Monday, March 15, 2010

Photos - Dracula X (Castlevania: Rondo of Blood)

Here are some screenshots from Dracula X. This was the fifth console title in the series, after Castlevania 4 on the Super Nintendo. It's arrival on the PC Engine cd-rom was a major surprise, coming from a time when cd-rom was a new and untested medium. Thank goodness Konami wisely avoided the pitfalls and gimmicks that cripples the Sega CD: endless voice acting, full-motion video, over-produced pop music. They kept to their roots, and that was the smart decision. Indeed, at the time, Dracula X had a decidedly retro feel, walking in the shadows of the earlier NES titles.

Meanwhile, the polished, "modern" 16-bit look of Castlevania 4 was virtually swept under the rug. I remember being wowed by the rich, luminous graphics in that game, playing in my college dorm room during the winter of 1991. As an early Super NES title, it showed off the graphics effects masterfully, and the haunting music, based heavily around instrument samples, was captivating, brooding, and slightly jazzy. With Dracula X, the direction of the series turned sharply, and for better or worse, defined the Castlevania style from that moment on.

Why was this game never released in the US? I still can't grasp a credible excuse. Where was Konami? Where was NEC, and later, TTI? What were they thinking? Was the Turbografx (and Turboduo) too far gone by that point? Was it considered to controvercial? Was it too expensive to localize? Was the Castlevania brand no longer considered reliable at retail? Or did somebody in charge simply drop the ball? Dracula X has finally arrived, yes, but fifteen years late. I want explanations.

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