GR: So everything in the Rondo of Blood remake is classic Castlevania, then.
KO: Yes, it's a straight-up action game. There aren't any RPG elements. Players coming straight from the more recent games will probably need to readjust. You won't have one-hit deaths like in Contra or anything, but it's still possible to do things like lose a life by falling into a pit. For me, it takes a long time to get back into the mindset of this style.
GR: Do you think it's going to be difficult for players who are only familiar with the Castlevania games from Symphony of the Night onwards to adapt to the older play style of Rondo of Blood?
KO: Actually, Symphony of the Night evolved from the Rondo of Blood style of "multiple paths and collectibles." So it really isn't that much of a stretch, just a small step backwards in the series history. In Japan, both Rondo of Blood and Symphony of the Night the games were under the "Dracula X" brand, of course, so they are considered to share a lot of elements in common.
GR: If this does well, do you think we'll wind up seeing another pure action-oriented Castlevania in the future? The more recent games in the series are more geared towards exploration.
KO: Well, let's think of it this way. Igarashi's very first Castlevania game was Symphony of the Night. Rondo of Blood and previous Castlevania games were all handled by others originally. Since then, we've managed to really create a successful action/RPG type formula for the series. Exploration is a big part of this. The Castlevania formula as it stands now still retains a lot of its action elements, but the added RPG-like features make it more accessible to a wider audience. The rationale behind this has always been "If the player has trouble with the action elements, then they can always focus on leveling up and making their characters stronger to make things a bit easier." But we understand that there a lot of players who like action challenges. This is why the games still feature things like the Clock Tower. You still need some action gaming skills to get through those. Those work for the "hardcore" players.
We think there's also room for the players to challenge themselves. For Dawn of Sorrow, we actually did have a staff member who went through the entire game at Level 1.
GR: Whoa. Is this on YouTube or something?
KO: I think it's on the Japanese Castlevania developer page, actually. But yes, he beats all the bosses at level one. You watch it and think, "That's not possible!" We especially loved the comments we got from people who watched the videos. "Amazing!" "Great!" "Un-doable!" (laughs)
GR: How about something like Castlevania III or IV remade in this style?
KO: That... we honestly don't know yet. Right now with Virtual Console, XBL, Playstation Network, all those things, we'll be distributing a lot of the older games through those. We don't know if there would really be a need for these remakes, since the originals are readily accessible. Rondo of Blood isn't.
GR: So in the remixed game, are there any significant changes from the layout of the original?
KO: We actually did completely redo one stage. It was something of a mishmash of previous stages, and it was very incomplete. It's still in the original version, however.
The basic idea behind this remake was that, since this game hadn't seen a Western release before, Igarashi wanted to give Western players a chance to experience the same feelings he had when he played Dracula X for the very first time, but give them all-new graphics to go along with it.