I've posted this on behalf of Barnsy.
Back in the Day..... Any gamers who're about my age is very familiar with the use of these words. I'm 23, I grew up during the 80's. I was unfortunate enough to miss the beginnings of the pixelated character, jumping, flying, walking, eating white pills and chasing ghosts, however I remember the big monkey with the barrel but the first games I remember playing properly are International Karate+ (IK+, Hit the T key anyone?) and New Zealand Story. Now around the same time there are a few titles that tend to make gamers go all gooey eyed and smile slightly to themselves, opening myself up to insult here, some of the most memorable to me (ignoring the obvious Italian plumber and blue hedgehog) are Altered Beast, Outrun, Dino Dini's Goal and of course Castlevania.
Now the earliest Castlevania I remember playing was on the NES, It revolved around man with whip... Kills Bad Guys... Collects things..... Go's after Dracula..... Thats about all I remember before my 9 year old urge to run off and set fire to some trees (I had a mispent youth ok...)
Now its 2004 and Konami have developed a 3D castlevania, unfortunately its coming out into an over-populated market, what with Devil May Cry, The Lord of The Rings, Soul Reaver, Legacy of Kain; Defiance, there's a lot of competition for a game that has its roots back in the days of Coin-op.
Castlevania starts with a big chunk of cut scene, we have a healthy 10 minute scene here where we are introduced to our hero Leon (Final Fantasy anyone?) as he races through the woods and bumps into his guide and local shopkeeper Rinahldo. The story unfolds that Dracula has kidnapped Leon's fiance and Leon has come to get her back, we find out that Dracula plays a game where hero's come to get back something precious and he basically kicks their asses, being the king of the undead obviously has advantages!
Now the cut scene ends and we play a fairly easy and not too lengthy tutorial that gently blends into the beginning of the first level, Leon has two types of attack swift and strong, each doing a different amount of damage to enemies, he can parry attacks and use his "enchanted" gauntlet to cast spells and attack with these as well, all well and good, however on the whole the attacks are pretty limited, unfortunately for Castlevania i've been playing Lord Of The Rings Return Of The King for the last few weeks so its got a pretty high benchmark to match.
The attacks aren't very fluid its, difficult to successfully attack and defend yourself in a large group of foe's, you tend to find yourself guarding and just waiting until a split second when no-ones attacking or casting a spell and hoping to take most of them out with that, the attacks aren't bad but you tend to get stuck attacking in one direction and there's a pause after you pull off the final move in the combo, in that half second after you can't defend or attack again so thats when you'll take most damage. In comparison to LOTR's amazing multiple combo, kill in all directions kick ass moves, it comes up a bit lame!
There isn't much of a roleplaying element, its very platform based, not much development and skill involved, just hack and slash, occasionally you get rewarded with bigger combo's or more powerful attacks but this appears to happen at random, nothing you do seems to encourage this to happen. Bit disapointing really, but this isn't the worst of it.
The levels to the game are really samey, the corridors (all the same) rooms (samey) enemies (VERY MUCH THE SAME!!!!) getting the picture? I fought about seven or eight different enemies in about 2 hours of gameplay, now if this is a deliberate point back to the old school days then fine, its nice, but its dull! I got bored! and another thing, unless i'm very very much mistaken I played for 2 hours straight, however... not one cutscene, no Ingame graphics, no story, no plot, no interaction, no friends, no life. Getting the Picture again?
I Like in-depth storylines, I love real deep character development, edge of the seat action teemed with suspense and good story telling (I point to Jak 2, Metal Gear, Vice City, Splinter Cell and Max Payne as great examples) there is no development in Castlevania, I'm bored already, there is nothing to make me want to play this game anymore other than a curiosity to see if there is any story development, now, maybe i've got it wrong, maybe somehow i've gone the wrong way into the dungeon and missed all the story elements, but I don't see how any game thats worth the time and effort I've taken in playing this could let me get so badly wrong!
Now its not all bad, The music, sound and overall feel of the game are really nice, the music is very well done and sits comfortably with the games content, the sound is atmospheric and the overall feel is very pretty (although after a while gets boring).
I'd describe Castlevania as a pick up and play game, its five minutes here, five minutes there, its ok, i would have liked to have seen more cut scenes, but old school arcade and platform gamers should love it, its a real throw back and shows how far game development has come. Its an average game, but on the whole I got bored pretty quickly.
If I had to sum this up in a very brief way to get across to you exactly what i thought, it would be that, if you've missed the last 5 to 8 years of game development then this will appeal to you. If you're a big gamer and love Devil May Cry, Final Fantasy, LOTR then its really not going to hold your attention for long.