Review by CAHowell
"A rather interesting look on castlevania"
Castlevania has always had a weird run with consoles. For the most part, it has been a side scrolling game from the NES days and became more of a RPG later on. The game, though, really didn't come into the spotlight until SoTN was released on the Playstation.
Since then, there has been attempts to bring the series both to home consoles and in 3D. The castlevania game's on the N64 were in full 3D, but were thought to be the lesser of the series. Recently, the series has had a fruitful run on the GBA, with 3 games, but it was about time the series needed to be brought to the home console market.
The game starts off in the medieval times, with a seires of cut scenes talking about Leon Belmont, the first Belmont of the bloodline, and how he lost his beloved to Dracula, and how he got the whip that was handed down from generation to generation in the future games. Ultimately, this explains quite a bit about the series beginnings.
One of the most noticeable things about the game play is the lack of RPG elements. Whether this was intended from the start, or was rushed to the main market we may never know, but the lack of leveling up does affect the game's feel greatly.
Why does it? In the more recent games, you got EXP by defeating enemies, giving it a feeling of accomplishment even if you killed a minor enemy. Now, if the enemy doesn't need to be killed to open the next door, you can just avoid it and go on.
In terms of game play, it feels like a mixture of Zelda and Devil May Cry mixed together, along with a gothic feel of vampires and things that made the series what it is today. In terms on how it is comparable to Devil May Cry, Leon moves and jumps similar to Dante and has a camera system that is similar to Devil May Cry, along with the use of power-up's to increase status (Classic items, like HP and MP Max). In terms of how it is comparable to Zelda, whenever you enter a room filled with enemies, the door usually locks behind you, meaning you have to defeat all the enemies before you can proceed, along with the guard option, which is similar to Zelda's OOT and up Shield system.
One of the most asked question is: How much does the game feel like Castlevania? Well, it defiantly does feel like it. Familiar enemies, like Skeleton Soldiers, bats, Zombies, bone towers, etc are in the game, along with the sub-weapons (Along with the new crystal), and the equipping and recovery items. Along with this, is the fighting system that changes from game to game. In this one, it is varied between skills. When you used short ranged weapons, you can learn new skills as you go along. You can also find relics to use spells on, and then there is the orb system.
Now on to the cons. For the most part, the main problems in the game is a lack of actual depth to the game. What I mean by that is the game has a weird hole, the RPG factor, missing from it. Along with that is the limited amount of weapons and Armo''u''r (Which is unforgivable for a Castlevania game). Along with that is the Camera system. Like Devil May cry, it sticks in one place and moves as the character moves, which is hell for finding ledges and other hidden areas. Another factor is the magic doesn't replenish when you save, meaning that you must find MP Restoring or increasing items to bring it back up.
Aside from that, the game IS enjoyable and fully playable, even though it does leave a hole for more recent Castlevania players. If you are a newcomer to the series, it may not be best that you start here, SoTN or any of the castlevania games on GBA are a good start for the series.
The graphics in this game have a weird feel to it, well, at least when it comes to castlevania. Although the castle is suppose to look like a gothic-like place, it feels more like a abandoned sanctuary or church. Though, when it comes down to it, the game is impressive. Although some of the enemies look somewhat jagged, they look well done, considering last 3D castlevania attempts (Though I do think some of the enemies could look a little more impressive, instead of trying to look more realistic).
The sound and music itself is a mastery of it's own. The voice acting in cut scenes is on par with MGS's voice acting and the music has a deep gothic, but orchestrated feel to it. Not much complaint there.
One of the bigger issues. The control is rather interesting: There is a sub screen for each area (Items, Equipment, Relics, Etc) that can be pulled up by pressing one of the D-Pad or R/L triggers, etc. To move Leon, you must use the analog pad, and to attack, you must press the Square button or Triangle button (Although you can change it around), and you can guard by pressing R1 (Or R2?). It really isn't too bad of a layout, and feels once again like DMC's layout.
~Final Ruling: 9/10~
This game will make some people feel differently. Some may hate it for it's more action than RPG approach, and some will hate it for it's lack of items, but the game itself is enjoyable, and should be played by anyone who enjoys the classic feel of the NES games.
Length: 6/10 (10-15+ hours)
FINAL SCORE: 9.4/10
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 10/22/03
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