This article begins at VGF Forums, in one of two arguements about the DS versus the PSP. I don't really care about either, but I found myself playing Devil's Advocate for the PSP, since one of the DS supporters was really pissing me off with a huge list of what's to come which was mostly trash (guy gave me no indication that he had any clue what Boktai was), and the "I'm right, you're wrong, shut the hell up" comments he kept ending his posts in. Then somebody came along and said:"Castlevania DS looks like it will kick the ass of Symphony of the Night itself."
... I didn't even know where to begin on this guy's throat. That was just wrong on so many levels. Not only does saying a game that's just begun production will kick the ass of a classic speak ill of your opinion of the original, IGA's works as of late have left some of the most avid Castlevania fans wanting to spit. IGA is a god of desecration.
Yes, the man gave us Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. Many hail it as the best Castlevania of all time, if not the best game of all time. A true masterpiece of video gaming, successfully combining the macabre story and medieval monsters of Castlevania with the exploration and colorful level designs Metroid to create one the greatest 32-bit games of all time. All it was lacking was a Bloody Tear remix.
After Symphony of the Night came Castlevania: Circle of the Moon with the GBA's launch. The only reason I can understand this game being insulted at all is because it's so dark it's hard to see sometimes, because the game itself was great. The level designs are clever, all the bosses require at least some strategy and some of them are absolutely vicious (Zombie Dragons), the variety of enemies is amazing, and the final boss was refreshingly devious after having beaten SotN's on my first try with no effort. But something should have been seen coming when we got a post-SotN Castlevania where the dude on the box actually looked like a dude, as it was retconned at the hands of IGA who then coughed up Harmony of Dissonance and Aria of Sorrow in its place. And thus started Castlevania's downward spiral into suckitude.
Harmony of Dissonance flat-out sucks. I don't know where this guy got the nerve to give it a 9.3. It feels like somebody tried to port SotN to the GBA, but had to rip out its spine and most of its meat to get it there. Castle exploration is nothing short of tedious, what with there only being a couple warp points and each one taking you to a select alternate one, meaning you have to muck through most of the castle just to figure out where you want to go. On your countless visits through each room of the castle, you can take a minute to soak in the color schemes that give Leon Kennedy's curtains a run for their money. If hot pink skeletons and vomit green skies weren't enough, the final boss room uses this sickening swirl of neon red and green for its back and foreground. Ouch.
The cream of the crap for HoD is its lousy bosses. All of them are either giant common enemies, or a rehash of something from SotN. The game is jam packed with them, but only two of them killed me. One was a cheap shot, as it recoiled me into its large and unmoving body, inflicted a curse which further bogs down the slug that is Juste Belmont, and I was unable to escape so I just had to let it whap me around until I finally died. The other was the third to final boss, and if you saw the color schemes going in that room you'd be hard pressed to blame me. Everything else was just a common enemy with a lot of HP. I'm ashamed the final boss hit me twice. Top this all off with music that made me want to ram a car key into my ears and dialogue that makes Yu-Gi-Oh seem coherent, and you can see why I was hesitant about Aria of Sorrow.
Actualy, Aria of Sorrow wasn't that bad. It seemed to just reuse SotN's premise, rather than 95% of its code. It added some new features, such as the soul equipment, wheras anything HoD used that wasn't from SotN was from Simon's Quest. They also fixed the problem with the castle exploration, as you could take any warp to any other warp. The bosses were also a lot better. Balore alone killed me more times than all of HoD combined, and was also a lot funner. Though the final boss wasn't that well done, as there's so much crap flying around you have to rely more on recovery items than dodging. And the icing on the cake of AoS is no hot pink skeletons or swirling neon arenas! Yippee!
I guess IGA felt ashamed of doing as good a job as he did with Aria of Sorrow, and made sure to more than make up for it with Lament of Innocence.
When describing Lament of Innocence, "blah" is an understatement. Walter Bernhard has the most boring castle ever. It's as if they were more focused on making everything symmetrical rather than interesting. I swear, somebody designed two types of rooms and two types of hallways, then hammered Ctrl+V. After that was done, he slapped on a couple of unique rooms and called it level design. Somebody else no doubt did the same with the enemies, as every world seems to have at most ten unique enemies; four types of skeletons, one zombie, one dog, two armors, either a demon or a troll, and something that's actually unique but ends up used so often you could care less. With the exception of maybe one enemy per area, they're all taken down just the same with a lot of button mashing and a little blocking. Remember those fox archers in Circle of the Moon? The man eating flowers? Basically every unique enemy in the game? Well, their jobs got outsourced to the incompetent skeletons.
Yeah, somebody had the gall to call this level design.
Two things kept me from dozing off during the game; the soundtrack, and the fact it's still a lot funner than my blasted Economics class. Yet I can't count the number of times I was playing the game in a daze. I admit I only beat two of the eight or so bosses on my first try (Joachim took me three, and the final boss took me five and was only hard because he took what felt like a thousand hits to kill), but for the most part my first encounter with them was in a daze from castle exploration, if you can even call it that. But round two resulted in a total slaughter of the enemy, and a step closer to finally being able to shelve this thing.
Topping it all off is cheesy dialogue in the cutscenes (the cream of the crop being that one where Leon receives the Vampire Killer. Yay loopholes!) and a whiny protagonist who's supposed to be some battle hardend warrior. Please. Shortly before this game, I was on Red Dead Revolver, wondering why Red's mother was getting mad at Red for shooting her pots and pans when she hung up them up in the shooting gallery for no reason. Most of what Leon spouts out makes that look intelligent.
On top of the snoozer that, partially thanks to an online friend, I keep unknowingly typing as "Lament of Ignorance", IGA seems to feel the need to defile earlier chapters of the Castlevania legacy. He gave us a rendition of Simon who looks like a long lost member of the Villiage People, almost every dude he's created from Belmonts to non-Belmonts looks like a chick (another unique thing about AoS was that you could tell Julius and Hammer were men), and in LoI he went back on Castelvania III's establishment of who the first vampire hunting Belmont was. It still baffles me he had the guts to retcon Circle of the Moon. While I agree it doesn't neatly fit in the Castlevania storyline, neither does any of this.
Pick your poison.
And look what's coming soon from IGA; another PS2 Castlevania, and another damn blasted SotN clone for the DS. Could Castlevania DS dethrone Symphony of the Night as king of Caslevania? Could Curse of Darkness not suck? Will IGA get his head out of his ass and quit rehashing SotN? I doubt it. After all this, I don't think IGA has it in him. Hideo Kojima gave us two games with a trek up ten flights of stairs and that ridiculous dialogue about saving memories, but then gave us The Pain. Take a lesson, IGA, and quit giving us this crap.