Castlevania Chronicles – PSX – Review

Old school gamers – rejoice! One of the
original bad-boys of gothic gameplay is back, and its latest release is called
Castlevania Chronicles. Freshly renovated for the Playstation, Castlevania
Chronicles is a remake of a lesser known (and strictly import) Castlevania title
that made its debut on the x68000 (Huh? What’s that? Well that’s okay not
too many people knew about the seldomly used PC). Well fret no more, this lost
little gem of Castlevania history was resurrected from its little known early 90’s
computer platform origins and brought back to life for a whole new group of fans
to enjoy.

Refresher course: 2D Side Scrolling Platformer
101. The course requirements are minimal: 2 buttons and directional controls.
The execution requirements: demanding. It’s sort of a prime example of how the
simplest looking things can also be the most difficult. It’s an era of game
making that many gaming veterans revere as the "golden days of gaming"
and such simplistic game play does have its appeal on those days where you just
want to get back to the basics – with a Count Dracula twist!

The most interesting feature to Castlevania
Chronicles is the fact that not only do you have the original mode of gameplay
that you might have been cruelly denied previously in the states, but also what
is called an "arranged mode." In the arranged mode, several updates
are thrown in which give a different look, sound, and more options to gameplay.
But, more about that later….

If you’re a long time fan of the series…
Castlevania Chronicles takes us back to the stage of the game when whip
direction is basically determined solely by the direction you’re facing. In
other words, don’t even think about jumping and switching whip direction after
your jump has been executed. It may take some fancy footwork – but it can be
done. Also, if you’re not used to the style, stuff like climbing staircases
and platforms are not everything you might expect. For instance, don’t even
think about jumping on a stairwell halfway up – you have to start from the
bottom and walk all the way up. It’s both a curse and a blessing some may say
– but you’ve been forewarned.

Now onto the graphics. In normal mode, you’re
getting what you expect when you buy a re-release of an 8 year old game.
Graphics which will seem a bit outdated for the PSX system. In arranged mode,
when it comes to graphics, it’s "Simple Simon" no more. Pardon the
pun – but you can’t help but notice one of the most prominent changes in the
"arranged mode" is the improved sprites of Simon and his eternal
nemesis, the ol’ bloodsucker himself, Count Dracula. If you have a sharp eye
you’ll also notice some changed lighting effects and other background changes,
but otherwise the game mostly looks the same. On a side note, the cover art is
pretty striking!

The intros are also radically different, with the
original mode featuring the (what else) original intro, whereas the
"arranged" mode features a CG intro. Music also makes a similar
transition – with the "arranged" mode music a marked improvement
from the original sounds.

So what else does Chronicles have going on? Well
it has an interview with the producer of Symphony of the Night that you can
immediately view, the aforementioned graphical improvements, and a feature on
Ayami Kojima’s artwork that can be unlocked by successful gameplay. On the
gameplay side, the "arranged" mode also lets you start out with more
lives AND change difficulty levels for anyone from beginners to advanced
players. There is also a timed attack mode which will pit you against the clock
if you are really looking for more of a challenge.

All in all, Castlevania Chronicles, by Konami, is
a must have for long time fans of the series. While it might not have as much to
offer newcomers and fans of eye-cany, classic gamers will feel right at home.
While it doesn’t add an overwhelming amount of new material, it still gives US
gamers a chance to see the original Japanese version on their PSX systems –
complete with some bonuses not previously seen. With a bargain price and limited
run, this one may just tempt you into picking it up.

Gameplay: 7
It’s old school, simple/basic commands, 2D side-scrolling action –
completely decked out with the dark Castlevania ambience. Gameplay is enhanced
from it’s original "tough as nails" version in the
"arranged" mode allowing more choices for difficulty options and the
chance to be awarded more lives at the inception of the game.

Graphics: 6
The first thing you will notice on arranged mode is the improved character
sprites of Simon and the king of evil himself, Dracula. There are also a few
other lighting-type effects that will look altered from the original. There is
also a CG introduction that is fun to compare and contrast to the original intro
featured on the regular mode. Other than that, the look of the game has changed
very little since the early versions of the title.

Sound: 6.5
The "arranged" mode really spices up the original sounds.

Difficulty: 7
Ah, back in the days where difficulty is just about perfect button timing and
jumps. There’s not too many extraneous concepts thrown into your basic two
moves – and while this doesn’t mean the game is easy, it does mean the
difficulty will be motor-skill related alone. The added difficulty options
scores big points!

Concept: 7
Castlevania fans can rejoice now that a former "import only"
installation of their favorite series is now available in the U.S. But Konami
doesn’t stop there – they also throw in a few extra treats for Castlevania
connoisseurs! While they’re nothing earth shattering, it is a great value for
the price!

Overall: 7
With a value price and sentimental value for long-time Castlevania fans,
Castlevania Chronicles is a must have to the collection for fans of the series.
However, outsiders to the following may not be very impressed by the
older-looking graphics and gameplay – even with the minimal upgrades of
"arranged" mode.