Konami brought the Castlevania series back for a Super NES encore in 1995 with the release of Castlevania: Dracula X (aka Castlevania: Vampire's Kiss in Europe and Akumajou Dracula XX in the Japanese release for the PC Engine). The game is a loose variation/hack-job instead of a direct port of the PC Engine counterpart's vastly superior prequel and resembles a pumped-up version of Castlevania III more than it does a sequel to the legendary Super Castlevania IV: multi-angle whipping is gone, as is the ability to control jumps in mid-air. The character designs and enemies are lifted from the PC Engine version, but the levels are entirely new.

As always in the Castlevania world, the song remains the same - Dracula has risen once again and has kidnapped hero Richter Belmont's girlfriend. Richter must explore the castle and vanquish the evil that stands between him and his sweetie. However, in a new twist to the series there are two hidden stages that house hostages. Releasing them both invokes the good ending upon completion of the game.

Every Castlevania game features a slew of wicked weapons, and this game is no different. In addition to the usual weapon attack, Richter can call upon a super-attack that damages every enemy on the screen. This maneuver costs 10 hearts, however. Scattered among the levels are...

While the graphics may be considered a step back from the last Castlevania game for the Super NES, the music is an incredible leap forward. Listen up for remixes and new renditions of classic Castlevania music. One place where the graphics do not suffer is in the bosses. Richter will face larger-than-life versions of a devil dog, minotaur, werewolf, and even Dracula himself in his demon form.

Seeing as how the game debuted near the end of the Super NES's life cycle and how it wasn't extremely popular at the time (most Castlevania fans rejected this game due to its flaws), the game is somewhat easy to find at used game stores and online auctions depending on where you look. It some regions of the world it's easy to locate, while in others it's an impossible find due to its rarity. The game may not be a classic, but it's bloody good fun.

Playing the game