Format reviewed: Sharp X68000
Submitted by: Michael Levy
Back in 1993, if you were living in Japan you had the opportunity to grab a piece of video game history with the Sharp X68000. A computer that lacked a hard drive, this now-primitive machine was home to many arcade ports and even served as a development tool for Capcom’s CPS system. But it also gave us an answer to the following question: What if Castlevania for the NES was released on a Genesis? Akumajō Dracula X68000 is the result of that question.
The game is yet another remake of the classic Castlevania title starring Simon Belmont (and you thought Capcom was bad with remakes of Resident Evil!) This isn’t a sequel, but it is a reimagining of the series. The classic gameplay is unchanged: A straightforward platformer with intense whip-thrusting action, Akumajō Dracula X68000 keeps things classic with it’s fairly linear stages and jump-fight-jump-boss pattern. Though the gameplay is fairly predictable, it throws in a few toss and turns veterans of the NES version would not see coming.
Graphically and musically, this game echoes the Sega Genesis/Mega Drive feel. The entire game’s soundtrack is enhanced with that wonderful Yamaha sound chip (not the exact Genesis one but very similar,) and the songs are much more punchy and thrive with the thicker bass. Some of the sprite effects are really impressive, especially the Dracula fight at the end. The whole thing is very smooth and fluid. Even the cutscenes aren’t horrible.
The biggest gripe is the uselessness of this version, and the extreme difficulty level. This game is frustratingly difficult. Between more complex platforming puzzles (the cave level, for example, with the water rising while each peg of the platform your on breaks off, sending you flying if you’re not perfect with your jumps.) Enemies are brutal, draining life quicker with each hit.
If this game was released in 1990, I’d be more inclined to be impressed. But with the vastly superior Super Castlevania IV already out, the game just feels stiff and lacking. It’s a treat to play as a novelty, and while it’s rare enough to be a collector’s item, it’s probably better left unplayed.