Castlevania: Insert Subtitle Here

So, there’s another Castlevania game out.

I really don’t remember preordering it, but it seems I did. I’m a sucker for Castlevania games.

Castlevania: Curse of Darkness, is similar to the previous entry on the ps2, Lament of Innocence. This includes many of the problems with the previous game. Long boring passages with the same texture ad nauseum, fighting the same enemies over and over. But first, the good.

The game seems like a bridge between the 2d Metroid style Castlevanias, and a 3rd person beat-em-up. LoI was closer to the old style of the series, with little to no customization. CoD has two main avenues of customization: the innocent devil system, and item creation.

The hero of the story was once a minion of Dracula. Because of this he has the power to summon devils. It’s like the minion system of Symphony of the Night, but much more in depth. Minions can gain levels, heal, attack, open chests, and be used to get across gaps. They can also be customized by gaining gems that pop out of enemies. What gems pop out of enemies is determined by the weapon you wield.

Enemies also drop materials, which can be used to create weapons and armor. The drop rate is just right; I haven’t had to repeatedly kill monsters to get materials. Weapons are quite varied: and each type has it’s own set of special moves that can be executed at the end of a combo.

Now, the bad. Graphically, the main character, NPCs, and boss characters are all well done, but standard enemies are bland looking. Even blander looking are the long corridors that make up most of the maps. For a 3d game, the layout of everything is very 2d. It’s not as bad as LoI. Each “level” has a variety of different environments. It’s still not like the hand crafted environments of God of War, by any means. It still has the feeling that someone created a variety of set pieces, and then created levels out of them. Because of this, the levels are also huge.

The story so far is pretty bland also. After Dracula died, Hector got out of the demon summoning business. His rival killed his wife, so Hector is out to get him. Throw in a couple of kooky characters with ulterior motives, and you have the plot.

This game is a renter. Nothing is in the game that anyone who’s been playing games like GoW hasn’t seen. It does have Castlevania style, mood and music, but it also has mediocre, boring environments and enemies.

I had hoped they’d fix the abysmally boring levels from the first PS2 entry. When I read they hadn’t, I stopped caring about the game. Their combat system is quite good, but short of that, there’s not much to enjoy. It’s not even as good as the 2D entries, which at least have far more exploration and interesting areas.

I tried playing thru this at Eb a few days ago, the game gets very boring fast. With huge corridors, and the main character walks way too slow. I did like the ability to make new weapons and get the minions, but Castlevania always feels best in 2d.

“Not even” as good as the 2D entries? Christ.

“Not even” as good as the 2D entries? Christ.[/quote]

Beat me to it. The hell?

I just don’t understand what the point is of a 3D Castlevania. Of the original fanbase, who would be interested? It’s like replacing football with soccer but still calling the game Madden.

Just good that they’re still producing real Castlevanias for the GBA/DS.

If they made a 3d Castlevania that captured the exploratory feel of Dawn of Sorrow, I’d be very interested, and I’m as hardcore a CV fan as you’ll find.

What I don’t see the point of is making Devil May Cry knockoffs and calling them Castlevania.

I don’t believe you. The point is that there’s money to be made, and the Castlevania brand can’t stay 2D forever.

But I do beieve that God of War is a great example of a 3D Castlevania game done well, right down to the enivronments and the soul gathering based weapon systems.

I don’t believe you. The point is that there’s money to be made, and the Castlevania brand can’t stay 2D forever.[/quote]

I disagree. I think, for instance, that a 2d Castlevania on the PS2/Xbox with Guilty Gear-quality graphics would be stellar, and probably do better than this 3d one will. What’s the reason that it can’t stay 2d forever? It’s clearly a better gameplay model.

But I do beieve that God of War is a great example of a 3D Castlevania game done well, right down to the enivronments and the soul gathering based weapon systems.

Ok, besides the fact that Kratos’s default weapons are kind of vaguely whip-like, what on Earth does GoW have to do with Castlevania? There’s no “soul gathering” in God of War, and it’s not like that’s exactly a staple of the Castlevania series either.

I don’t believe you. The point is that there’s money to be made, and the Castlevania brand can’t stay 2D forever.[/quote]

I disagree. I think, for instance, that a 2d Castlevania on the PS2/Xbox with Guilty Gear-quality graphics would be stellar, and probably do better than this 3d one will. What’s the reason that it can’t stay 2d forever? It’s clearly a better gameplay model.[/quote]

Well, I think they want to expand their brand and make more money. You may not like it, but I think that’s the point.

[quote]But I do beieve that God of War is a great example of a 3D Castlevania game done well, right down to the enivronments and the soul gathering based weapon systems.

Ok, besides the fact that Kratos’s default weapons are kind of vaguely whip-like, what on Earth does GoW have to do with Castlevania? There’s no “soul gathering” in God of War, and it’s not like that’s exactly a staple of the Castlevania series either.[/quote]

You’re jumping around buildings mostly, trying to find stuff. You level up and gain new abilities and attacks.

There is gathering blue and red mana from creatures. They’re not the same, but they do share a certain feel.

I agree that ripping off Devil May Cry may not be the way to go, but it seems to me that if you can transfer Mario and GTA, you should be able to effectively transfer Castlevania as well.

I don’t believe you. The point is that there’s money to be made, and the Castlevania brand can’t stay 2D forever.[/quote]

I disagree. I think, for instance, that a 2d Castlevania on the PS2/Xbox with Guilty Gear-quality graphics would be stellar, and probably do better than this 3d one will. What’s the reason that it can’t stay 2d forever? It’s clearly a better gameplay model.[/quote]

Well, I think they want to expand their brand and make more money. You may not like it, but I think that’s the point.[/quote]

Well it’s not what they’re doing. Look at the first two 3d Castlevanias, the N64 ones. Just terrible, and hardly rousing successes for them. In contrast, Symphony of the Night, released around the same time, is widely regarded as a classic. And I think the same thing would happen if they started making 2d Castlevanias for the main consoles now, as opposed to unleashing this wave of mediocre DMC knockoffs.

[quote][quote]But I do beieve that God of War is a great example of a 3D Castlevania game done well, right down to the enivronments and the soul gathering based weapon systems.

Ok, besides the fact that Kratos’s default weapons are kind of vaguely whip-like, what on Earth does GoW have to do with Castlevania? There’s no “soul gathering” in God of War, and it’s not like that’s exactly a staple of the Castlevania series either.[/quote]

You’re jumping around buildings mostly, trying to find stuff. You level up and gain new abilities and attacks.

There is gathering blue and red mana from creatures. They’re not the same, but they do share a certain feel.[/quote]

They really don’t have any of the same feel of the soul collecting in Aria/Dawn of Sorrow, and again, sould collecting is not a mainstay of the series anyway, so I’m not sure why you’re even trying to make that comparison.

Anyway, God of War is a great game, but it’s nothing at all like what a 3d Castlevania should be. It’s utterly linear. You get new attacks an level those attacks up, but those are pure action RPG conventions; you never gain any abilities that help you to navigate your environment, which is a Castlevania staple. The two are nothing alike.

I agree that ripping off Devil May Cry may not be the way to go, but it seems to me that if you can transfer Mario and GTA, you should be able to effectively transfer Castlevania as well.

Yeah, you should be able to. But they don’t seem all that interested in doing it. This new one seems like it might be a baby step in the right direction, but it’s still not cutting it. In the meantime, I’d rather have a next-gen SOTN than Castlevania May Cry 3.

It’s a myth that 3d replaces 2d. 3d games and 2d games are entirely different genres. A 2d platformer and a 3d platformer are different genres. I weep for the loss of so many genres because ‘3d is better’.

It is not. Else we’d have seen a 3d castlevania to rival SOTN by now. Instead, we don’t even see a 3d castlevania coming close to even the base 2d offerings.

I’m in Area Four at the moment in Curse of Darkness. Trying out new weapons and combines is mildly fun, though combat overall is meh. Environments are pretty, but not gorgeous, while the musical score is probably the best since SoTN. Over all its a large step up from LoI, but still a few steps below the Sorrow games.

7/10

One thing I have to say, though, is that IGA definitely learns from his mistakes. Every GBA/DS Castlevania was better than its predecessor, as is every 3D Castlevania. Only Dawn of Sorrow has been on par with SoTN, but the constant innovation and improvement and tweaking means that I am honestly excited about the future of Castlevania.

I thought Igarashi only made the 2d ones.

Edit: Oh, and Aria and Dawn are both much better than SOTN.

Lies! SOTN still beats them all just in terms of sheer scope, amount of secrets, amount of bosses, non-linear progression, and just plain cool shit. AoS and DoS are both the best so far for handhelds, no competition, but I still don’t feel that either of them match the depth of SOTN, nor the perfection of the controls.

Lies! SOTN still beats them all just in terms of sheer scope, amount of secrets, amount of bosses, non-linear progression, and just plain cool shit. AoS and DoS are both the best so far for handhelds, no competition, but I still don’t feel that either of them match the depth of SOTN, nor the perfection of the controls.[/quote]

Well, you’re off your nut then. Aria beats Symphony in any non-aesthetic area, and Dawn beats it in any area aside from music. SOTN has more stuff to find if you don’t count the souls, but they’re mostly worthless. Plus, it’s just ridiculously easy. I mean, it’s easier than Fable. Fable! How anyone can honestly like SOTN better than Aria and Dawn based on anything but nostalgia is beyond me.

Ehhh… they are all easy. But then again, I’m the kind of guy who can beat SOTN with the luck code.

I think I like Sotn, just for the castle size and boss battles. Not to mention the fact that it did come with a reverse castle with new bosses.

You do a side-by-side comparison between Dawn of Sorrow and SOTN and you’ll find SOTN to be a better looking, better animated game. I saw both at Video Games Live and still SOTN was by far the richest, smoothest animating Castlevania by a long shot (not to mention it has better music).

This isn’t slighting either Sorrow games, both are excellent titles.

I’ve always felt the N64 games got a bad rep; yea the framerate isn’t always fluid, the modeling is rudimentary, and the combat/camera is somewhat spotty, but these are faults that are mostly hardware-centric.

The core design of the games are actually quite solid, heavilly themed environments, big huge bosses, lots of platforming, and a few gimmick touches(night/day puzzles and such). They need some current-gen spit and shine, but they do the ‘Castlevania’ thing far better than either PS2 mashup.

Oh and the music is quite wonderful in those carts as well.