Dracula X

System: Playstation (Japanese)


Game Type: 2D Platform
A typical Castlevania game - if there is such a thing. You play as Alucard (cool!), the vampire from Castlevania III. Obviously, since this isn't a Belmont, you won't have the traditional whip. (Except in the intro, where you play as Richter from the first Dracula X.) Alucard uses rapiers, dirks, and shields in addition to all the usual special items like the boomerang and holy water. This is more an adventure than an action game; as in Metroid you must travel all over the castle, searching for items to allow you to progress past various obstacles. For each monster you kill you gain experience which will give you more strength and stamina among other things.

Gameplay: 60/100
Dracula X could have been a lot more fun than it turned out. The control is excellent, there are lots of moves including a reverse slide and blocking with a shield, and the boss designs are decent. But Konami just had to turn it into an adventure/RPG. Most enemies take anywhere from five to a dozen hits to kill when you first encounter them, meaning they can plow through all your attempts to defend yourself and hit you anyway. Trekking back and forth and back and forth across the castle to find different items gets to be a pain eventually. (I was horrified, not pleased, to learn there was a second castle after I beat the first.)

Graphics: 80/100
The backgrounds are bland and dark but the graphics are amazing in every other aspect. The animation on Alucard is incredibly smooth. Every enemy seems to have its own way of dying, usually in a fountain of blood or fire. The special effects are some of the best ever seen on the Playstation or any other system. Too bad about those backgrounds, though; they make an otherwise visually spectacular game look decidedly sixteen-bit.

Sound: 90/100
Those who remember Castlevania IV's jazzy soundtrack won't be disappointed, but DX's music is also influenced by R&B, classical, and even heavy metal (not to mention those rockin' harpsichord tunes). The sound effects are excellent as well. There's even speech for the cinemas by great voice actors (all in Japanese, of course; let's hope the English voice actors are equally good).

Overall: 70/100
Even Super Metroid wore thin for me after a while, but if you're still playing that you won't be disappointed with Dracula X. I for one find DX frustrating and I hope to God the next Castlevania is pure action. It certainly is impressive at first, though, and the graphics and music are great throughout. Import it if you have to be the first kid on the block to own it, but I suggest waiting for its U.S. release on October 1. Better reserve a copy in advance; the fact that I don't like it won't stop it from being a complete sellout.


Copyright © 1997/1998 Jay McGavren. All Rights Reserved.