Castlevania: Rondo of Blood – 1993 Developer Interview
Lead programmer “Nyajiou” discusses the development of this PC Engine masterpiece in this brief interview, taken from the official strategy guide by Shogakukan. Though short, the questions are more serious than the joking around found in the OST liner notes interview. Incidentally, the beautiful cover image here was done by artist Oliver Barret in 2016, for a Rondo of Blood vinyl release.
THE INSIDE STORY OF THE DRACULA X DEVELOPMENT
AS TOLD BY THE LEAD DEVELOPER
Today we talk with Nyajiou, the main programmer for Dracula X, which is destined to become a legendary action game for the PC Engine. In this interview the struggles, stories, and unique appeal of Dracula X will all be revealed, and we will experience afresh just how hard it is to develop a game.
—What was the most difficult part of making Dracula X?
Nyajiou: Nothing was too difficult. If I had to say, there was a time when we thought we wouldn’t make the deadline. In addition to my other duties I was also managing the schedule for the entire development, and when I thought we were slipping off-schedule it was very stressful.
—Is this the first CD game in the Akumajou series?
Nyajiou: Yes. It wasn’t stressful or anything, but since we had the CD format available, we were keen to include things like a CD quality soundtrack and visual cut-scenes. Also, with so much space we really wanted to do something special with the graphics in general. As a result I think the game has turned out very well.
—I understand that the Dracula X development was going on at the same time as two other Akumajou games for different consoles?
Nyajiou: Yes, at Konami there was the X68000 game (released 7/93), the Megadrive game (Vampire Killer, scheduled for release in 1994), and the PC Engine game development all going on at the same time. It didn’t really feel like we were competing. At least, I think that’s the case… (laughs)
—Was there a lot of pressure, working on a flagship title like Dracula?
Nyajiou: Yeah, somewhat. Because we had that base to work from, the development side was relatively easy. But given the large space available with a CD-ROM, we wanted to do a lot of extra service for the fans, things like increasing the number of stages.
—There’s also the new character Maria.
Nyajiou: Yeah, we actually had planned to add four player characters. After thinking it over, we decided on just two. I think Richter and Maria play completely differently. There’s no “difficulty select” in Dracula X, but you could say Maria is easy mode, and Richter is hard mode. By changing characters you can change the difficulty.
She isn’t the first female character in the series though. There was one in a certain Famicom game. (laughs) You figure out she’s a woman at the very end…
—The enemy characters are quite varied this time, too.
Nyajiou: Yeah. Having a lot of humanoid characters is also a feature of Dracula X. And then you have enemies like the Wyvern (stage 1 boss), with its strange colorings. We wanted to do things like that to distinguish Dracula X from previous games in the Akumajou series.
—Are there any characters you especially like or dislike?
Nyajiou: I think my favorites are the semuraa (Flea Riders) and the hangyojin (Merman).
—All the annoying ones, I see. (laughs) I really hate those Mermen.
Nyajiou: Yeah, there’s two different types of Merman enemies. The ones with the human lower torsos are really obnoxious. That’s exactly what I like about them though. (laughs) The enemy I find really hard is the stage 5 boss, Death.
—The bosses are also quite detailed in their movements and attacks. Their presentation is very impressive.
Nyajiou: Yeah, we put a lot of time into that. There’s some hidden surprises in those details too, so make sure to pause the screen and check it out for yourself. (laughs)
—Wow, it’s that detailed? By the way, I thought it was awesome when Maria goes “da~!” and does her special finishing move.
Nyajiou: Yeah, that was added as a bonus of sorts. We did a lot of extra little things like that in the game, actually. For example, the final blow that bosses deliver just before dying. In the demo disc that final attack could hurt you, but for the finished game we made it so you wouldn’t die even if it hit you. Anyway, we tried adding all sorts of things to Dracula X. The PC Engine doesn’t have very many feature titles, but we’re hoping Dracula X will become one of them.
—You’ve also added branching stage paths for Dracula X.
Nyajiou: The branching stages is one of Dracula X’s selling points. We wanted to make it so that the game doesn’t end after you beat it the first time. We wanted a game that you could play again and again. So trying out and finding your individual playstyle is a main strategy of the game, I think. You might try to clear the game using only the key as your subweapon. We want players to create their own theme.
—Thank you! And with that, it’s safe to say that Akumajou Dracula X will surely become one of the PC Engine’s—no, make that one of this generation’s—premiere action games. If you own this historical title, you may proudly call yourself an “X user.”
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