Review by tollbooth

Reviewed: 04/13/04

Castlelamia: Lament of Boredom

The latest installment of the great Castlevania series pits Leon Belmont against the evil Vincent in the duel that kicks off the entire series. This game has been marketed as the prequel to the legendary franchise, and touted as the Castlevania to end all Castlevanias. In short, it is no “Symphony of the Night,” and even falls short of the underrated N-64 Castlevania. It is a “Devil May Cry” wanna-be that pales in when compared to recent releases in the same genre like “Legacy of Kain: Defiance.”

~ Gameplay (5/10)

Don't let the 5/10 discourage you if you're looking for some solid ''Devil May Cry'' type action. Leon Belmont is no slouch. This game has some of the deepest combos around, but by the time you earn them all, it’s time to fight the last boss. By killing baddies, mostly skeletons, skeletons and more skeletons, you earn attack upgrades and defensive rolls. You become so fast, in fact, that the slow, dim-witted enemies are no match for your deft maneuverings. There's 10 baddies in the room, hold the trigger and deftly jump through an opening, backflip to your left, press forward and triangle; uleashing an elemental attack heavy enough to bring down the house. Even if they Deadites arn't as easy as I'm making them out to be, don't worry because the AI is so bad that you can simply hop into a dark corner and the brain-dead Deadites will go back to their patrol. I'm not saying the AI is as bad as the baddies from ''Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon,'' but it's right down there at the bottom with some of the worst.
At his disposal, Belmont has the usual array of sub-weapons Castlevania fans have come to know and love, the Axe, the Boomerang, the Dagger, Holy Water and an addition from “Symphony of the Night,” the jewel. Fueling their usage, you go on an endless collection of hearts, but you’re aided with various heart collecting accessories like the Blood Cape and the Heart Ring. However, for a game that touts such magnitude, there really should have been more sub-weapons. Moreover, the R1 and R2 buttons held the same function; an additional sub-weapon could have been added to your arsenal quite easily. To the game’s credit, an accessory called the Jewel Crusher enables Belmont to crush various jewels (bought or found) so that they might cast various spells. One such spell changes your sub-weapon. Belmont collects different orbs by defeating bosses and each allows for the sub-weapon to have a different attack. For instance, the Ax becomes an Ax tornado. If there is a whole slew of skeletons, jump in the middle and lay an Ax trap. There really are a lot of possibilities, just not a lot of bad guys formidable enough to use them on. Finally, those Orbs can also be used as magic, each casting a different spell-like attack. But, once again, by the time you collect all your orbs, the game is over. This game tries hard to give an illusion of vast space, but really comes off as being as linear as any 2D adventure from the 8-bit days. Frankly, “Simon’s Quest,” had more depth in its environments.

~ Story (2/10)

It seems that the evil Vincent has stolen Belmont’s best girl and locked her away in his castle (which just happens to be surrounded by eternal night because he controls the, ah, never mind). Along the way, he gets help from a failed Vampire Hunter the Count keeps around to aid his challengers. Only this time, he’s underestimated the old Codger, because the Vampire Hunter gives Belmont his fabled alchemy whip, because when it completes itself, it is the one weapon that can destroy Vincent. Enter Castlevania. The fabled Castle of ole. The worst part about this game is the Castle. One your left is a training area, due north is Vincent, and to the right is essentially Grand-Central Station. A room of portals, and a secret Dungeon, that will take you anywhere you need to go, but the video store to rent another game. Step onto a platform and let the games begin!

~ Graphics (7/10)

Great environments at first, but than you realize that this spooky castle you’re in is nothing more than a big room, followed by a hallway, and another big room, hallway, so on and so forth. There is little variation in the Deadites and one room often seems the same as the next. However, there is great attention to detail. The misc-en-scene is wonderful and the art is spooky. Very Castlevania.

~ Sound (7/10)

_Music (10/10): Spooky Techno beats the entire way through. I wish they had a CD out, I’d buy it. This was the best part of the game. It's worth a rent just for a listen.

_Effects (4/10): Lame. Just plain lame. No creativity involved. It’s like they went to the library and got the same old stuff from all the other action games out there.

~ Playtime

I managed to get all the items, weapons and accessories in this game and beat it with time to spare coming in around 12 hours. For you, it may be more or less depending on how much of the stuff you want to find.

~ Replayability

Not so high. There are a few unlockable characters, but nobody really that cool. You get to play with one of the bosses but he’s only got one attack.

~ Extras

I’d like to add, that while many ragged on the underrated N64 Castlevania, it was miles ahead of this newest addition in pure fun and original thought. The entire time I played this game, I couldn't help but think about how great the camera was and how smooth the action seemed. There was flawless collision detection and the movement is seamless and fluid. Belmont's combos are deep and easy to execute, and moreover, very interchangeable. Each whip should've had its own set of combos though. This game was the great game that never was. Endless hoards of the same old enemies put me to sleep faster than Economics class, and honestly, the game was a pushover. It was missing a hard mode, or even a medium mode. It was missing a lot.

~ Final Recommends

Don’t waist your hard earned bread on buying this newest Castlevania adventure. It’s definitely a rent for any fan of the series, but not worth the purchase unless you've got a collection going.

Rating:   3.0 - Fair

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