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Before | After

So I had this grand scheme that when I started back up on El Jay, I would put some effort into reviewing stuff every now and then - comics, movies, games, etc. I figured, since I'd been plugging away at Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia for a minute, that might be a good jumping off point.

Well, I'm here today to give you the truncated version of that review, because after about 3 months and endless near-fatal-to-the-DS-post-stupid-boss-fight-death tempter tantrums, I have finally come to the decision that I am not going to bother finishing it. Primarily, because it's stupid and I hate it.

I should preface this by saying that I love me some Castlevania. It's hands down my favorite video game series. The first game system I ever bought was for the sole purpose of playing Symphony of the Night, a game that is still one of my all-time favorites. And I've played most of the GBA and DS Castlevanias that drew from it, and kept hearing how fantastic Ecclesia was compared to all of it's predecessors. I found all of said predecessors pretty fun (if a little drawn out and vastly inferior to Symphony), so surely Ecclesia would live up to the hype.

My first warning sign came quickly. For the n00bz out there, zombies are a fairly standard early-game Castlevania enemy. They generally serve to provide quick and easy experience while you're at a low level, and are typically one-hit kills. When you first encounter a zombie in OoE, it requires no less than three hits to be killed. Since they spawn endlessly, that takes them from being pushover nuisances to a serious threat. When you have to start the first level over several times because you've been killed by an enemy you should've blown past, it's a bad sign.

The difficulty doesn't let up from there. I could forgive the game for being difficult if there was at least some fun in it, but it all feels tedious. Do you want a potion? Make sure you find the hidden villager who makes potions, and then go on a series of needless fetch quests for him, finding increasingly rare item drops, THEN make sure you've found the villager that runs the shop so someone can sell them to you. Then and only then can you get a potion. Do you want to get through the obvious magic portals in walls? Make sure you get almost the entire way through the game before you gain the ability to enter walls, then backtrack to the portals, which are invariably somewhere in the middle of a long and annoying level. Need some armor? Go kill axe-wielding robotic monsters for an hour or two, and if you're lucky they'll eventually drop some iron ore that you need to give the smith. Of course, you need 2 more before he'll make it.

On top of it all, this game has possibly the worst story and character work of any game I've ever played (and I sat all the way through the WTF ending of FFVIII). "What happened to the Belmonts"? "They disappeared! But who cares! Our cult is going to go kill Dracula now!" What little plot the game has is tissue paper thin - if you've got half a brain, you can figure out where everything is going before you've encountered the villain for the first time. They may as well have left it out altogether and sent her straight out from headquarters with the instructions to kill bad guys. The main character, Shanoa, conveniently has all of her emotions and memories erased at the very beginning of the game, and therefore spends the entire game acting like a bored heiress with a stomach full of quaaludes. It's mentioned several times that the villain of the game was like a brother to her, but of course, since she doesn't remember any of it, we don't have to worry about silly things like characterization. Was Konami not sure how to write a kick-ass chick with insane magic powers? They certainly never had a problem before. I understand that there has been a lot of complaint about how stupid some of the characters and plot of the previous handheld Castlevanias had been, but I don't really understand how the solution to that is just to get rid of it completely.

In the end, I spent 30 minutes trying to climb up the back of a giant mechanical centaur, only to be thrown off and stomped to death. Rather than hurl my DS across the room, I realized the only way to beat the game was to put it down and pretend it never happened. Chalk it up to the year of denial.

Comments

mllesays
Feb. 12th, 2010 05:10 am (UTC)
I don't even play video games and I found this totally fascinating. You should write moar!

Also I am glad you did not destroy your DS. I hear they are expensive.

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