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Wallachia: Reign of Dracula Review

Wallachia: reign of Dracula brings old-fashioned vampire action to Nintendo Switch. Developer Migami Games is best known for his work on Castlevania Fan games, and the influence of the legendary series is immediately visible in Wallachia also, along with other classic titles like Contra. The result is a retro side-scroller that would have eaten many neighborhoods in the past but may not find as many eager attendees in more modern times.

Despite a surprisingly impressive cast that includes NieR: machinesKira Buckland and Castlevania Veteran Robert Belgrade, the story is simple and largely unimportant. Elric's family is ruined by the evil Vlad the Impaler and she seeks revenge with the help of a wise old magician. The story of violence and revenge on Dracula, while rooted in history rather than fantasy, will be familiar to anyone who has played one Castlevania Game or saw the popular Castlevania Anime customization. A bit of dialogue and short cutscenes, bookend levels, but the clear focus is on the old-fashioned action reminiscent of classics recently made available on PC.

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Elric can use her bow and sword, the latter making up for the lack of distance with the ability to smash barrels and deflect arrows. A couple of well-timed shots at birds flying over the head make special arrows like triple shots that come with limited ammunition but can turn the tide of a fight. Her allies can also come to her aid, such as a sweeping attack from her pet wolf that destroys enemies in their own way. These can only be activated after collecting enough bullets from fallen enemies and resetting them after each death. However, they are extremely powerful when used correctly.

While not as difficult as the infamous Contrawhich was so sophisticated that the code for extra lives has become one of the most famous cheats in video game history, Wallachia: reign of Dracula is not a walk in the park. Dozens of arrows, projectiles, and enemies fill the screen, and all of them pose danger to Elric as she navigates the platforms and obstacles. Four hits will cause players to restart the section and lose a life. Lose Elcin's life and it's an old fashioned game over. It takes skill and precision in pressing buttons to jump in time and avoid damage while still attacking, but can be frustrating.

The Switch JoyCons are not ideal for like Wallachia is designed in such a way that aiming the bow in diagonal directions or performing the sliding motion is unreliable and playing with the D-pad is uncomfortable. Power-ups are removed when damage is taken, reducing their effectiveness, and allies cannot crouch. Coupled with these choices, which are on the wrong side of the challenge, blocking arrows with sword attacks is not reliable. This can be frustrating when there is no space to jump or crouch. Difficulty is part of the game's appeal, but when lives are lost due to a missing arrow or wrong direction, it can feel unfair.

Anyone who longs for an unforgiving arcade experience is at home Wallachia: reign of Dracula. Stunning pixel art graphics with very detailed and varied backgrounds and a solid soundtrack add to the experience, although many repetitive deaths result in many repetitive song intros. The retro presentation makes the Switch easy to run the game, and the short game tracks are suitable for handheld mode. Without the unreliable controls, this would be a near-flawless connection, but either way, playing on Nintendo's hybrid console isn't a huge disadvantage.

The old school game punishment niche has spawned some jaw-dropping titles like Indie Darling Shovel Knight and Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon. With Shovel Knight Migami Games, the developer of the Yacht Club, which is going three-dimensional for its next game, has produced something that could fill the void in the retro games market. What it came up with Wallachia: reign of Dracula is a useful addition to the genre that will appease fans of the genre and likely frustrate everyone else.

Next: 10 most powerful monsters in Castlevania games, ranked list

Wallachia: reign of Dracula is now available for Nintendo Switch and PC. Screen Rant received a switch code for the purposes of this review.

Our rating:

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About the author

Toby Arguello
(99 articles published)

Toby Arguello is a writer and lives in New York City. He specializes in animation and has worked on Nick Jr. and PBS. He likes to watch cartoons, read pirate books, and play the harmonica.

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