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Castlevania: The Dracula X Chronicles

As Konami tells it, the PSP's hardware sales were in a downward spiral. Then they released Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops, the game sold well, and the PSP's sales abruptly spiked. It's hard not to draw a line between those facts and the decision, which is already proving somewhat controversial, to release The Dracula X Chronicles on PSP.

This compilation disc represents something that American and European gamers have been asking about for more than a decade now: a translation of the Dracula X: Chi no Rondo, or more simply, Rondo of Blood.

Rondo made its debut on the PC Engine in 1993. While NEC's system was a growing concern in Japan right up until 1999 or so, it was roundly defeated in North America and Europe by the Sega Genesis. That, combined with unspecified "technical issues," as mentioned by Koji Igarashi at Konami Gamers' Day 2007, prevented Rondo from being ported to another system or translated. (The SNES version of Dracula X, while not wildly dissimilar to the PC Engine version, is in the end a much different game.)



This was all the more bizarre, as Rondo came to occupy a bizarre niche in the Castlevania franchise. It was not only the last major 2D sidescrolling Castlevania, but its story led directly into that of Symphony of the Night, which many still consider to be the apex of the series. Additionally, most of Rondo's sprites have been recycled for the later games in the franchise, with sprites appearing in games as new as Portrait of Ruin.

The Dracula X Chronicles contains the original PC Engine Rondo, complete with its sprite-based graphics and anime-style cutscenes; a visually updated version of Rondo, containing polygonal 3D graphics on a 2D plane and virtually the same gameplay as the original; and a copy of Symphony of the Night, which Igarashi has stated he plans to make "additions" to while he has the chance.

What form those additions will take is a matter of feverish online speculation. The original Symphony had several interesting features hidden within it, such as an unfinished part of the castle and a fifth ending, but none of it ever made it into the final version. Igarashi also failed to mention whether the version of Symphony on Dracula X Chronicles will be the PlayStation version or the Saturn version, which featured the addition of a playable Maria Renard.

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