DS: Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin
Published by Konami
Developed by Konami
Rated T for Teens Reviewed by: Eric Steeb | Contributing Writer Gamer’s Perspective>
Portrait of Ruin is the newest Castlevania game in the long running series dating back before some of us were even born. I can tell you right now that there is a reason why it’s still around today. It’s hack and slash, RPG, platforming fun.
First of all, I’m a big action/RPG fan(Children of Mana) and a big side scroller/platforming fan. So to pick up a game like Castlevania, which is both, is like heaven in my hands. First the good parts of the game.
The game starts off just outside of Dracula’s castle. It has now appeared and you are tasked with making sure that Dracula is not revived. The two main characters are Jonathon and Charlotte. Jonathon is the strength of the team. He uses a variety of weapons, ranging from a morning star to a poisoned sword, in his quest to stop Dracula from being revived. Charlotte is the brains. She uses her powerful magic to deal huge amounts of damage, heal, or even turn you into a frog.
Once inside the castle you find out that you aren’t confined to it. There are Portraits that you enter, each with their own unique location, enemies, and bosses. There are a total of 9 portraits you have to battle through and one secret one. The portrait system reminded me of the warp portals in Mario and Luigi: Partners in Time
Although this Castlevania is like the others, the partner system is it’s hook. Your partner can make be the difference between seeing the next section of the castle, or the game over screen. They help you attack and are needed in most the puzzles of the castle. Then there is the dual crush move. These moves are special attacks that dish out the most damage in the game. They consume a lot of MP though, so choose when to use them wisely.
As you go through the castle you’ll fight many different enemies, over 150, each with different weaknesses and attacks. The more you kill, the more experience you gain, and once you gain enough, like all other RPG’s, you go up a level. This gives you a stat boost that can be very helpful in the next boss fight.
The weapons in the game are plentiful and fun. Although you have seen most in the other Castlevania games, it’s no less fun to whack an enemy with a giant mace, or catch a zombie on fire with your fire whip. There is also some strategy involved. One boss may take one damage from a whip, but 200 from a mace. It makes you experiment with the different weapons. Jonathon gets the most to choose from. Charlotte get under 10 different weapons, while he gets over twenty. The weapons are class based. Charlotte gets to use books, and Jonathon gets everything else.
Then there are the skills. Jonathon gets different weapons for his skills. Throwing knives, Axes, even cream pies! As you kill most enemies with these skills you gain mastery points. When you master a weapon it becomes more powerful. Charlotte gets magic spells. She can summon creatures to help you fight, healing and cure spells, and powerful attack spells. She doesn’t gain mastery for her spells though.
The multiplayer is also fun. You get to take on levels with a friend in co-op mode. The main problem with this though, is that there are only a few levels, and the levels are short. There is also a shop mode where you can sell items you have obtained. You don’t lose any of these items when you sell them though, which I found odd.
Now for the bad.
There really isn’t all that much I can complain about. It’s a stellar game. But touch screen in this plays an even smaller part then it did in Dawn of Sorrow. You create an emblem at the start of game with it, then you can direct your partner with it, which I never found a practical use for. Also, I was never really a fan of the hidden sections in the Castlevania games. I like to get 100 percent on games, and to do that you need to find the secret area’s on the maps. There aren’t cracks on the walls to give them away, all you can really do is find a place where you think it’s likely there’s a break away wall or floor, and just start hitting everything.
The game can be short if you like to blow through games. The first play through can take a minimum of 5-6 hours. That’s if you avoid all the quests though and go for the bad ending. If you do everything you possible can in the first play through though it can be 20+ hours. But there is so much to do after the first play through, that if you really want to get the most out of the game then it’s a 30+ hours experience.
The game seems kind of easy at first. As long as you are prepared, then there won’t be many game over screens in your future. That can be remedied with playing it on hard though. This is only unlocked after beating the game and getting the good ending.
Now for the ending thoughts.
Gameplay-Standard hack and slash, dungeon crawling. Still entertaining after 20 hours though. Very simple puzzles.
Graphics-Clean, sharp, nice to look at. Very good graphics, and very atmospheric.
Sound-Great soundtrack. Clear sounds from enemies and characters. Sounds clean, no distortion
The game is an enjoyable experience for any Castlevania fans. It’s a enjoyable experience to anyone who likes the Metroid or Castlevania type games. The sound is amazing. The songs that come through your DS really fit the atmosphere that the game is creating. You’ll want to play with the sound up, so have headphones ready in a public place. There are many different modes that you can play through. Don’t expect anything ground breaking though, it’s still the same Castlevania formula, which is why it’s so great. I suggest this game to any fans of this genre, and to anyone who just likes a fun game.