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Video Game / Castlevania: Rondo of Blood

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Richter flips his bird when Dracula kidnaps his girlfriend.

Castlevania: Rondo of Blood (originally released in Japan as Akumajō Dracula X: Chi no Rondo) was released for the PC Engine in 1993. Initially, it was only released in Japan but it was finally ported worldwide to the PlayStation Portable with Castlevania: The Dracula X Chronicles, and subsequently to the Wii Virtual Console note , to the PlayStation 4 as part of the compilation Castlevania Requiem and to the PC Engine Mini/TurboGrafx-16 Mininote .

In 1792, the evil priest Shaft resurrects Dracula, who proceeds to do the usual: set a horde of demons on the nearby town of Aljiba and kidnap any women who catch his fancy. This time, the women captured are Annette, who happens to be Richter Belmont's girlfriend; Maria Renard, the 12-year-old daughter of local vampire hunters; the local nun Tera, and the town doctor's daughter Iris.

Richter, hearing of this in his hometown of Veros, heads off to save the townsfolk, get his girlfriend back, and settle this centennial blood feud his family has with Dracula. As he makes his way to the burning town, he's accosted by Death, and the game begins...

Rondo plays similarly to previous Castlevania entries, mostly linear. However, you can also find hidden exits to reach alternate paths through the stages to fight different bosses. The ending depends on which girls you rescue, and you can play the game as Maria if you find her. You can enhance your subweapons into an Item Crash that usually fills the screen with large projectiles.

Most famously, however, Rondo is known for being directly followed up by Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, which features Richter and Maria meeting up with Alucard from Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse and for recreating the Final Boss of Rondo in the prologue level.

The PC Engine version was released in Super CD-ROM format, so Rondo of Blood has a redbook soundtrack and voice-acted cutscenes. This bump in production value led to Konami upping the values for their subsequent games.

A remixed port was released for the Super Famicom titled Akumajō Dracula XX (as in "Double X") in 1995, which was released for the SNES as Castlevania: Dracula X in North America and as Castlevania: Vampire's Kiss in the PAL region. While the basic plot and game system remained identical to the PC Engine, the stages were all-new and a lot more linear (with only two hidden stages) due to the lower memory capacity of the cartridge format, and unlike the PC Engine version, only Richter was playable.

On June 11, 2021 an Animated Adaptation that serves as a Sequel to Castlevania (2017), titled Castlevania: Nocturne, was announced.

Rondo of Blood provides examples of:

  • 100% Completion: Each save file has a percentage attached to it. To achieve 100%, you must save all four women, beat every boss and every stage. You'll need to discover different paths to unlock the alternate stages, and finding every exit for the levels that have them also contributes to your percentage rate.
  • Advanced Movement Technique: Backflip cancelling, where you do a backflip while moonwalking (walking backwards by holding down the attack button), then attack while in midair, which prevents the backflip's lengthy landing animation from playing, letting you do another backflip immediately. This lets you backflip your way through the whole game faster than if you walked normally.
  • After Boss Recovery: Implied. You start every stage with full health, regardless of how much (or how little) you had after the last one.
  • And I Must Scream: A unique enemy in the Ghost Ship is an evil painting which contains the soul of the ship's captain, trapped there for eternity. Let it touch you, and your character becomes trapped there instead, killing you instantly; if this happens, though, the painting downright shatters, so whether it counts as this trope for them is debatable.
  • Anti-Frustration Features:
    • When picking up a new subweapon, your old one drops to the ground, and you can opt to switch back.
    • Did you get killed by Shaft after beating the four bosses he summoned? Instead of fighting them all over again, you'll only need to fight him.
    • If you manage to lose the key in the hidden section of Stage 4', the ferryman will give a copy of it to you if you bug him enough times.
  • Arrange Mode: Maria Mode - You can play as Maria immediately after you save her in the main game. Playing as her is significantly easier than playing as Richter, what with her Guardian Knuckle, smaller stature, and double-jump.
  • Art-Shifted Sequel: The first Castlevania game to adopt an anime-influenced art style, which is especially visible in the animated cutscenes. Even during gameplay, the graphics have brighter and bolder look, with eye-popping primary colors and lush purples replacing the drab grays, greens, and browns that dominate the earlier games, especially Super Castlevania IV.
  • Ascended Glitch: The secret area in Dracula's keep, accessed by jumping onto an invisible staircase, is a reference to a bug in the Famicom Disk version of Akumajō Dracula, where the player could keep walking up the stairs to the keep, into the open air after the stairs themselves had stopped, through the ceiling, and into a mire of glitched graphics.
  • Barefoot Captives: Can be seen as such with Annette as in one cutscene, she's barefoot while held prisoner in Dracula's castle.
  • Bloodier and Gorier: Unlike previous games, when Richter loses a life, it's not a pretty sight this time around...
  • Boss Bonanza: Stage 6, where Shaft resurrects the first four bosses from the original NES game (Giant Bat, Medusa, Mummy, and Frankenstein's Monster) before taking the field himself.
  • Boss Corridor: Right before each boss, you enter an enemy-free room, filled with powerups and its own music track. This also serves as a checkpoint should you lose to the boss.
  • Boss in Mook Clothing: The Great Armor (Armor Lord) at the end of the alternate path of Stage 2'. You also encounter two of them in the upper path of Stage 5'.
  • Boss-Only Level: Stage 8 consists entirely of the usual stair climb and corridor before the final confrontation with Dracula.
  • Bottomless Pits: Averted in some stages, notably Stage 3. Played straight if it's water.
  • Brutal Bonus Level: Stage 5' only unlocks after beating Dracula and is the hardest level in the game despite not having a boss in the original. The PSP remake adds the Hydra as its boss.
  • Call-Back:
    • The town which comprises of a good chunk of the first stage claims to be Aljiba from Simon's Quest, according to a sign on the second screen. Although, given the red buildings and actual design, it looks more like Jova, albeit with the center of the town replaced with the start of the path to the Alternate Stage 2.
      • That said, Richter is said to hail from Veros, which like Jova and Aljiba, is also from Simon's Quest.
    • Dracula's One-Winged Angel final form is an HD update of his final form from the original NES Castlevania game.
    • The first part of Stage 4 is a recreation of the first part of Stage 5 from the original game, with fleamen on the lower level and skeletons raining bones down on you from the level above. The final stretch of that same stage, the passage to Death guarded by armored knights and small flying enemies, is recreated prior to the rematch with Death in Stage 5 of Rondo.
    • Stage 7 begins with a walk to the Clock Tower while being swarmed by giant bats, similar to the final level of the original game, but with the added kick in the teeth of the walkway crumbling beneath you.
  • Cool Chair: Rondo is where chairs first started appearing in Castlevania levels, but you can't do anything but jump on them. At one point, you find a skeleton sitting in one. Either you whip it away or see it turning to dust as you pass.
  • Damn You, Muscle Memory!:
    • If you've been playing as Maria for a while and switch to Richter, there's a good chance you'll back-flip off a cliff or into an enemy at least once while attempting to Double Jump.
    • If you started playing Richter in Symphony of the Night or Portrait of Ruin, he's going to seem a LOT slower and clumsier here.
  • Damsel in Distress: Iris, Terra, Annette, and Maria Renard, the last of whom later Took a Level in Badass as she becomes a playable hero after you rescue her.
  • Darker and Edgier: Previously only implied in previous games, it's a lot more pronounced in this one (except when it isn't).
  • Dem Bones: The game introduces several varieties of skeletons into the franchise; the barrel-throwing Ape skeletons, slightly larger (and golden) Giants, Archers, were-panthers, dagger-Dual Wielding Blazes/Blades, Flails, musket-firing Gunmen, and even a Golem boss which constructs itself from bones in its lair.
  • Do Not Run with a Gun: Played straight with Richter and averted with Maria, who can throw her birds while walking. Most of her other moves focus on mobility as well.
  • Drop Dead Gorgeous: The game opens with the Human Sacrifice of a naked young woman.
  • Dual Boss: Carmilla's female partner, Laura, walks around the boss arena, trying to drain your hearts while Carmilla rides a giant skull back and forth.
  • Easter Egg:
    • Stage 5 has a hidden mirror in a room only Maria can reach. It does nothing.
    • Attempting to play the game with a PC Engine CD System Card v1.0 has a creative error message in the form of "Akumajyo Dracula Peke", a minigame with cutesy graphics and only two enemies that ends in an error message and Maria apologizing.
      • This was also included in the Dracula X Chronicles, as an unlockable, Requiem, as an easter egg by inputting the Konami Code on the title screen, and the Turbografx 16 Mini by holding the Select button while loading Rondo of Blood. While the version on the Turbografx-16 Mini is left untranslated, The other two versions change the error message, with DXC simply telling you how to exit, while Requiem's version, for your usage of the Konami Code, tells you there's no extra life codes and calls you a "cheater".
    • Attempting to listen to the game's music in a CD player will play a brief Audio Play with Richter and Maria warning that the following track contains game data that cannot be played correctly on a CD player, and that you should probably turn down the volume.
  • Every 10000 Points: A 1-Up is awarded at every 20000 points.
  • Expy: Maria's design is Sailor Venus's head attached to an Elegant Gothic Lolita dress.
  • Fake Special Attack: Go ahead, try to Item Crash the Key.
  • Fake Ultimate Mook: The giant golems in the first stage. They tower above your character and look menacing enough, but they're actually quite easy to kill and slow to attack.
  • Fighting Spirit: Maria possesses a secret attack where she fires off a warrior version of herself that unleashes a Rapidfire Fisticuffs attack, much like a certain other Japanese series with vampires.
  • Flawless Victory: If you defeat a boss with a full life bar, you receive an extra life. You can get hit during the level, so long as you find some food to refill your lifebar before the stage is over.
  • Flechette Storm: The Knife Item Crash sends a stream of thrown knives forward.
  • The Four Gods: Maria's Item Crash summons one of them, depending on the current subweapon.
  • Ghost Ship: Stage 5 is an old ship filled with skeletons, ghosts, and other spookiness.
  • Glass Cannon: Maria is amazingly powerful almost to the point of being overpowered with her double jump and animal buddies, but just a couple of hits and she dies.
  • Graceful Loser: Dracula takes his defeat quite well in the original game, even wondering if Richter might be in the right, though he also points out how the avarice of man is what caused his resurrection and promises to meet Richter again. This is averted in the Castlevania: Symphony of the Night rendition of the finale, where he's far more contemptuous of mankind and faces his demise with an anguished This Cannot Be!
  • Gratuitous German: The prologue in the original game is spoken entirely in German, with subtitles.
  • Harping on About Harpies: Two harpies appear in the clock tower level. They carry daggers which they throw at the player character, and must be defeated with a carefully placed attack afterwards.
  • Hotblooded: Richter's attempts to Item Crash keys should count.
  • Human Sacrifice: In the introduction to the game, a group of cultists, led by Shaft, sacrifice a woman to revive Dracula by stabbing her with a sword.
  • Hyperactive Metabolism: Richter can heal himself with hidden pot roasts, which are replaced with various sweets when playing Maria.
  • Improbable Weapon User: The aforementioned keys. Which are among the most powerful weapons in the game.
  • Indy Escape: Stage 2 presents Richter with the unstoppable Behemoth, an enormous bull-like creature which will break through the outer wall and chase him relentlessly until he reaches a door to a different section.
  • Invulnerable Attack: Most Item Crashes give at least some invulnerability during their animations.
  • Joke Item: The Key is the strongest subweapon in the game, but it is a situational weapon because of its very short range.
  • Jump Physics:
    • Your jumps aren't as stiff as the NES trilogy, but are a bit less controllable than they are in Super Castlevania IV. Richter also jumps and moves a bit more slowly in the SNES version, despite still having the same maneuverability otherwise.
    • Maria has a Double Jump, while Richter has a backflip (it's not invincible, though, and can fall into a pit if used carelessly).
  • Just a Kid: Maria gets this treatment by Richter after he rescues her. He doesn't take her claims of being a vampire hunter seriously and tells her that she's too young to join him. She's not happy and insists otherwise, prompting him to laugh.
  • Kaizo Trap: Bosses will perform one final attack upon defeat. Subverted in that it can't defeat you, but it could ruin your vitality score and deny you the extra life you'd normally get for finishing the level with full health.
    • Unlike the others, Shaft's attack (Stage 6) COULD kill you in both the original and the remake.
    • Subverted with Laura; she coughs up a bunch of hearts instead, boosting your score. Carmilla has one, though, as it shatters into pieces.
  • Lethal Joke Character: Maria has a very small hitbox, a Double Jump (one of the first, if not the first, characters with this), can abuse her slides and rolling, regenerates health by eating cakes, and has different subweapons than Richter, making her a Hyper-Competent Sidekick. She does take more damage when hit, but between her Double Jump, Invulnerable Attack (that isn't even an Item Crash), and small hitbox, she can dodge many attacks more easily than Richter. She also has an insanely high-damage Invulnerable Attack Spell, although you need to know the input combination first. This is an entirely different attack from the Item Crashes, which both characters have access to (though the Item Crash is different, depending on the subweapon — and Maria's subweapons are quite different from Richter's), and which are also generally Invulnerable Attack moves which do high damage.
  • Lethal Joke Item: The Key's item crash costs no hearts to use, but it's still an Invulnerable Attack. For a certain value of "attack". Also, its standard attack hits as hard as four whip strokes, though you need to be practically touching an enemy for it to connect.
  • Little Miss Badass: Maria, showing just how deadly a flock of pet birds can be.
  • Magic Pants:
    • Totally averted with the Werewolf, who is completely naked after transforming back to human form upon defeat (you can see the peeeeenis). These same sprites would go on to be reused in several other Castlevania games.
    • Dracula X Chronicles played this straight by adding a little black loincloth in both the 2D and 3D versions. The Symphony of the Night version is still without underwear. It also appears in the western Virtual Console versions released in North America and Europe.
  • Magic Skirt: Subverted cleverly — Maria is clearly holding her skirt down with her hands so as not to flash the world or trip when she somersaults or jumps (though the skirt is ankle-length anyway).
  • Mana Burn: During the Carmilla Boss Fight, her assistant Laura will grab you and drain your Hearts. For Richter, this attack looks like a Kiss of Death, but on the shorter Maria, it looks more like Marshmallow Hell.
  • Market-Based Title: A minor change, but the official English release of Rondo had the full title Castlevania: Rondo of Blood, dropping the X from Akumajō Dracula X: Chi no Rondo. "Castlevania" replaces "Akumajō Dracula" ("Demon Castle Dracula"), as always.
  • Martial Arts Headband: Richter wears one of these to go with his more Animesque design.
  • Meaningful Name: A rondo is a form of musical composition where the material from the beginning continuously returns, and this game is packed with many a Mythology Gag to live up to that title.
  • Mini-Boss:
  • Motionless Chin: Appears in the animated cutscenes; most prominent in Richter's ending.
  • Multiple Endings: How the story ends depends on whether you save any or all of the kidnapped girls from the evil clutches of Dracula.
  • Mysterious Watcher: Stage 3' (the cemetery) has a silhouette in a cape standing in the background.
  • Necromancer: Shaft, whose boss fights have him resurrecting past end stage enemies.
  • Nintendo Hard: Unlike Super Castlevania IV, Richter lacks the multi-directional whipping, and many of the enemies are a lot faster and more aggressive than you'd expect. Even the typical bone skeleton throws bones almost all the time, and enemies that attack in swarms like mermen and zombies spawn at a faster rate than in earlier games. Additionally, the length of the Mercy Invincibility is a tiny fraction of what it normally is, making it possible to go from full HP to none in roughly a second if you happen to get stuck next to an enemy.
  • No Fair Cheating: We dare you to use a subweapon on Death's final form. We dare you.
  • Non-Lethal Bottomless Pits: Some pits provide an access point for an alternate route instead of a frustrating death. Question is, which ones?
  • Nostalgia Level
    • Stage 1 claims to be the Town of Aljiba from Simon's Quest, but more closely resembles Jova. It's also combined with a portion of Stage 1 from Dracula's Curse.
    • Stage 2, as usual, is the Castle Entrance Corridor from the original NES game.
    • Stage 4 is mostly taken from Stage 5 of the original game, though fortunately without the horrifying Axe Armour/Medusa Heads corridor, and without Death at the end.
    • Stage 6 is a Boss Rush against four of the bosses from the original NES game. In the PC Engine version, the stage's background music is a remixed version of the NES game's boss theme titled "Poison Mind."
    • Stage 7 is a redesigned version of the first game's Clock Tower final stage, updated to feature more of the design aspects that had later become associated with Clock Tower levels (moving gears, Medusa heads). Except for the final room, which is instead a shout-out to the final room in the Dracula Clock Tower in Dracula's Curse.
  • Not-So-Harmless Villain: The painting sub boss on the ghost ship level. It slowly flies around the room, basically being a huge target and will die after a few attacks. However, if you get careless and it touches you, it will one-shot you. To top it off, the subject in the painting will change to look like he's laughing at you.
  • Off with His Head!: Upon defeat, Death's Sinister Scythe flies into the air and drops blade-first on him, providing a humiliating decapitation.
  • Ominous Latin Chanting: "Requiem", the main menu theme, features this. In it, "Kyrie Eleison" (Greek for "Lord have mercy") is chanted.
  • One-Winged Angel: The second phase of the final battle has Dracula turning into a huge demon which jumps around and shoots fireballs out of its mouth.
  • Our Minotaurs Are Different: A halberd-wielding Minotaur is the boss of the Stage 3's main path.
  • Phantom-Zone Picture: If Richter or Maria touch the Captain's Portrait mini-boss, they are trapped in a picture within it and the Captain will tear them into shreds.
  • Pink Means Feminine: Maria's dress, contrasting Richter's blue outfit.
  • Plucky Girl: Maria Renard, doubling as a Little Miss Badass in Distress. Right after being freed, you can control her all the way from where she's held captive to beat up Dracula all by herself and her pets (which is a case for most people anyway, since she's stronger and faster than Ricther).
  • Post-Final Level: After the fairly brutal Stage 7, Stage 8 is nothing but a short ascent up some stairs to Dracula himself. And a hidden stairway to some bonus items.
  • Power Makes Your Voice Deep: Dracula's voice deepens mid-word as he transforms into a massive bat-creature for the second part of the final battle. Conversely, when that form is defeated, he roars in pain, and his voice spontaneously rises back to normal as his transformation is forced to revert.
  • Power Up Letdown:
    • To compensate for her many advantages, Maria has several absolutely worthless secondary weapons. She has the music book, which is like the throwing knife but lacks even a useful Item Crash, and a weapon that sends two birds diagonally upwards, which is totally useless except in certain rare circumstances (although at least it has a useful Item Crash).
    • Attempting an Item Crash with the Key leads to Richter powering up... and falling back to earth with a Confused Question Mark above his head, wondering what the heck you're trying to do. Then again, the key does have its uses.
  • Rain of Blood: Richter's death animation is this, which has him flying into the air and dissolving in a mist of blood.
  • Random Drop: There's a chance of enemies dropping moneybags, hearts, and even subweapons.
  • Scenery Gorn: The backdrop of Stage 1 is a town in flames.
  • Secret Level: Stage 5', which is only accessed after beating the game at least once (in the PC-Engine CD version), or by defeating Death in Stage 5 (in The Dracula X Chronicles).
  • Shoryuken: The Minotaur boss' Last Ditch Move is him trying to pull this off on you as he burns to the bone and turns to ash.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The Dogether boss is named in reference to Bastard!! (1988)'s Suzuki Dogezaemon, and naturally the original Beholder.
    • This is the first appearance of the reoccurring enemy, the Skeleton Ape, whose only method of attack is throwing barrels at the player. Sound familiar?
  • Shut Up, Hannibal!: In Maria's ending, Dracula gives a rambling villain speech, and Maria just blurts out that she doesn't understand what he means.
  • Skippable Boss:
    • Taking the Merman-infested shortcut with the boatman in Stage 2' takes you straight to Stage 3', letting you skip its bosses.
    • The fight against Death can be skipped by going to Stage 5' in the subsequent playthroughs.
  • Slide Attack: An ability of the Werewolf boss.
  • Sliding Scale of Silliness vs. Seriousness: It starts at the serious end with Richter, but when you play as Maria it shifts to the silly side.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: Stage 5' is a Brutal Bonus Level with some of the worst jumps, frustrating bats, medusa heads, all the most devious combinations of enemies and jumps, as well as loads of bottomless pits. The music? A really peppy pop style track that perfectly embodies the early 90s.
  • Spikes of Doom: Frequent obstacle in Stage 4, which is a torture dungeon.
  • Spin to Deflect Stuff: The purple Spear Guard enemies can deflect some subweapons by spinning their spears.
  • Status Effects: Being cursed slows down the player character's movements.
  • Stealth Pun: Akumajō Dracula X was literally the tenth Akumajō Dracula/Castlevania game released by Konaminote . Before this, there was the original NES trilogy (3), Vampire Killer for the MSX2 (4), the arcade game Haunted Castle (5), the two Game Boy games (7), Super Castlevania IV for the Super NES (8), and the original Sharp X68000 version of Castlevania Chronicles (9).
  • Take It to the Bridge: Stage 2' is an old stone bridge built over a river.
  • Taking You with Me: Some of the bosses after having their health bar completely empty will try one last ditch effort to attack Richter. The werewolf, minotaur, and sea serpent are notable examples. The attack will not kill Richter, but it will negate a potential No Damage bonus.
  • Title Drop: While the furigana in the game's subtitle reads Chi no Rondo for "Rondo of Blood," the literal reading is Chi no Rinne, meaning "Samsara of Blood." The latter is the title of the game's final stage (although the English version of the PSP port simply renders it "Bloodlines" to tie in with Symphony of the Night doing the samenote , dropping a different title entirely).
  • Unique Enemy:
    • The man-eating plant/stone rose only appears once in a corridor in the village. Going in that direction is entirely pointless, as it's a dead end. It's much more common in other games, though.
    • On the same path is the only Ectoplasm in the entire game. However, encountering it is mandatory when going through the alternate path and it curses on touch.
    • Golden Medusa Heads can only be found in stage 5'.
    • The portrait of the Captain at the midpoint of the ghost ship, stage 5, is the only enemy of its type in the game. It's not too difficult to defeat but if you miss a swing and it grabs you, it delivers a One-Hit Kill.
  • Unstable Equilibrium: Scoring a perfect (at full health) boss fight awards the player a 1up. Something suited towards a more bumbling gamer.
  • Vampire Hunter: Richter and Maria both. Maria stands out as her parents were vampire hunters, and apparently taught her some of the trade before they were killed and she was captured.
  • Video Game Sliding: Maria Renard in Rondo of Blood marks the first time a character in the Castlevania franchise has the ability to slide. Richter would not obtain this ability until the following game.
  • V-Sign: An animated cutscene has Richter giving a peace sign while telling his name and occupation to Tera after rescuing her. In her version, Maria just gives a thumbs up.
  • Wake-Up Call Boss: The Werewolf. Stage 2 is already a difficulty spike in and of itself, but the Werewolf is much faster than your character, unpredictable, and requires you to think fast or die.
  • Walking Ossuary: The Bone Golem boss starts out as some hybrid of biped and quadruped skeletons, picks up wings somewhere for its second form, and then degenerates into a writhing mass of bones and skulls for its final form.
  • What Is Evil?: In Richter's ending, Dracula asks if he can really be called evil when humanity is no better than him.


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