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Gaming Evolution
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Gaming Evolution
Gaming Evolution
Published by: Konami
Developed by: Konami
Genre: Action Adventure
Players: 1
Rated: RP (Rating Pending)
Release Date: TBA 2007
Written By: Alex Sohani

Castlevania is a series that almost any gamer will recognize as one of the best of all time. Following vampire slayers over the course of gaming history through various systems and centuries of heroes, the series is one to be reckoned with. After one successful debut at Dracula’s castle on the DS, Iga Igarashi is back in action with an all-new title, Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin. With the newest installment, players will be following a young, new set of protagonists through an adventure beyond their wildest dreams.

Portrait of Ruin takes us back to the early 20th century during the chaotic period of World War II. Brauner, a new villain to the series, has harnessed the power of many lost souls from the war. He’s attempting to reinstate Dracula’s castle and cause some trouble. Two heroes take a stand to stop this madman. Jonathan Morris, a young vampire with a famous father (John Morris Sr. from Castlevania: Bloodlines), and Charlotte, a young woman affiliated with the church. They are childhood friends on a mission to stop the spread of evil.

An interesting part of the game is the use of both characters at once. Jonathan is a unique character in the Castlevania series because he isn’t a part of the famous Belmont family. Because he is a Morris, he can’t just use the infamous whip, the “Vampire Slayer”. Instead, he must do something special in order to wield its mystical power.

Jonathan is the typical Castlevania hero that gamers have seen ever since the release of Symphony of the Night in 1997. He mainly uses his trusty whip to slay many varied enemies throughout the game. But like Soma from Dawn of Sorrow, he can also switch between weapons like maces, swords, and spears. After defeating enemies, he will gain experience and his stats will improve. Equipping various items can also improve the stats of each character.

Charlotte on the other hand is also a part of a known family that hardcore fans may recognize. According to Iga, her family is somehow related to the Fernandez clan, (Carrie Fernandez, one of the clan, is featured in the N64 version of Castlevania.) and she uses magic spell books to do some serious damage. Her spells vary from summoning weapons to transforming into magnificent creatures. Her powers are essential for problem-solving, but she is vulnerable due to her time consuming magic process.

Veering off the path of Dawn of Sorrow, Portrait of Ruin retains skill gaining, but with a different twist. Instead of collecting souls, there are various quests with certain objectives that award the protagonists with new skills. Iga described in an interview, “I truly feel that defeating even a weak zombie should be rewarding.” When he says that, he means it. For instance, simply collecting eight zombie eyeballs can earn a skill such as a double jump for Jonathan, or a new magic spell for Charlotte to use.

Brauner is an interesting villain with many talents. Along with his dark blood sucking power, he also is a great painter. This relates to the game’s title, “Portrait of Ruin”. Throughout the adventure, many pieces our antagonist has worked on will be displayed, and used as portals to various worlds. Each setting has a unique art style and musical tone which adds a great variety to keep gamers interested. While these worlds are significant, most of the action takes place within the enormous castle.

The artwork in the game is hand drawn much like PoR’s DS predecessor. Every environment will feature vibrant colors and a gothic setting like the previous titles, as well as hundreds of different creatures. Many fans will recognize some of these hand drawn faces from previous games. This Castlevania is supposed to have the most monsters, while also bringing back faces from “Symphony of the Night” and “Rondo of Blood”. Along with those familiar faces, the recent anime style returns.

The way the game is presented is with the action on the bottom touch screen, and a map in the top. The map is especially useful to have while playing for a quick glance instead of having to pause like in older titles. Also, instead of the map, information about the characters and various enemies can also be displayed in the top screen. After defeating a certain creature, their data will be shown. Some information includes weaknesses and strengths.

The DS has a unique functionality utilizing the touch screen. However, Iga has assured us that there won’t be any inane touch features. It’s pure action. Plus, as many people agree, Dawn of Sorrow could be quite a pain requiring players to remove the stylus and quickly draw a seal after mashing the buttons in a boss battle. Also, new Wi-Fi features may be put to use for various multiplayer challenges, or even a two player co-op mode.

If challenges are implemented they will be battles using the players’ skills to race across a pre-set course similar to Dawn of Sorrows’ LAN battles. Another interesting addition will be that of maintaining a shop for gamers all over the world to access. After collecting certain amounts of items, you can share your wealth with other players to gain some dough. There are even more Wi-Fi possibilities that Mr. Igarashi is considering, and the sky is the limit.

The newest installment in the Castlevania series is looking great. It has many great features from some of its best predecessors, as well as many new elements that no game has seen yet. With an interesting plot, a unique art style and score, and so much to do, it will definitely be a hard title to wait for. It’s one that everyone should check out for more info on over the next few months!

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