Hippo Manchester
January 5, 2006

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Games: Castlevania: Curse of Darkness
(PS2/XBOX)
Konami

Author, art critic and proto-founder of the English Aesthetic Movement in art, Walter Pater said, “All art aspires to be music.” Well I’d say that all Castlevania games aspire to be Castlevania: Symphony of the Night for the original Playstation.

Symphony of the Night took everything great about the original Castlevania games for the 8 bit Nintendo and wrapped them lovingly in a pseudo RPG format. Your hero gained levels as he hacked his way through Dracula’s castle; he unlocked vampiric abilities and magical weapons and acquired a small group of helpful followers to aid him in battle. SOTN was a wonderful game that mastered it’s format and tweaked expectations just enough to propel it’s enjoyment over the top.

In fact, do yourself a favor and buy a copy. It’s worth the $20 (if that!) that a copy will go for.

Of the 10 post-SOTN titles to be released across various platforms, only the Game Boy Advance title Castlevania: Circle of the Moon is worth mentioning. All others, and many of the pre-SOTN titles, are bunk.

Curse of Darkness is no different. While its attempt at grafting the RPG aspects of SOTN is notable, it fails chiefly because the 3D environment is boring and lifeless. Unlike Devil May Cry, the fighting will not painful as many 3D fighting games can be, it is merely acceptable as the list of enemies you encounter is a rather short one. The halls of castle Dracula are bland and long, ever so long especially considering how often you will be backtracking and defeating the same enemies over and over again.

The one grace of CoD is the development of “Innocent Devils” which are the pets that are found throughout Castle Dracula. See main character Hector used to work for Dracula as a Devil Forgemaster (which, technically if he was in charge of a Devil Forge he should be referred to as a Devilsmith). After Dracula died years ago, Hector abandoned his Devil Forgemastery and only takes it back up to defeat fellow former-Dracula lieutenant Issac. Hector can summon a variety of Imps, Demons and Golems to assist him in battle, heal him or grant him various abilities that can be used to access various secret locales. Innocent Devils gain experience and can be upgraded as they fight alongside Hector. They’re kind of like evil vampire Pokemon.

Aww cute and bitey.

Unfortunately the lil monster handling is the high point in an otherwise bland title. Save some money, dig up your PS1 or PS2 and get Symphony of the Night, it’s worth a dozen of these shameful retreads.

— Glenn Given

D