Review by n fan

"One of my favorite games on the Nintendo 64."

When the first N64 Castelvania arrived, it got a pretty lousy reception, with critics complaining about bad control, ditto camera and it not living up to the 2-D incarnations of the series. Konami (those who make the long-running vampire-slaying series) decided to make a improved version of it, with two new controllable characters (bringing it up to a total of four), new bosses, new levels(including updates on several of the old ones) and better graphics and sound. Castelvania Legacy of Darkness was its title, and it was going to show its critics that you could indeed make a great 3-D Castelvania. The result was that not only were the old complaints used against it, but it also took a heavy beating for lack of originality and for reusing old levels. But was all that criticism really fair? No way it was, and in this review I’m going to explain why Legacy of Darkness really is an underrated gem.

Graphics: Even though it is not the best looking game on the 64 and got some slow-down, it still does a good job in this category. The graphics look a bit foggy, but that is appropriate for the games moody style and does not represent a problem. The animation of characters is good, especially that of the enemies, which looks really great. They also look less jagged than they did in the first game. The bosses are awesome in looks, a varied bunch featuring some huge beast that are some of the most impressing I have seen in a Nintendo 64 game. When I also mention that the game has several interesting and good-looking areas in it as well, it’s clear that the graphics are not a downside here.

Sound/Music: Sound-effects in Legacy of Darkness are top-notch. Whether it is thunder booming or monsters roaring, it all sounds realistic and satisfying. The music though, is the real star here. Having the kind of quality that raises a game from good to great, from great to superb, it’s really wonderful. It makes the cut-scenes feel alive and important, it’s responsible for giving the game its great atmosphere, and it really is important to your impression of the game. The tunes are great, with some of them being the reason I turned the volume way up, and was listening to them rather than playing. The only reason I don’t reward it with a ten here, is that there are to few different tunes to warrant a perfect score. But this is really a strong point that again proves that cartridges actually can handle great sound.

Story: Having four characters gives you four different stories (though one of them has a much shorter and less interesting plot than the others). It starts out real simple, but as you meet new friends and enemies, the plot thickens and you become really interested in finding out what will happen next. It really feels important and manages to make you care about the person you are controlling and the characters the person gets to know. Though there are not many of them, the plot-twists in here are important to the flow of the game
and give you a genuine surprise. It’s a pity that the two original characters got the same story here as they did in the past game, but that is only a problem to those who have finished that game after all. Great grade is deserved here.

Gameplay: Unlike what has been claimed, the camera (though not exactly flawless) works pretty well overall, and I found the control to be responsive. The choice of different characters (only one is available from the start of the game, mind) add dept to the gameplay as they all have different abilities and strengths. And even though you’re likely to find one of them superior to the others, they are all fun to control. The battle system is great, with all four characters having a different main attack that can be upgraded. You can get some pick-up weapons that can also be upgraded, but they can’t be used unless you have enough red crystals. The bosses are not only plentiful, challenging and providing some awesome battles, but also feel important to defeat. Most of the levels are linear, with a few big and open-spaced ones here and there to add variation. Both types are enjoyable to play, mind you. You can only save your game using white crystals that are pretty scarcely placed, something that makes it feel all the more rewarding when you finally find one. There are much platform game-style jumping in here, which is nicely integrated in the game. Other times you are solving puzzles. It all manages to give the game variation and keeping it from repeating itself. At its best gameplay-wise, Legacy of Darkness really is up there with the best, and it gives you great gaming-memories.

Lastability/Replayability: Four different adventures make sure you’re going to play Legacy of Darkness for quite a long while. You’re also likely to replay it several times just to experience all the cool moments again. The downside is that there is a distinct lack of secrets to find, and there are some frustrating parts of the game that keep you from starting a new file on certain characters. It still gives you a lot of playing time, though, a lot more than the original Nintendo 64 Castelvania and will keep you coming back for more.

Pros and Cons

Good graphic
Wonderful music and great sound-effects
Very good story
Four playable characters
Great cut-scenes
Responsive control
Cool battle-system
Excellent sense of progress
A night and day system
Several difficulty levels
Awesome bosses
Quite a long life-span

Occasional slowdown
Some minor camera problems

Here is a rundown of the ratings in case you weren't paying attention:

Graphics: 8
Sound/Music: 9.5
Story: 9
Gameplay: 9.5
Lastability/Replayability: 9

To Rent Or To Buy?
I recommend you to get this game as quickly as possible. Even if you disliked the first game, you should at least rent it to find out if it you like this one any better. It’s portably difficult to find, but if you seek hard enough, you should be able to get hold of it, and at a cheap price to. Yes, it’s only a improved version of Castelvania 64, but a great game is still a great game, whether it is original or not. This is a superb game which I have got some major entertainment from, and it’s really one of my favorite games on the Nintendo 64. Just buy it!

Overall: 9/10

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 11/16/02, Updated 02/27/03

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