So, my first official review for – pretty daunting stuff. After i33 last week I finally decided to sit down, fire up my trusty PSP Slim and try out this game. Being a fan of the old school title I was looking forward to trying it out. I have to admit I was pleasantly surprised.

From an initial chase of a cloaked fiend on a runaway horse-drawn wagon, and a quick fight with said baddie, the tone is set for a classic side scrolling game from my gaming past. After a minute or so of avoiding a rather nasty looking thrown scythe the screen gives you a brief cut-scene of a maiden running alone down a deserted street only to be stopped in her tracks buy a suddenly appearing skeleton. If that’s not bad enough a church going henchman of Dracula lures her to his clutches and our heroin is whisked away… can we save her in time? (you can almost taste the tension here…)

The basic premise from here on in is going through the various levels, working your way to the end clash with evil Drac and the rescue of his prisoner. The graphics whilst sort of old now really do work quite well with the PSP’s small screen, everything looks crisp and the parallax scrolling works nicely. Accompanied by a decent soundtrack the pace of the game is almost spot on with enemies never attacking too quickly, although some do appear together, but it’s never enough to be a major problem. The only problem I found was the controls for general movement can be a little frustrating now and then. For example: when you come to a flight of stairs you have to move the control button in an upwards diagonal direction – easy enough, yes, but when you need to go back down again the opposite direction of movement can more often than not make you just crouch down rather than actually go down – confusing when you want to backtrack a bit for some loot or try and different angle of attack. But after a little trial and error you start to get to grips with this and soon enough you start to ignore this minor flaw.

It’s a shame though – to me anyway – that a lot of these sort of titles have been relegated to the gaming vaults, because they really are still quite entertaining. I still prefer to dip my toe back into the retro pool now and then compared to playing some of the current titles out there, but of course you can’t live in the past when playing games. Whilst it’s fun to visit old friends now and then there are so many good titles out there today that it can be confusing which game to play. Shall I fire up Madden ’08 or try and get a better score on Guitar Hero III? And that’s where games like Castlevania: Dracula X Chronicles come in. They’re a great way to just sit back and relax and not get totally lost in trying to get 100% playing Knights of Cydonia (I gave up on that a while ago…my dreams of being the next Steve Vai shattered for evermore) – the chance to just jump straight into a classic like this brings a welcome change to my gaming schedule.