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Old 01-03-2007, 04:07 AM   #1210
Joe Redifer
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Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: Denver, Colorado
Posts: 20,149
Castlevania - Portrait of Ruin
Nintendo DS

Yes, ANOTHER Castlevania game just like all of the last ones.

ENOUGH ALREADY!!!! Damn, I love Castlevania and all, but about 10 or 15 minutes into the game, I realized I was playing the same exact game for the billionth time. It's time for Castlevania to take a nice, long rest. The most that this game has going for itself is that it's the direct sequel to Castlevania: Bloodlines on the Sega Genesis. Other than that, you've played this before, many times. You know exactly what to expect.

Story: 6/10
I give the story a "6" only because it ties in directly to Castlevania: Bloodlines. If you haven't played that game, then the score goes down a notch or two in this category. Anyway John Morris, the tough, rugged star of Bloodlines decided to have a pussy anime kid and name him Jonathon, and that's who you control in this game. The Morris family was included as an attempt to get back to the roots of the Dracula story and give it some authenticity, as Quincy Morris was the star of Bram Stoker's original book. Anyway Jonathon is the typical whiney teenage anime character that Japanophiles cream their jeans over in RPGs. "Ohhh if only I could use the full power of the whip" -- whine whine whine -- "Ohhhhh my father!!!!" -- whine whine whine. What an emo. As in most games out of Japan these days, everybody still has "teen" attached to their ages, except for non-playable characters. You can unlock Richter (which is spelled in-game as "Richiter", WTF?), but not during the normal game. There is an opening animation sequence which shows the characters jumping around and doing nothing of any importance.

Typical screenshot. Not much to say.

Graphics: 8/10
The graphics are the same quality as last year's DS Castlevania game. There are a few polygon elements in the background here and there... again. The same enemies come back with the same sprites... again. Nothing new, really. The character art is all anime, and it is a mixed blessing. For one Jonathon looks like a total n00b and like he needs a boot planted in his face, and soon. But if they had used the artist who used to work on stuff for the series, he would be a total fem-boy and it would be hard to determine if he were male or female. But anime is everywhere these days and certainly isn't unique, so therefore the art is generic. The scrolling is nice as is the character animation. I like the fact that there are very few polygon enemies. Polygons on the DS suck ass.

Combining magic powers justifies making another game.

Sound: 7/10
Once again the music is good, but not overwhelmingly great. This time Yuzo Koshiro had to help out because Michiru Yamane was getting sick of doing music for Castlevania games over and over (and it is starting to show in her work). She keeps dropping Yuzo's name all over the place in interviews and out of the blue. I think she has a crush on Yuzo. I bet they will get married and have babies. I like that a tune from Bloodlines is in here, and it sounds great. A tune from Rondo of Blood is in here as well and it sounds like crap. Oh well. The sound effects are average. but this time they used a lot of voice effects for common enemies and bosses. Sometimes you'll hear stuff like "Yahoooo!!" They all pretty much sound out of place, and the voices will keep playing until the sentence is finished, even if the enemy is dead.

And of course right before you combine magic powers,
you get two anime faces that slide onscreen and shout the
name of the magic you're about to use, just like every
other game ever. Japan is so generic these days.

Gameplay: 7/10
Don't get me wrong, I had great fun playing this game, but it's the same stuff all over again. Oh sure, this time you go into paintings and other such nonsense, but it's still all the same. You gradually earn the same abilities and items, you can practically play this game with your eyes closed. This time you can control two characters simultaneously and hook up for some cool combos, but this really doesn't add much to the overall game. I spent most of my time playing with that bitch off of the screen. I even beat Dracula without her sorry ass. This game takes a different approach on the whole "percent complete" thing. Since each painting is 100% unto itself and there are 9 total paintings plus the castle, there is a total of 1000%. I completed the game with 1000.0%. The standard mish-mash of things are unlocked after you beat the game. One thing I really found frustrating (besides the huge increase in medusa heads in the clock tower) was the shop. You can sell things that are equipped! I accidentally sold an awesome found weapon. Pissed me off! Also, this game has some sort of online mode, but who the hell cares?

The multi-segmented creatures are kind of cool.
Still, there is nothing amazing about this game.

Other stuff:
If you are a true American who gives your cash away so that corporations can line their pockets even more, you'll be sure to get the Collector's Edition of this game or the Deluxe Edition (I forget what it is called). It comes with a small art book, a timeline which shows when all of the different Castlevania games take place and Castlevania IV isn't even listed since it is a "retelling" of the first game or something, a small empty white plastic box, a stylus with "Castlevania" written on it, some clear plastic for who-knows-what glued onto the cardboard and a music CD wth some music from the Castlevania series. Unfortunately these are tracks taken from the typically horrible quality Konami OTSs from Japan where they screw with the music to give it added reverb and tons of treble. They also have "Bloody Tears" listed as coming from Castlevania 1, when it was first heard in part 2. Overall it's a decent addition to the package. I was worried that the game would come in some super-odd box and I wouldn't be able to store it with my other DS games. This is not the case, as the game itself comes in a normal, sane DS box.

Wrap Up:
If you enjoy "Castleroid" games, you'll like this one, but surely even the most diehard of Castlevania fans are getting a bit sick of the genre. I know I am.
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