Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin

Game Overview

Although the Castlevania had suffered on home consoles, attempting to find a way to transition into 3D, the series had continued to crank out one fairly successful game after another on portable systems. With the critical success of Dawn of Sorrow another game for the Nintendo DS was guaranteed.

Surprisingly, the game wasn't another title in the Sorrow series. Instead we go "back" to the time of World War II. Following the events of Castlevania Bloodlines we focus on Johnathan Morris, son of previous hero John Morris and current keeper of the Vampire Killer. Along with his friend, student sorceress Charlotte Aulin, the two must return to a newly resurrected Dracula's castle and defeat the evil within. But things aren't what they first seem, the the heroes will have a greater adventure on their hands than they may have first suspected.

With Portrait konami took a "more is more" approach to the series. They took everything that worked in the previous 2D games and doubled it. People like the classic heroes, so let's have two of them (and now they can play together in team-attacks). People liked magic systems with lots of different spells and items to use, so Konami added both in, and there's different ways to master them. People liked big, explorable castles, so Portrait sported the biggest castle so far in the series.

In many ways, this approach to the game works. Portrait plays beautifully, and no one can arue that Konami did give everything they promised. Sadly, as the game progresses, it isn't able to maintain it's momentum. An added quest system requires a lot of backtracking through the castle without necessarily much benefit to the players while later levels of the game a quite literal rehashes of previous areas, creating a sense that players will have seen everything the game has to offer just past the half-way point.

In the end, then, Portrait of Ruin ends up being more of the same. Fans of the series got more of what they loved, but if they were already starting to feel like the series had done all it could in the post-Symphony world, this title wsn't going to change any minds.