Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia
At the time of it's release Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia did not seem particularly special. As one of the many Symphony-clones to come out since the release of that game, Order of Ecclesia seemed like just one more of a growing genre of games. Sure, they were fun, but nothing much special was done with the games at this point. Like so many series before, the Castlevania saga seemed to have fallen into a yearly development cycle, set to put out Metroidvania games for as long as Konami could.
What happened, though, was that Order of Ecclesia became the last of a kind -- the final, full-fledged Metroidvania game and one of the last games under series director Koji Igarashi. With sales slowly declining, Konami seems to have decided the Castlevania saga needed to go in a different direction. Igarashi would eventually leave to go make Metroidvania games under a new IP, and the series we figured we could rely on from dependable (if kind of rote) hits suddenly stopped.
If we ignore the eventual history that would surround the game though, Order of Ecclesia is just a decent game in its own right. It's not a last hurrah for the 2D series (that would come soon with Harmony of Despair, and it's not technically the very last Metroidvania game produced by Konami (that distinction would go to the cellphone only game, Order of Shadows). No, Order of Ecclesia is just a solid, nice to look at, rather unassuming game.
Set in the 1800s after the sudden disappearance of the Belmont clan, the game focuses on Shanoa, one of the titular order, who has to quest through the open world of Dracula's realms to gain power... and her memory. After an attack has left her without any knowledge of her past (or powers), Shanoa has to use the quest to Dracula's castle to regain herself and find the power to stop the ultimate evil. Because, of course Dracula will come back, someway somehow, and only the hero of a Castlevania game can stop him.
If that description doesn't set the world on fire, fear not -- Order of Ecclesia isn't a game meant to be the last hurrah. It's fun, a traditional new-school Castlevania like so many handheld titles before it. It had plenty of graphical upgrades and some tweaks to its formula, but it's not a particularly special game by any standards. What's special about it is what happened afterwards and what it meant for the series. Perhaps if the games had done more, or gone farther with thier forumla, Order of Ecclesia may not have been the last Kojirashi-led Metroidvania.
But these are just suppositions. Order of Ecclesia is special for what happened afterwards but without that history it's more worthy of footnote status than disertation.