Beyond Aljiba

I dusted off my Vita today (not literally; it isn’t that disused) and randomly decided to play a bit of Dracula X Chronicles… mainly because I had an urge to play Symphony of the Night and while I’m out of town the unlockable version is the only option I have. But I kind of forgot that (1) it has to be unlocked and (2) I’m super out of practice with this series and uhhh this game is super hard.

I don’t know that it had ever occurred to me until today just how much of a throwback to the original Castlevania Dracula X is. I mean, yeah, it has its callbacks and references and stuff, but in its proper context (read: 1993) the game must have seemed pretty strange. The idea of taking a franchise back to its roots didn’t really exist back then. Franchises hadn’t been around long enough, for one, and the medium was still evolving radically in terms of both technology and design. Dracula X predicted the kinds of games we see today: One that calls back to its roots, throws in sly winking references for long-time fans, works on its own merits, and builds on established play concepts to create new mechanics and surprising twists on the familiar. Everyone knew it was brilliant back then, but only in hindsight can we properly appreciate just how brilliant.

Now if only I can get past the bit with Axe Armors.

Also, Cat saw me playing DXC and became indignant that I’d been “holding out” on her. Since the games she loves most are some of the IGA-vanias, the existence of any Castlevania catches her attention. It never occurred to me to have her play DXC, though; she’s always loved the exploration, steady level-building, and progressing awesome-izing of Dawn of Sorrow and its kin. I figured the much more limited and linear Dracula X wouldn’t do much for her. But she found the hidden path in stage one all on her own, and now she’s determined the beat the bone serpent on the bridge. I tried explaining that it’s a sort of expert-level alternate path meat-gate, but she’s having none of it. The fact that she found something she wasn’t meant to be fighting yet means she’s going to keep smashing her head against it until she wins.

I should probably just off my Vita charger for good measure.

7 thoughts on “Beyond Aljiba

  1. I absolutely love Dracula X Chronicles. I never understood the hate the game received in some circles (NeoGAF, heh). I’d put it up there with SCIV.

    The game isn’t that hard, either. Any game that lets you start from the beginning of the stage you died on isn’t hard. I felt like punching a hole in the wall when I got to the end of Super Ghouls ‘n Ghosts and lost to the red demon things late in the game, only to be greeted by the title screen.

    THAT is soul crushing. I don’t know if it’s healthy having an elevated pulse for a multi-hour play session.

    • Why does no one ever listen to me? NeoGAF doesn’t represent anything except NeoGAF.

      • Yeah, well, nobody else played the game. It’s a remake of an old-school Castlevania game on the PSP. :(

  2. I’m slightly embarrassed to admit that I didn’t play SOTN until I purchased DXC for my Vita. I enjoyed the game and the soundtrack is absolutely phenomenal, but it still doesn’t hold a candle (for me) to Super Metroid or Zero Mission. I’m sure I’d feel different if I’d played SOTN in 1997, but then I didn’t even get my own SNES until 1999.

    Oh and P.S. it only takes about 15 minutes to unlock the game…surely it’s worth the effort?

    • The level design isn’t even close to Super Metroid. It’s an awesome game for several reasons, but it feels cookie-cutter in comparison.

      That said, Iga was keeping the genre alive. What is he doing now, anyway? I’m like a kid at Christmas when I get a new Metroidvania, and the…Vita could use one right about now!

  3. Good on her for that tenacity; forcing yourself through something difficult can be the most rewarding thing in the gaming world when you succeed, and I applaud those who continue to try.

    But as far as quick access to playing handheld SotN goes, couldn’t you get the PS1 Classic on the PSP instead? Or download a save from the internet for DXC with it already unlocked? (Yes, I know this clashes with what I just said about the hard way, hush.)

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