FEBRUARY 1ST, 2010: The boss of the library level, called Bloody Tomes, is Wallman. Actually killing him is super-simple. Just suck up his glyph when he uses it. This can be difficult if you can’t find a safe spot in between the bombs he throws in the tiny room in which he hangs out.
When you take his glyph, he is killed by the impossibility of two solid objects occupying the same space. It’s like a bad scene from Heroes.
Still bitter about that show and its wasted potential. I also find the new series, Heroes Reborn, dubious due to it not featuring any of the original series’ characters… supposedly…
His glyph, Paries, allows you to pass through certain walls. I knew right away which place I could use it: the Tymeo Mountains.
Using it is SO WEIRD!
And that’s how I completed 100% of the Tymeo Mountains.
What item was waiting for me in the Mountains? A pair of shoes called Moonwalkers. They’re supposed to make you invincible when you backdash.
I thought that the backdash in Symphony was too stiff to be of much use. But I use the heck out of the backdash in this game. And some enemies use it, too.
Next, I tried to Paries my way through the Misty Forest Road. With Paries, you can access a hallway hiding a bow glyph and the Hierophant Ring.
FEBRUARY 19TH, 2010: That ring increases your gained experience.
In Dracula’s Castle, there is an Underground Labyrinth. It’s tough boss: Blackmore. He attacks indirectly with his wolf-shaped shadow. The shadow has nasty attacks, and they’re hard to dodge since you’re basically wedged into a corner for this fight. Obviously, he’s weak to light-based attacks.
Beyond Blackmore’s room, you can find a breakable floor. Through it, you’ll find a Super Potion, glyphs that increase movement speed and luck, and a path out of the castle. That path unlocked two new areas: the Large Cavern and the Training Hall. I’m glad that I found that all by myself.
Blackmore was really tough. I had to grind my way to level 49 to survive him. And boy, was it a grind.
The Underground Labyrinth is a pretty generic-looking level, but the treasure redeems it.
It’s nice to have a few more areas opened up to me. Unfortunately, these new ones are just a gladiatorial arena and a jumping puzzle series. Aw, man!
MAY 13TH, 2010: Recently, I won the Eye for Decay from the Peeping Eye enemy. Equipping it lets you see those hard-to-reach spots in levels that hide stuff in walls and edges of platforms. One such edge in the Kalidus Channel hides a… Twinbee item. Is this a reference to one of Konami’s classic shmups?
All that the description says is, “5000 points[.]” Um. Thanks?
I found two more items like those, featuring the Vic Viper and Konami Man. Unfortunately, nowadays, it’s less “Konami Man to the rescue!” and more, “Konami, man.”
One of the wildest glyphs I’ve encountered turns Shanoa into an automaton! Cute! Useless, though.
I reached a Clock Tower (as obligatory to Castlevania as a “hidden” lab is to Resident Evil) and a basement armory. The latter has Castlevania‘s classic sword enemy in it.
Classic inasmuch as it debuted in Symphony. It’s cool because it’s like a sword that floats in the air and has rings of swords and shields floating around it.
I remember entering that stunning stained glass window-filled room in Symphony‘s Royal Chapel and meeting the enemy for the first time. Classic.
That’s one of my favorite moments… ever. I still have nostalgia for it.
Ironic that Dracula had a chapel in his castle.
After this update, the VGJ migrated to a VGJO.
FEBRUARY 12TH, 2012: Can we defeat Dracula?
Apparently not. How do we defeat him when using the Dominus glyphs kills you, and he uses an instant-death attack anyway? To Game FAQs!
Sigh. What ensued past this was more bitching, best summed up by one of my favorite GIFs:
Apparently, you’re supposed to use all three Dominus glyphs to defeat him after the stops the battle to blather at Shanoa.
After Shanoa used Dominus on Dracula, Albus’ memories from carrying the glyph flooded her mind. She began to cry…
Albus’ ghost told her that her tears were her own, and she awoke in the throne room. Albus said that Dominus would take his soul instead – but at a price. He wanted her to smile for him before he disappeared. She did, through tears.
“Beautiful… I… I can finally…”
“Albus…?” asked Shanoa. “Wait, don’t… No! ALBUS!!!”
The throne room started to crumble. Shanoa fled the castle, which vanished as dawn broke…
“Unknown to the outside world, Good had vanquished Dracula’s evil once more, as all record of Ecclesia vanished into the mists of time…”
Well… at least the ending was good.
That was kind of a short VGJ, so I will combine this final entry with the Final Thoughts.
I didn’t enjoy this as much as some of the other Castlevanias, but there are aspects that I enjoy more than those games. It didn’t feel as sluggish as some of the other Castlevanias, and the glyph system combined magic and weapons, which meant less fussing around in menus than in, say, Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow.
I was most frustrated by the high difficulty in some parts. It seemed like the only way to surmount such obstacles was to grind, which got a bit tedious.
The game is beautiful, albeit with a dark color scheme, with some good music. I like the art style, even if I don’t like it as much as Ayami Kojima’s insanely pretty and finely-painted illustrations. I wouldn’t have minded if other Metroidvanias had the same artists.
The story is actually really good. Some dispute the need for a story in Castlevania that is more involved than “Hey, you’re a Belmont. Here’s a whip, now go kill Dracula”, but OoE proved that Igarashi and co. could tell a good story if they wanted to and/or had the time. In this game, they wove a minor but effective tale of unrequited (?) love.
Shanoa is one of the more memorable Castlevania protagonists. I would have liked to have seen a sequel featuring more of her adventures, but I don’t know where else they would have gone with her, considering how complete OoE‘s story was. If they had given her a new love interest, people that ship Shanoa/Albus would’ve flipped.
Sadly, this was the last Castlevania in the “Metriodvania” mold developed in-house by Konami, unless you count Castlevania: Harmony of Despair, a downloadable online title which I don’t have.
As for the VGJ itself, I wish that I had spent more time talking about the mechanics, levels, monsters, music, and glyphs. The kind of stuff that’s interesting in a Castlevania game.
Should I Buy It?
If you like Metroidvanias and don’t mind a bit of a challenge and grinding, then yes.
Shanoa appeared in both Harmony of Despair and Castlevania Judgment, a fighting game for the Nintendo Wii. This spinoff attempted to be a “dream match game” that took characters from numerous games, and from different time periods in their lives. I don’t have this game either, but I would like to give my opinion on the character designs by Takeshi Obata. Why? Because I thought it would be entertaining. :3
I like Obata’s artwork. I think it’s pretty gorgeous, but either he wasn’t the right artist for Judgment, or he got weird directions from Konami, because some of the the results are… puzzling. Let’s start with the lady of the hour, Shanoa.
Shanoa seems like a totally different character. In OoE, Shanoa had this stern, badass air, but in this game, she has what appears to be a nun’s habit, and her suit is unflattering.
They turned poor Maria (Dracula X: Rondo of Blood, Symphony) into lolicon bait. Vom.
Similarly, they went with a shotacon version of Eric Lecarde (Castlevania: Bloodlines) for some reason. At least he gets a tux to wear.
Sorceress Sypha Belnades (Castlevania III) looks like she stole a more modest outfit and a not-so-modest bustline from Ivy (Soulcalibur series).
Grant DaNasty (CVIII) got turned into a scrawny mummy somehow.
Trevor Belmont (CVIII) actually looks pretty hot and awesome, if you ignore the fact that even Lulu from Final Fantasy X would tell him to lay off the belts.
I do not have a problem with Carmilla (DX: RoB) getting a sexier redesign because hey, she’s evil. She can be a sexy bitch. Good for her.
If they really wanted to make a great Castlevania fighter, why couldn’t they have contracted Arc System Works (Guilty Gear, BlazBlue, Persona 4 Arena) with their specialty in 2D fighters? That could have been awesome.
The next VGJ will be another short one with weapons. Lots of weapons.