"Worth playing, just not as memorable"

Konami seems to be following the business model of many Hollywood producers. Make a great movie, get the crowd hooked, and then milk the poor suckers for millions of dollars off dud sequels.

Sadly, that's pretty much the case with the newest sequel in the Castlevania-Metroid hybrid series. Konami has started a milk farm folks, and we're not talking cows here. This game is basically the original Castlevania: SoTN, rehashed to fit the small screen. The castle is in many ways similar (check out the castle map on gamefaqs), the equipment and relic system are virtually identical, and the main character even controls and feels like Alucard. The only new features are a new spellbook system that is somewhat similar to the DSS from CoTM, and the ability to dash both forwards and backwards using the L and R shoulder buttons.

While all of this doesn't seem so bad (I know many fans would just salivate at the opportunity to play a variation of SoTN), there are some significant blemishes with the whole packaging. First, the main character in the game, Juste Belmont, doesn't look cool. This is NOT a small thing. If there were a ten commandments of video games, one of definitely should be:

''if a player should be forced to stare at the same character for more than a few hours, then that character must be as aesthetically pleasing to the player's eye as possible, in order to entice the player to identify with said character''

White Night Concerto blatantly violates this commandment, and because of that the overall presentation suffers immensely. Juste's sprite simply lacks any kind of detail, and some of his animations (especially the dashes) look downright dorky. He's no Alucard, that's for sure. He even has trouble comparing to Nathan. Awful isn't it? The game just isn't as fun when you don't enjoy controlling your main character.

The second huge blemish is the music. I'm pretty sure every other review has mentioned this... but the music is simply terrible. It's not just the instrument patches, but also the composition. The 8-bit NES music from Castlevania III far outshines this collection of sonic garbage. The music is so bad that it sometimes even discourages you from exploring certain areas because the tunes become absolutely grating on the ears. I guess the composer just got sick of having to write music for the castrated GBA sound system.

The third blemish is somewhat of a nitpick. For some unfathomable reason, you cannot gain distance in your jump by dashing + jumping. Believe me when I say that this is both odd and downright illogical (nearly 99% of platform games out there let you jump farther if you dash first). This quirk also slows down your ability to dash through certain areas of the castle, which you will need to do a lot in the late part of the game.

The fourth blemish is the difficulty. This game can either be fairly difficult or a total joke depending on how you use your spellbooks. If you experiment with the different spells, you'll discover that some magic is wickedly overpowered and can dish out a ridiculous amount of damage/sec at a insignificant mana cost. With the right spells, certain bosses can go down with almost no effort. However, if you fail to use your spellbook properly, then you'll find that it's very easy to die in three or four hits, which might lead to some frustration if you want to beat the game using just the old-fashioned whip. At any rate, I would have much preferred a wider variety of whips (the flame whip from Castlevania II would have been awesome). Instead, you pretty much see the same whip the entire game since you're only allowed to add attachments, which doesn't change the way it looks.

Yet despite all these terrible mistakes on Konami's part, the game is still quite addictive and should keep you entertained for a good three to five hours. Such is the strength of the Metroid game formula - it's simply impossible to resist exploring a castle and collecting various items and relics along the way. However, Konami could have done so much more with this sequel, it feels like such a waste that we got a mildly addictive game instead of a dangerously addictive one.

CONCLUSION: It's still worth playing, especially if you like the series, but don't expect too much

Reviewer's Rating:   3.5 - Good

Originally Posted: 07/05/02, Updated 07/05/02

Would you recommend this
Recommend this
Review? Yes No

Got Your Own Opinion?

Submit a review and let your voice be heard.