Castlevania: Curse of Darkness
Platform: PS2
Publisher: Konami
Developer: Konami
Genre: Action RPG
Format: DVD-ROM
Release: US 2005
Japan 2005

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The good ol' RPG elements have returned.
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This takes 'getting a lift' to a whole new level.
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No one ever gets tired of dragons, do they?
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Hector and his Innocent Devil pal team up against this cyclops.
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Mike Wilson
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Mike Wilson

Castlevania: Lament of Innocence left Castlevania fans lamenting for a worthier sequel. Many were turned away by its brutally straightforward gameplay, which was a first for a Castlevania game. It was a move away from the series, and it handled gameplay much differently than its predecessor, Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, which broke records left and right for its enticing gameplay. At a recent press conference, the series creator, Koji Igarashi unveiled Castlevania: Curse of Darkness for the PS2, which will continue the long-running series. If you hated Lament of Innocence, rejoice; Igarashi has heard your pleas and has suggested that many of the problems from that game have been addressed. The game will even feature full 3D gameplay, which is an improvement from Lament of Innocence. Castlevania fans will also be pleased to hear that the members from the Silent Hill and Nanobreaker development teams are working on this title, as well as the renowned character designer Ayami Kojima and the fantastic composer Michiru Yamane. Considering Kojima's and Yamane's outstanding record with the series, this can only spell good things.

Curse of Darkness’s story introduces a brand new protagonist instead of another Belmont family member. The unlucky hero is a man named Hector, who is a top lieutenant in Dracula’s army and is one of his best Devil Forge Masters, which is one who creates Demons. Eventually, Hector decides that he can’t follow Dracula anymore and betrays him. Shortly after this, the events in Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse for NES take place, in which Trevor Belmont kills Dracula, sending Europe into a dark age filled with violence. Curse of Darkness picks up three years after Castlevania III in the year 1479, when Isaac, another one of Dracula's Devil Forge Masters, blames Hector for Drac’s demise and kills his beloved in a witch trial. Hector, filled with sadness and anger, then begins his journey to exact revenge from his former friend. However, Hector doesn’t know that Isaac is secretly trying to bring him back to the dark side by invoking his darkest emotions. The reasons behind Isaac’s motives are still unknown, but since this is a Castlevania title, you can expect a dark storyline and interesting plot twists.

As a Devil Forge Master, Hector can conjure up demons called “Innocent Devils” and control them. These creatures can help out in battle, solve puzzles, or help Hector access otherwise inaccessible areas. There are 30 Innocent Devils to create, and each one is uniquely different, ranging from a giant knight that can plow through enemies to a bird that can carry Hector across large pitfalls. Unfortunately, Hector can only control one Innocent Devil at a time, and can only summon them in situations where he needs them. Innocent Devils gain experience and level up as Hector progresses through the game, and some may even evolve if you treat them correctly.

If you think Devil Forging makes Hector a weakling, think again. Hector can wield many different weapons and dispose of his enemies in a variety of ways. By linking different attacks together, Hector can pull off different combos, similar to the battle system in Lament of Innocence. Hector will be able to use weapons such as spears, axes, and a giant hammer that squeaks. A new experience system is also being implemented; Hector will gain experience after defeating enemies and learn new skills as he advances through the game. Some areas in the game may not even be accessible until Hector reaches the required level. There will also be a "free camera" system, which sounds promising considering the amount of action the game will offer.

The game's maps will also be interconnected, and some areas will not be accessible without certain Innocent Devils or items. Whether or not the map system will affect the game's loading times is unknown, but the map system will make traveling between the game's contrasting environments easier, since Hector will be exploring eerie castles, dark swamplands, rugged mountains, and a plethora of other locations as he searches for his arch nemesis.

With a dark storyline, an engaging combat system, unique puzzle solving, and a bunch of secrets to unlock, Castlevania: Curse of Darkness may rise beyond the level of Lament of Innocence and join Castlevania: Symphony of the Night in the halls of greatness. If you enjoyed Lament of Innocence, or if you are hoping that this will be the next big Castlevania title, you'll be able to find the game on shelves this Fall.


© 2005 Konami.
All Rights Reserved.

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