Castlevania: Lords of Shadow will probably kick ass

As a lifelong fan of Castlevania, I can safely say they’ve got the look down pat. The vampires, werewolves and other weirdo monsters have the same beautifully gothic appearance of the classic games, and the various environments retain a similar vibe. One of the biggest complaints about Lament and Curse was the wide-open, eerily vacant hallways that stretched on and on. That doesn’t appear to be the case here, but once again all we’ve seen is a special trailer that detailed the game’s highpoints – with a bit of hyperbole, we’re sure.

Even though Lords is aimed at newcomers, I still get the sense Mercury Stream wants to retain the existing fan base. Obviously they’d say something like that, but it’s their actions that have me convinced. First, they kept the Belmont name. A few Castlevania titles have ignored the legendary family and still delivered, but by using “Belmont” they’ve made it clear that this will be a proper and true Castlevania experience. Throw in a story about souls trapped in limbo, a dark force about to end the world and a half-dead wife and we’re so very on board. Sounds like Classicvania.

Second, and of great importance to me, is the music. The trailer was preceded by a two-minute video that flew through some of the game’s locations, from castles to cliffs to forests, all of which was narrated by a classic, atmospheric track from Super Castlevania IV. Such a direct reference, whether it makes it into the game or not, at least shows the devs know what makes Castlevania work. And if that same passion and attention to detail is present in the gameplay, this really could be the 3D entry we’ve waited more than 10 years to play.

The release date is still “fall 2010,” which means anywhere from September to December. The prime release makes this Konami’s big holiday title though, another sign that they’re not going to crap out another weak sequel. Expect a whole lot more during E3 (June 15-17).