Castlevania -The Dracula X Chronicles- Original Soundtrack

Castlevania -The Dracula X Chronicles- Original Soundtrack Album Title:
Castlevania -The Dracula X Chronicles- Original Soundtrack
Record Label:
Konami Style
Catalog No.:
Release Date:
November 8, 2007
Buy at CDJapan


In bringing the legendary Japan-only PC Engine release of Akumajo Dracula X Rondo of Blood to the PSP as Akumajo Dracula X Chronicle, Konami significantly updated the game’s presentation, adding 3D graphics and a rearranged soundtrack. The original soundtrack was the first in the series to feature CD quality audio and was one of the best sounding soundtracks in the series on release. The music was very good classic Castlevania material as well. The Akumajo Dracula X Chronicle Original Soundtrack includes all of the PSP arrangements, the complete PC Engine soundtrack of Rondo of Blood (including the synthesized in-game tracks that were not released on the album Akumajo Dracula X), as well as a few bonus arrangements from both Symphony of the Night and Rondo of Blood.


This soundtrack is principally a sound upgrade the original Rondo of Blood soundtrack. Most of the arrangements stick fairly close to their original incarnations, adding perhaps an intro or an extended section, but mostly making changes through updated synths. For some tracks, these changes are very effective. “Ghost Ship Painting” is one track that sounds a lot better on the arranged disc than on the original. The track is still a bit melodically sparse, but the accompaniment does not sound as awkward as on the original track, and the colour of the new instruments sound very good. “Dreams of Triumph”, Chronicle’s version of Rondo of Blood’s arrange of “Beginning”, turns one of my greatest disappointments from the original soundtrack into one of the track’s better arrangements. Credit a harder edge added by guitars and a much richer, thicker sound in the chording instruments that transform the sparse, overly pop-coloured original into a very enjoyable, straightforward, but powerful rock track.

“Vampire Killer” also benefits a great deal from the upgrade in the sounds. The opening fanfare sounds much more powerful than on the PC Engine soundtrack and arranger Yuichi Tsuchiya does a great job of using instrumentation to contrast the creepy, stealthy opening segment of the main melody with the more bombastic whip-flailing answer segment. Akihiro Honda’s modernization of “Cross Fear” also works quite well. Despite an intro that doesn’t have much to do with the remainder of the track, he does well to quiet the creeping ostinato from the original track and focusing on the track’s melody and rhythmic backbone. The riff remains present, but does not distract from the principle action. He also does a great job of making his changes in texture both natural and effective. When adding many loud instruments into the mix to accentuate a dynamic swell or dramatic moment, the effect is always quite natural, yet still surprising.

While most of the arrangements are improvements, some do disappoint. The “Bloody Tears” arrangement, while it sounds very good, is actually briefer than the Rondo of Blood original that deserved to be expanded. “Cemetary”, despite a great improvement on the original ostinato, has poor instrumentation in the melody, which leads to it sounding like it exists on a separate plane from the rest of the music. Tsuchiya’s treatment of the track’s B section is quite good, however. Masanori Akita’s take on “Slash” is also a slight downgrade from the original. The drums are mixed too loudly and the harder edge of the original samples is abandoned in favour of a smoother take, which would not be horrible, if it did not mean that the melody was overpowered by the boisterous rhythm section. The arranger’s take on the section which turns the B section back into the A section is also absent of the melodic material that made the original version of this musical moment work so well, instead relying only on it s average harmonies to get the job done. It still works, but it’s not as involving.

Also disappointing are the album’s take on the original game’s sensational battle tracks. “Dance of Illusions” makes a decent transition, but the organ and brass samples that often carry the melody do not sound good, and in fact occasionally sound out of tune. However, Honda’s compositional treatment of the middle segment of the piece is accomplished enough to forgive the sample issues. None of these tracks are destructions of the originals, but are also not as effective as them in my mind. The album’s opening track “Requiem” is also not quite as effective as the original. The original, with a solo voice and a ton of reverb, is much creepier, and also much more beautiful than this choral version in octaves. It still works though.

There is one arrangement on the album that is truly awful though. That is “Tues Deus meus (in minibus tuis)”, which sounds like it is trying to be an arrangement of “Dancing in Phantasmic Hell” with some “Vampire Killer” elements thrown in for good measure. Unfortunately the orchestration is using every instrument it has available at all points throughout the entire piece, which means the piece doesn’t sound like it goes anywhere from start to finish. Worse still, there really does not seem to be any significant melodic material worth paying any attention. There are fragments here and there below the orchestral/choral screaming, but for the most part I think the listener is meant to find the grey coloured nearly unintelligible (thanks to over orchestration) material in the choir interesting, which I don’t. I’ll stick to “Dancing in Phantasmic Hell”.

In addition to arranges directly from Rondo of Blood, Yasuhiro Ichihashi also adds three arranges not present on the original soundtrack. If there is anything to complain about these tracks, it is that they do not really sound like they belong. In contrast to the rest of the album, which is generally focused on dance pop and gothic orchestrations, Ichihashi brings us a dab of jazz. All three of his contributions down this vein, namely “LOADING”, “Demon Seed”, and “Moon Fight”, are quite similar and worth your listening time, even if they do not quite fit with the rest of the album. His “Daybreak” is also a big improvement on “March of the Holy Man” as an ending credits piece. The only other track on actually a part of the Chronicle soundtrack that is not an updated version of a Rondo of Blood standard is Mikio Saito and Masanori Akita’s original track “Red Dawn”. It is an effective enough dark orchestral piece, but is nothing worth influencing your decision to buy or not buy this album.

Though this album is principally focused on the in game soundtrack of Akumajo Dracula X Chronicles, eight bonus arranges are also included on the album. Much like “Red Dawn”, I would not purchase the soundtrack simply to get your hands on these tracks. “Beginning (Crystal ver.)” is decent, but if you’ve paid any attention to Konami over the last twenty years, you’ve probably heard an arrangement or five of “Beginning” that sound an awful lot like this one. Yuichi Tsuchiya’s arrangement of “Cemetary” is a nice fusion of the track with jazz and four-on-the-floor dance music elements, and is the best arrangement of this theme that I’ve heard, even if it’s a little shorter than I’d like. “Divine Bloodlines (Airwave ver.)” makes a nice rave out of “Divine Bloodlines”, but I don’t think is quite as good as the arrange that was actually used in Chronicles. The “Vampire Killer” arrange is just a mostly misguided dance version of the classic and would probably be more at home on the recently released Final Fantasy Remix album.

“Nocturne”, arranged from Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, is a painfully derivative pop song. The singer also seems to be devoted to investing as little of herself in the performance. The result is not totally unpleasant, but it makes me cringe anyway. “Serenade of Sympathy”, another arrangement from Symphony of the Night, is a relatively enjoyable piano piece against a dance beat that is better than your average Castlevania ending theme. “Op. 13” is a fun, conservative take on the Rondo of Blood original and is a better listen than “Red Dawn”, which took its place in the game. “Cavern of Dark Spawn” is an arrangement of “Den”, but takes away every bit of the track that wasn’t an NES melody, and replaces them with an organ and a characterless percussion track. This is not half the track that “Den” was, and not including in this game was a great decision, because it opened up a slot for Ichihashi’s phenomenal arrange of “Moon Dance”.


Overall, despite a few bad apples, the arrangements on this album are quite good and, with the exception of “Tues Deus meus (in minibus tuis)”, those arrangements that disappoint only take a small step away from the originals while retaining most of what made the pieces special to begin with. The bonus arranges are generally a step below the quality of the core album, but most are still good, and as bonus content on a generally solid album, do not disappoint that much. Besides, if “Cross Your Heart” had also received a rearrange for this album, I’m sure I wouldn’t even be making that statement. Really, I cannot imagine a much better buy for the fan of Rondo of Blood’s soundtrack. You get a collection of good to great arrangements, in addition to the entire original soundtrack. Konami has made a really good product here, and for fans of the game, it’s surely great.

Castlevania -The Dracula X Chronicles- Original Soundtrack Richard Walls

Do you agree with the review and score? Let us know in the comments below!


Posted on August 1, 2012 by Richard Walls. Last modified on August 1, 2012.

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