Pre-E3 06: Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin

Today, we got a much deeper look at the new Castlevania game than we'd ever gotten before. Though it was announced before the show, all we really knew was that it would feature two characters. We now know that these two can work together in various different ways, and that the game features a slight departure from the castle-based design of the last several titles.

The "tactical soul system" from Dawn of Sorrow (DS) and Aria of Sorrow (GBA) has been scrapped in favor of more traditional gameplay, in which your two characters can level up their abilities. Jonathan Morris, wielder of the famed Vampire Killer whip handed down through the ages, can also use a variety of other weapons. His friend Charlotte Orlean, on the other hand, is a magic user who will gain new magical spells as you play through the game.

These two characters work together in various different ways. Not only can you play as one or the other at any time, you can use the two cooperatively - for example, you can get a boost from your partner and jump up to a higher ledge. You can also call forth your friend at an opportune moment to cast a spell, similar to some of the summoned monsters and abilities in previous Castlevania titles.

Interestingly, the game takes place in 1944, during World War II. The calamity of the world war has caused Dracula's castle to arise once again, but it's not inhabited by the Count. Some other vampire has taken up residence... but we don't know who just yet. And although the game will take place in the castle for at least part of it, the video Konami showed concentrated much more on traditional, open levels that scroll from left to right.

This Castlevania game looks like a solid addition to the series' legacy and a pleasant return to some of the more traditional elements of the series - while still pushing forward with new ideas. We look forward to getting our hands onto it at the show.

May 9, 2006