Review By: Jared Black
frankly, the last year or so has not been kind to the venerable
old PSX. Like most video game machines on their deathbed, itís
effectively been turned into a younger siblingís hand-me-down
with a lineup consisting of cheap budget titles, games aimed at
elementary school kids, and re-releases designed to make a few
quick bucks. Castlevania Chronicles actually falls into
that last category; however, itís a re-release of a
Castlevania title that never made it outside of Japan. That
essentially makes it a brand new release here in North America,
and combined with the fact that itís a Castlevania
title, makes it one of the better games to hit the PSX in a
a Castlevania fan, you know the story. Dracula has been
resurrected, Simon Belmont enters Draculaís estate to kill him
and his cronies, blah blah blah. The storyline has never
mattered in any Castlevania games before the 32-bit era anyway.
Draculaís estate consists of 8 blocks (3 stages per block for
a total of 24), with a boss to fight at the end of every level.
Each stage is in the classic Castlevania mold, with plenty of
gothic effects, moving platforms, death traps and whatnot. The
enemies are exactly what youíd expect from a Castlevania title
too, with skeletons, floating medusa heads, and plenty of
downright bizarre and scary creatures.
thing to understand about this game is that this is a remake of
a very old game (1986), and as such it falls mostly in line with
the old NES Castlevaniaís in terms of complexity. Everything
about this game feels old, from the controls to Simonís
abilities to the graphics and sound. Simon is fairly limited in
the moves he can perform, which include crouching (press down),
whip attack (circle or square), jump (x button), and use attack
items such as axes and knives (press up plus circle or square).
Additionally Simon can whip attack downward in a horizontal
direction (an ability NOT found in the NES ones), but itís
very hard to pull off without getting out of position and youíll
probably end up just avoiding using it. And of course, the bane
of all NES Castlevania fans is still here Ė the dreaded
"stuck to the stairs" syndrome thatíll lead to a lot
of cheap enemy damage before the player adjusts to it. Thatís
pretty much it. In comparison, Castlevania IV allowed the
gamer to twirl the whip around, use it to swing from things,
attack enemies above, etc. and Circle of the Moon expands
the move set even more.
the graphics and sound are underwhelming as well. Environments
are completely flat and 2D, with not a hint of depth to be found
(unless you count the occasional monster flying past a window).
However, being that this is a Castlevania title the atmosphere
is simply oozing style, with plenty of curtains, gears,
paintings, torches, etc. to set the mood perfectly. Character
sprites are rather simplistic and bland, and are animated poorly
in comparison to todayís newer 2D titles. So in short, the
graphics are technically lackluster, but acceptable due to the
presentation and atmosphere. On the whole, the graphics fall
just behind Castlevania IV (an early SNES game) but way
ahead of the NES ones.
effects sound like a mixture of 8 and 16-bit sound effects, with
all of the classic Castlevania effects youíd expect to hear.
Thereís a definite gap between the quality of the original
soundtrack and the new arranged version, but on the whole the
soundtrack still subpar technically when compared to other PSX
games. However, itís still got that Castlevania flair the
series has always been known for, and as a result itís
downright atmospheric and fits the mood of the game very well.
Castlevania gameplay thatís a notch above the NES
classics. Even without the enhancements that came later in
the series, itís still an enjoyable romp.
graphics and sound are technically underwhelming, but do a
great job of delivering the proper atmosphere anyway.
mode features enhanced sprites for Simon and Dracula, as
well as an easier difficulty level.
- It looks
and feels like an old game.
- Limited to
a print run of 25,000 copiesÖgreat for collectors, bad for
age of the game, Castlevania Chronicles comes as a
recommended purchase to any Castlevania or platform fan. If youíre
a diehard fan of the series, you simply have to own this. Itís a
new Castlevania title youíve probably never experienced, and you
will want to play it someday. So go ahead and get it now, before
they all disappear and youíre stuck shelling out the big bucks
on eBay. If your first Castlevania was Symphony of the Night
or Circle of the Moon, then Chronicles will help you
understand and appreciate the seriesí roots in addition to
simply giving you a good platformer to play. And if youíve never
played a Castlevania game before, then youíve been given a
second opportunity to play one of the earliest games in the
So while Castlevania
Chronicles may be one of the worst 2D outings for the series
(especially given the current state of technology at its release),
itís still a 2D Castlevania title. As such, itís better
than virtually anything else being released on the PSX these days.