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Offline AlexCalvo

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Do you know the date of that Japanese ad?

Here's another theory with the earthquake that takes into account that Japanese ad and the EGM announcement: Dracula XX was meant as a sequel to the PCE game, and was planned for release on the SFC, 32X and PS. Konami started development, data was lost, so they decided to rush Dracula XX for the SFC by reusing as many Dracula X assets as possible, in order to keep a Summer 1995 release. In parallel they decided to develop "the true" sequel on the PS, while dropping the 32X platform completely (good idea).

The SFC was an aging console by the end of 1994, and the PS was released in Japan in December 1994, so it sort of makes sense to me that they wanted a quick game out on the SFC (which they had promised), and planned a real sequel for the upcoming generation that had CD support. That game came out a little over two years later (January 1995 --> March 1997), and the SFC game took like 6 months to be re-developed (January 1995 --> June/July 1995).

The timings make sense. Regarding the SotN development dates, I'd have to go through some of Igarashi's interviews again, but I seem to remember the game did take a while, over a year, maybe almost two years? That would be something like early or mid 1995 to early 1997 all right.

This is getting juicey... So maybe the cancelled "Bloodletting" game ties into all of this?
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Wasn't Bloodletting changed to SotN during early development? I know we have a thread about this somewhere...
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Offline Nagumo

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Do you know the date of that Japanese ad?

No, I'll have to find out in which magazine it appeared. Unfortunately, a lot of Japanese game magazines haven't been scanned yet, which makes that a little bit tedious and costly (but not impossible).   

The timings make sense. Regarding the SotN development dates, I'd have to go through some of Igarashi's interviews again, but I seem to remember the game did take a while, over a year, maybe almost two years? That would be something like early or mid 1995 to early 1997 all right.

IGA mentioned in the notes for SotN's official soundtrack that he was working on the game's scenario while also writing the scenario for the PS remake of Tokimeki Memorial, which was released in October 1995. So early or mid 1995 seems to be correct.

I also found this another scrap of information in the February 1995 issue of EGM:

"Konami is also in the Q-Mann's loop this month, working on versions of Contra, Castlevania, Mystical Ninja and those Mutant Ninja Turtles for the Playstation. The games will be released in conjunction with the launch of Sony's big machine..."

The Playstation was released in North America on September 1995, so this seems to indicate Konami was planning on releasing a Playstation Castlevania title during that time.

There's also this brochure from the 1995 (or 1996?) Consumer Electronic Show:


 
Here we can see a "Castlevania: The Bloodletting" developed for the Playstation and Sega Saturn. This is not a fake brochure because Konami actually trademarked this title in 1995 (you can check for yourself in the United States Patent and Trademark Office database). The name "The Bloodletting" is commonly associated with the cancelled 32X Castlevania game that IGA worked on before being moved to SotN. However, IGA mentioned the following in an EGM interview from 2006:   

Quote from: EGM interview
EGM:

Is it true that SOTN is connected to the doomed Sega 32X game Castlevania: The Bloodletting?
IGA:

Well, there was another Castlevania title being developed on the 32X, but I don't believe the title was The Bloodletting. The game was canceled before the name was confirmed. This is actually the game I worked on after Tokimeki Memorial. The team for this game was disbanded, but several members, including myself, went on to work on SOTN.

So The Bloodletting and the 32X title must have been two different projects. So what was this Playstation Castlevania game? I can't proof this but I suspect The Bloodletting was actually the name of an early version of SotN back when Toru Hagihara was still director. It's possible that before IGA took over directing duties, the game was more of a convential sequel, which would explain why Konami was already planning on releasing it in 1995.

This is what I think happend:

  • 1994: Two different sequels to RoB, one for the SNES (Akumajou Dracula X II) and one for the 32X (no known title), are in development at the same time.
  • Late 1994 or early 1995: The 32x games is cancelled for whatever reason. IGA starts working on the PS remake of Tokimeki Memorial, while also working on the scenario for SotN. At this time, SotN was still being directed by Hagihira and was planned on being called "The Bloodletting" in North America. At some point in 1995 or 1996, IGA takes over as director and the project evolved into SotN as we know it today. 
  • January 1995: The Kobe earthquake happend. Development for the SNES sequel gets messed up, Konami tries to save the project by reusing assets from RoB.

Offline LuxKiller65

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That's cool. I was a bit skeptical they actually planned three Castlevania games at (almost) the same time for three different platforms, one of which was basically born dead. But they did develop Dracula X, Vampire Killer and the X68000 episode at the same time, so... maybe they just wanted to do it the same way once again.

If your timeline is correct, we could say the earthquake led to a drastic change in planning, which "forced" SotN to be rethought from scratch and become what we know. What a thrilling thought! :D
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Offline DraculaCronqvist

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I don't really have much to add to this beyond: Very interessting! If this is true, then the earthquake could be a major factor in shaping Castlevania's entire identity, as terrible as that sounds. After all, it is with the introduction of Dracula X and SotN that Castlevania truly got its characterisation as a series from. Before those games, it was little more than B-movie horror tropes all crammed into a game that never took itself fully seriously. Not that the games before were bad, but they offered extremely little in the way of a story or a narrative structure beyond "go kill evil vampire".
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Could the 1995 Kobe earthquake have affected the development of Dracula X?

I mean, it could or couldn't have. why do you wanna know?

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Offline LuxKiller65

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https://www.konami.com/corporate/en/history/

Scroll down to 1994 and, surprise, you get this: "The Kobe Building in Chuo-ku, Kobe was damaged due to the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake." You even get a small photo of the damaged office.

Chuo-ku in Kobe was really in the area where the most extensive damage happened so I don't doubt the cleaning lady in the morning found a mess. :'(

Now I really need to find out the earliest Dracula XX screenshots. I'm sure it's all out there in Japanese magazines, I just don't have any of them. ;D
« Last Edit: June 11, 2020, 07:57:53 PM by LuxKiller65 »
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Offline Nagumo

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If your timeline is correct, we could say the earthquake led to a drastic change in planning, which "forced" SotN to be rethought from scratch and become what we know. What a thrilling thought! :D

Well, the Playstation and 32X projects were developed in Tokyo and the SNES one in Kobe. It wouldn't suprise if Konami was planning on making two different sequels to RoB. This wouldn't have been the first time that happend. For example, there are two different sequels to Rocket Knight Adventures on the SNES and Genesis, both called Rocket Knight Adventures 2. So I think the earthquake didn't really impact the development of SotN.

On another note, could the "rival" have been a planned character for the SNES version of "Akumajou Dracula X II"? The character has traditionally been linked to the 32X game but IGA's original comment actually implies only the Richter and Maria sprite were from that game. I could be possible the character is actually a scrapped character from RoB or SotN. However, the character's sprite is obviously a modification of the sprite used for Richter, and neither RoB nor SotN have any sprites that are obvious modifications. Dracula XX on the other has at least two instances of this: Annette's sprite is based on Laura's sprite from RoB, and the Salamander boss is just a recolor of the Hydra boss also from RoB.             

Offline LuxKiller65

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I'm thinking SotN might have ended up being a much different game, if Dracula XX had ended up being what it was meant to be, since it was going to be released first, but for sure I could be wrong.

Maybe someone can ask Igarashi to come here to try to dig up some of his 1995-1996 memory? :)
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Do you know the date of that Japanese ad?

Here's another theory with the earthquake that takes into account that Japanese ad and the EGM announcement: Dracula XX was meant as a sequel to the PCE game, and was planned for release on the SFC, 32X and PS.

That's a cool "what if" theory but I'm like 90% sure that 1994 magazine making the "Dracula X on PS1" claim was just a really early misunderstanding of SotN being in development. Rondo and Symphony both carry the "Dracula X" name in Japan.

Offline LuxKiller65

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There's a proto cart, not sure if real, but if it is, it's a NTSC-US Dracula X for the SNES, dated 27 April 1995. So by that time and probably earlier they had pretty much completed the game??? Mobygames says the JPN version was released July 21, that's 2 full months later.
Sadly no screenshots of that cart are available. Maybe it's a fake, maybe it's empty, either way it sucks a lot that they sell protos as some sort of precious stone, without caring for its contents.
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Offline zangetsu468

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The Earthquake is a sound explanation for the fractured floor of the final boss fight.
<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<[Judgement]>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

                              
                **<<<<<SuperCVIV>COTM<<<<<<<<+
                                 ^      l   v  ^    v                 ^
                                 ^      l   v  ^    +<<<<<<<BE
                                 ^      l   v  ^    v                 ^  
                                 ^      l   v  ^    v     BE>>> VK<**   
                                 ^      l   v  ^    v     ^          ^   
            +<<<<<Legends>HC>OOS>LOD>64       ^
            v                           l              ^                ^
            v                           l     BE>> * <<<BE    RE
            v                           l      ^               ^       ^
LOI>CVIII>COD>AR>BR>CVC>CVII>HOD>ROB>SOTN>OOE>BL>POR>AOS>DOS>>>KD
                                                                          v
                                                                         BE>*  
BE=Bad Ending
RE=Richter Ending

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