In the past, we used the Prelude track from Castlevania III to highlight the differences in audio and sound chips between the Famicom and the Nintendo Entertainment System. This year, we will take a look at another song from the Castlevania series that made its debut in two very different versions of a particular title.
Castlevania: Rondo of Blood was released on the PC Engine Super CD-ROM² System in Japan in October of 1993. This game was a massive upgrade from previous entries in the series; featuring anime-style cutscenes, hidden and branching level pathways, multiple endings, and an unlockable second character. In addition to the changes in gameplay, Rondo of Blood was the first Castlevania title to make use of Red Book Audio. This meant that the game’s soundtrack could feature CD-level sampling along with the PC Engine’s onboard soundchip, leading to higher musical quality in songs like Opposing Bloodlines:
Two years later, Konami would release an alternate version of Rondo of Blood to the Super Nintendo. Titled Castlevania: Dracula X, this game featured similar graphics and level design to Rondo, but technological differences between the PC Engine and the Super Nintendo led to some drastic changes between the games. Levels were redesigned, certain pathways were altered, cutscenes were removed, and the unlockable second character became a non-playable character to be rescued.
In addition to the gameplay and design changes in Dracula X, the audio had to be configured to make use of the Super Nintendo’s sound hardware. Without Red Book Audio for sampling purposes, many songs had to be reworked to exclusively utilize the inherent samples and instrumentation of the Super Nintendo. This led to new versions of every song on the soundtrack, including the aforementioned Opposing Bloodlines:
While I ultimately enjoy the experience of playing Rondo of Blood over Dracula X, I can still appreciate the music from the Super Nintendo version. The sharper guitar sounds from Dracula X call to mind countless afternoons spent playing the game as a rental from our local video store; desperately trying to make my way through this particularly difficult game.
Rondo of Blood was re-released once more in 2007 as the Dracula X Chronicles for the Sony PlayStation Portable. This version of the game featured a 2.5D remake of Rondo, along with the original PC Engine version, and Castlevania: Symphony of the Night on a single disc. Despite porting nearly every other PSP game to a major home console, Konami has let this penultimate version of a Castlevania classic languish on the now defunct handheld.
So as we imagine a world where all versions of Rondo of Blood are freely available for us to enjoy, please have a listen to a final version of Opposing Bloodlines from Dracula X Chronicles: