Review by YINever

"Why I don't support affirmative action...."

The fairer sex takes the helm in what could quite accurately be described as the wicked stepmother of the CastleVania series.

The story is only of interest for the fact that Sonia Belmont, who has apparently been written out of the CastleVania chronology by the powers that be, is supposed to have been the first of the Belmont lineage to have faced Dracula. Regardless, the plot of CastleVania games are seldom more than thinly-veiled attempts at justifying the hacking up of legions of the undead.

It is a wonder that Sonia survived this ordeal, considering her relative worthlessness. You see, there are certain expectations that one has for a CastleVania game. For one, a formula that typically goes: ''Jump, whip, jump, get hit by floating enemy, fall in pit''. This is present, but inexplicably, a mainstay of the series from the original, the special items, have been removed in favor of a ridiculous ''spirit'' energy system by which the hearts that you collect allow you to use powers which you gain by beating bosses. You can use any of these powers at any time after acquiring them, provided you have enough hearts. It sounds good in theory, but the problem is it takes far too long to acquire powers of any particular use, and even then they take far too many hearts to utilize effectively. You'll no doubt yearn for your trusty cross, axe, holy water, or, for God's sakes, even a knife. Ironically, the game allows you to collect these and other items in carefully guarded locations. No to use (oh no) but to simply sit in your inventory as a sign of your slavish devotion to this game. Collecting all of them gives you a special ending.

The only positive aspect of the spirit system is the ability of Sonia to, once per level, go into ''burning mode'' and remain invincible for several seconds. This is particularly useful on bosses. Unfortunately, this also means that the life bar for the boss has been removed in favor of a bar showing how much more power you have (I guess that would be ''burning'' energy). At least Symphony of the Night allowed you to see Hit Points to see if you were doing any damage.

The gameplay itself is highly repetitive compared to other games in the series, with little variety in the enemies you face, and long, dull levels, void of stairways but somehow full of strategically-placed ropes. The most annoying aspect of this game is that while you can scroll the screen back and forth (as you should be able to), every single enemy reappears when you turn back around. This leads to a lot of unneeded frustration, particularly when you are forced to backtrack to find the path to move on.

All of these gameplay faults might be forgiven if the game featured some impressive graphics and scenery. Actually, they wouldn't, but regardless, the graphics suck. Dracula, what with his rush to dominate the world and all, has apparently sufficed for plain wallpaper with the image of sporadically-placed bricks. It's as if my uncle Billy was hired to construct the castle, but I suppose Dracula just fawns over that ''wholly incomplete'' look. You won't much be impressed by the salamander-shaped ghosts or the awfully phallic underground worm enemies, either.

Legends plays on the Game Boy, so if you are expecting hi-tech 8-bit audio, well you can just look elsewhere. Thankfully, the developers chose to throw in some watered-down versions of classic CastleVania tunes so that we didn't have to listen to entirely original schlock.

If you can stomach making it all the way through, you will find a relatively difficult end battle, with Dracula able to throw many times the usual fireballs in his first form, and subsequently morphing into what appears to be a mutated Red Dog mascot. If you manage to collect all the hidden items throughout the drab palace, you will be treated to an ending in which the main character lets her hair down (ooh) and coddles a baby up to her humongous anime breasts (ahh) to emphasize the point of her being but the start of a lineage of vampire killers (hey). And what a start. Stick with the cousin consoles for all your CV-gaming needs. Hell, I'd think twice before downloading a ROM.

Good:

Burning Mode Ability
Classic Tunes

Bad:

Shoddy Spirit System
Dull Graphic Design
Repetitive Action
Uninspired Enemies
Long, Boring Levels
No Boss Life Bar


Half-Integer Scale: 2.5
GameFAQs Scale: 3.0


Reviewer's Score: 3/10 | Originally Posted: 07/07/03, Updated 07/07/03


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