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Akumajo Dracula Judgment Original Soundtrack :: Review by Chris

Akumajo Dracula Judgment Original Soundtrack Album Title: Akumajo Dracula Judgment Original Soundtrack
Record Label: Konami Style
Catalog No.: LC-1715 (1st Edition); GFCA-153 (Reprint)
Release Date: January 15, 2009; March 11, 2009
Purchase: Buy at CDJapan


In 2008, Konami dared to release a crossover fighting adaptation for its long-running Castlevania series, Castlevania Judgment (aka Akumajo Dracula Judgment), on the Wii. The game was a major flop both critically and commercially, although its soundtrack was still released. Handled by Yasushi Asada of noisycroak, it features a mixture of original compositions and classic arrangements in rock-orchestral fashion.


The main draw of the Castlevania Judgment score is its arrangements of various series' favourites. These tracks are all used during the fighting stages to represent different characters. For example, the demon-slaying hero Simon Belmont is represented with a fast-paced rock version of Castlevania's "Vampire Killer", while a more romantic rock-orchestral fusion of Castlevania: Symphony of the Night's "Dracula's Castle" is a fine fit for Alucard. Several villains from the series are also represented, notably Death in a metal version of Castlevania: Lament of Innocence's "Evil's Symphonic Poem" and, of course, Dracula in a suitably gothic rendition of series' mainstay "Illusionary Dance".

The arrangements themselves are mostly solid. Castlevania Chronicles' "The Tower of Dolls", for instance, brings out the most of the original melody with bellowing brass while supplementing it with gritty rhythm guitars and romantic piano arpeggios. It's ideal for the intense battles with Golem. On the other hand, Castlevania: Rondo of Blood's is a delightful straight-out rockfest complete with infectious rhythms and electrifying leads. In terms of production values, Castlevania has never sounded so good as these tracks: the guitars and drum kits really come to life here, the orchestra samples are of Hollywood calibre, and the mixing of rock and orchestral elements is successful.

While the arrangements are generally enjoyable, they tend to be quite formulaic in their approach. Nearly all the tracks feature punchy guitar leads in combination with action-packed orchestration and hard-hitting drum lines. This generally fits the fighting gameplay and original melodies well. However, it can grow somewhat monotonous on a collective listen, both within and outside the game. A consequence is that themes with slightly weaker melodies, such as Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia's "An Empty Tome" and Castlevania III's "Mad Forest" get lost amidst the similarly styled arrangements of classic anthems like "Bloody Tears" or "Clockwork".

Yasushi Asada also created a number of original compositions to complement the series' arrangements. "Darkness of Fear" is the most notable of these, plunging gamers straight into the action with a high-octane rock-orchestral theme supplementing with harpsichord continuo. This track also offers the most memorable original melody on the album. Other tracks such as "Title Screen", "Character Select", and "Credits" provide respite from the action with their slower tempos and medieval orchestration. They're not outstanding, but are competently handled and entirely effective. While short, "Credits" is also exceptionally enjoyable with its multi-tiered development and haunting conclusion.


The individual arrangements on Castlevania Judgment are mostly excellent thanks to their exciting rock-orchestral stylings and absolutely stunning implementation. However, the album is slightly less impressive as a collective whole given the stage themes are so similar in their approach, while most of the original tracks are subsidiary. Still, many will find it hard to resist this album since it features the best renditions of many series' favourites to date.

Overall Score: 7/10