Castlevania: Legacy of Darkness

Game Overview

Often during the development of a video game demo versions of the game will be shown and released. These demos tend to look quite different from the final product, featuring areas, items, and even characters that never make the final cut (the "gold" release) of the game. This can happen for a number of reasons, from changes to the engine to new ideas being added in during the development process. Other times, though, a game has to be released by a certain deadline (a common occurrence in an industry where annual earnings are dependent on the release of select AAA titles) and promised features have to be removed from a game simply to get the title out the door on time.

Such was the case with Castlevania for the Nintendo 64After a number of titles for non-Nintendo systems, Castlevania’s return should have been marked by much love and enjoyment from the fans. Sadly the first version of the game on Nintendo’s 64-bit console was a flawed game, interesting in places but not the kind of game fans were clamoring for in 1999., a game that suffered a prolonged development cycle before finally getting shoved across some kind of finish line before Konami's quarterly statements were due. The game, as demoed, featured two characters that weren't available in the final cut of the Nintendo 64 title: CornellA powerful werewolf and altruistic hero, Cornell was originally meant for inclusion in Castlevania for the Nintendo 64, but his content was cut during development. He was eventually restored in the “director’s cut” of the game, Castlevania: Legacy of Darkness, putting his adventure to Dracula’s castle front and center in that release. and CollerDesigned as a scientific abomination, not unlike Frankenstein’s Creature, Coller was meant to be a playable character in Castlevania for the Nintendo 64. Unlike with Cornell, who was eventually restored to the series in a later release, Coller was never made into a playable character, being cut from the Nintendo 64 titles (although his model was used for the Gardener in those games).. Due to time constraints, and a refocusing of the direction of the title, the characters were removed, as were their relevant boss fights and plot lines.

Castlevania 64 wasn't a huge hit by any means, but a lot of work had been put into the game and Konami really wanted to squeak out as much profit from their first attempt at a 3D Castlevania as they could. Hoping that maybe an improved version of the title, one that restored much of the "missing" content, could bring Nintendo players to the series, the company authorized their KCEK development team (who had made the original Nintendo 64 title_ more time to continue improving the game for a future re-release.

Ostensibly called a "prequel" to Castlevania 64, the first portion of the game follows the story of Cornell, a werewolf drawn into DraculaThe lead antagonist of the Castlevania series and most famous vampire character in all media, all thanks to Bram Stoker.'s web when the follower's of the Dark Prince kidnap the werewolf's adopted sister, AdaThe adopted sister of werewolf hero Cornell, Ada is the damsel in distress on his adventure, kidnapped by Dracula’s minions to lure Cornell to the vampire’s castle. Their plan was to use Cornell as a sacrifice (and host) for Dracula’s power, and Ada was the bait.. Cornell's quest took in through a castle very similar to the one in Castlevania 64, along the way fighting some new bosses and meeting a few new faces, too.

As a bonus, playing through as Cornell would unlock Henry OldreyOne of two new playable heroes added to the second Nintendo 64 title, Castlevania: Legacy of Darkness. Henry came to Castle Dracula to find kids that had been kidnapped by the vampire’s minions. He showed up equipped in platemail, carrying guns, making him a very different kind of hero from those we’d seen before. (who took over part of Coller's story), a child Cornell saved years earlier, who now returns to the castle on a quest to save more children from Dracula's clutches. From there, the players can then replay (lightly remixed versions of) of the original quests from the previous Nintendo 64 edition, running Reinhardt SchneiderOne of the keepers of the whip (after the Belmont clan goes into hiding in the early 1800s), Reinhardt is one of two heroes that heads into Castle Dracula after the edifice of evil once more appears high up in the hills of the Borgo Pass during the events of Castlevania for the Nintendo 64. and Carrie FernandezDescendant of the famed family of sorcerers, the Belnades Clan, Carrie is one of two heroes who heads to Dracula’s castle when the evil vampire’s massive fortress appears in Romania during the events of Castlevania for the Nintendo 64. through their own versions of the game. It made for a very complete, if still familiar, experience.

And that, right there, is the biggest issue between the two games. Because they're both built on the same base, featuring largely the same areas to explore, enemies to fight, and quests to run through, Legacy of Darkness comes across as little more than an expansion pack for its predecessor -- a "Director's Cut" put out at full price only ten months after the initial game's release. It has a bad reputation not just because the original Castlevania 64 was a bit of a mess, but also because it didn't add that much new to the package while charging full price for the experience.

The game was largely ignored by all but the most hardcore of fans, and Konami only published a slim few copies of the game (reports range around 40,000 or so cartridges total). This didn't mark the end of Konami's 3D Castlevania ambitions, but the next time the company would go in a completely different direction, as if trying to ignore that these games even existed -- which, according to some versions of the chronology of the series, these games don't exist at all.