Devil's Castle Dracula X Rondo of Blood, often referred to as Castlevania X (but I will be calling it Rondo of Blood to avoid confusion with Dracula X) in America, “was” a PC-Engine game released exclusively in Japan. However, Both Europe and America received a “down-graded” version called Castlevania: Dracula X (or Castlevania: Vampire’s Kiss in Europe.) Dracula X lacked the several features Castlevania X had. It wouldn’t be till years later Rondo of Blood would be released overseas. Rondo of Blood was eventually released as Castlevania X Chronicles which included an emulated version of the game as well as 2.5D remake. Rondo of Blood was also later released on the Wii’s Virtual Console service.
The story in Rondo of Blood is very weak. Dracula is once again revived and build ups a dark army to destroy a village where Richter Belmont reside as well as kidnapping several villagers including Richter’s girlfriend, Annette, and her sister, Maria. The plot is very much just a typical “rescue the princess”, provided if the player feel like doing so, as rescuing the villagers are not a requirement to beat the game.
The game play starts with a “battle” with death on a horse and carriage. With a set up like that, you know in for a good game. Rondo of Blood has excellent music, but most of it, does not seem fitting in any level. Much like Super Castlevania IV (but not, Dracula X) there is a variety of themed levels, including, dungeons, swamps, bridges, and my favorite, the pirate ship.
Rondo of Blood consists of alternate paths in most levels much like in Castlevania III. The route select is gone and selecting routes is rather done in more “real-time,” such as falling into pits or using or an elevator Sometimes leading to new bosses, however, some bosses are also repeats. Depending on what route the player, he or she, may discover a secret level. If hidden levels are to be missed, the game does feature a level select allowing the player to go back to a level to look for them.
Rondo of Blood is probably the first game in the series to feature spendable cash. Unlike in previous installments, cash is no longer worth just points, but unfortunately, money may be only used to purchase “boss tactic.” There also does not seem to be a way save your cash count without having to resort to the “Game Over” screen. That screen seems to be the only way to save your cash count. The money used in Rondo of Blood is just as pointless as points unless you are really having trouble with those bosses.
The bosses as expected are made up of generic movie and mythological monsters such as a werewolf and a minotaur. Many of the bosses from the original Castlevania also return for a difficult endurance round. Of course, it cannot be Castlevania without Dracula and Death. The best part about the bosses is just after they are defeated, they will attempt to strike the player with one final blow.
There are two playable characters in Rondo of Blood. Richter Belmont uses the trusty vampire killer or “whip” most people calls it. Unlike Simon in Super Castlevania who can whip in all five direction much like in Contra, instead, Rondo of Blood features, a “crash” ability allow the player to use a upgraded sub-weapon attack, if the player has enough hearts. I found most of these moves to be almost useless. The player will probably have no trouble getting to end of the game without, especially with the secondary character, Maria.Maria Renard is only playable provided that you rescued here. She is the only hostage to be playable. Strangely enough, she appears to a child, much like one of the protagonists in Castlevania 64. She also makes Rondo of Blood much easier. When playing as Maria, the meat, which refills Richter’s health, is replaced by desserts and all her weapons make use of animals. This may seem strange at first, but it is rather creative, especially when using her sub-weapons. Maria uses doves as here main weapon. With here doves, she can attack slightly more consecutively than Richter. While Richter’s attack may have a longer range, Maria can attack enemies at lower positions than Richter can even at crouch position. Maria can also execute a double jump, thus, reaching higher platforms much quicker than Richter. The only drawback Maria has is that she takes more damage than Richter can handle. While both characters are great to play as, the developers clearly did not evenly balanceed out both characters correctly because
Rondo of Blood is indeed an excellent game. It is graphically stunning, and very fun to pick up to play numerous times over. It is definitely a recommended for Castlevania fans.