‘The Retro Play Show’ #28: “Castlevania: Bloodlines” (GEN)

Many people that grew up playing the old, side-scrolling Castlevania games will likely remember the original, Simon’s QuestSuper Castlevania IV on the SNES, and probably Dracula X on the SNES as well. Yet, there was another major game that predated the so-called “Metroidvania” style of games that started with Castlevania: Symphony of the Night in 1997, and that was Castlevania: Bloodlines.

Bloodlines was different than the other games available in a couple of different ways. For starters, at the opening of the game the player gets to select from two characters (one being a member of the Morris family, the cousins of the Belmonts and keepers of the Vampire Killer whip, and the other a spear-wielder who is new to the saga) that play quite differently and can access different areas in the various stages. This concept was used in Dracula X: Rondo of Blood, though that game was only available in Japan at the time and thus this concept remained novel. The other interesting thing is that the game was set against the backdrop of World War I, in 1917, and as such was the most modern-occurring title in the franchise then.

As a whole, the game is fairly short – a mere six stages – but these stages are quite long, feature some sort of mini-boss, and the game does have its difficult moments. For me, this is a game I did not get until a few years after it was released, finding a brand-new copy in a Wal-Mart bargain bin, and yet the game had its charms even then. But, in this playthrough that I did on July 13, 2014, I found that the game was a bit easier than I remembered. Maybe, though, that’s because my skills have improved?

Who knows. Still, I hope you enjoy this session!

Jessica Brown

Retro Games and Technology Editor. She'll beat pretty much every Mega Man game without breaking a sweat.

One Comment

  1. I decided to stop at the final stage, but overall that was amazing. I especially enjoyed the third boss and the moving platform stairs in the fifth stage. I was never much of a Castlevania player beyond the GBA games and Symphony of the Night, but I did make it a point in my agenda to play Rondo of Blood through a Turbografx emulator at some point in the near future. Great video and great game, Allahweh.

    1. To be honest, if you watched the final stage, you would not get any real spoilers. In fact, the fight against Death and then against the countess and Dracula are really interesting and different from some of the other games, but the ending is pretty lack-luster. I did see there is a “good” ending you can get if you beat the game on the Extreme mode that unlocks after you beat it normally, however, the ending adds one more still-image and really doesn’t add much either.

      Did you ever play Portrait of Ruin for the DS? If you like the SotN style, that game carries that legacy, but it also is really neat because it is a follow up to this game, featuring characters from it or their descendants, and itself is set in 1944, during WW2.

      Thanks for the good feedback 🙂

  2. I forget if I played a bit of Portait of Ruin or not. I know I plowed through the GBA games once in an obsessive run and I played most of SotN(sadly, I put it on hold and got occupied with other things, will definitely get back to it at some point).

    My reasoning for wanting to play Rondo of Blood was, and I’m pulling this out of vague memory from a few months ago, I read that Rondo of Blood had a version/port on another platform but it didn’t have what the Turbografx version of Rondo of Blood did, and that version was apparently foreign.

    Actually, hang on, let me check. My memory’s a bit crappy.

    Okay, yeah, so Dracula X was different from the original Rondo of Blood, but apparently Dracula X Chronicles was more faithful I think. Just something I quickly read online just now. So I found an English version of it on Turbografx to emulate.

    I’ve been really considering doing gameplay recordings of various Castlevania games one of these days. Also, I went ahead and checked the last level out. That was actually really innovative of them, the visual tricks and all. And I liked the Countess fight.

    1. Yeah, basically Dracula X Rondo of Blood came out on the TG-16 CD (PC Engine) in Japan in 1993 and then in ’95 the game got a “port” to the SNES. The port is really more of a dumbed-down version. The graphics are arguably better and the music is pretty good for the most part, but the game is short. There are alternate paths so you can rescue people sort of like in the PC Engine version, though I think it only minimally impacts the ending of the game, unlike in the CD version where you can unlock Maria early on and play as her.

      I also think it’s interesting that the game was released as “Vampire’s Kiss” in Europe, LOL, and I never figured out why that was. It is a cool name though, even if it makes little sense!

      It would be great if you did some gameplay videos of some of the CV titles. I’d definitely watch if you did some of the Metroidvania ones, particularly starting with Circle of the Moon and working your way through them 🙂

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