The Castlevania that should have been

Every 3D Castlevania ever released has caused fans to cry foul, and I understand why. Many, many franchises have gracefully made the jump from 2D to 3D, but Castlevania is not one of them. Konami has smartly let Castlevania rest comfortably in the flat plane on the DS and Game Boy Advance, and it has helped garner those versions strong sales and bitchin’ reviews. Castlevania: Lords of Shadow, or as I’ve retitled it, Castlevania: God of War, has offered some impressive showcases of what a 3D Castlevania might be able to offer, but until we have our hands on it, let’s just assume that all 3D Castlevanias are lame.

Konami needs to embrace the 2D world that Castlevania belongs in, and it needs to embrace it to the fullest. No need for 2.5D. We don’t need 3D graphics on a 2D plane, let’s just stick to 2D, and let’s hand draw those sprites. Look at a game like Blazblue or Guilty Gear. Those developers draw and animate their sprites by hand and the result is absolutely gorgeous. Hell, even the backgrounds can stay 2D. You have Ayami Kojima on hand to create beautiful gothic images, but her talent is totally underused. Why stop at the box art? Use that art style in the game.

Above: Why can’t our character model look like that!?

Harmony of Despair eliminates the ability to level your character up. All of your statistics are based on your equipment, and the main incentive of replaying the same levels over and over is to hope that you can find better stuff. But you might play a whole level all the way through and collect nothing but doubles of the junk you already have.

Bring back the experience! One of the things that make Dracula’s castle so much fun to get lost in is that everything you do adds to your experience. Maybe you walked around in a circle for two hours looking for that one breakable wall, and it’s entirely likely that you never found it. You may not have found a path to progression, but you gained experience and hit points. And because of that, the whole wild goose chase was meaningful and worthwhile. You got a prize just for playing. Removing experience points from Castlevania, especially one that requires a large amount of grinding, was a mistake.

Seriously, Konami? I can’t pause the game? It makes sense in multiplayer of course. If everyone had the option to pause, Dracula’s reign would never end. I must ask though - why is the option absent when I’m playing alone? The franchise has been a single player affair almost exclusively for the last 23 years. I don’t think it is much of a stretch to assume that some fans of the series, might consider their conflict with Dracula a personal, one on one sort of affair. But I still need to answer the phone, pay the pizza guy, grab a beer, pee, or whatever. So let me pause the damn game already.

Aug 4, 2010