Castlevania: Rondo of Blood

I’m ready to Rondo.

Game Data:

  • Review Date: June 7, 2021
  • Release Date: October 29, 1993
  • Platform: Some system I never heard of, called TurboGrafx-16
  • Publisher: Konami
  • Developer: Konami
  • Genre: Linear Platformer

Anecdotes: First off, let me apologize to Castlevania fans for skipping Bloodlines. For some reason, I made a mistake doing the research and I thought Bloodlines, Dracula X, and Rondo of Blood were all the same game. Perhaps I will write about Bloodlines someday, but it’s not on my list for this year.

Although this game was only released in Japan at the time, for the TurboGrafx-16 system, knowledge of the game became commonplace after it has its sequel released. It was released for the first time in North America in 2007 on the PlayStation Portable, but I will be playing the PS4 Castlevania Requiem version, which also includes its sequel, Symphony of the Night.

As of the time of this writing, shocking as it may be, I have never played Symphony of the Night. I have, however, heard great things about the game and how it’s a contender for best game of all time. I also know it uprooted the Castlevania format by dropping stage based gameplay in favor of an open world. I’ll get to that, though, when I cover Symphony of the Night on July 8.

Description: I found a translation of the Japanese manual, done by Hiroshi Kawai at castlevaniadungeon.net:

In the days of old, the people thrived on peace and prosperity. Indeed, fears of unrest were not among their thoughts… Everpresent, however, is the underside of tranquility, evil. Evil, which spurns prosperity and disdains peace. Gather they did, those who wished to summon the powers of darkness and cleanse the decadence of the world. And, with smiling countenance, they anxiously awaited the coming of their era. A hundred years had past, and he was resurrected. Able to become bat, wolf, or mist at will, he lived in the night. He drank the blood of young maidens and lived an eternal life. The lord of Demon Castle, the god of evil, Count Dracula was reborn.

Of course, reading closely, none of that tells me what the object is. It’s a good story, but it doesn’t mention that the main character is Richter and he’s trying to rescue Annette. Along the way, he may find other maidens that were captured. One of them is Maria, who becomes playable if Richter finds her in stage 2.

Positives:

  • Maria is a fun character to play as. For some reason, she’s a lot stronger than Richter and a lot better fighter. She can double jump and duck out of the way of certain projectiles. Those are two skills Richter doesn’t have. Because of Maria’s abilities, she ends us making the game easier. It also becomes sillier, but in a fun way. Taking down Death by throwing birds at him is a sight to behold.
  • Richter starts every life with the whip already powered up, so no morning stars are necessary to upgrade it. This takes out one of the more pointless game systems from two of the NES titles. However, they did do a nice job…
  • …calling back to the NES games. All three of the NES games have at least one song from them remixed for this game. Stage 1 is a town from Simon’s Quest; the game says it’s Aljiba, but the colors say Jova. There are others, but I’ll leave them to be discovered.
What a great callback to Simon’s Quest. Not only did they nail the graphics, but the fact that Richter can read the sign. Aljiba must have been given a paint job, though, as it wasn’t red in Simon’s Quest.

Negatives:

  • The secrets can be a bit obtuse, but I could see a logical way a player may stumble into finding Maria, or at least be able to put the method together. However, a lot of the secrets involved dropping into holes in the ground, hoping they’ll lead to something. That’s the problem here. Secrets aren’t found by exploring or solving puzzles. Secrets are found by dropping down every hole in the game and praying that the lost life and/or game over themes don’t play. This doesn’t encourage players at all; this just tells players to play normally, and if they happen to fall, maybe they’ll get lucky.
  • In a downgrade from IV, the whip directions have been reduced back to just left and right. That, of course, means that Richter won’t be able to hit that pesky raven that consistently flies just above the whip’s line. I have to wonder why they reversed this after the innovation in IV.

Screenshots:

Richter is just riding a horse buggy. Does Dracula really need to send Death out?
Richter is out in the rain, heading for the castle entrance.
I see Dracula has updated his d├ęcor. He went for the royal purple.
Kudos to Konami. Look at that atmosphere!
How did they manage to hide a piece of meat the size of Texas into a wall?!?!
I went back and found Maria. Let’s see what she can do!
She started by destroying this Madball in 15 seconds.
A 12 year old going out rafting in the middle of the night is normal, right?
Maria hops on a boat run by a person with a shady cloak.
There’s our old buddy Carmilla, and this time, she has an aide sitting in that chair.
Maria got hit by a scythe. However, this was my favorite battle in the game. It took many tries, but the scythes become easy to avoid, the battle has three phases, and it takes place on top of a ghost ship.
Medusa’s back as part of a boss rush that features all four remaining bosses from the first Castlevania.
I was having enough trouble just getting through the clock tower; did they really need to toss a Harpy in there, too?
I don’t know what the intended method is here because I just had Maria double jump up to the pendulum and went left.

Final Opinion: I enjoyed this game quite a bit, especially once Maria was unlocked. I bought the game through the PlayStation store under the title Castlevania Requiem. I recommend readers do the same.

Grade: A

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