When we heard that the first console Castlevania game to come out since 2005's Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow was a fighter we were surprised, but then Konami at their E3 08 press event explained that the game is not a fighter, but a “3d Versus Action Game,” we were…well perplexed.
See, the game involves picking a character, then smashing buttons and swinging your remote around until your opponent is dead. That seems like a fighter to us, but hey, we’ll go with it long enough to tell you our impressions.
Look: Castlevania Judgment looks just like a Castlevania game, which is a good thing. Obviously, it’s a Wii title, so there won’t be perfectly rendered, photo-realism you might see for something on the PS3 or the 360, but it has that Japanese meets Victorian Age meets Goth look you’ve come to expect from Castlevania, and it’s nice to see it rendered a little better than past games. We like. The couple levels we checked out—a baroque hall and a gothy graveyard—were cool looking, but were empty arenas for fighting (or 3D-actioning, if you prefer) with a few objects place around for smashing on your opponents head.
The characters designs were definitely impressive. The E3 build of the game featured Simon Belmont, Dracula, Alucard, and Maria, but the final version will feature more than 14 characters from the Castlevania Universe.
Gameplay: Although this is a 3D versus action game, it plays pretty much like a fighter. You shake your Wiimote to perform your basic attack, then you can customize your moves by pressing down combinations of the Wii’s buttons, and hit C to wield your character's ranged attack. There are super-attacks if your bar is totally powered up, and they're filled pyrotechnics.
The game allows you a free range of 3D motion, so you can literally run circles around your opponent. It reminded us a bit of the Soul Calibur series, but with more freedom of movement.
The game also allows you to use objects from the environment against your opponents, so you can smash Dracula over the head with a candlestick or throw Alucard into some conveniently lurking zombies to deal extra damage. Useful and neat.
As far as the fighting itself, with our limited play time, we treated it like a button masher…or more accurately a Wiimote swinger--While we’re sure the game wouldn’t respond like this on harder levels, as far as the easier opponents we fought, random swinging was enough. We played as Maria (love that owl!) and basically shoved the Wiimote around randomly and hit buttons quickly and were able to dispatch a couple opponents without much trouble. The game will supposedly feature head-to-head wi-fi play, so we’re sure skillful players will defeat our amazing spazz attack, but until that day, we consider ourselves ultimate champions… or something.
Anyway, Castlevania Judgment comes out for the Wii before 2008 ends, and we’ll definitely be down for some head-to-head fighting in this 3D versus Action game when it drops.