Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon 2 (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Rudy Lavaux 28.07.2020 2

Review for Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon 2 on Nintendo Switch

Koji Igarashi's departure from Konami and his kickstarter campaign for Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night, the type of game that Konami refuses to deliver these days, made a lot of noise in the industry these past few years. This is now out on many platforms, and while it has seen many hurdles, delays, and technical issues across the many platforms supported (though much less so on PC), it is a well liked game for many starved Castlevania fans. Whether or not it measures up to the best metroidvania-styled Castlevania titles is up for debate, but in the shadow of this big budget came Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon, acting as a prequel to tide players over during the wait for Ritual of the Night, but also to offer an experience more like a classic 8-bit Castlevania than modern... metroidvania Castlevania. This was received just as well as the much bigger project game, and proved maybe even less divisive. Out of the blue, and announced less than a month before its eventual July 2020 release comes Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon 2, the sequel to the prequel, now out for the Nintendo Switch.

Like its predecessor, Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon 2 pushes the envelope of being a retro Castlevania game in everything but name, with the main source of inspiration being Castlevania 3: Dracula's Curse for its branching paths and multiple playable characters switchable on the fly. Unlike Castlevania 3 however, the path branches off in multiple directions only within the stages themselves, instead of in-between levels, which means the game ends up having much fewer levels. Likewise, all four characters can be kept at all times instead of only two in the NES game. This hasn't changed from the previous entry, and the basic gameplay loop remains the same for all intents and purposes.

What has changed is the cast of characters. Zangetsu, the original's protagonist, returns with the same sub-weapons but the three other main characters are brand new. Dominique Baldwin from Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night appears here as a playable character, capable of jumping the highest of all four base characters, wielding a spear that allows her to pogo jump off of lanterns or enemies themselves and overall playing the role of a capable healer. A unique single-use sub-weapon of hers consists in a song that revives all currently dead party members, while another allows her to grow restoring hearts out of plants, not just for herself but for her partners as well.

Screenshot for Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon 2 on Nintendo Switch

Robert is third. He's a gunslinger capable of hitting any enemy from a long distance, and of jumping off walls. His arsenal of sub-weapons includes powerful throwing lances, grenades, and the like. He is very fragile, having the lowest HP of all four, but this is counterbalanced by his long range attacking abilities. Lastly, the most bizarre of them all is Hachi, a puppy riding in a giant robot thing that can hover in mid-air, ground pound, walk over and even destroy environmental hazards like spikes, ignore ground effects like slippery ice. He is devoid of sub-weapons but in lieu of those has the ability to convert weapon points into a temporary invincibility time frame. This could be likened to on-demand i-frames, really, but they are very costly.

Just as in the first game, difficulty levels at first are casual and veteran, the latter mainly adding retro-style knock-back upon taking hits. Moreover, in the previous game, Veteran difficulty unlocked Nightmare mode which acted more as a second campaign of sorts, with an altered ending, instead of an actual extra difficult mode as the name would suggest. Here this is more smartly referred to as episodes, to highlight the fact that this is a continuation of the story, even if that involves replaying through the same stages a second time, though under different names. In the culmination of this story, the three playable characters from the first game return in their playable form, bringing the total of playable characters to seven - which isn't exactly a spoiler since this was already announced as a feature before the game even launched.

Screenshot for Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon 2 on Nintendo Switch

New to this sequel-to-the-prequel is the possibility for two players to play through the game in co-op mode. This also extends to a boss rush mode added to the game via an update shortly after launch. Overall then this package feels marginally richer in content than its predecessor, with the main attraction being mostly the new characters and levels. The new characters themselves feel great to control, and stray further away from the Castlevania roots, as the Bloodstained series starts to mature into what Konami refuses to deliver these days. The roles these characters fulfil have no parallel in the Castlevania universe, unlike the mage Alfred or the dhampyr Gebel from the first game for example, which echoed Sypha and Alucard respectively, so this one is a bit more "not a Castlevania game," while still strongly paying homage to it.

The retro audio-visuals are still just as pleasant here as they were before. A nice upgrade this time, however, is the departure from the strange aspect ratio the game could have, due to being tailored for the slightly narrower viewport of the 3DS. Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon 2 skips the ageing handheld, resulting in a 16:9 aspect ratio across the board which, on Switch, scales up brilliantly on both the handheld screen and on any HDTV. This may seem like a given thing, but there have been instances of modern games with a retro aesthetic not always being scaled up properly to today's higher resolution displays, so any worries in that regard can be put to rest instantly as Inti Creates was careful enough about it.

Screenshot for Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon 2 on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

9/10
Rated 9 out of 10

Exceptional - Gold Award

Rated 9 out of 10

In many aspects, Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon 2 reiterates all the good things of the first instalment, and goes beyond just enough to justify its existence. All qualities of its predecessor are in place, with an extra dose of wackiness and originality on top. The classic Castlevania 3-inspired recipe works just as well now, and the retro-stiff but tight and satisfying controls are a joy to experience for any fans of the genre. Inti Creates did it again!

Review copy provided by Inti Creates

Developer

Inti Creates

Publisher

Inti Creates

Genre

2D Platformer

Players

2

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

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

Comments

If this was 16 bit Id be all about it.

Our member of the week

Castlevania 3 is one of my all time favourites in teh series so it's hard for me not to love this ^_^

Cubed3 Limited Staff :: Review and Feature Writer

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