tiistai 11. lokakuuta 2011

REVIEW - Castlevania: Legacy of Darkness (1999)

GENRE(S): Action / Adventure / Platform
RELEASED: November 1999

Less than 11 months after the release of Castlevania on the Nintendo 64, another Castlevania game exclusive to the system came along, named Castlevania: Legacy of Darkness. It was revealed to be both a prequel and a remake of the previous game. What originally sounded like milking a dead cow to me is exactly that. But, it could've been better without a girly werewolf for a lead character.

The corny legacy of Cornell

John Nuzzo :
Scott McCulloch : Narrator

The man-beast Cornell's village is burned down by cultists, who are preparing to sacrifice his sister Ada to resurrect Dracula. Using his wolf-like instincts, Cornell follows Ada's trail to Dracula's castle.

I have often called Castlevania: Legacy of Darkness one of the worst Castlevania games there is. The truth is that Legacy of Darkness is a decent game - but it is a poor Castlevania game, not only because of the gameplay that is still suffering from some serious problems, but because it never had a place in this fine series of games. Also, because it's basically the same game as the previous one, only played from the perspective of another character and driven by an even weaker plot, I perceive the game as nothing more than DLC, before DLC even existed. It's so God damn off in every way. According to some old interviews, Konami made this game to show what their true intentions with the previous game were. Maybe they should've just taken a few years off, seriously.

Now that IS cool.
The game has four playable characters. First up is Cornell - you have no say in it. During his quest, he meets a guy called Henry. After finishing the game as Cornell, you get to play as Henry. The level design's exactly the same, but his mission is to save some kidnapped children. After finishing both new games, you are "treated" with a no longer subtle remake of the previous game, as Reinhardt and Carrie are introduced as playable characters. Aside from a few changes made in accordance to the original script, the level design in Reinhardt and Carrie's game is exactly the same as in Cornell and Henry's. OK, having a more playable version of Castlevania on the Nintendo 64 is quite OK - but why in the hell must we bear Legacy of Darkness first? Moreover, why are we forced to bear the same game so many damn times, and first with some dude who does not belong in this franchise? Couldn't we just pick which game to play from the main menu like in any good "Director's Cut" game out there?

Did Konami really think consumers would be that interested in buying the same game to begin with, and having to clash through not one, but two crappy quests in those familiar settings in order to get their hands on a true updated version of the previous game? Besides, all of the content in this game borders on identical; you'll have lost all interest after, if not even before finishing Henry's game.

As for the graphics, they haven't REALLY upgraded all that much - the game just features flashy stuff the developers didn't dare to try before, even if it would've been perfectly possible, such as the impressive boss fight against the Hydra in the beginning of the game. The music... well. There are supposedly cool remixes of classic Castlevania tunes such as "Beginning", "Bloody Tears" (don't get too excited) and "Dwelling of Doom" to, I don't know, probably to remind people that this is still a Castlevania game with that man-beast roaming about. In my mind, these remixes fall into the same category as most of Michiru Yamane's later day compositions - too experimental and too "hip". The background music's still alright, most of the remixes play in cutscenes. There's even less voice acting this time around, in just a couple of scenes. Richter Belmont from Symphony of the Night, AND Chris Redfield from the original Resident Evil, a.k.a. Scott McCulloch, returns to ruin a perfectly decent piece of script once again, as the narrator. I'd recognize that voice anywhere.

Taste my man-beast... lightning... slash... or...
The camera works better, the controls are better, the puzzles are better, the game is more balanced than the original... but so much of it is exactly the same as ever, and I would really like to play as some other character from the beginning. Reinhardt and Carrie aren't exactly my favourite characters in Castlevania history, but I'll take them over a faceless creature like Cornell any day. What does this guy or his kin have to do with anything that's ever happened in Castlevania? I guess he was supposed to be somewhat of a replacement for Alucard as the mandatory supernatural Castlevania protagonist, but they failed miserably. The first thing they could've done was give him a decent haircut.

To me, having four characters, with the exact same quests tweaked with some minor changes, is not a sign of lifespan - it's a sign of laziness. If they had been honest about this game and released it as the intended Castlevania - Special Edition instead of disguising it as a sequel, and made an updated version of the original game the main quest, and Cornell (and Henry)'s game the bonus quest, AND given us the freedom to choose which game to play, I think my take on the game would've been a little different. Not too much better, but better nevertheless. They ripped off certain elements of Resident Evil to a noticeable point already, it wouldn't have hurt to take notes of how well Resident Evil - Director's Cut worked for those who didn't own the original game. Castlevania: Legacy of Darkness is a good game to play, but storywise, it's mockery towards the franchise, and as a commercial product, it's a consumer's nightmare.

SOUND : 7.0


a.k.a. Akumajō Dracula Mokushiroku Gaiden: Legend of Cornell (JAP), Castlevania - Special Edition (working title)

GameRankings: 63.80%

Cornell, Lord of the Lycans, one of the main villains in Castlevania: Lords of Shadow, was named after the protagonist of the game.

Cornell was originally supposed to be the lead character in the previous version of the game, that is why he was made the protagonist in this one.

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