Tag Archives: co-op

First Impression: Castlavania – Portrait Of Ruin (DS) ~ No Stars For Mario

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Wikipedia entry

Back in the day, when I just got the Nintendo DS, I decided that I wanted to try out a horror game. Castlevania was one of the only horror game series I knew about so when I saw this game on the shelves, I decided that I had to have it. Now, I have never really beaten this game, but recently I returned to it. I wanted to beat this game. Now, did I just want to relive a nostalgic game or did I really want to beat this game since I was having so much fun? Let’s take a look at this game and give my opinion about it.

No Stars For Mario

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In this game you play as Jonathan Morris and Charlotte Aulin. They are childhood friends who are going on a journey to protect mankind from evil. When an evil vampire artist revives Dracula’s Castle, the duo springs into action.

There is also an interesting twist in the story. Notice that I started explaining the story with the last names of the characters. Now, look to the cover-art and you might notice that Jonathan wields the legendary vampire-killing all evil defeating, Master Sword… whoops, wrong series. I mean, the Vampire Killer.

But Jonathan is part of the Morris family, the son of John Morris from Castlevania: Bloodlines, and not a Belmot. So, he can’t fully use the abilities of the Vampire Killer.

Now, the story looks like your generic Castlevania story at first, but the more you go into it, the more complex it gets. Most of the story is told through in-engine cut scenes and dialogue boxes. The “voice acting” in the game are various grunts and sounds to give the story more “umph”. There are spoken lines in the game, but those are mostly sound effects or lines spoken by enemies during combat.

I actually don’t mind that the story isn’t voice-acted. The only thing I really miss is a sort of log. To keep track of what story elements happened. Since, when you pick this game up after a few months and don’t remember where you left off; well, you are going to have to spend a time to find out where you need to go.

Which is, on the other hand, not such a bad thing. The difficulty in this game is pretty high for people who aren’t used to this style of gameplay. So, exploring the castle is a great idea to level up Jonathan and Charlotte.

I find the story really interesting and it actually motivates me to try to beat every monster that comes my way. If you decide to play this game, I really advise you to put a lot of time into exploring and learning how each and every enemy works. Also, there is no shame in avoiding enemies, but do know; if you do that, you will have a lot of trouble with bosses.

So, I’ll go more in-depth about the bosses in a moment. But first, I want to talk about paintings. Since, the main antagonist is an evil vampire painter, you discover various paintings in the castle. These transport you to various locations where you can advance the story. There are no “missions” like Super Mario 64. When I played this game back when it was released, I was convinced that there was an easter egg where you could jump into a painting and come out in a sort of corrupted version of Princess Peach’s castle. Yeah, my childhood imagination is interesting to say the least.

“Charlotte” – “Jonathan”

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If you can’t tell from the screenshots, the game looks amazing. To this day, I find this game one of the best looking action/adventure games on the DS. The details in the background are what I find the most impressive in this game. The world really feels alive.

I find this game not that scary. There is a lot of gothic and mythic imagery, but the game doesn’t get under my skin. At the other hand, I wouldn’t give this game to younger kids. There are some bosses that can cause nightmare fuel to young minds.

Like the boss in Land of the Fools. I won’t spoil it, but I can see how this can become nightmare fuel. If you can stomach basic horror elements, you will be fine.

The atmosphere in this game is just amazing. I really like how all bosses are based on real life myths and various enemies have an interesting spin on them. Together with really nice looking animations and a rarely a dip in frame-rate, you can’t complain.

Personally, I like to have the map on one of the screens. The map is extremely handy to have. The blue squares are teleports, the red squares are save points and the yellow square are paintings or locations of extreme interest. The only thing I really miss is that you are unable to place any notes on the map. A feature where you were able to pin locations like in The Legend of Zelda – Link Between Worlds would be been such a blessing. Since some area’s contain loot that you can only access with a certain ability, and marking them would be a great way to support your mind.

Speaking off abilities, some require you to control both characters. With just a press of the button, you can switch between the two. When you are playing as Jonathan, you switch to Charlotte and vice versa. Now, for some reason I find it pretty enjoyable to switch between both characters. They shout each others names each and every time. I’m sometimes easily amused.

You can also have both characters on-screen. The AI to control the other character is decent, but sometimes makes some pretty questionable decisions. You can also use a support ability to avoid more damage. While this sounds overpowered, know that the damage to the 2nd character also counts! So, yeah. Be careful with that.

The castle and such

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If you have played games like Monster Tale and Metroid, you know what you are getting into. This adventure isn’t that long, it can be beaten in an afternoon if you really know what you are doing. Yet, I’m not that good with the combat, so I think it will take a bit longer.

Currently, I think I’m halfway done with the game. I have died quite a lot in this game, but each time I’m making a bit more progress. The biggest flaw in this game is how slow you go from the game over screen back into gameplay.

You get a “Game Over” screen with a barely readable font, that slowly fades into the main menu. Speaking about the main menu, you might find some interesting features there. The only thing I’ll say is that there is a boss rush mode that might help you in the main story line.

The music in this game is really good. When I want to listen to Castlevania music, I always listen to the soundtrack of one of the DS games. I honestly can’t pick my favorite but, all three are my favorite Castlevania soundtracks. Together with the sound design, this game is a joy to the ears. Playing this game without sound takes a lot of the atmosphere away.

Yet, there are a few things that aren’t that good in this game. First of all, you can only attack sideways. You don’t have an attack to hit smaller enemies easily. Unless, you use a weapon like a mace. You can’t attack on top of you either. This caused a lot of unneeded damage.

Actually, that isn’t really a flaw in a way. It’s choosing the right weapon for the job. Now, if only you could swap between weapons a bit more easy, this wouldn’t be such a big problem.

There are a lot of neat touches I really enjoy. The fact you can an opening and closing sound-effect when you open or close the DS is one of them. Another one of them is, how the interface changes to blue when you are equipping items and armor to Charlotte and to pink for Jonathan.

All-in-all, this game is really solid. If you are looking for a challenging Action/Adventure RPG on the go, I can’t recommend this game enough. I’m glad that I picked up this game again since with the skills I have now, I’m able to beat parts that I had a lot of trouble with as a child. This game is a blast to play, but can be very frustrating too when you die over and over again.

Before I close off, I hope one thing. If you are interested in this game; don’t let the publisher’s name scare you away. This has been published when Konami’s reputation was a bit better.

That’s everything I wanted to say about the game for now. I’ll go a bit more in-depth about the other aspects when I review this game. But, the review will only happen if I beat this game one day.

Thank you for reading this article and I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. I hope to be able to welcome you in another article but until then, take care and have a great rest of your day.

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Review: Kirby – Return To Dreamland (Wii)

Kirbys_return_to_dreamland_boxart.jpgWikipedia entry

It has been quite some time since I looked at a console game. Well, honestly, I do play console games here and there… But mostly, I play games on my handhelds and my PC. In any case, a few days ago, I have finally beaten a Kirby game I have been playing on and off for the past few years. It’s called Kirby’s Return To Dream Land on the Nintendo Wii. Before I begin the review, I first want to address something about the name of this game. In Europe, this game has a different name. It’s called Kirby’s Adventure Wii. This is really annoying to me since the first Kirby game on the Gameboy is called Kirby’s Adventure. Why didn’t we Europeans got the same name as the Americans? Such a shame. In any case, enough stalling. Time to get into the review. And as usual, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on the game and/or the content of this article in the comment section down below. Thanks in advance for that. 

The story of Kirby

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In this game, Kirby’s adventure has two big parts. In the first part of the game, Kirby helps a stranded alien to repair his ship. In the second act, Kirby helps to defeat the evil overlord in on the alien’s home planet.

That’s all I’m explain about the story. You rarely find deep story lines in a Kirby game. From all the Kirby games I played, the story is just there. Yet, the twist at the end is nice. While I honestly saw it coming, I didn’t mind. The story is fun enough to play through. In my opinion, the story isn’t that memorable. It doesn’t bother me since the game has a lot more to offer than just the story. I found that the journey was more fun than the actual story.

The writing of the story was great. I’m so glad that they used text boxes in this game since I feel that’s how Kirby stories shine the most.

4 players

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A moment of honesty here, I haven’t played this game with 4 players at once. But I have played this game with two players at once.

Together with my cousin, we have played this game a lot. This game is what I call a “sibling game.” The difficulty of this game is just right. It’s challenging for the younger players but it’s not too hard. Yet; it can be challenging to the older sibling if (s)he let’s his or her guard down.

Speaking about the difficulty, the last boss battle is rather brutal in my opinion. Since it’s mostly in a totally different gameplay style which I’m not an expert in. Then this game can become rather difficult.

In any case, the gameplay of this entry in the Kirby series is what you can expect from any other Kirby game. It’s a fun platformer where you can copy (some of) your enemies powers. The powers in this game are fun to use and every single one of them are useful. Apart from one, the sleeping one. Still as unuseful as ever.

In certain points of the game, you can receive a special powerup. This one transforms Kirby into a powerhouse. The way this powerup is used makes for some fun(ny) situations. But, that’s something I’m going to leave up to you guys and girls to discover.

Also, in each level, you can find some wheels. With those wheels, you can unlock power-up rooms. In these rooms, you can easily get any copy ability you want. On the top of those rooms, you have a doll where you can practice them.

With those wheels, you can also unlock challenges. In these challenges, you have to complete a course using one copy ability in a certain time.  These are fun to play since I love that kind of challenges.

Actually collecting the wheels can be rather challenging since some of them are very well hidden. Also, in some levels, you have a sort of bonus stage where you fight a boss at the end to receive two or more wheels. Those are really difficult and some of them, I wasn’t able to beat in few tries.

Since this is a Kirby game, I have to mention the mini-games. And man, they are a real blast to play. I have lost hours playing those with my niece. Mostly the ninja star throwing one is a real blast to play in my opinion. I had a lot of fun with it.

In any case, I think I prove my point that there is a lot of fun gameplay in this game. But I still have to talk about different aspects of this game so let’s do just that.

Kirby and more Kirby

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So, first of all, the length of this game is perfect. This game has 7,5 worlds. Each world contains around 5 levels, with the final level being a boss.

The 8th world is actually a long level with the final boss of the game. It doesn’t have multiple levels. That’s why I count it as a half world.

In Kirby tradition, each world gets a funny name. And yes, most of them have to do with food.

The presentation of this game is one of the strong points of this game. I really love the art style in this game. It’s very bright and colorful, yet sometimes the game uses a way darker pallet to suit the story.

The animation is really top notch. I have no complaint about them. The world design and the animations are really well crafted. Combined with some amazing level design, this game is almost perfect.

The music in this game is really catchy. I wish I was able to buy the soundtrack somewhere since it’s that good in my opinion. But hey, I didn’t expect anything less from Hall Laboratory.

The controls are very responsive and I have nothing to complain about there. If you doubt about the controls, you can see them in the pause menu.

Up until now, it seems that I haven’t anything bad to say about this game. Well, there is one nitpick. That’s that the first player always leads. When the first player dies, the second player dies as well. That’s the only negative I have with this game.

It’s time to wrap this review up. Here comes the conclusion!

Conclusion

The bad:

-The first player dies -> Everybody dies.

The good:

+ Amazing presentation. (Visuals & animation)

+ Very nice controls.

+ You can play with up to 4 players.

+ While this game can be rather easy, some challenges can be challenging to veteran players.

+ Great level design. And it’s fun to play more than once through some levels.

+ …

Final thoughts:

If you are looking for an amazing Kirby game, look no further. This Kirby game is one of the best in the series. The gameplay returns to its roots (like in the first Kirby games) and it’s a blast to play.

I had so much fun playing this game with my family and friends that I would love to recommend it to every Nintendo fan.

When you like what you saw on the screenshots, give this game a shot! I also heard that this game came out on Wii U Virtual Console, so there is no excuse to not pick up this gem of a game. It’s released in the summer of 2015. So, go ahead and pick up this game. It’s totally worth it.

Score: 100/100