Castlevania: Rondo of Blood (known in Japan as Akumajou Dracula X: Chi no Rondo, loosely translated to "Devil's Castle Dracula X: Rondo of Blood") is a horror-fantasy side-scrolling action platformer developed and published by Konami for the PC Engine Super CD-ROM² System in Japan on October 29, 1993.
Part of the Castlevania series of platformers, Rondo of Blood takes place a century after the original Castlevania (in the year 1792) and chronicles the adventures of Richter Belmont, a vampire hunter and heir to the Vampire Killer whip, as he makes his way to the castle of the resurrected vampire Dracula (while rescuing numerous maidens, including his beloved Annette and her friend Maria).
Taking advantage of the CD-ROM functionality, the game includes higher-quality music (via redbook audio) and animated cutscenes (with a hand-drawn anime style). In addition to traditional Castlevania gameplay, Rondo of Blood features a new game mechanic: the "Item Crash" (where sub-weapons can be used for powerful, but costly, attacks).
Along with a simple remake for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System as Castlevania: Dracula X, the game received a sequel worldwide four years later as Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, changing up the formula with free-roaming backtrack-focused exploration with RPG-style attribute, inventory, and experience systems. A remake of the final encounter of this game serves as the game's prologue, and both Richter and Maria are supporting characters.
Rondo of Blood received a 2.5D remake as part of the 2007 PlayStation Portable compilation Castlevania: The Dracula X Chronicles, with the original version of the game as an unlockable. Both versions are translated into English for its release outside of Japan. The original version (with translation) was later included in the 2018 PlayStation 4 compilation Castlevania Requiem: Symphony of the Night & Rondo of Blood.
The original version was also digitally re-released for the Wii (as a Virtual Console title) in Japan (on April 22, 2008), North America (on March 15, 2010), and Europe (on March 19, 2010). Unlike the PSP version, this version was released as an "import" with the original Japanese intact.
Rondo of Blood is a side scrolling action platformer in the vein of all previous Castlevania titles. The player takes control of Richter through seven stages full of obstacles and enemies, using his whip to take on any foes. He can extend his whip a bit by pressing forward twice during the whip animation. The player can increase their score by defeating enemies, and collecting bags of money dropped by enemies, or found when destroying candelabras, torches, and lamps. Players will also find hearts hidden in these light sources, which are used when attacking with a sub-weapon. There are many sub-weapons in the game, such as old favorites like the holy water and dagger. Players will be able to, for the first time in the series, use a super attack or "item crash" based on the currently held sub-weapon, which will do great damage to all foes on screen, using up a large number of hearts. In addition, Richter has a whip based item crash, which will make him jump forward with a large, burning whip, under special circumstances when he has no sub-weapon. Richter also has a special dodge ability, a jump backwards, away from harm when the player double taps the jump button. Players can also pick up a rosary, which destroys all enemies on screen.
Similar to its predecessor Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse, Rondo of Blood progresses in a linear fashion, but features many branching paths through each level. Many levels feature alternate paths, secret rooms, and every level features an alternative boss battle, each stage featuring two. The game even features a few alternate stages depending on which route Richter takes on a specific stage. There is one alternate stage for each stage in the normal route, though the alternate stages are all accessed in different ways, and some must come after other alternate stages. Most secret passages will hold items useful for Richter, but a few secret rooms are the holding places for maidens Richter must rescue. The four maidens waiting to be rescued are Anette Renard, Maria Renard, Iris, and Tera. Only two of these maidens are really important two the game, those two being the Renard sisters, Maria and Anette. Once Maria is rescued from behind a hidden, locked door on the second stage in the game, she will become a playable character, and plays completely differently than Richter.
Gameplay (Maria Renard)
Maria Renard becomes a playable character in Rondo of Blood when she is rescued from Dracula's minions. Maria calls forth her animal friends to aid her in her vampire hunting. Her primary weapons are small white doves, which she can fire two at a time. The doves will fly out to about the length that Richter's whip reaches, and then come back. The birds will do damage flying out, as well as returning. In addition, Maria can use her doves while moving. Maria can also double jump, giving her more control in the air than Richter. Maria has the ability to slide as well, by pressing the jump button whilst ducking.Maria is also more fragile than Richter, having less life than him, and taking more damage from enemy attacks. Maria will be knocked back further whenever she takes damage from her foes' attacks. On the other hand, she is faster than Richter, and her size makes it easier for her to avoid attacks.
Maria also has a secret special attack, where her alternate self will come out and do great damage to anything it touches. When Maria gets a game over, she has a special screen. The words "game over" will fall normally, but will be in bright colors, and assorted positions. The continue screen is bordered with flowers rather than skulls.
Richter in action
Dagger: The weakest of all sub-weapons, yet very fast, and costs a single heart. Richter will throw a handfull of daggers at his foes. The item crash attack will throw a barrage of knives straight ahead.
Holy Cross: Richter will throw a cross a short distance in the air, which will linger a moment before returning like a boomerang, damaging enemies on the way. The special for this sub-weapon brings a massive crucifix on screen, along with hundreds of smaller ones, damaging everything on the screen.
Holy Water: Richter throws a bottle of holy water on the ground, creating an area of effect attack with the flames it creates. The item crash creates a holy water rain.
Pocketwatch: Slows enemies down for a brief period of time. When the special is used, watches come out and act as a shield.
Bible: A bible will come out, and will spiral around Richter, damaging anything it touches, until it exits the screen. The item crash with send pages from the book flying in a circle, doing a great amount of damage.
Axe: Richter tosses an axe into the air in an arced path, damaging anything it comes into contact with. A great anti air weapon. The Item crash will send many axes out in a circle around RIchter.
Most all of Maria's subweapons are cute, cuddly animals who have a thirst for spilling occult blood. The four large beasts that Maria summons for item crashes are the four Celestial Beasts in Chinese mythology. These are Xuanwu the black turtle of the north, Zhuque the red bird of the south, Qinglong the blue dragon of the east, and Baihu the white tiger of the west. These bests, colors, and directions are also relevant to Japanese feng shui practice.
Canary: Maria will release two little Canaries who will fly in a V shape around Maria. This bird represents The item crash for this weapon will summon a large phoenix, Zhuque, that will pick Maria up, and rain fireballs from the sky.
Kitten: Maria releases a small white kitty onto the floor, who will then pounce about over platforms, damaging anything in it's path. The item crash will unleash a massive white tiger, Baihu, that will pick Maria up and hit enemies in it's path.
Dragon: Maria summons a dragon, which will fly forward in a straight path, damage anything it comes in contact with. This sub-weapon has a big cost, coming in at five hearts per use. The item crash for the Dragon will summon a large dragon, Qinglong, to rain terror upon the screen, for a hefty 50 hearts.
Turtle Shell: Maria takes out a large turtle shell, which is impervious to most attacks. She will move VERY slowly with the shell on. The special version summons a massive turtle, Xuanwu, to deal damage to all enemies on screen.
Song book: Maria will sing a joyful tune, which creates musical notes that float by her side, creating a shield. The special version will cause a dozen or so musical notes to appear on screen, harming anything they come into contact with.
Bird Egg: Maria drops a bird's egg, which breaks open, releasing dozens of birds to wreak havoc on Maria's foes. The special will summon a ring of birds which harm anything in their path.
The first title of each stage is that stages title for Richter, the second is for Maria's title.
Stage 1 : Dinner of Flames; Birthplace of Tragedy
The first stage takes place in Richter's home town of Veros. The boss of this stage is the Wyvern, and the alternate boss is the Serpent.
Stage 2: God, Grant Me Strength; O Lord, Please Give Me Strength
This stage is a typical entrance hallway stage for any Castlevania title, and plays the classic Vampire Killer music. Maria is locked away in this stage. The two bosses of stage two are the werewolf and the golem.
Stage 2': Breaking Through The Front; I hate Taking the Long Way Around
The first alternate stage of the game, accessed through a special passage in the first stage. This stage takes place on an aqueduct. The bosses are the same as those in stage 2.
Stage 3: An Evil Prayer Summons Darkness; The Vengeful King of Bloodshed
The third stage takes place in Dracula's unholy chapel. Minotaur and Dogether guard the end of this stage.
Stage 3': Release from the Thirst for Blood; Let The Soul be at Peace
This stage takes place in a graveyard, and where Tara has been locked away. The bosses are the same as those in stage 3.
Stage 4: Atop Countless Terrors; Atop the Corpses of Thy Brethren
Stage 4 takes place within the dungeon in Dracula's castle. The stages primary boss is one of the hardest in the game, the Dullahan, and the alternate boss is Carmilla.
Stage 4': Fortress of the Water Demon; The Final Divergence
Alternate stage 4' takes place in the mountain tops, along a river, and deep in a cave behind a waterfall. This stage features a franchise favorite character, the Ferryman, who helps Richter on the stages alternate path. Iris can also be rescued in this stage. The bosses are the same as those on stage 4.
Stage 5: The Devil Flies by Night; Toward the Tower of the Final Showdown
This stage takes place in a ghost ship, inhabited by haunted weapons and paintings. Death is the boss of this stage.
Stage 6: A Nightmare Reborn; Undying Melody
This stage is a series of boss fights. Richter will fight a giant vampire bat, Medusa, a mummy, and Frankenstein, before the showdown with Shaft.
Stage 7: Hear now the Requiem of Blood; Believe in the Dawn
Richter must cross an old bridge and climb the clock tower in this stage, which is also where his lover, Anette, has been locked away. Shaft's Ghost returns to haunt Richter as this stage's boss.
Final Stage: Bloodlines; The Brink of Death
The classic ascent to Dracula's throne, and final battle.
Castlevania: Dracula X
The SNES game Castlevania Dracula X is a remake of Rondo of Blood. The gameplay and story remain the same from the original, though the levels were remade, removed, and rearranged. The prologue level, along with most of the alternate levels, were removed, making the game more like the original Castlevania than the rest of the series. There are only alternate stages for stage 4 and stage 5, now. In addition, the game removed many alternate pathways and bosses, and there are no longer two bosses per stage. All of the boss fights were changed as well, as well as the hiding places for Maria and Anette. Iris and Tera are no longer in the game, and cannot be rescued, and Maria is no longer a playable character. Dracula X also removed the saving function, replacing it with a more traditional password system. Finally, the music was remixed into MIDI, as the cartridge format of the Super Nintendo lacked the storage capacity afforded by the PC Engine's CD-ROM, which utilized Redbook CD audio tracks.
Castlevania: The Dracula X Chronicles
The PSP remake of Rondo of Blood remains largely unchanged from the original game. Very few gameplay alterations were made, aside from two new barriers placed in stages as obstacles guarding unlockables featured only in the remake. These unlockables include music, artwork, and even the original Rondo of Blood. Each of the puzzles to save Iris and Anette were also rearranged. The player is also punished if they do not rescue Anette, who will be changed into a vampire who fights Richter if he does not save her. This boss fight replaces the fight against Shaft's ghost at the end of stage 7. Stage 5' was changed, and given a new boss. Dracula also has a new, more powerful third form.
All of the cutscenes were redone, as have the dialogue and voice acting. The German intro remains the same, played over a new FMV intro movie. Many sounds have been changed, and all of the music has been remixed from the original. Stage 5' features a completely new song to the game, and stage 7 borrows the song "MoonFight" from Castlevania Chronicles.
In the port of the original game, the only changes are the name "Rondo of Blood" at the title, and the English dubs for each of the cutscenes. All of the text is changed to English, and is the same as the names of the remake.
On the seventh stage, a particular mirror will show Richter's skeleton!
The first level will take Richter through the burning remains of his hometown. This town very closely resembles towns from Castlevania II: Simon's Quest, and is actually a town from that game, the town of Veros.
On the second level, the room just before the boss is the same room that Simon Belmont fights the Vampire bat in the original Castlevania.
If the disc was placed in a non-Super CD-equipped PC Engine CD, a stripped-down game of Castlevania could be played, with a note that the player needed the Super CD System Card to play the game proper.
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