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Part V: Whipping On The Z-Axis

Castlevania
(N64, 1999)

This was Konami's first Castlevanian foray into the third dimension, and frankly, I'm still trying to figure out whether it was a success or a programmed pile of manure. Actually, to be honest, it's merely the clunky controls that kept me from truly enjoying this title. There's just too much jumping, which might have passed the test of frustration in a two-dimensional game, but not this one. Every jump could be a game in its own right; it's just that difficult and irritating. Falling usually leads to a skunky death. But to outwardly state that this game isn't fun would be a... a false statement, that's what! The game can be fun (although there are some tense moments, both in the midst of battle, and in the midst of traveling on a low health bar. Be sure to carry as much meat as you can for special occasions (you can also earn enough money for some later). Anyway, for a first try in the third dimension, it's passable. But there's still much improvement to be made!

Castlevania: Legacy of Darkness
(N64, 1999)

I feel like comparing this game with the other N64 title, in terms of a couple having children. Castlevania (N64) is like the child the couple had by accident, and Legacy of Darkness was the planned child that was born after the couple got married. Did that make any sense? Probably not. Legacy of Darkness is like the Director's Cut of the previous game, adding new levels and even a new main character, Cornell the werewolf, replacing the other two (which I didn't mention for some reason... oh well). Still, much of it's the same; if you're looking for an entirely new experience, expect a hemi-nouveau trip. You'll notice the same gripes with the controls in this one too, so unless you're used to those of Castlevania (N64), you might lower your eyebrows in disillusion as you play.

Castlevania: Lament of Innocence
(PS2, 2003)

So a three-dimensional Castlevania title on the Nintendo 64 probably was not the best idea. But the boys and ghouls at Konami are always looking for new ways to make an old franchise feel new again (well, sort of -- their Game Boy Advance and DS titles seem to be taking the route of sticking with a winning formula). So here we are, with a new take on the Castlevania universe in 3D...and finally they succeeded in creating something genuinely nifty and enthralling. Lament of Innocence tells the story of the first encounter between the Belmont family and evil vampires, with Leon Belmont leading the way for countless members of the bloodline to take down Dracula! This game is split into six different levels, each giving way to a lengthy bout of exploration for special items, the whipping of numerous skeletons, and eventually a boss to gain an orb that gives a special power to your alternate special weapon. Complex, it sounds, eh! If you're into heavy exploration, a lot of button-mashing, leveling-up 'til you burst in joy, and excessive amounts of stuff in your surroundings that you can't interact with (heh heh...), then Lament of Innocence is for you. (Yes, it is a good game; don't let my coy summary fool you.)

Check out our Castlevania: Lament of Innocence review for a more in-depth look!

Castlevania: Curse of Darkness
(PS2/XBOX, 2005)

Set a mere three years after Castlevania III (NES), the curse of Dracula has been somewhat revived by Isaac, a devil forgemaster. Now you, entering the role of Hector, another devil forgemaster who has tried to mend his old nasty behaviours, has to stop the guy from being a big bastard and bringing back Dracula for another chance at the ol' ball game. You get to collect innocent devils which you can level up and use as minions during battle. I especially enjoyed having Rasetz the armored warrior backing me up and slicing enemies that I had difficulty catching up with. And of course, you could also upgrade your innocent devils (as well as your weapon ability) by collecting jewels dropped by slaughtered foes. This game also has the typical level-up stylings held by other recent Castlevania games. I personally preferred this game over Lament of Innocence, and it didn't feel old even after I had to restart the game because all my PS2 save files were accidentally deleted (or corrupted) from my PlayStation 3 (thank goodness for my ol' trusty PS2 Memory Card). Some may prefer Lament of Innocence; I beg to differ...

Check out our Castlevania: Curse of Darkness review for a more in-depth look!

Castlevania: Judgment
(WII, 2008)

I can't say for certain whose great idea it was to put the characters of the Castlevania universe into a fighting game, but someone certainly was daring. The bottom line here is that the team at Konami assembled 12 different characters from various Castlevania games and pit them against each other in a fight to the death in a . Well, not death exactly... more like bitter but friendly defeat, in a setting of their choosing. The main selling point, aside from the Castlevania license, is its simplicity by comparison to other fighters. This game wouldn't dare force you to remember an extensive series of moves and input combinations like anything that developer SNK decided to give birth to. Instead, you can just use the Wiimote and wave it around until someone falls to the ground. But aside from the characters themselves (which are VERY loosely designed based on how they originally looked) and music cues from the past, this is just an average fighter that probably will only make history based on its unexpectedness to exist.

Castlevania: Lords of Shadow
(PS3/360, 2010)

The honour of the first next-generation Castlevania game went not to Koji Igarishi, who's been overseeing Castlevania games for the last decade or so, but instead to Hideo Kojima, the man behind the slightly popular Metal Gear Solid series. Gamers expected something pretty epic from this new iteration of the franchise, and indeed, an epic adventure was what was delivered. Starring the new Gabriel Belmont, your quest takes you not to Dracula's castle, but to find objects capable to reviving his deceased spouse. So...no Dracula? What kind of crazy series reboot is this?! And I must say, in the first 10 minutes, there were so many button combinations of things to do that it made my head spin and my brow furrow. Bottom line is that this is NOT the Castlevania I was expecting. Riding crazed beasts and dangerously hopping through poisoned swamps instead of whipping skeleton and graveyard zombies? I don't think so.

Check out our Castlevania: Lords of Shadow review for a more in-depth look!

Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2
(PS3/360, 2013)

This game was announced in May 2012 for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC as a direct sequel to Lords of Shadow. The main character from Lords of Shadow, Gabriel Belmont, is now the embodiment of Dracula, though far weaker than he is known for, and is seeking his old powers again. Oh, and of course, the Belmonts want him dead because now he's Dracula and will ruin the world. How pleasant. Lords of Shadow 2 plays similarly to its predecessor but received mixed reviews from critics. Its release was also partially overshadowed by rumours of tyrant-like decision-making and overseeing by the game's director. Can't we all just get along and love ourselves some Castlevania?

Castlevania Resurrection
(Dreamcast)

Castlevania is cool, except when it's cancelled! Such was the case for the much delayed Dreamcast game, Castlevania Resurrection. It was supposed to star Sonia Belmont (from the Castlevania Legends game), as well as newcomer Victor Belmont (who apparently traveled through time from the 1800s just to save the world in 1666 from Dracula). But rumour has it that the game was officially cancelled in 2000 because Konami did not believe in the Sega Dreamcast as a viable platform to launch a new Castlevania game on. It would have been the third game in 3D, after the two titles for the Nintendo 64. But nothing will ever come of the game now. Well, that's okay; I don't own a Dreamcast.

(Screenshots of Castlevania (N64), Castlevania: Legacy of Darkness, Castlevania: Lament of Innocence, Castlevania: Curse of Darkness, Castlevania: Judgment, and Castlevania Resurrection provided courtesy of The Castlevania Dungeon)
(Screenshots of Castlevania: Lords of Shadow and Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 provided courtesy of GameFAQs)


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