Review by The Whyte Fox
"As much as I like Castlevania..."
Introduction: I opened up my weekly Hollywood video spam mail one day and saw the new Castlevania was out... so I promptly went out and rented it. My first impression led me to later buy it with store credit I had, but was my first impression wrong? I should really just take time off work to sit around and play games more often.
Gameplay: Upon first playing, I marveled at how smooth and responsive the controls were. I could run circles around just about any monster while flipping through my item list without fear of getting hit, which is a good thing... I would go so far as saying this game is almost as smooth as Devil May Cry 2. However, I very rarely found need to once I got the hang of the controls as the difficulty of the game is seriously lacking.
It seemed like my stats were pretty grossly above what they needed to be to get by, and the first 2 or 3 levels weren't much harder than the in-game tutorial... I won't go into my second playthrough... that's been needlessly simple so far, even without the ability to heal myself in battle. Games nowadays do have a tendency toward being incredibly easy, and this is no exception.
Though the controls were nice and fluid for combat, the platform aspect was pretty clunky... okay, very clunky. It was pretty sickening how often I'd fall off something, take no damage and proceed to climb back up. Double jumps and mantling were especially buggy, oftentimes leading me back down to the bottom of wherever I was and forcing me to start my ascent yet again.
Story: There was one? Oh, I must have missed it at some point. Seemed like the same old regurgitated ''omg my grrlfriend got kidnapped!!!11one1'' type of thing. The angst and hatred the characters should have been feeling (at least as delivered through text) wasn't shown terribly well by the voice actors, and the story overall just seemed slapped together to give you a reason for being there.
No epic story, the characters were pretty unmemorable... and no Dracula. Castlevania just doesn't seem right without Dracula. They probably could've picked a more menacing name than Walter too. Yeah, that's right. They replaced the fiendishly evil vampire of legends with some dude named Walter. It's hard to be impressed by a Walter, sorry.
Graphics/Sound: Okay, the game looks pretty good. Not great... but pretty good. Pretty much the standard now, but at least I couldn't see his legs through the bottom of his coat (something a lot of games can't seem to manage). Of note is the sheer number of repetitive rooms... at times it seemed almost like randomly generated dungeon (and I'm surprised they didn't tack on on as an extra).
The lighting was surprisingly good, so it's good to know what little effort they put into the graphics was done right. Too bad there weren't more than like 20 rooms total in the game. That may sound harsh, and no, I didn't count... but I know there aren't more than 30 total different rooms.
Copy and paste saves time and effort? Well, I suppose so.
The sound wasn't bad, I liked the song in the water level, but the rest was your standard ''I'm going to take upbeat video game type techno and slap some bells/chimes/organ on it to make it sound gothic'' fare. Nothing terribly spectacular.
The sound effects were the scrapes and clanks standard for an action game, some were good, some were bad, but overall, they were pretty unremarkable. Who pays attention to the sound effects anyway.
Play Time/Replayability: Well, I beat it on first playthrough in 6:41... almost through with second playthrough at a whopping 2:24... though I've hardly had the incentive to finish that. As much as I'd like to get through this game and unlock all the secret stuff, there are apparently two extra characters (I've got one) and a hard mode (that I won't do until I've got the other two characters done), it's gotten more and more tedious to do so. The other day, I was going to play and instead opted to hook up my old SNES and play Castlevania on that instead. That's not usually a good sign. Perhaps I should just say it's fairly monotonous and I don't think I'll finish it up anytime soon.
Simon's Quest, Symphony of the Night and Bloodlines had staying power, I remember going through those ones numerous times, but this one... meh. Maybe if the rooms were more varied, the difficulty higher... any number of things could've been fixed, and I don't feel this truly lives up to the Castlevania name.
Final Recommendation: Rent, definitely. Fans of the Castlevania series may or may not like it, but fans of Devil May Cry will for sure. I think I'll opt to try to get my NES working instead.
Reviewer's Score: 4/10 | Originally Posted: 11/11/03
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