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Bram Stoker’s Dracula – Sega CD

Bram Stoker’s Dracula – Sega CD

bramPlatform: Sega CD

Developer: Psygnosis

Publisher: Sony Imagesoft

Release Date (NA): September 1993

Genre: Action/Adventure

Nerd Rating: 5 out of 10

Reviewed by NerdBerry

Based on the classic novel by Bram Stoker, Dracula needs almost no introduction. He is a legend and one of the most iconic characters in any horror genre to date. Bram Stoker’s Dracula was released on multiple platforms including the Sega Master System, NES, Super Nintendo, Sega Genesis, Game Boy, Game Gear, Amiga, and DOS. It’s odd that mostly all of these games are unique and different from one another instead of being a straight port from system to system. For this review, we will be focusing on the Sega CD version of Bram Stoker’s Dracula.

“Bram Stoker’s Dracula sucks you into a terrifying world of evil. And there’s only way to survive. Kill the Prince of Darkness. But it won’t be easy. From deep in the cold, dark dungeons of Castle Dracula to the brutal Transylvanian countryside, you’ll be in a constant fight for your life. As the sun sets, the evil Prince of Darkness rises and attacks as a bat, a vicious wolf, even an old man. bram 6With every multiple level – each divided into day and night – you’re plunged deeper into the ultimate interactive experience, as Dracula rises in search of blood… yours! Incredibly realistic 3-D graphics, digitized footage from the actual movie, CD sound, and characters based on real actors, turn this game into the ultimate interactive horror movie for your Sega CD.” So says the back of the 2 foot tall Sega CD disc case. Everyone remembers how the early and mid ‘90s were all about Virtual Reality and Interactive experiences. Just look at the Virtual Boy, or the Sega VR or the CD-i. Interactive gameplay was supposed to be the end-all to video gaming developer’s questions. But the reality was, the public wasn’t as interested in the hype as the marketing big wigs wanted us to be.

The novel is currently over a century old, but at the time of the movie’s release, it was only 95 years young. The game’s story focuses almost entirely on the movie and you control Keanu Reeves’ character, Jonathan Harker. While other versions of this game on other systems are platformers or first-person-shooters, this particular game is an action-adventure game using 3D graphics, digitized video footage from the movie, and you control characters based on the movie (not the book).

Francis Ford Coppola is known for his masterpieces in The Godfather trilogy as well as his masterfully crafted Vietnam War film Apocalypse Now. But not too many people in 2013 remember the classic dark horror film based on the Irishman Bram Stoker and his famous novel. Gary Oldman plays as Dracula and he does a spectacular job, as does Anthony Hopkins in his role as Van Helsing. Released in 1992, Bram Stoker’s Dracula was a box office success garnering 3 Oscars and multiple other nominations and awards. It is my belief, however, that the developer’s dropped the ball by releasing this game 1 year after the movie’s release. It should have been a simultaneous release. Regardless, let’s dive into Bram Stoker’s Dracula for some eerie and spooky FMV action.

bram 5

While the graphics are really starting to show their age, and especially with the over-hyped graphical qualities of the Sega CD, the introduction is quite enjoyable with beautiful music appropriate to the subject. Our game begins with some digitized video footage directly from the movie. It’s a little odd that there are no sound effects to match with the video footage, but there is some eerie music over top, so it’s not all bad. You can’t, however, skip it by pressing any buttons. So that’s annoying.

We start Dracula with 5 lives and 2 continues. Level 1 is an outside journey to the castle. Jonathan Harker is in the dark woods with only his appendages as weapons. The 3D effect is done exceptionally well for its time. This is a 2D side scrolling game, but the digitized background is detailed and lends some gratifying three dimensional effects. Unfortunately, that’s about as far as the game gets in a positive way. The controls are very sluggish and tough to handle. You can punch, kick, and jump. There are some decent uses of bram-stokers-dracula022-bmpmultiple button configurations, such as pushing up and C at the same time, resulting in a jumping kick. Over and C results in a high kick. Pressing C alone provides Harker with a normal low to mid waist kick. B is the punch button and doesn’t have much going for it, although I did elbow a bird in the face somehow. I don’t know. There are giant teethed bear traps on the ground that will snap on you. Your character can only jump so far (you have no control over the distance, so pressing over and A results in a predetermined distance). It is frustratingly annoying trying to figure out Harker’s distance, but in time you will learn (you will not perfect it however as it is a terrible jumping mechanism). This level is pretty much the same all the way through. You jump over rocks, you punch and kick birds, you dodge flying hatchets, and you fall into holes, and so forth.

Preceding each new level is a video of some guy in front of a fireplace reading the book and progressing the story along for us. Each level is pretty unique, taking place outside of the castle, inside the castle, during the day, at night, etc. I really struggled with a lot of this game for a while until I really got a hang of the controls. Once I figured out what buttons to press and how to time my jumps correctly, I wasn’t struggling nearly as much. There are still some areas in the game where it’s inevitable you’re going to lose some life (like the horrible random lightning storm).

Each level is exponentially harder than the one before it. I’ve mastered the controls and know how to use them but in each level you bram 3are met with a swarm of bats, wolves, spiders, rats, ghosts, dead guys spitting green venom, and more. It’s an overwhelming and unbelievable amount of enemies attacking you. Considering the sluggish and unresponsive controls, you will most assuredly die over and over. Another battle is your Sega CD. The game froze on three separate occasions, causing me to have to restart the game! Eventually, after the 3rd time, I found a 2nd copy that I own (yeah, I know… who owns 2 copies of Bram Stoker’s Dracula for Sega CD…? Stop asking questions and go buy 2 copies of this game right meow) and had almost no issues with this one (just one freeze!).

Overall, surprisingly, not a terrible game. The digitized backgrounds provide absolutely NO interaction with the scenery or setting, but the graphics and 3D details are surprisingly done extremely well for a Sega CD game, and provided me with much enjoyment (which is hard to come across on a Sega CD game, especially one that has any FMV in it). Bram Stoker’s Dracula does suffer from a lack of a quality control scheme. It’s a shame because there was a lot of potential here. Furthermore, some of the levels are exceedingly long and seemingly never-ending, especially because Harker walks painfully slow. There is no run feature, so you are forced to walk and walk, bram 2punch and punch, kick and kick. It gets a little tiresome. Bram Stoker’s Dracula only has 7 stages, but it is a long game. The enemies are really hard to defeat and are overpowering to such a sluggish Mr. Harker. There was a lot of potential and I feel like the developers didn’t fully reach that potential. But they did, however, provide Sega CD owners with a semi-quality game to add to their library.

Nerd Rating: 5 out of 10

Reviewed by NerdBerry

Written by Nerdberry


What’s up yall? David “Nerdberry” here! I am the founder of Nerd Bacon and the current co-owner (and CEO) along with partner David “theWatchman!” I hail from North Carolina, hence my love for all things pork! Oh, you’re not familiar with NC? Well I’m not 100% sure, but I am pretty confident that NC and VA lead the nation in pork production. I could be wrong, but even if I am, I still love bacon!

Come enjoy some bacon and games with us yall.


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