Review by Mister Zimbu

"Proof that excellence and awfulness can be achieved simultaneously"

I can perfectly imagine a game and being purposefully created in a way in order to hook you, the consumer, into buying it in a very efficient manner. The game would be an amazing experience for the first few levels, such that the consumer would play it at a friend's house, a demo machine in a store, or as a rental, and shell out the $50 to buy the full version, expecting more greatness, only to find the remainder of the game to be unadulterated crap.

There have been many games that have done this.

Castlevania: Legacy of Darkness is one of them.

Graphics:
The graphics of this game are quite astounding. For the N64, quite a bit of detail is put into everything, from the surroundings to the characters to the monsters. The game ALMOST pull you in to the very creepy feel of the game, but a few small things snap you out of it. Rocks falling from the sky are perfectly spherical. Most platforms, even those jutting out from cliffs are completely cubic or rectangular. Some things, like chains and other sprites, are blatantly 2d. These are all little imperfections, but they can sometimes break the mood.
Graphics: 8 out of 10.

Sound Effects:
The sound effects are great. Everything comes together nicely. The whip sounds like a whip. The various grunts fit in well and sound find. Nothing is TOO repetitive, barring the various traps that come on the later levels-- the same sound is played repeatedly for them, about once every second, which is somewhat annoying. The (albiet very little) voice acting in the game is very well done as well.
Sound Effects: 9 out of 10.

Music:
The music for the most part works out pretty well and sounds nice. The only complaint I have is that the developers actually had the balls to use the MENU MUSIC as the background song in one of the levels.
Music: 7 out of 10.

Controls:
A: Jump
B: Long attack
C-Left: Short attack
C-Down: Item
C-Up: Change camera type
C-Right: Pick up items
R Trigger: Center camera
Z Trigger: Duck/slide

The controls are decent at best. Easy to learn, but you'll often encounter ''Out of this World'' type control problems where you stagger around and fall down alot- this becomes really terrible later on. The camera often hinders you as well, but you'll get used to it, and it seldom is too big of a problem.
Controls: 6 out of 10.

Gameplay:
The actual game can sort of be seen as a stepping stone between the NES/SNES Castlevania games and Symphony of the Night. You can backtrack through levels, buy things, there's a storyline, and (sort of) manage equipment, like Symphony of the Night. However there's the basic platforming, level design, and powering up of weapons in the SNES and NES counterparts.

The battle system is very well done in this game, you have three different type of attacks (long, short, item) at your disposal. However, short attacks are rather useless and seldom used. The items you get (the familiar knife, axe, holy water, and cross) are very cool and useful (in the beginning), and for the first time in a Castlevania game can be levelled up as well. The camera in battle is rarely a problem. And with the speed and grace your character moves at boss battles are extremely fun. Yes, the battle system is great.

Too bad in this game, you will rarely even SEE the battle system.

The level design is terrible, you see. You'll only be battling for about the first four levels. After that, it's completely platforming. Level five, the castle wall. You have to climb the wall, jumping over perilously placed pits and and enter the castle. Excluding the boss, I believe there is a total of ONE enemy in this stage. Level six, the art gallery has a few enemies, but is once again jumping puzzles. The boss of this stage is actually a jumping puzzle. Level seven, more jumping puzzles. Level eight, even more.

To see how ludicrous this gets, let's skip ahead a couple levels. The stage is called ''Duel Tower''. If you think the title implies alot of fighting, you're only slightly correct. Yes, there's some fighting in the level, but there are actually even more jumping puzzles than battles! In a level called ''Duel Tower''! ARGH!

That's why this game is receiving such a low grade.
Gameplay: 2 out of 10

Other gripes:
- The scale of the levels are HUGE. Hard to believe that Castlevania is really this big. The scale of the levels are extremely unrealistic, such that it's even bigger than the castle in SotN. I believe I approximated that SotN's castle was around 160 to 200 stories tall.

Not to say that the castle in this is bigger (or presents longer gameplay than) SotN-- simply that the scale at which it's presented at is huge.

- Once again in the scale department, the use of required sun and moon cards to manipulate time is ludicrous as well. Cornell spends approximately two and a half months in the Art Tower. In my opinion, because of this sun and moon cards should have been removed entirely from the game- I wouldn't mind the unrealistic scale if they served a purpose, but the requirement of using them is hardly a puzzle, rather it is more of a bother of having to open up the menu than anything else.

- What the hell are skeletons doing on motorcycles shooting machine guns at you doing anyway? I'm not claiming to be an expert in the history of this game or Dracula, but isn't this game taking place in the 16-1800's?
In addition, why Dracula would waste so much time and money defending his castle with poorly timed blades and traps is beyond me.

Conclusion: The first 3-4 levels of this game are quite fun. The battles keep you on your toes and are very enjoyable. Even in the later levels of the game the boss fights are still fun (when they're not jumping puzzles). If they didn't slack off and be so uncreative (or were they overcreative?) with the level design, this game could have shaped up to be great.
Final grade: 4 out of 10.


Reviewer's Score: 4/10 | Originally Posted: 08/13/03


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