The demo finally came out on the Japanese e-shop (game comes out next week over here). I gave it a spin.|
-It certainly feels Castlevania-esque in the enemy design and visual atmosphere. The gameplay also feels like someone took Rondo of Blood and Castlevania IV and mixed them together with Final Fight.
-The graphics are astounding. The castle's features are thrown in harsh darkness, brilliant light, revolving levels of parapets and decay, ghostliness and crumbling stone by a dazzling display of 3D. It's also moody and dark, without losing too much of the colorfulness of the series' past.
-The change to a more brawler/beat-em-up style of gameplay seems to be pretty well implemented. I don't have any problem in theory with changing the series' style of mostly weak enemies you can plow through that provide more of an obstacle to movement, to enemies that are harder to deal with, but still provide something of an obstacle to movement. Castlevania's identity as an action series is not just visual and musical trappings, but that particular combination of action and platforming that made it such a good complement to stuff like Mega Man. In that sense, dying or getting hurt from long drops may take away a bit from the fun factor of dropping long distances, but it makes sense in this one and adds a nice element of challenge from coming down from high places.
-The weapons and attacks made available in the demo are nicely differentiated.
-There's some interesting secrets to be found if you go off the obvious path.
-The parchments that dead skeletons hold not only provide experience (which is a nice touch) but nice bits of atmosphere and storytelling. I approve. Keep it even it goes back to IGA. (It's also nice how much detail there is in the descriptions in the menu items and such, but I hope you can re-read the parchments you find in the retail version from the menu.)
-You can annotate the map.
-The first boss has a clever and funny introduction, with great use of 3D.
-The hand that comes out in the tunnel is hilarious and a nice touch, as are of the some of the cool little background animations.
-The music, at least what is available in the demo, absolutely fucking sucks. Its pompous, derivative, pretentious wannabe movie score shit that has swept in like a plague to so-called AAA games and ripped them of half of their souls. This no talent hack should be kicked to the curb for a real composer who will give us a real Castlevania score. Castlevania is made only worse with "Ehhhhhhhhh, bom bom bom, baarrrrrgh, dun dun dun, DON DON DON DON, aarrrrrrriegggharrggegj!" music, if you can call it music and not orchestral vomit spewed out of the ass of shitheads everywhere who want to ruin how uniquely game music has evolved. GET THESE SHITHEADS OUTTA MY GAMES! BANISH THEM TO THE TOILETS WHERE THEY BELONG! RRAAARRR!
Castlevania's soul is in its music. ;_:
-Why oh why oh why oh why on this green earth would you design so many lanterns, candles and light fixtures, keep the mechanic of breaking something to get hearts AND THEN make the hearts come Ye Olde Generic Barrel? Why would you take away from the series' identity like that? Is it out of some misguided sense that money and hearts popping out of candles is weird and inconsistent with reality and you want to make a more realistic game? If that's the case, come here. Right here, behind this shed. This shotgun? Pfft. This old thing, just thought I'd bring it with me while we have a nice talk. A nice, long talk.
-Trevor's face is dorky. I don't understand why so many Western developers have to design a male face so it looks like a 30 year old tax accountant's face mapped onto the body of the Incredible Hulk (and occasionally, like in this case the hair of an 80s metal band). The animation is beef jerky and the character doesn't move as smoothly as a Castlevania hero should, even if he perhaps the slowest of the three characters. Castlevania heroes should be as smooth as Sunday morning, with bright white teeth to go with their slinky battle dance steps. It is only when they jump or go up stairs that their chronic constipation and arthritis should click in.
-Weird inconsistency in character guidance, some things I would consider crucial to explain if you're going for a tutorial stage and not a stage that teaches by experience and visual/audio guidance are left out, while others are too explicit when they should be obvious like when you reach the strange cross and statue, and respectively, they explain you need shadow or light powers to interact with them. Well gee. Thanks for taking all the thought out of the puzzle. On the flipside, I eventually understood that you could grapple enemies when they flashed white, but couldn't figure out if that was also true when they white flashes appeared signifying attacks and I was just messing up the timing. It looked like you could throw the shield guys when their shields flashed white, but I couldn't get it to work. And the boss. Don't get me started on the boss and actually designing animations so they are clear to the player what they mean. I was so confused about what kind of attack it would because so many of its "charge" animations were so similar. I eventually got used to it, but if its a first boss, its way too subtle. That's closer to something an late game boss should be doing.
-Along those lines I couldn't get used to what you could and could not block in the demo. I'm willing to grant I wouldn't be able to master the parry-like block in the short time, but I feel like I should I have a better idea of what blocks I can attack from the animations, sounds and Trevor's reactions. I really only figured it out in the boss fight, for instance, because sometimes Trevor's energy bar wouldn't go down and there was no "hurt" animation. That's kind of weak for a modern game and really bad design if it continues like this.
-Thanks for all the explanations in the menu, now you can please spare a moment to tell me how many crosses I can have at maximum? Or maybe clarify why I could only carry six before I got the upgrade to carry more and I can still only carry six?
-Maybe this is Konami more than Mercury Steam and I hope to God it isn't in the final version, because it would signify a level of incompetence I cannot believe even Konami would stoop to, but why can you only annotate maps in English? Why can't you use Japanese or the entire keyboard? On a similar note why is the voice acting still in English with Japanese subtitles when past Castlevanias' voice acting have been Japanese?
-I feel like the hit detection is wonky, but I can't be sure till I play the final game.
So in conclusion: it looks alright, its nice enough and competent enough to be somewhat excited where it will go in the full version. But:
I want my, I want my, I want my IGA back, whipping my candles and the hearts fly free. (Sung to the tune of "I Want My MTV." )
Edited by JinTypeNoir at 05:16:57 13-03-2013