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Akumajo Dracula X Chronicle Original Soundtrack :: Review by Chris

Akumajo Dracula X Chronicle Original Soundtrack Album Title: Akumajo Dracula X Chronicle Original Soundtrack
Record Label: Konami Style
Catalog No.: LC-1609/10
Release Date: November 8, 2007
Purchase: Buy at CDJapan


The PSP's Castlevania: The Dracula X Chronicles was quite an exuberant game package. It principally featured a remake of Castlevania: Rondo of Blood, though the original game and the classic Castlevania: Symphony of the Night were available as unlockable content. The Akumajo Dracula X Chronicle Original Soundtrack features music from both the original and remade versions of Dracula X, together with a number of bonus tracks.


The soundtrack release features the complete score to the original Castlevania: Rondo of Blood (aka Akumajo Dracula X: Rondo of Blood) on the second disc. The first stage theme "Bloodlines" has gone on to become one of the most famous tracks in the series, and for good reason. The upbeat guitar melodies and pop beats certainly ensure a fun accompaniment to the game and are elating on a stand-alone basis too. The team also offer some arrangements of past series' favourites, including one of the most exciting arrangements of "Vampire Killer" and an overly emphatic rendition of "Beginning". All three tracks are pretty trashy in their construction, compared to the more mature soundtracks that followed it. However, they certainly charm in the melodic department and stay faithful to the series' roots.

While an upbeat rocking tone runs through the Castlevania: Rondo of Blood soundtrack, there is a quite a variety nevertheless. "Cross a Fear", for instance, is a synthpop track that manages to add a darken the mood of the second stage while getting feet tapping with its funky beat; it's hard to resist the exuberant keyboard solos from the 0:44 mark. "Cemetery" is an equally dark funk experiment, but is let down by its slightly premature loop. "Painting of the Ghost Ship" and "Op. 13", on the other hand, seem inspired by disco artists and are a novel addition to the franchise; while these tracks sound dubious in the game, they will please many on a stand-alone basis. "Den" meanwhile is an interesting if jagged fusion of the early stage themes for the penultimate stage, peppered with touches of "Vampire Killer".

The soundtrack is rounded off by some solid creations. The influential boss theme "Dancing in Phantasmic Hell" makes the most of the TurboGrafx-16's technological capacity with its booming modernist orchestration, while "Illusionary Dance" is a suitably dark depiction of Dracula with its gothic organ work and has become a series' mainstay. Unfortunately, the ending themes are pretty generic affairs, particularly "March of the Holy Man" with its overly bombastic orchestration. The soundtrack also features a number of tracks that weren't included in the original release of Akumajo Dracula X. The most notable of these is "Former Room", while the others are just short event themes or unremarkable fanfares. Most can live without these, though completists will be happy at least.

The first disc features the arranged version of the soundtrack for its remake on the PSP's Castlevania: The Dracula X Chronicles (aka Akumajo Dracula X Chronicle). For the most part, the arrangements are upgrades rather than transformations of the original, featuring more polished scoring and improved synthesis. This will be disappointing for those expecting a score as experimental as Castlevania Chronicles, though maintains the characteristic essence of the series quite well. Masanori Akita's interpretation of "Bloodlines", for instance, still retains its old-school rock emphasis with its peppy keyboard leads and electric guitar parts. It has a more polished and consistent sound than the original, allowing it to fit nicely into the first stage of the game without becoming overbearing.

For the most part, the arrangements on this soundtrack are carried by their original melodies. For example, "Cross a Fear" is glamourised with some Hollywood touches, but is mostly enjoyable for the infectious riffs and exuberant keyboard solos present in the original. Likewise "Bloody Tears" and "Vampire Killer" are pretty straightforward rock versions of the classic themes, but still inspire a smile thanks to their wonderful melodies. That said, this conservative approach to arrangement doesn't benefit the original's weaker tracks. For example, "Cemetery" once again lacks the desired elaborations during its development and sounds somewhat underwhelming in its synthesis, while "Slash" seems to jump between retro and modern stylings a little clumsily.

The remake soundtrack is thankfully coloured by a few more ambitious arrangements. Most notably, Akihiro Honda treats "Illusionary Dance" with an action-packed Hollywood-influenced orchestration, peppered with epic choral chants and intricate organ passages. Likewise, Yuichi Tsuchiya's decision to introduce a more acoustic palette on to "Painting of the Ghost Ship" pays off. The final score fits the imaginative visuals better while integrating smoothly with the rest of the soundtrack. Between these various arrangements, there are several brand new tracks. One of the most noteworthy is "Red Dawn", an elating blend of Hollywood bombast and gothic rock. Also of note are Yasuhiro Ichihashi's intimate piano and strings pieces used during the various demo scenes.

There is plenty of bonus content on the Akumajo Dracula X Chronicle Original Soundtrack. In addition to the in-game arrangements, the team behind the soundtrack offer several bonus renditions. The best of these is "Cemetary", since it at last elaborates on the sparing original, while offering some jazz improvisations and dance beats. "Beginning" and "Vampire Killer" are also quite audacious arrangements, but are not remarkable enough to stand up against some of the most popular versions of these staples out there, for example on Perfect Selection Dracula Battle. On the other disc, there are also some enjoyable anthemic rock versions of "Op. 13" and "Cross Your Heart" that nicely round off the package, the latter previously featuring on the Akumajo Dracula X album.

But that's not all! There is also some new music created for the package's adaptation of Castlevania: Symphony of the Night (aka Akumajo Dracula X: Nocturne in the Moonlight). Michiru Yamane arranged "Nocturne" into a pleasant but derivative pop song for the title. In addition, she replaced the critically panned vocal theme "I Am the Wind" with an original composition entitled "Serenade of Sympathy" for the game's ending. It blends melancholic piano passages with pop-influenced beats to inspire a sense of relief, contemplation, and sadness. While it is hardly spectacular, it at least removes the biggest fault of the PlayStation version's score. The rest of the in-game score was a straight port of the PlayStation soundtrack, which is not included here.


Just like the game, the Akumajo Dracula X Chronicle Original Soundtrack has plenty to offer: a retro score, a remake score, and numerous bonuses. The original Castlevania: Rondo of Blood score is one of the series' most accessible and entertaining soundtracks. Its adaptation for the PSP preserves many of these characteristics while offering a number of enhancements in synth quality and contextual underscoring. However, the arrangements throughout the album are a little too conservative and generic to particularly impress. This package is recommended more for the amount it has to offer, rather than its creativity.

Overall Score: 7/10