Hands-on / Castlevania Judgement

Boy do I hope Castlevania Judgement has a long way to go before seeing the light of day. I wasn’t that excited for it in the first place and no I’m not just unenthused, I’m downright worried. Of course the version I played was a way early build and no conclusions can be drawn from it since there were only three playable characters – Alucard, Simon and Maria – and the button assignments still being fine tuned, but the game is still a bit confusing as a whole.

The controls weren’t confusing though, in fact they were downright simple. Most attacks that I figured out were based around wagging the Wii remote and pressing the ‘A’ button. Wag it too fast and attacks won’t perform, so you have to keep steady movements. Wag the Nunchuk and you perform a dodge (Alucard teleported, Simon rolled). Everything else is handled by the buttons. What it amounted to at the moment is a lot of waggling and the controls for the movements felt really loose and jarring, with characters moving a bit too fast and at odd angles.

Items are selected at the beginning of each match and are classic items from the Castlevania games, like the axe, which sadly does not fly in an arc, or the cross. Each one has its own powers and benefits and can be used by any of the characters as a thrown object basically. They seemed relatively ineffective but that could of just been my unfamiliarity with the game. The final move that stands out is a special maneuver that you can execute by holding down on the directional pad after your “rage” bar has filled up. This will execute a pretty looking super attack that plays out in a cinematic. They’re fun but simple, which is what this game is probably looking to be.

Simon used his whip effectively and quickly in the multiplayer matches I played, but Alucard seemed a bit sluggish and unbalanced in comparison. Meanwhile, Maria seemed totally out of place with her pumpkin attacks and strange costume. Overall, the early build of the game felt very awkward, like it was trying to be something it wasn’t. Maybe part of this comes from the fact that it just isn’t Castlevania. It has the names and items of Castlevania characters but otherwise it is totally different. Even the character design is off and doesn’t represent the true Castlevania series. This prompts the question of why they made the game at all. If it is supposed to be a tribute to the long heritage of the series, why hire an outside artist to design the characters?

I played both the multiplayer and the single-player, and while both me and my opponent fumbled in the multiplayer I got my ass handed to me in the single-player, thanks to the not-so-responsive controls. I’m hoping they’ll be tightened up by the time the game releases though. I was told that online wasn’t confirmed for the game yet but the Konami was looking into it and that it was pretty positive that it would be coming. I was also told that while nothing was confirmed for the unlockables that are acquired when the DS’s Castlevainia: Order of Ecclasia is hooked up to the Wii, a hidden character is very likely. Other than that we’ll just have to wait till more characters are announced and the gameplay is tightened up to draw a final conclusion.

[See also: Castlevania Judgement gallery]