kept the game low enough on my list of titles to try that I never actually did). But whatever. Dracula X had a pleasing visual style and that one I've actually tried. I was only a casual Castlevania fan, anyway, until Symphony of the Night. I played Castlevania on the NES a lot, and Castlevania III a fair bit, but then I forgot about the series until Alucard won me over and made me a permanent fan.
board icon
Masters posted October 28, 2011:

The visual style repulsed you? Are you nuts?

Visual 'style' aside, SCIV crushes Dracula X in every way. It's universally regarded as one of the big three, 2D non-Metroidvania titles: Dracula X (the real one), Castlevania III, and SCIV.
board icon
overdrive posted October 28, 2011:

I never had even heard of Rondo before starting up at GFaqs, but had experienced Dracula X beforehand.

To me, X had fewer levels than either SCIV or C III and didn't have the whip versatility that IV possessed. It just came off to me as a graphically impressive game that was a step back from the previous installments I'd played in every other way.

And there was the final time I played it when in the stage where the boss is the werewolf (I remember loving the background graphics for that fight). In the part where you're climbing from bottom to top up a cavern, I got stuck because the bats (or bird) that flew around got into a pattern where I couldn't progress to save my life. Every time I moved, WHAM! Think there might have those spear knights (part #28 in a series of tough arcade-vania foes that became patsies in metroid-vanias) complicating things.
board icon
zigfried posted October 28, 2011:

SC4 is freakin' ugly -- it's like the graphic "artists" took orange and brown and splattered it all over some failed Castlevania clone. SNES Drac X looked decent, as far as SNES games go.

Rondo and Bloodlines (in that order) are by far the best-looking pre-SOTN Castlevania games.

//Zig
board icon
Masters posted October 28, 2011:

Hilarious that a Genesis fan has stuff to say about a game being poorly coloured.

Take your weird bias and unpopular opinions back to Unlimitedzigworks!
board icon

You must be signed into an HonestGamers user account to leave feedback on this review.

Site Policies & Ethics | Contact | Links

eXTReMe Tracker
© 1998-2014 HonestGamers
None of the material contained within this site may be reproduced in any conceivable fashion without permission from the author(s) of said material. This site is not sponsored or endorsed by Nintendo, Sega, Sony, Microsoft, or any other such party. Akumajou Dracula X: Chi no Rondo is a registered trademark of its copyright holder. This site makes no claim to Akumajou Dracula X: Chi no Rondo, its characters, screenshots, artwork, music, or any intellectual property contained within. Opinions expressed on this site do not necessarily represent the opinion of site staff or sponsors. Staff and freelance reviews are typically written based on time spent with a retail review copy or review key for the game that is provided by its publisher.