Monday, 12 September 2011

Akumajō Dracula (X68000)

Another Castlevania game with the Japanese title Akumajou Dracula, retelling the story of Simon Belmont's epic struggle through Castlevania 1. So that's... five of them now, right?

For years this was only available in Japan for the Sharp X68000 computer, but it finally got a western release in 2001 on the PlayStation, under the name Castlevania Chronicles.

Team Evil conspire to resurrect their dark lord, Dracula. And apparently succeed.

Fortunately Simon Belmont is onto their sinister scheme, and heads inside Dracula's castle to put him right back into his coffin. Again.

Though this is definitely the most dramatic of the 'Simon stands in front of a castle' prologues. Instead of the castle being a sinister silhouette in the distance, this time it towers over our hero.

Simon doesn't care though, he just whips his Vampire Killer whip and strolls instead.

Count Dracula's front garden seems more colourful than last time I was here. But otherwise this seems just how it was in Castlevania 1.

It's even playing Vampire Killer, the stage one music from the NES game.

Castlevania (NES)
There's the nasty looking trees, the statue, the fence along the back and the fires I smash open to get heart ammo for my sub-weapons. Even the HUD is the same.

Hey, it's these guys again, racing to die by a single crack of my whip.

Castlevania (NES)
You know, of all the retellings of Castlevania I've played so far, this is definitely the closest to the original.

Annoyingly Simon is also glued back to stairs again. In Super Castlevania IV I could hop on to stairs, and drop down from them, but in this I'm locked onto them until I reach the top or bottom. And he walks up them painfully slowly.

He doesn't have Super Castlevania IV's awesome multi-directional whip attack either. Plus he can't walk while crouching. He CAN move in the air while jumping though, which seems a weird thing to change if you're keeping everything else the same, but I'm definitely not complaining.

Castlevania Chronicles (PSX)
The PlayStation version of the game is pretty much identical as far as I can tell. But it does come with 'Arrange Mode', which changes the graphics a bit, adds some effects like glowing candles, and swaps out the music with a new soundtrack.

Weirdly it also changes Simon's hair pink, and to be honest I don't think it suits him.

The evolution of Simon Belmont pixel sprites
The Evolution of Simon
I think that's all the Simon Belmonts now, including blue haired Giant Simon from the first arcade game. I think this game might actually have the most authentic looking Simon out of all of them, assuming the box art to the first game is what he's supposed to look like.

Whoa, I don't remember seeing that in the NES version.

Castlevania (NES)
One good thing about this being a remake, is that I already know where some of the health pickups will be hidden.

Well, the wall broke... but there's nothing in here. That's pretty cruel of them I reckon.

OH SHIT WHAT THE FUCK!

I've opened the floodgates and now infinite hunchbacks are pouring in.


SOON.


Well the good news is that I've found where Dracula hid his lunch. The bad news is that if I stop whipping and go to grab it I'll be swarmed by enemies.

Aw fuck it, I'm grabbing the meal and making a run for the stairs.

Oh, it's this guy again. Fortunately I remembered to bring along plenty of axes.

Castlevania (NES)
If I remember right, the strategy for this guy is to grab the 'II' power up from this brick, then use it to throw two axes at a time up at him.

Oh crap, the first hit turned him into a homing swarm of bats. It seems that I have to wait for the swarm to dive at me, then run out of the way.

The new improved bat boss wasn't so bad.

Huh, didn't the map used to go up at this point?

Castlevania (NES)
It seems like I'm going through an entirely different route from now on. I guess they got bored with remaking Castlevania.

Castlevania Chronicles (PSX)
The Castlevania Chronicles Arrange Mode version of of the map has been totally redrawn for whatever reason. Personally I through it looked fine the first time, but this is good too.

I have no idea why they thought that making me slowly hack through walls of slime would be a good idea. Hitting things is often fun, but not when I have to slowly chip away at series of walls for no reason.

Hey, the water didn't instantly kill him, that's always g.... oh SHIT there's an enemy behind me! These games have been pretty good so far with making enemies stand out, but these guys always look like they're in the background to me.

It doesn't help that they often are in the background, flying past.

Hey these two areas kind of look the same... nah I'm stretching. Except for the raft and the water this is pretty much a completely different area to anything in the NES game. Though ducking is still recommended.


SOON.


Well... fuck. This raft used to be much bigger than this, but water is flooding this cavern and as the raft goes up, it hits pieces of the background and splits apart. And tilts. And these mermen keep jumping up and spitting fireballs at me, which will be an instant kill at this point seeing as I've got nowhere to land but water if I'm hit.

And if I get killed I'll be put back all the way at bottom again.

Oh shit oh shit, what just happened? I think my raft got stuck on something so I have to jump up and reach the next one.

This wouldn't even be a problem if Simon would just learn to swim.

Oh shit, now I have to fight a boss? This game is an asshole!

I bet if this guy kills me I'm going to be put back all the way down at the bottom again, though I'm not keen to test that theory. Because I got killed earlier I'm back to using the crappy non-upgraded starting whip, so this may take a while.

Stage 7! Though it feels more like I should be up to stage 15 by now. These bug things are really starting to annoy be because of how long they take to kill. Plus every time I wander too close to a tree I get attacked by one of those tree monsters I haven't seen since Haunted Castle.

But damn those are some nice looking trees. Sorry Super Castlevania IV, you look pretty good but right now this game looks better.

What the FUCK? The birds have teamed up with the hunchbacks!

Castlevania (NES)
To be fair this bit actually is in the original Castlevania game. Actually there's nothing fair about this! Hunchbacks and birds teaming up... they're bad enough separately.

I ran away from the hunchbacks, but I didn't get far. I got swarmed by evil droplets of water. Not really much of a heroic death for poor Simon. I'll continue and try to give him a better one.

That's pretty cool, how the arrows stick in him. Though they're big enough to be javelins really.

I made it out of that second with pretty much zero health, I did terrible. But I did manage to grab this strange plant sub-weapon. Which actually turned out to be a healing item. This thing uses up hearts to give me back health. Which means I actually have a chance of getting somewhere now.

I'm pretty sure this thing wasn't in the original Castlevania. In fact I don't think any of this was, we're back in uncharted territory. Like all the other retellings of Simon's fight with Dracula, this is pretty much it's own game.

Stage 9 is a slippery slidey ice stage. Great.

I was stuck for a while trying to figure out how to get through this wall, but it seems that the game got bored waiting for me to try attacking the floor instead, and smashed it for me.

Hey, I recognise that guy!

Oh shit shit shit, no! I just collected a bloody dagger sub-weapon by accident. Now I've lost my ultra rare healing plant.



LATER.


It turns out it probably didn't matter what I had equipped, because this guy seems to be knocking the power ups right out of me.

No, don't bring the monster out! Come back and give me something I can hit you son of a bitch. I don't have time to fuck around here.

I really don't! I have 12 seconds left to finish this fight, and it's all being wasted because this guy keeps sending this creature out to fight for him.

The time counter reaches 000 and Simon keels over. I could have won that battle too.


BACK AT THE START OF THE STAGE.


Oh crap! I didn't realise this pillar moved up so fast. I was lucky first time around and jumped off immediately.

This time though it's an instant kill. Back to the start.

It's kinda hard to jump over a pit on a slidey ice stage when the floor slopes towards it. I guess I must have been lucky first time I managed this too.

And then Simon Belmont joins the other falling heroes decorating the level because there's no way I'm going to continue from all the way back at stage 7... with those bloody hunchbacks and birds.


The game has infinite continues and uses saves instead of passwords, so it's probably on the right side of winnable. But it feels like a step backwards after Super Castlevania IV... backwards into an insta-kill pit. The gameplay is solid, and it's not as ridiculously challenging as Haunted Castle (yet), but really don't want to go back and try all that again. So it doesn't get a gold star.

1986 - Castlevania (NES)
1986 - Vampire Killer (MSX2)
1987 - Castlevania II: Simon's Quest (NES)
1988 - Haunted Castle (Arcade)
1989 - Castlevania: The Adventure (Game Boy)
1990 - Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse (NES)
1991 - Castlevania II: Belmont's Revenge (Game Boy)
1991 - Super Castlevania IV (SNES)
1993 - Akumajō Dracula / Castlevania Chronicles (X68000)
1993 - Akumajō Dracula X: Chi no Rondo / Rondo of Blood (TurboGrafx-CD)
1994 - Castlevania: The New Generation / Castlevania: Bloodlines (Genesis/Mega Drive)
1995 - Castlevania: Vampire's Kiss / Castlevania: Dracula X (SNES)
1997 - Castlevania Legends (Game Boy)

3 comments:

  1. good looking game, the sharp x68000 had a very good arcade port of ghouls n ghosts, but it was the more popualr (and affordable) Sega Megadrive that stole the attention with it's inferior version.

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  2. This game is beyond winnable. You can definitely beat it without ever losing a life, even. Though I'll bet you're not particularly excited to hear that it's more than possible to take on the whole game without getting hit, without powering up the whip, and without using any subweapons.

    At least, as far as we know. We don't really know the differences between Original and Arrange Hard. And I mean, this guy could have TASed it, but everything he does in these videos is perfectly doable: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL028B64D2912FC262

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    Replies
    1. And, as I just remembered, the game actually has a code that reduces your health to one bar. Meat and the herb still work, but you go back to one bar when you either lose a life or reach the end of a Stage/beat a Block.

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