Review by nmlynch2004

"Wondering if this is worth a download?"

Introduction

This review is aimed at people who have never played this game, and perhaps have not played the Castlevania games that came out before Symphony of the Night for the PS1.

For those of you who have played Castlevania games that came out after Symphony of the Night (1997-present), this is not in the style you are used to. There's not really any exploration, nor is there any backtracking. There is no leveling up, or weapons besides the whip (besides the special items, which are the Cross, Holy Water, Axe, and Knife). There are no secret exits to levels, so it is a linear game. There are only 11 levels as well, but they are extremely difficult (especially the later ones).

But this is not a bad game.

In fact, it's a damn good one.

Gameplay

First off: the controls are not perfect. You will die quite a few times because of sub-par jumping controls, and goofy hit detection when it comes to spikes. The whip, however, controls the best in any Castlevania game that I have yet to play. You can swing it in 8 directions, to the right, left, up, down, diagonal, wherever you need to. This adds quite a bit of potency to your attacks - you can now take out enemies on floors that you are not on. This feature has been eliminated from all the future Castlevania games, and it is sorely missed. The ability to swing your whip in eight directions eliminates much of the possibility of cheap deaths by excessive damage from enemies.

Every time you die, you lose your two whip upgrades (which do not add damage, but rather add to the length of your whip), and most of your hearts, and whatever special item you had. You also usually start at the beginning of the last "block" you were in - for example, if I made it to 7-2 and died there, I would start at the beginning of 7-2 rather than 7-1. Also, if you lose all of your lives, you start at the beginning of a stage, rather than having to start all over at the first level of the game - and you may do this as much as you like. There are unlimited continues, and with the Wii's ability to save anytime, anywhere, this makes this version of the game much more accessible to today's audiences.

The levels are designed around platforming and combat, and mixing the two can sometimes be awkward, but there are only a few moments where this really gets painful. Most of the time, you will be having fun making your way through a level, and even though you may die a few times, you won't get so frustrated that you'll want to turn it off.

That is, until you get to the later levels, as they are almost ridiculously hard. If it weren't for the unlimited continues, I would say this game isn't worth the purchase. But the Castlevania gameplay you know and love is here, and very much intact. Bosses are great and seem to be just about the right difficulty, and the enemies are fairly varied, although you will be facing many, many different kinds of skeletons.

Story

Not too much of a story here. It is the year 1691, and you are Simon Belmont. Brandishing the Vampire Killer whip passed down through your family for ages, you set off to kill Dracula.

Graphics

The game attempts to be very detailed, and it pulls it off fairly well for most of the game. A few levels had platforms that were somewhat hidden, but most of the time it is clear where you can and cannot go.

Other than those minor complaints, the game is beautiful. The different areas in the game all have a distinct look to them, and all the levels have some cool effects. The graphics, while dated, still allow you to become absorbed into the dreary atmosphere.

Sound/Music

The music is absolutely incredible in this game. The options screen has a sound test, and I found myself listening to the various tracks when I wasn't actually playing the game. A lot of the music is from other Castlevania games, only mixed differently, but it sounds great.

The music and the graphics mix to really convey a sense of foreboding and heavy atmosphere. The sound Simon makes when he dies is lame, but it is a small thing compared to the majesty of the soundtrack, which is perhaps the games strongest category.

Replayabiltiy

This is a short game, with only 11 levels. If you do not like to replay games over and over again, this purchase may not be for you. I have beaten the game three times since I downloaded it, and I had never played it before the Wii. I also plan to beat it many more times, as it is very replayable in my opinion - it is just that mix of fun and difficulty to keep you coming back. There is also a harder mode after you beat it the first time, which just adds enemies. Other than that, playing through again will not yield any new areas, so be warned - this is definitely one of those games you will play once and see most of what it has to offer. If you are like me, that does not bother you as long as the game experience is fun - and it is.

Final Recommendation

If you are a fan of any of the Castlevania games that came before 1997's PS1 game Symphony of the Night, then you absolutely must download this game. If you are a fan of that game and the games that came out after it, this is the game to try to initiate yourself with the old-style Castlevania's. If you don't like replaying a linear game, then this game is not for you. Also, this game's difficulty may turn you off. But if those things don't bother you, then your 800 Wii points will be well spent on an incredible experience.

Overall Rating - 8/10


Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 02/06/07


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