Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin (Nintendo DS) Preview

By Adam Riley 13.11.2006 11

Castlevania is one of Konami's strongest and longest running franchises, dating back to the 1980s and the days of the NES. But some say the series really took off when Symphony of the Night launched on the PSone, with the game still being hailed as an all-time classic. But arguably it is the GBA trio, which incorporated RPG elements into the Metroid-style gameplay, that reign supreme. The first DS iteration, Dawn of Sorrow, was praised last year and now Konami is set to try and better that with Portrait of Ruin.

This time round gamers are being treated to something special with the Castlevania series. Rather than just being in control of the one character, you actually get to go through the game with two different ones

Screenshot for Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin on Nintendo DS

In fact, the game is reported to not solely reside in the two-dimensional territory. It has been confirmed that the backgrounds boast polygonal houses and some other objects to add more depth to the proceedings. And, to push the DS even more, both characters will feature on-screen at the same time, helping each other out, because the game will be throwing more enemies at you in one go than ever before (with as many as twenty zombies at any one time being mentioned). It seems that the aim is definitely to make this a superlative Castlevania experience. There will even be the chance for multi-player adventuring via either local wireless or even across the Internet using the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection. Supposedly co-operative play will be across different levels to those in the solo mode, due to the nature of lag associated with Internet play, but it is a first for the Castlevania series and sounds like it could develop into something special.

Screenshot for Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin on Nintendo DS

Back to the setting of the game, both Jonathan and Charlotte will be spreading their wings across fog-filled town locations and Egyptian-themed deserts, as well as the traditional castle confines. These extra backdrops are all actually accessed from within the castle itself, with players taking the duo through Brauner's various 'portraits of ruin' (see where the title came from now?) that are scattered around the castle. As usual, along the way there will be dozens of strange enemies to face (well, officially over a hundred!) and many different upgrades to pick up, as well as a whole host of useful (and some not so useful) items. It has also been pointed out that the out-of-place use of the stylus from Dawn of Sorrow has been discarded this time round, to instead provide a more authentic Castlevania feel.

Screenshot for Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin on Nintendo DS

As you work your way through the adventure, players can openly switch between both Jonathan and Charlotte, using each of their abilities to help them through whatever situation they are faced with. In some instances it is even possible to combine both their powers for special combination attacks that will stave off the on-coming threat. They are also both conversant in the art of Summoning, with Summon Attacks being a large part of the game, allowing the raising of demons to help during fierce battles. Other little facts include how the characters will level-up, as in recent outings; the soundtrack is to be composed by Michiru Yamane (Suikoden series, plus various Castlevania games, including Aria of Sorrow on the GBA and Symphony of the Night on PSone); the game is FAR bigger than Dawn of Sorrow due to the team being larger and more experienced; all the action takes place on the lower screen with the map and information on the top; there will be an animated introduction; and there is a 'skill collection' system implemented.

Screenshot for Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin on Nintendo DS

Final Thoughts

After the wonderful Dawn of Sorrow actually excelled further than the amazing Aria of Sorrow from the GBA, it is clear that the Castlevania team is flexing its muscles more than ever as of late, which can only be a fantastic prospect for Portrait of Ruin. Due out in Japan and the US soon, us Europeans will sadly have until early 2007 to get our hands on this fine looking game!

Developer

Konami

Publisher

Konami

Genre

2D Platformer

Players

2

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10 (12 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

Dawn of Sorrow is a reason to get the DS in itself. If this is anywhere near as good (Or even better) I may have to hump my DS...


Vigorously...

(Oh and Dawn of Sorrow had loads of 3D backgrounds too... Infact most of them were... The 3D in this one looks even beter than before though. Nice to see such a perfect blend of 2D and 3D)

Still a proud member of the 'omfg amazing water in games' society

Humping your DS eh well the flap is there is for reason.

This game looks great and i hope it can reach Dawn of Sorrow heights of excellence.

Say Raz were the hell do you get the time to preview and review alll these games.


Mike Gee of iZINE said, "...The Verve, as he [Richard Ashcroft] promised, had become the greatest band in the world. Most of the critics agreed with him. Most paid due homage. The Verve were no longer the question mark or the clichť. They were the statement and the definition."

Don't ask my day-job boss, that's all I ask! Smilie

Anyway, this is out in about a week in Japan. Methinks I'll probably import since I'm never TOO bothered by the story. I just love the gameplay so much - very reminiscent of classic Metroid :-D

I'll try and preview Dragon Quest Swords (if I get time...Smilie Smilie

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

i might get dawn of sorrow to see if i can get into the castlevania series cause it seems promising

If you can find a cheap version of Dawn of Sorrow, then by all means do! I'd recommend the Castlevania Double Pak instead, though, which has Harmony of Dissonance and Aria of Sorrow on one GBA cart.

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

When I first got Dawn of Sorrow it had been a while since I'd finished Aria, and I thought they were pretty similar... After going back to AoS now though I can safely say that I may have been insane when I thought that... The difference in quality between the two is absolutely staggering.

I'll never stop going on about the tiny little almost unnoticeable details that make DoS an amazing game, like the little steam clouds that come out of Soma's mouth when he's in a cold environment...
The excellent particles when you smash stuff...T
he wormholes that appear when you kill some enemies sucking in any particles rather than just the enemies themselves
The skirt-wearing enemies screaming and holding their skirts when you go near them with a vacuum cleaner (Or if you get one of those wormholes near them)
and the fact that the bat's wings move faster when you're flying up... It's all the little things that count ^^

And I don't like Harmony of Dissonance... Possibly in part due to the fact that I can't figure out where the hell to go, but I think it's probably just not very good anyway >.>

Still a proud member of the 'omfg amazing water in games' society

Harmony of Dissonance and Aria of Sorrow were both started at the same time, with HoD being seemingly rushed to completion and AoS having longer to make it a far better game. You can definitely tell!

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

I just have to say that this game is bloody fantastic...Just got the Japanese version in and damn I'm hooked more than with Dawn of Sorrow, definitely.

When it said 3D backgrounds...it doesn't mean slight 3D effects, it literally means things like large 3D houses that move nicely in the background as you walk past them!

And the music - it certainly made me say 'WOW'! :-D

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

Yeah DoS had 3D houses in the background too ^^; And churches ;3

Either way they look even better in this one. When's it coming out here? ;_;

Still a proud member of the 'omfg amazing water in games' society

Probably Feb. You'll see what I mean when you play this...the characters seem larger and better formed, there's much more attention to detail, the soundtrack is gob-smacking and the way you warp off to different locations via special rooms within the main castle really helps to break things up.

And yes, there are times when so many enemies come charging at you it becomes a little bit insane! Although I did note a slight bit of slowdown on one boss that spurts about 50 enemies at one time...

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

I own both GBA-games - Aria Of Sorrow and Harmony Of Dissonance - and they are both well made with Aria better then Harmony, but only slightly. But with Aria i'm stuck in the Ice-caves below the castle are tricky...

But even if every Castlevania is the same, then it's worth it. It's the levels and the monsters that count. And they are made well.

Is there a possibility to import the special edition with the big package and the soundtrack somewhere and in english into Europe? Some are only available in the US or UK...

I find your lack of faith disturbing!

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