Friday, August 3, 2012

Returning with new old content.

My good pal and fellow blogger RivenMike has been blogging for online for several years since the introduction of his own blog That Guy Named Mike (link incoming), and at one point I planned to do some guest game reviews on there. Why cleaning out my pc hardcore for Guild Wars 2 I came across this little  gem of a review I wrote for Castlevania Curse of Darkness on the Playstation 2. As a fun treat and as a way to get this blog powered up again, I decided to post it here in all its unedited glory.  My apologies for lack of updates, it has been a busy few months. Between work, and getting engaged to the best girl in the world its hard to write on here!  With Tekken Tag 2, Guild Wars 2,  Resident Evil 6 and some of my other favorites on the horizon I'm sure I'll have plenty to talk about !

Castlevania Curse of Copy Paste

Hello gang Mike has been gracious enough to give me a spot here to post my game rants and reviews so here they are.

My game reviews often have no rhyme or reason. They come and go at my whim and this has been a long standing trend that started with my video reviews on youtube.  I might review and NES game one day, and then decide to review and arcade game the next. There’s really no telling, and I’ve had no problem with that trend there so I’ll use it here as well.

Castlevania Curse of Darkness is Castlevania’s 2nd outing on the PS2, and it bears an overwhelming similarity to its PS2 predecessor Lament of Innocence.
Curse of Darkness is a direct sequel to Castlevania III on the NES . Even though Trevor and co gave Dracula the boot Wallachia is still under the curse of Dracula.  It seems that one of his old devil forgemasters is trying to resurrect him or some crap like that and its up to you (as Hector a devil forgemaster that betrayed Dracula and thus gave Trevor and co the big open door to kill Dracula) to defeat this crazy lummock and destroy Dracula’s curse. 

Hold on a minute. What’s a devil forgemaster?

Apparently devil forge masters   are the guys who make Dracula’s minions. Unfortunately the game just starts throwing this term around as if fans of Castlevania Canon have heard it before. Good job Iragashi here you go again.  My problem with this is that the game goes on about the forge masters, but it never gives you any back story to them. And since this game takes place quite early in the canon the absence of these forge masters later in the time line makes it even harder to swallow. Maybe since the loss of one forge master was such a great loss that a guy with a whip , a cross dressing magician,  a pirate, and rebelling teenage(by vampire years) son were able to defeat the almighty Dracula he decided to give the whole forge master plan the boot in successive resurrections, but I digress.
In all fairness the story isn’t THAT bad. For the most part it follows the Lament of Innocence format of throwing you some story information after important boss fights or when entering new areas. Other than the oh-by-the-way introduction of the Devil Forge masters the only hero from Dracula’s Curse that makes an appearance is Trevor, and he’s stabbed later in the game as a way to make you have to fight Dracula when he’s inevitably resurrected.
Control has actually been changed slightly from Lament of Innocence. Instead of using one of the two attack buttons to open doors you use the button on the opposite side of the controller. This takes a bit of getting used to, but it’s no big deal. The moving around was to simplify the attack system. Instead of your usual hard and light attack buttons you have one attack button, and a combo ender button that allows you to spice of your combos. Each weapon has several combos and special attacks that can be fiddled around with, and you’ve got multiple types of weapons this time around. Hector can pick up mineral fragments that enemies drop and combine them to make weapons. Weapons fall into 4 categories Swords, Spears, Knuckles, and the random? category.  The first 3 are self explanatory, and the ? Category carries everything else. ?  Category items range from spiked baseball bats to bludgeoning shields.  Using these weapons are pretty much standard to your 3D action beat em up. Anyone who’s played Devil May Cry, God of War or any other game of that genre will get it.
Anyone who played Lament of Innocence will know that that the biggest problem was the overly repetitive level design. In LOI you spent most of your time fighting through a room of enemies, going down a hall way, fighting a room of enemies, and repeating that.  Normally with a sequel you build on game play of the first while righting the wrongs done by the first. For some strange reason Iragashi decided to think outside the box and make the game’s level design more repetitive and improve on the already decent combat system and oh by the way some monsters in to help you via the ID system.  For the most part this CV functions as a dungeon crawler. You fight your way through the levels (occasionally you have to use a special ability to cross a section) and get to the boss. Since it’s up to combat to make the game more interesting they gave us the earlier mentioned “Innocent Devil System.”  Since Hector used to make minions for Drac it makes sense that he can make his own to help him in his fight against Dracula’s minions. You get about 6 of these critters and they range from being Golem type monsters to fairies. Each of them has multiple transformations depending on the jewels you give it. Jewels can be obtained by killing monsters with a certain weapon. This is an interesting concept, although some ID transformations and more useful than others, and you have to use certain weapons to get them.  It’s a bit troublesome to have to switch between weapons to get certain crystals, and at times the weapon you have to use to get a certain  crystal may mean taking a hit in power which is not what you want when you’re facing a horde of enemies.
All and all Curse of Darkness is a good romp and likely the Castlevania fan, dungeon crawler, or beat um up enthusiast will have fun with it. If you’re a CV freak like me it’s worth the buy especially at the bargain price you can likely find it at now.
Specific Situation Complaint:
Later in the game you must fight Hector’s former friend and fellow devil forge master, Isaac. During certain portions of the fight he’ll summon his own ID which must be killed before you can hurt him. This situation has come up in many games before , but please remember game developers it shouldn’t take me 30 minutes to kill a minion. Issac’s first ID is a flying demon which is very hard to hit thanks to Hectors very heavy jump physics. (pretty much makes all flying monsters in the game a pain) The lock on system will insist on locking onto Issac (who is invincible), and thus drawing the camera away from the real target. Worse still while Isaac is locked on to the flying ID he summoned will fly around bashing you and spitting fire. Meanwhile your own senseless ID will try fruitlessly to attack him thus wasting his own life. It’s really one of those “this shouldn’t be that hard but it is  RAGE moment.”