Castlevania Chronicles
  • Genre:
    • Platformer
  • Platform:
    • PlayStation
  • Developer:
    • Konami
  • Publisher:
    • Konami
  • Released:
    • JP 05/24/2001
    • US 10/08/2001
    • UK 11/09/2001
Score: 80%

This review was published on 07/22/2015.

Castlevania Chronicles is a side-scrolling platform video game published and developed by Konami for the Sony PlayStation. It was released in Japan on May 24, 2001, North America on October 8, 2001, and Europe on November 9, 2001. This game is an enhanced port of a remake of the original 8-bit Castlevania; the remake was originally released for the Sharp X68000 home computer in Japan on July 23, 1993. So yes, this is a port of a remake. How lazy can you get? A few features were added to this port, but not much was changed. The North American and European versions of the game also had an exclusive interview with Koji Igarashi, sometimes nicknamed IGA, included on the disc. Igarashi was the assistant director of the critically acclaimed Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, which was released on the PlayStation in 1997. Even though it's a lazy port job, Castlevania Chronicles contains a pretty decent remake of the original game.

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Considering this is a remake, the story is the same as the original Castlevania: in 1691, Transylvania was being terrorized by a terrible terror of terribleness known as Count Dracula. Dracula is an immortal vampire that revives every century due to mankind's wicked desires. The reason mankind continues to survive Dracula's treachery is because he's struck down again and again by a noble hero from the Belmont family line. Those of the Belmont bloodline are destined to face Dracula, so they train eternally for the fated confrontation. The Belmonts have been blessed with the capability to wield the Vampire Killer, a sacred whip given special alchemic powers that can harm vampires like Dracula. Think the Master Sword from The Legend of Zelda series. Simon Belmont is the current wielder of the Vampire Killer and the protagonist of this tale. It is up to him to venture forth into Dracula's warped castle of horrors, called Castlevania, and extinguish the Count's life once more.

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If you've played the original Castlevania, then the controls for this game should feel fairly familiar. Even if you haven't played the original, it doesn't matter, because the controls are simple: Simon can walk around, jump, duck, and swing his legendary whip. Unlike the original Castlevania, Simon isn't restricted to a fixed jump in this game, allowing him to navigate pits easier. He's also now able to swing his whip downwards and diagonally downwards while jumping. Unfortunately, Simon can't swing his whip upwards like he could in Super Castlevania IV, which was also a sort of remake or reimagining of the original. As expected, Simon can make use of all the classic Castlevania sub-weapons from the original game, like the throwing knives, throwing axes, bottles of holy water, boomerang crosses, and stopwatches. However, this remake adds a new sub-weapon in the form of medicinal herbs that restore your health when used. The herbs are more of a support item than a sub-weapon, but they occupy the same slot and are used in the same way. Like the original, sub-weapons expend hearts when used, and hearts are found by breaking candlesticks. Don't ask me why. The controls are precise and the new herb item is cool, but it'd be nice if Simon had more of his moves from Super Castlevania IV.

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The first and most notable difference between the remake and the original game is the graphics. All the graphics have undergone a massive makeover, being changed from their 8-bit originals into far prettier stuff. The other massive change is the game's audio. Every musical track has been remixed with new instrumentation, there's some entirely new music, and all the sound effects are different, too. In the Sharp X68000 version of the game, you're given the option to change the music's instrumentation depending on what sound hardware was installed. Castlevania Chronicles emulates all of the different sound hardware, letting you choose the one you like best. What's annoying, though, is that the North American and European versions of Castlevania Chronicles require you to input a secret code in order to change the sound options, whereas the Japanese version had it freely available. The code is easy enough to input, but it's dumb that you have to input it at all. As for whether or not the remade music is better than the 8-bit original... well, that's up for debate. Some of the tracks sound good, but some sound goofier than Goofy. Still, this is an overall impressive remake, even if the music is sometimes a little awkward.

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So the remake alters the graphics and music, but what about the stage design? Well, stages are still linear walks that typically go from left to right and end with a boss fight, just like the original game. Some stage layouts are extremely accurate to the original, such as the first stage, but some have been radically altered, and there are even a couple of brand new stages. For example, stage two is an entirely new area that takes place inside a cave with regenerating slime walls and falling stalactites, none of which were in the original game. A lot of the new sections are quite creative, like this one intense part where you fend off fish men while atop a raft that tilts from side to side and slowly breaks apart as the water rises. There are also countless new enemies, like archer statues, flame knights, and mud women. Additionally, many new bosses were added, like a giant bone dragon and a doppelganger. One very unique boss is a female werewolf fought high atop a clock tower, where it will tear off pieces of the background and throw them at you. With all the additional content, this sometimes feels like an entirely new game as opposed to a remake, and that's super cool.

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There are two modes in Castlevania Chronicles: Original and Arrange Mode. Original Mode is an exact reproduction of the Sharp X68000 version of the game, whereas Arrange Mode is exclusive to Castlevania Chronicles and changes a few things. For one, Arrange Mode changes Simon's sprite to be more consistent with the character designs of the newer games. That's the biggest, most noticeable change, considering you see Simon for the entire duration of the game. The rest of the changes include things like added special effects when defeating enemies, a different intro and ending sequence that use FMVs, a slightly different map screen, multiple difficulty options, and a completely new soundtrack composed by Sota Fujimori. Honestly, though, aside from Simon's sprite and the new music, there isn't much of a difference between Original and Arrange Mode. It's not at all worth the trouble of completing the game in both modes, because they're almost identical. I suppose the developers were hoping you wouldn't realize that until it's too late, but thanks to this review, you've just saved yourself a whole lot of time.

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Castlevania Chronicles itself isn't impressive, but the remake it houses within it is snazzy. The graphics are far superior to the original game, and while the odd instrumentation may make the music seem weird at times, it's still solid and there are options to change it to your liking. What truly shines about this remake is how it expands on the original game tenfold by adding new stages, new gimmicks, new enemies, and new bosses. A lot of the newly added content is pretty darn good, too. Even if you've played the original to death, Castlevania Chronicles is still worth checking out due to all its new content and inventive ideas.

Word Count: 1,258

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