Review by PsycoMonkeyz
"Another Castlevania, bring it on!"
The Castlevania series saw its brightest days when SotN released, and like CotM, this game follows the same design as SotN... Which is definitely a good thing.
As soon as that giant creature rose to his feet in the beginning, I was immediately impressed. This monstrosity named Talos was one of the most impressive things I've seen on the GBA. He was formed by many detailed, individual sprites that rotated that moved individually with great fluidity. Then I entered the castle and was treated with some cool background effects. There were peeping eye enemies floating around on the other side of the windows in the background. It was really impressive. Why they were there, I had no idea, but still a great effect. Then I killed my first skeleton and saw him shatter into many pieces and burn, very nice. I was also very impressed by the 3D doors. Most of the game is impressive, but there are some areas with some bland backgrounds like CotM. I am also a little bothered by the aura that surrounds you and the bat, which kinda ruined what could have looked realistic, but that is a tiny detail, and its one of the only things that bothers me.
In other words, HoD is a total update to CotM's graphics. Its brighter (which I never really cared about in CotM, but some did) and the sprites are bigger, therefore more detailed.
Sound effects: 9
The sound effects are of the same quality they were in CotM. In other words, they are very good. The sound effects are also more diverse in HoD. There are more individual sound effects for most of the enemies, more than CotM. Some of the sound effects are a little weird though. When you kill a witch, she makes some questionable sounds and Juste makes some weird sound when he gets poisoned.
Ack!!! Of course, the updated graphics come at a cost. The music composition is average. Nothing catchy like CotM. If you tell me an area in CotM, I can hum the song, but the music in this game just isn't memorable, with the exception of maybe a couple. Juste's Theme was cool, but the rest were just average. I remember the areas by music in CotM, where I remember the areas in this game by graphics. A good thing to some, a bad thing to others including me.
The compositions are my main problem, but I can't help but notice the NES sound quality. Bad quality + average compositions = below average music. Believe me though, it is not terrible.
Gameplay- Control: 8
The controls feel nicer than CotM's controls, but some things were left out or replaced. Like most CV games, Juste uses a whip. The spinning whip was replaced by a cool controllable swing. The spinning whip is more useful, but I like this better. Nathan from CotM could walk and run, Juste can only run at a speed in between Nathan's 2 speeds. Its kind of a good thing, but it removes a slight strategic element. The L and R buttons were utilized well in CotM, but in HoD they are used for one thing which is a new move that also removes strategic elements. This new move is the dash. L is a left dash, R is a right dash. If you have played Megaman X, you'll recognize the move. Using both L and R is a waste of buttons. The dash also kinda sticks because you can't use it to gain jumping distance, like you can in the Megaman X series. You also have to go to the start menu to activate spells. Good controls, but not utilized to the fullest.
Gameplay- Design/Difficulty: 6
The game also suffers here. Enemies just suck in this game. I found myself just waiting to see what an enemy's attack was. Yes, they are that slow. The enemies that DO attack are too easy to dodge due to the new dash move. The castle itself also suffers in design. Secrets are in plain sight. There are barely any secret rooms. It is also way to easy to explore the place. The spells in this game are nothing compared to what they were in CotM, less creative and not as many to mess around with. The worst part about the design is the bosses. Many of the bosses in SotN and CotM were creative and very difficult, in HoD, they are the opposite. Most of the bosses are augmented versions of normal baddies. Their attacks are overused and they are extremely predictable. I fought the first two bosses without taking any damage and I didn't die on any of them. Some of the bosses are interesting and somewhat difficult, but not enough. There are also shops like SotN, which greatly reduces the difficulty.
Although the gameplay suffers a bit, the game is still fun to play. Some may find it more fun than CotM, but I didn't. The boss fights were boring and searching the castle was too easy to be fun sometimes, but its still pretty good.
Not that good... Maybe it would be a bit better if I could understand all of it, but I can get a really good idea. Juste and Maxim go to Dracula's castle in search of his girlfriend Lydie (So it looks like this isn't about ridding the world of the darkness set by Dracula). Maxim gets a sudden pain so you move on. You meet Maxim every now and then and have rivalry talks. Maxim begins to be taken over by darkness (hmm... haven't we heard this one before?). Dracula doesn't play a big enough role in the game. I won't go further, but the story is disappointing for Castlevania. It seems like a slightly modified CotM.
About the same length as CotM. There are also some cool added extras in there. Beating the game 100% (200%) is a lot easier than past CV games though, but the extras are awsome.
Please note that a lot of the review was in comparison to CotM, so I might have made it sound bad, but this is a great game. A bit disappointing to a CV fan, but still really good. Its a must have, but I suggest you get CotM first if you don't have it already. I can't wait for the game in english.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 06/25/02, Updated 06/25/02
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