The Castlevania that should have been

Castlevania: Harmony of Despair is not the game I wanted from the Xbox Live Arcade. And I’m thinking there’s a very strong chance it’s probably not what you wanted either. There are some fun multiplayer moments to be had, and beating up monsters certainly feels like a Castlevania title, but it’s just not the same.

I want every single monster I defeat to add to my total badassery quotient. I want a game where I can get lost in the bowels of an ever deepening castle, taking my time to furiously slash at each wall, floor and ceiling in hopes of finding a hidden doorway. I don’t want to play for only 30 minutes and then be forced to break up my party. Maybe I do get to play with five other vampire hunters, but you know what? I don’t want to give up all the things I love about Castlevania to do so.

Here are the six things we should have gotten from a Castlevania title on Xbox Live Arcade, but didn’t.

1. Make the map friggin’ huge

Just go for it, and go all out, even if you have to fudge it. If there are repeated rooms and monsters, we’ll manage. If the rooms are all the same size, I’ll live with it. If I’ve been playing the whole game, and then I think I have beaten it, and then it turns out that I have to play an upside down version of the map I thought I just finished exploring, I’ll love it. It was awesome when that happened in Symphony of the Night, and I miss that kind of creative twist. The bigger the castle, the more rewarding the exploration, the more opportunities to level up and the more intimidating Dracula’s castle will ultimately be. Bigger is better.


2. Don’t lose the zoom

One of the few things Harmony of Despair did well was to give the player the ability to zoom in and out of the map. Obviously, it might not be possible to present a castle as expansive as the one I am demanding with the level of zoom offered in Harmony of Despair – but you can just keep zoomin’. Barring that, having the option to zoom out to at least take a look at the surrounding 15 or 20 rooms without having to pause the game would be invaluable for exploration and it would also speed up the gameplay. One of the best things about the Castlevania titles for DS is the ability to have your map open at all times on the upper screen. This zoom function can be a sort of stand in for the absence of two screens. Also, it looks really cool.

Above: This was good. Keep this 

3. Don't break up teams every 30 minutes

Harmony of Despair had a pretty fun multiplayer component, but for whatever reason, Konami wanted to make sure your partnerships (or team efforts when you were beating up monsters with a group) were limited to 30 minute intervals. I know the stigma still exists that gamers tend to be loners who don’t like people, but there is no reason to split us up after 30 minutes. We like playing games together, often for hours at a time. Just let us drop in and out so that we can leave to do those important things like go to work or eat food. We are perfectly willing to spend huge amounts of time together, as long as we have a worthy goal, and curb-stomping the Lord of Darkness sounds like a pretty good incentive to me. I am not an eight year-old and I do not have a bedtime. Let me play with other vampire hunters, and let me play for as long as I want.

Above: Wrong. Just wrong


  • CrisisHour - August 7, 2010 4:23 a.m.

    Number 5 is ridiculous and you know it. They had to compromise to make Castlevania a multiplayer experience. Not everyone is hardcore like us fans and will download/purchase the games as soon as possible. Some more casual (or new) players may pick up the game later on, maybe weeks after its release... ... and by then, all the effing diehard players will be level 99 and multiplayer will be a hellhole and a joke. Experience and multiplayer cannot exist together. Not in most cases.
  • Supermanoh - August 5, 2010 6:18 p.m.

    If they got it looking as good as BlazBlue does... oh dear god, please yes? 3DS wants your patronage
  • Thorton - August 5, 2010 3:59 p.m.

    Johnathan's sub-weapons get better the more you use them, Charolet's spells get better the more you bind of the same spell, those are the two that I had trouble understanding how to level up.
  • philipshaw - August 5, 2010 10:29 a.m.

    I have to agree with all of this, I'm not too happy on how this game turned out. I will keep the faith that the new 3D will be awesome
  • Mirako - August 5, 2010 6:33 a.m.

    Yeah, using equipment instead of exp just doesn't work. Especially with some of the characters whose weapons are hard to come by (I have only found 1 glyph in chapters 1+2) and it is annoying after beating the boss and finding that all your loot is worthless. By the way, how does Jonathan's whip get better? You can't level up and he can't change weapons, it still seems to be getting better but I don't know how. I doubt it's strength bonuses but...
  • Thorton - August 5, 2010 5:31 a.m.

    I completely disagree with several of your statements. First about having the party break up after matches I was just playing the game with a group of people a played for several hours in the same group and never once were we forced to split up after a round. Second the maps are plenty big rivally the size of any individual section of SOTN, which is good because with the multi-player component you don't want the maps to big otherwise people would get too distracted by exploration end up getting lost (which is still possible with all the twists and turns in some of the maps). Third I think the 30 min. time limit is just fine the group of peoplle I played with had no problem investigating every nook and crany of the levels before regrouping for the boss. Plus with multi-player you can't have too long as some people might not have the patience for some teammates needing to explore every inch of the map, with the timer set to 30 it keeps the group on track, with the map the perfect size for the time alotted. On the other two accounts of having better sprites and no exp. growth I completely agree, this game does lack in those sections.
  • Cyberninja - August 5, 2010 3:18 a.m.

    i also want a castlevaina on 3ds
  • DagDabreemie - August 5, 2010 2:35 a.m.

    I haven't played a CV game since Super Castlevania IV. IMO, all the Japanime ruined it.
  • CaptainSpatula - August 4, 2010 11:56 p.m.

    2d castlevania game with HD 2d sprites. On the 3DS. Make it happen Konami
  • stevengibson - August 4, 2010 11:22 p.m.

    noooo! i was hoping these would finally trump SotN but i guess not. and no exp points? nah ill pass
  • garnsr - August 4, 2010 10:14 p.m.

    Maybe if they do get around to a PS3 version they'll add pause, at least. I'm not sure I'd get it even if it did make it to PS3, I love Castlevania, but this doesn't seem to be quite what I want. And why the Hell do you get several heroes, and zero Belmonts? Maybe they'll throw Veronica in as a PS3 exclusive.
  • NeoKef - August 4, 2010 8:26 p.m.

    I just got done playing a full team co-op. Its great to come up with strategies and assignment when taking down the huge boss in chapter 3. But I will not touch that game's single player whatsoever. I can't imagine beating chapter 3. I do wish they come out with another one like this only with the improvements like you mentioned.
  • 2dboy - August 4, 2010 8:21 p.m.

    4. Stay 2D, but add HD The only thing I wish to happen. Playing a Castlevania game with Kojima art style.
  • thor0997 - August 4, 2010 8:07 p.m.

    I played the Live version of SotN and I Foukin loved it! They kinda need to accept that they dont need to get crazy with their ideas, just stick close to the formula.

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