Review by BBigwig

"A much more polished game than its predecessor."

After a somewhat disappointing debut into the 3-D world with Castlevania 64, Konami brings us Legacy of Darkness, a far superior game in every respect and a dramatic improvement over the original outing.

First, an explanation of what Castlevania: Legacy of Darkness is. When Konami was designing Castlevania 64, they intended it to be a larger game, and one that contained not two, but four selectable characters. Each of these characters would have different routes to the end of the game. With Castlevania 64, we got about half of that-- there were only two selectable characters (Schneider and Carrie). The game was twelve short stages, with only three of them varying depending on which character you chose.

Castlevania 64 was rushed onto the market, and as a result was a rather unsatisfying game by Castlevania standards. Legacy of Darkness is essentially the game that Konami intended to make in the first place, and it does redeem what is basically the same story.

At the outset, you can only choose from one character, a man-wolf named Cornell. He has lived in peace with humans and his adopted sister Ada, while also training and honing his abilities to control his wolf form. One night, while returning from training, he finds his village in flames. The undead have attacked and kidnapped his sister. He sets out for Dracula's castle to rescue her.

This is actually a back story that sets the stage for three other quests. When you finish the game as Cornell, you can access three other playable characters-- Carrie and Schneider, whose quests are largely similar to those in Castlevania 64, and Henry, another new character with a unique quest. You must first complete Henry's quest to access Carrie and Schneider.

In terms of size, this game is effectively double the length of Castlevania 64. Four brand new levels are added-- a ship, an art museum, some ruins, and the outer wall of the castle. In addition, many of the old levels from Casltevania 64 are completely redesigned, made longer, and given more challenge. More music has been added, including a few classic Castlevania tunes which are always a delight to hear.

Many of the game's mechanics have been improved as well. Most noticable are the targeting system and camera system. The targeting system is much more useful and easy to control in this game. It also now alerts you if there are enemies around that can not be seen because of the camera angle. The camera still has occasional problems, but generally behaves better. In addition, you can take more control over it when you need to. A simple tap of the R button will quickly orient the camera behind your character, which is very helpful for jumping and spotting enemies.

Speaking of enemies, they are more plentiful in this game, an answer to complaints of their scarcity in Castlevania 64. Castlevania is all about endless undead hordes, and Legaacy provides them. More lizard men, more skeletons, more knight statues and more bats, not to mention new enemies like zombies and amphibious leapers. There are also five new bosses and a new form for Dracula himself, which are all significantly harder than the unchallenging bosses of C64.

Playing as each character is a different experience, not only because of the different levels, but they have distinctly different fighting styles and abilities. Cornell can turn into a werewolf with the L button, a technique which massively drains jewels but really helps with bosses. Schneider remains the classic whip-toter of the game, but now he has a great-looking chain whip when he powers up. Carrie has the heat-seeking energy blasts, which have actually been made less effective to balance her power with the rest of the characters.

Henry is unique among the quests, as he has a very different objective. He must rescue six children hidden in six different stages. This requires a lot of exploration. Add to this the fact that you only have seven game days to accomplish the mission and you have quite a challenge on your hands!

There are many other extras packed into the game-- alternate costumes, a hidden hard mode, and the returning hidden bosses from Catlevania 64. All in all, Legacy of Darkness is a very satisfying journey into the world of Castlevania and a much better attempt than C64. THIS deserves to be part of the series. It includes everything the series is famous for-- lots of extra goodies to please fans, long quests, multiple endings, hidden areas and plenty of exploration-- and of course, LOTS of platforming action. Finally there is a 3-D successor that deserves a place beside Symphony of the Night and all the games before it.


Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 06/10/00, Updated 06/10/00


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