|System: Wii||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Konami||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Konami||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Nov. 18, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-2||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Amanda L. Kondolojy
July 29, 2008 - For most people, Castlevania only means one thing: an action/adventure, 2D side-scroller that involves killing vampires and most likely a rather laborious bout with the legendary uber-vampire, Dracula. So, it was pretty understandable that many fans were worried and confused when the announcement came that the series' first iteration on the Wii would be a fighting game. No side-scrolling, no lengthy story mode, just a mish-mash of all manner of Castlevania characters fighting each other. For many fans, the question became not what could go wrong, but what would go wrong.
But from what it looks like, Castlevania Judgment might not be all that bad. The game takes characters from the past two decades of Castlevania games, which should please longtime fans. All in all, there will be about 14 characters in total, which will include both playable characters from the series as well as memorable bosses. However, 14 does seem a little thin for a fighting game, and I would be willing to wager there will be more in total once you unlock everything. Confirmed characters include series mainstays like Simon Belmont, Maria Renard, Dracula, and Alucard. Each of these characters will have a fairly large roster of signature moves and weapons. For instance, Dracula will be able to hover above the battlefield as well as shoot fireballs, while Maria can summon animals.
It also seems that characters will be able to use pickup items like holy water and stakes. From early screenshots, it looks like this element will work similarly to the item pickup mechanism in the Naruto: Ultimate Ninja series, although it is unclear if you are able to have more than one type of item in possession at the same time.
In addition to familiar characters, there will also be quite a few familiar Castlevania locales as well. The game will feature several generic Castlevania settings including a monastery and a vampire-ridden town. But there will also be some specific character settings, including Dracula's Lair. Environments will have a number of interactive elements including items that are part of the actual setting that you can throw such as candelabras.
There will be two main modes of play, which will include a standard story mode. It is unknown whether this story mode will take a character-centric approach, or encompass the story of all the different characters in one large interconnected story. Of course, in addition to the standard story mode, there will be the game's centerpiece: the 2-Player brawl mode. This mode will be available for play both online and off, so you can get your Castlevania brawl fix with friends both near and far. Specifics have not been revealed as to how this will incorporate the Wii's friend code system, but it has been suggested that it will be structured much the same way as Super Smash Bros. Brawl and offer random match-ups as well as friend matches.
But of course, the thing that is probably at the forefront of a concerned fan's mind is the control. Unfortunately, the Wii does not have the best track record when it comes to controls, especially with third-party brawlers. But games like Soul Calibur Legends have given me some hope with regards to this title, but we'll have to wait and see. The main attack mechanism will be executed through the now-standard Wii-mote waggle, with a few button pressing options for increased speed and power. You will also be able to waggle the Nunchuk for speed dashes and throw items with the A button.
One aspect of Castlevania Judgment that gives me mixed feelings is the interactivity with the upcoming Castlevania DS title, Order of Ecclesia. It hasn't been said exactly what this interactivity will entail, only that it will give users of both titles an enhanced experience. The current rumor is that connecting the two games will unlock a hidden character in Castlevania Judgment, but of course, there is absolutely no official word on this.
I have definitely found myself in the minority of Castlevania fans when it comes to giving this game a chance. I actually applaud Konami for taking such a gutsy move and can only hope that my faith is not ill-placed. I would definitely encourage other Castlevania fans to try this one out, even if it is against their best instincts. So, if you're just dying to go toe to toe with some legendary vampires as well as the Belmont crew, then you'll get your chance this November when Castlevania Judgment is released exclusively for the Wii.
Amanda L. Kondolojy
CCC Freelance Writer