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Demoniac Castle Dracula X: Metempsychosis of Blood
  PCCDPlatformerJPN  
  opened by paleface at 01:00:57 06/28/04  
  last modified by paleface at 21:41:47 07/04/04  
  paleface [sys=PCCD; cat=Platformer; loc=JPN]
           
You're probably wondering "what the hell game is this?!" Its title is generally rendered in the West as "Akumajo Dracula X: Chi no Rondo" or "Castlevania Dracula X: Rondo of Blood." But I like words, and I don't know Japanese, so I'm going to play around with this.
 
I imagine that encoding will screw this up, but here goes. On Japanese web sites, the name is written like this:
 
????????X?????
 
which, if you break the sentence after the "X," so that the latter part is a subtitle as shown on the game's disc cover and title screen, babelfishes into "Demoniac Castle Dracula X: Metempsychosis of Blood." Now that is one kick-ass name.
 
However, if you look at the title screen or the disc cover, you will also notice "rondo" on katakana (literally the syllables "ro-n-do") sandwiched in between those last two kanji, which together translate into "metempsychosis." Separately those two kanji translate into "wheel" and "round." So if you translate the subtitle with the interpolated "rondo" in it directly, it would come out as "wheel rondo round of blood" or "round wheel rondo of blood" or something. Sounds like it has an echo in it, doesn't it?
 
Of course, one can't overlook the fact that most of the English versions of later Castlevania games continue the round/musical theme ("Aria of," "Circle of," "Symphony of," "Harmony of," "Lament of").
 
On the other hand, the intro, narrated oh-so-Gothically in German, centers on a metempsychosis: in a dark church, sneering swordsmen gather around an unconscious woman laying on a coffin--when they slay her, the coffin erupts with light and Dracula is reborn. Her soul has been absorbed in Dracula's body, it has transmigrated: that is a metempsychosis. There is no music, no rondo (from the French "rondeau"), playing during this sequence, only silence broken by the tolling of church bells, and the woman's scream.
 
Now, if you were gonna write "round" in Japanese, it could easily come out as "rondo," since they have no "d" sound by itself--it always has the "o" on the end.
 
My guess, then, is that "rondo" was inserted as an alternate rendering of "round," perhaps for those young readers who wouldn't know the kanji (?). Western readers familiar with katakana but not kanji, like me, could read the "rondo" but not the "wheel" or "round" around it, and so adapted the translation "Rondo of Blood," assuming that it had something to do with music. "Rondo" or "rondeau" is certainly quicker to render in English than "metempsychosis," and has a wider range of similar words, so when searching for titles for later Dracula/Castlevania games Konami's translators found it easier to continue the naming sequences as if "rondo" had meant "rondeau" rather than "round."
 
Still, you can't get around (haha!) the fact that "metempsychosis" is the subject of the game's intro, that "round" has to sound like "rondo" in katakana, and that "metempsychosis" makes a hell of a lot more sense when we're talking about a game dealing with Dracula's resurrection than does "rondeau of blood" or "wheel of blood." Plus, it sounds way cooler.
 
  paleface 01:16:22 06/28/04
           
Ouch, my form ate that kanji but good. Well, go look it up yourself, here for instance: http://www.fuchu.or.jp/~kazuhiro/games/gsInfo.cgi?mac=PCE&gcode=G01430
 
To get back to the mistaken musical theme, the music in thia game is fabulous. At least on par with the Double Dragon II soundtrack (see entry 505), I am going to be severely tempted to stick this baby in my car stereo and nerd it up hardcore stylee. The ambient semi-gothic music on the character creation screen alone is spellbinding. The sound effects are good too, but they can't match the music's CD quality.
 
Just two buttons, hit and jump, and no submenus or anything like that, this is straightforward action, and pretty challenging at that. Stairs take some getting used to but the control is rock-solid. Additionally you have up+hit to use your projectile weapon (costs a heart) or Select to use your projectile weapon super attack (uses ten hearts). As in other Castlevania games you find subweapons as you go: I've seen a knife and a throwing axe thus far.
 
Of course, I haven't got very far yet. You get three lives, then it's Game Over. But then you can save to the system memory and pick up at the beginning of that stage later on, so not a big worry.
 
The game is at least as impressive graphically as it is sonically. By sticking primarily to the red-to-black range of tones, Konami's artists seem to have pulled more color depth out of the system than you'd have thought possible. Subtle shades grace every object, and the backgrounds vibrate with dancing flames. Characters animate very smoothly, even massive dragons, golems, and so forth.
 
And you run up against heavy hitters right from the get-go. First, you fight Death. Soon afterwards, several massive stone golems. And a dragon. This game doesn't pull many punches. Bring it!, it cries. It done been broughten!
 
Finally, the theme. Has there ever been a more stylishly goth game? Deep German narration, a virgin slaying, Dracula's resurrection, dark burning churches, bats flittering up to the massive old castle teetering on the unlikely mountain peak, and are those looming clouds forming the shape of a skull? Fantastic atmosphere, Drac baby.
 
That's about all I can say for now--I need to get further in to this. It is damn impressive so far.
    
downloads:
· dx_dragonaxepower.jpg
· dx_golem.jpg
· dx_mp01_woman.jpg
· dx_mp02_sacrifice.jpg
· dx_mp03_resurrection.jpg
· dx_mp04_diefledermaus.jpg
· dx_skelpowerattack.jpg
· dx_titlerondo.jpg
· dx_vsdeath.jpg
 
references:
· Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow (GBA)
· Castlevania: Circle of the Moon (GBA)
· Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance (GBA)
· Castlevania: Lament of Innocence (PS2)
· Classic NES Series: Castlevania (GBA)

 
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