Castlevania Judgment Review for Nintendo Wii

Castlevania Judgment Review for Nintendo Wii

Although Castlevania Fans have been treated to some hit or miss titles in the past, none have been as worrisome as Castlevania Judgment. From the moment this title was announced, many were worried about how a franchised based on side-scrolling whip-cracking play could possibly translate into a legitimate fighter, especially on the Wii. The good news here is that Castlevania Judgment isn’t a complete disaster and, for the most part, works. However, that doesn’t mean it works well.

Castlevania Judgment screenshot

One of the main issues that many longtime fans will have with Caslevania Judgment almost immediately is with the look of the game. All of the characters have been redesigned by “Death Note” Mangaka Takeshi Obata, and most of the Belmont crew only bears a passing resemblance to their former selves. All of the different characters have taken on a highly gothic edge, complete with sunken eyes, spiky hair, and heavy clothing. The vastly altered look of the different characters is definitely off-putting to longtime Castlevania fans, and it starts the whole Castlevania Judgment experience off on the wrong foot.

Another thing that really hinders this game is the battle system. Each character only has a handful of standard attacks, and even though some special moves can be unlocked, the battle system remains far too simple for even the most casual of players.

Castlevania Judgment screenshot

You can either play with the Wii-mote and Nunchuk combination or the Classic Controller/GameCube controller configuration. But no matter which way you choose, this game is boring to control. With the Wii-mote controls, you can execute standard attacks by waving the Wii-mote around, and you can perform combos by pressing the B, C, and Z buttons in conjunction with a sharp Wii waggle. Although the controls are very easy to learn, the Wii-mote isn’t always responsive when you wave it around, which is very frustrating.

If you decide to use the GameCube/Classic controller configuration, you’ll find that attacks are much easier to perform, but because the battle system is so simple, you’ll find yourself bored rather quickly. Each character only has a few effective attacks (in addition to a cinematic special attack), which will require a very simple button smash, and there are few opportunities to execute varied moves that venture beyond hitting the same button combination over and over. Anyone can master the controls in Castlevania Judgment in a few minutes, which really hinders any sort of challenge this game may have presented.

Castlevania Judgment screenshot

Another big problem with the battle system is the gross character imbalance. Some characters, Like Simon Belmont, have simple attacks that are chainable and lead to easy single-button smash victories against even the toughest of opponents. However, characters like Maria Renard and Alucard have very weak single-button attacks, and their more-powerful combo attacks take a lot of time to execute, which leaves them extremely vulnerable in challenging combat situations. This issue becomes very apparent when you are playing against non-A.I. opponents, and they make certain characters practically unplayable in versus matches.

However, once you get past the look and feel of the game, you may be surprised at how much content there is here. Despite having a slim roster of only fourteen characters (including the Belmont crew, Dracula, Alucard, and Death), there are plenty of modes that you can play through, including a story, arcade, and a mission-based dungeon mode. The story mode is largely forgettable and basically plays the same as the arcade mode, with small snippets of dialogue separating battles with different characters. However, the mission-based dungeon mode is actually quite interesting and is structured like a multi-door tower in Dracula’s castle. Each door can be “unlocked” by completing conditioned battles, and this mode was surprisingly satisfying.

Castlevania Judgment also has a non friend-locked online mode, which works startlingly well. Although there is the normal lag and occasional framerate drop that occurs in fast-paced online games, the matchmaking system is quite speedy, and you are able to keep track of online friends and rivals through a liberal roster system. Castlevania Judgment definitely excels in the online department, and it is too bad that most of the actual gameplay elements are what hinder its great online capacity.

Castlevania Judgment screenshot

The graphics in Castlevania Judgment are poor, even by Wii standards. As I’ve said before, the character design is just terrible, but there are numerous technical issues that just exacerbate the sub-standard look of this game. The different character animations look very bad, especially during battles, and cinema scenes are full of jagged edges. Although the different characters sport a fair amount of detail, the different stages are incredibly bland and feature few interactive elements. Animations are very repetitive as well, adding to Castlevania Judgment’s stoic look.

Sound in Castlevania is hit or miss. The score is nice to listen to in parts, but it can be annoying after too many playthroughs. The voiceover on the other hand, is poorly done and very repetitive, both in English and Japanese. Each character only has a handful of stock phrases that are used before and after a battle, and these will try your nerves very quickly. Even the dialogue in the story mode is repetitive and of very poor quality.

Although most didn’t expect great things from Castlevania Judgment, this game really had some potential. The castle mode as well as the online functionality proves that this title could have been really fun. However, the simplistic combat as well as the shoddy graphics sink this title to a near-unplayable status. Sure, Castlevania Judgment sounds great on paper, but in practice it just doesn’t measure up to what it could be. It ends up being a failed experiment, not worthy of rising from Dracula’s crypt.

Character design is very poor, and there are a lot of jagged edges and dull environments. Animations are also very clunky and repetitive. 2.5 Control
The battle system is far too simple for the controls. Using the Wii-mote feels imprecise, and using the GameCube or Classic Controller just feels boring. 2.9 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Some of the background music is nice, but dialogue is poorly voiced and extremely repetitive. 3.0

Play Value
There isn’t much to the story mode, but the mission-based dungeon mode adds some variety to the mix, and the online mode works surprisingly well.

2.6 Overall Rating – Average
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.

Game Features:

  • Select from many of your favorite characters from the 22 years of Castlevania games.
  • Characters designed by the famous manga artist Takeshi Obata.
  • Gorgeous characters and 3D environments rendered beautifully on the Wii.
  • Battle across several stages with environmental elements you can use to your advantage in battle, including objects to pick up and throw.
  • Engage in head-to-head battle via Wi-Fi connectivity.
  • Connect with Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia (DS) to unlock special items

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