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Posted on Oct 7th 2012 at 10:39:38 AM by (noiseredux)
Posted under Sega CD, Sega

I've always had a bit of a soft spot for the Sega CD. Perhaps because I was one of the kids that bought into the hype and begged my parents for the pricy add-on that Christmas season. And although its library is riddled with some pretty awkward and crappy games, they are often also quite interesting. Case in point, Bram Stoker's Dracula -- an attempt at combining classic side-scrolling action with the digitized actor craze of the Mortal Kombat days as well as the Full Motion Video craze that the Sega CD brought with it.

Certainly you're all aware of the film from which this game was adapted. Bram Stoker's Dracula was huge in 1992 -- directed by Francis Ford Coppola and starring the likes of Gary Oldman, Keanu Reeves, Anthony Hopkins and Wynona Rider. The film went on to win three Academy Awards. But why should we care about any of that here? Well because whereas earlier games licensed from film properties simply took characters from the movie, made some sprites that looked like them and asked you to platform around collecting stuff, Sony Imagesoft actually used clips of the film and digitized actors. (See if you can guess which of these pictures below is the film and which is the game!)

Now here's the thing -- Dracula isn't completely terrible. But it is bad.

First let's take a look at what this game did well. The first thing that jumped out to me was the music. Thanks of course to the CD-ROM format, we're blessed with wonderful gothic chamber music throughout the game. It's really a fantastically fitting soundtrack that couldn't have been replicated via chiptunes. There's also some very cool 3D scrolling effects where you change direction of the path you're taking, all the while continuing on a 2D plane. It's a bit hard to describe, but looks impressive when you experience it unexpectedly in the game.

However if there's one major downfall of Dracula, it would be that Sony was just a bit too ambitious with this project. Really they had some great ideas, and were perhaps really onto something which is great when talking about a licensed property. They were smart enough to at least attempt to emulate another great vampire-killer game (that was no doubt inspired by the Dracula story itself), Castlevania. But the problem here is that Castlevania and all its primitive sprites controlled so much better than this. Indeed the digitized actor here moves incredibly slow. And his jumping, punching and kicking are also slow and clunky, which seems pretty unfair when enemies are moving quickly and swarming at you from all directions on the screen. Sadly though you'll be inclined to want the game to better than it is and see it to the end, you'll often find yourself frustratingly losing all your fifteen lives before the second level is even over.

With that said, I'd recommend Bram Stoker's Dracula to fans of the macabre who must horde such games, or those curious about the Sega CD format's growing pains. But beyond that this is probably one best left overlooked.

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Great article!  I recently sent a message to Duke and Crab about how much I enjoyed the NES version of the same title and I've always been curious about releases for other systems.  Also, I will have a little surprise concerning another gaming related "release" of this movie very soon on my personal blog.

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