Castlevania: Portrait Of Ruin

posted in Games on Jan 27, 2007

To go along with my impressions of Call of Duty 3 that I wrote yesterday, I forgot that I had also completed Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin (henceworth PoR) on the DS. I have played many a Castlevania game in my lifetime, and this one stacks up quite well to any of them.

Because Nintendo won’t get off their lazy butts and make a traditional sidescrolling Metroid game, the Castlevania series has taken up the slack in the 2D dungeon exploration genre, and considering Castlevania’s map structure is copied straight from Super Metroid for the SNES, those similarities are great. Luckily, so far this hasn’t been a bad thing, and Castlevania generally always rocks. PoR follows this same structure, which adds familiarity, but sometimes tends to feel like the same ol’ same ol’.

Graphically, PoR looks great. The character movements are all fluid, and most of the sprites in the game look great as well. Some of the enemies can be a little static, but the main characters and bosses all look good, so it never really distracts. As “portrait” is in the title of the game, you’d expect there to be some interesting scenery. This is definitely true, as your characters are able to jump into different paintings and traverse very different locations, like desert locales and a demented circus. Unfortunately, to add length to the game, some of the location structures and settings are used twice. It’s not really that distracting, but you feel a sense of d&#233j&#225 vu as you go through them again.

Your party consists of two characters who end up having to take on the task of destroying Dracula’s castle. You can switch between each character on the fly by pressing one of the face buttons (I can’t remember which, but that doesn’t matter right now) or you can have both of the characters on the screen at once fighting in tandom. Usually situations like this end up being a chore in dealing with multiple characters at the same time, but PoR gets rid of the annoyance by allowing you to make one character disappear at will, and very quickly at that. One of the characters is a fighter and one has magic powers, so it’s a well rounded combination, but you’ll use the fighter 80% of the time because he’s simply stronger.

The game keeps records of pretty much everything that you do. It saves every time you beat a certain enemy, for example, and you can look at all of stats of the enemies you’ve beaten from a log. It keeps track of all of the subweapons you’ve used, percentages of maps open, time played etc. Those last two are fairly general, but pretty much every stat is saved.

So in the end, PoR is a freaking great game that will last quite a bit. It’s easy to pick up and play for a few minutes or much longer than that, which is always good for a portable title. I personally had enough fun with it to max out quite a bit of the stats and maxing out all of the sub weapons and things; things I probably wouldn’t normally do, but found fun. I give it my seal of approval.