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Battlefield 4 Review

Issue 50 • December 2013

1 • GameOn Magazine


Welcome

Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 Edition

2 • GameOn Magazine


Welcome W

elcome, dear readers, to another special edition of the GameOn Magazine. In this

free one-off special, we’ll be celebrating the hugely successful Castlevania franchise. Starting with the original Castlevania in 1986, the series has been entertaining gamers for nearly 28 years, with over 20 games, on a range of home consoles, handhelds and on the PC so we have had plenty to write about! Yes, we have loads of Castlevania-related content to share in this issue. We preview the upcoming Lords of Shadow 2, reflect on our review of its predecessor, explore the history of the franchise and interview David Cox, Producer of the Lords of Shadow series. This is just a snapshot of our offerings, and we have much more Castlevania content crammed into our virtual pages. We hope you enjoy this free special edition, and if you do, please check out our regular monthly magazine for reviews, previews, articles and opinion pieces. You can find us on the following links: -

Contributors

UK Amazon Kindle US Amazon Kindle Full Colour (for iOS and Android) Please enjoy this magazine, because we do it all for you! If you’d like to get in touch please email us at contact@gameonmag.com.

Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 Edition

The Editor

Chief Editor - Steve Greenfield Editor - Kris West

Games Critic - Ross D. Brown Games Critic - Neil Hetherington Games Critic - Matt Leslie Games Critic - Matt Young Games Critic - Joe Pring Graphic Design - Steve Dawson Graphic Design - Kris West Research & Proofing - Emsey P. Walker 3 • GameOn Magazine


About

The GameOn Magazine

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ameOn Networking Ltd was founded in 1997 with the aim of providing “lag free” gaming solutions for dedicated online gamers. Online connectivity in the late 90s was such that realtime gaming was beyond the reach of the average gamer, and so GameOn began hosting LAN parties throughout the UK. To date, GameOn has hosted almost 100 LAN parties. In August 2008, GameOn began producing GameOn Magazine, an online PDF magazine covering all aspects of gaming including reviews, previews, news and articles. The dedicated magazine staff also provided coverage at high profile gaming events such as E3 and gamescom. In February 2012, GameOn Magazine launched in ebook form on the Amazon Kindle marketplace in both the UK and US and has since developed from strength to strength. With the same quality coverage as always and dedicated writing and research staff the magazine has gained a loyal following and secured its position as one of the best selling gaming magazines on the Kindle store. Later in 2012, GameOn launched the colour version of the magazine via the Magzter store which is avilable on Android, iOS and Windows. For more information, please visit www.gameonmag.com

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About Konami

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stablished in Osaka, Japan in 1969 by Kagemasa Kozuki, Konami is one of the video game industry’s biggest success stories. From its beginnings as a jukebox hire and repair shop, Kozuki-san - who is now Chairman of the Board of Konami Corporation - entered the field of entertainment and amusement arcade machines four years later. By 1984, Konami had opened successful offices in the US, UK and a Key German subsidiary and extended into home formats. It enjoyed huge success on the Nintendo NES format, extending its market share with a wave of well-received titles. Konami’s successful initial public offering on the Tokyo Stock Exchange crowned the 1988 business year. As the business grew, Konami also listed to London, Singapore, and New York Stock Exchange. Konami now has worldwide operation throughout Europe, Asia, North America, and has widened its business line to Health & Fitness, and Gaming. For more information, please visit www.konamieurope.com

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Contents 24

40

32

18 34

16

A History of Castlevania

Non-stalgia: Interview with Lords of 8 Symphony of Shadow Producer, the Night 22 Dave Cox 32 Character Biographies 12 Discovering Castlevania: Lords Castlevania 64 24 of Shadow Review 34 Top 5 Castlevania Games 16 Top 5 Hardest Castlevania: Lords Castlevania of Shadow 2 Lost in Japan: Rondo Bosses 28 Preview 40 of Blood 18 The Ramblings of a Castlevania: Lords of Castlevania Fan 30 Shadow 2 Review 46 Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 Edition

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Articles ia n a v e l t s a C f o y r o t s i AH Character Biographies

s e m a G ia n a v le t s a C 5 p o T Lost in Japan: R ondo of Blood e Night th f o y n o h p m y S : ia lg ta -s Non

Discovering Castlevania 64 Top 5 Hardest Castlevania Bosses The Rambling s

of a Castleva nia Fan

Interview with Lords of Shadow Producer, Dave Cox

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Articles

A History of Castlevania

A History of Castlevania Ross gives us a brief run down of how Castlevania originally rose to fame and, more importantly, how it has stayed such a successful franchise.

By Ross D. Brown

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astlevania is something of an institution. It’s hard to believe that the first game was released in 1986, which makes it a mere three years younger than me. Castlevania has very much been there as I’ve grown up, and given the sheer number of franchise entries it would be a small miracle if anyone who has picked up a game controller in the last 27 years hasn’t at least heard of, if not played, the Castlevania series. Several long-running Konami series had their debut in the midto-late 80s, most notably Contra and Metal Gear. While both of these series have a multitude of game releases and have benefited from positive critical reception, the Castlevania series has more titles under its banner, and has covered more platforms over the years. Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 Edition

The plot of most Castlevania games typically revolves around the Belmont family of vampire killers, who are destined to combat the vampire lord Dracula. Every century or so, this powerful nemesis will be resurrected and it will fall to a descendant of the Belmont family, the player, to defeat the dark lord once again.

so long when many, previously successful series, have faded into obscurity in that time is Konami’s ability to constantly reinvent the series over the years. Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest (1988) immediately departed from the linear level-by-level structure of its predecessor. While still a 2D platformer at heart, it incorporated several

"The series continued in the style of a traditional 2D action-platformer for several years" Looking back at that first linear 2D platformer on the old Nintendo Entertainment System and comparing its mechanics to the modern gameplay is like comparing chalk and cheese. The reason Castlevania has survived

elements more common to RPG games in its design. There was the bare-bones of a levelling system, the ability to select missions in varying order, villages with shops and NPCs, a day/night cycle and even featured multiple endings. 8 • GameOn Magazine


Articles

A History of Castlevania The series continued in the style of a traditional 2D actionplatformer for several years, occasionally making tweaks to the basic structure but following a recognisable formula, and garnered mostly positive critical opinion during this time. The next major change in direction came just before the turn of the millenium, when Castlevania was released on the Nintendo 64.

to 3D, which not only changed the feel of the platforming but also allowed for a substantial increase in depth for the combat mechanics. Like Castlevania II, a day/night cycle is featured and this affects many aspects of the game, including enemy composition and NPC behaviour. However, the game does revert to a more linear structure, with no player choice in level order and no ability to replay In a radical change of direction, previous stages. Despite a linear this Castlevania was the first in progression, the transition to the series to make the transition 3D did increase the scope of the

individual stages and provided the opportunity to engage in some in-level exploration. Reception to this revamp on the N64 was rather a mixed bag. The game received largely positive critical attention, with reviewers praising the bold new direction and transition to 3D. Fan reaction was, however, mixed. While most series fans shared the critics’ opinion that the modernisation of the franchise had been mostly successful, a significant and vocal minority criticised the game’s departure from its roots, as well as citing poor graphics, camera problems and issues with the targeting system as a disappointment. Castlevania on the N64 will always be a divisive point in the history of the franchise, but is undoubtedly a landmark point as well, representing the first time the series truly broke away from its 2D trappings. Over the next few years, Castlevania titles were split between 3D and 2D titles; largely focussed on 2D handheld titles and 3D console releases. Console titles such as Lament of Innocence and Curse of Darkness, released in the mid-

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Articles

A History of Castlevania

"Lords of Shadow chose to focus on complex and combo-heavy combat mechanics"

decision to give the franchise a much needed reboot and start from scratch. As with previous 3D titles, Lords of Shadow chose to focus on complex and combo-heavy combat mechanics, but also saw an increased emphasis on platforming and puzzling compared to previous forays into 3D action-adventure territory. The resulting product managed to hit that fine balance that the previous titles had been lacking, and as a result Lords of Shadow was received with open arms by both series fans and newcomers alike.

2000s, continued to move the direction of gameplay away from platforming and towards more complex combat mechanics; with Curse of Darkness abandoning the platforming elements entirely to focus purely on combo-based fighting.

well received by the majority of the audience, but those seeking a more familiar Castlevania experience were left disappointed by the diminishing focus on platforming and puzzles that the series was previously known for.

As with the N64 titles, these console-based 3D Castlevania games met with a more mixed response than the traditional 2D platformers. Combat was generally highly praised, and the games as a whole were

In response came Castlevania: Lords of Shadow in 2010 for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. Rather than continue what was now becoming a very saturated The reboot, which focussed on storyline over two decades Gabriel Belmont’s struggle to of games, Konami made the defeat and claim the power of

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Articles

A History of Castlevania

the Lords of Shadow, is entirely disconnected from previous series lore. This allowed the series to break away from the world set by the older games, and enabled a fresh story arc to break through - with a few unexpected twists and turns along the way. Castlevania: Lords of Shadow - Mirror of Fate brought the rebooted universe to a handheld device, the Nintendo 3DS, for the first time. Once again, the game returned to its 2D-side scrolling roots (albeit presented Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 Edition

with 3D visuals). However, the emphasis on combat remains a central part of this adventure, in which the descendants of Lords of Shadow’s Gabriel Belmont set out to destroy the vampire, Dracula. Konami is now set to build on the success of Lords of Shadow with the new, upcoming game. Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 is a direct sequel, continuing the story of Gabriel Belmont and closely linked with the events of both Lords of Shadow and Mirror of Fate. The sequel is set

to build on the success of the first game by further developing the successful gameplay mechanics with an updated game engine, and by moving away from linear progression to an open world. With the original Castlevania franchise attracting fans for over 20 years, the fact that the series has been successfully rebooted with such positive reception is a fantastic sign for the future. If things continue on course, it’s perfectly possible to expect Castlevania will still be with us another 20 years from now. 11 • GameOn Magazine


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Character Biographies

Character Biographies Joe gives us a detailed look at some of the main characters from the Castlevania franchise.

By Joe Pring

Gabriel Belmont

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f ever there was a contender for the most tragic fictional story, Gabriel Belmont would undoubtedly be near the top of that list – even rivalling Anakin Skywalker’s transition from Jedi to Sith Lord Darth Vader. Abandoned at birth, Gabriel was discovered by the Brotherhood of Light, a holy order dedicated to vanquishing evil and protecting the innocent. Mentored and cared for by the order, Gabriel proved to be their shining light, showing unparalleled combat prowess and quickly rising to the top of their ranks.

However, Gabriel was prone to wild mood swings and sinking into dark thoughts, a side to him that only Marie – his beloved wife – could draw him out of. Prior to the events of Lords of Shadow, Marie gave birth to a son, Trevor. However, this birth was kept hidden from Gabriel and, knowing of her husband’s darker side, Marie left the child in the care of the Brotherhood. The events of Lords of Shadow follow, and Gabriel sets out to defeat all three lords for the purpose of obtaining the God mask – a powerful artefact that

"Gabriel sets out to defeat all three lords for the purpose of obtaining the God Mask" Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 Edition

is said to revive the dead. On his quest to avenge his wife, Gabriel learns from the Lords of Shadow themselves, the history of the order he belongs to and how each lord is a dark remnant of three holy warriors who ascended to heaven only to leave their corrupted bodies behind. His faith in the order shaken but his quest for revenge still burning, Gabriel eventually defeats all three lords and completes the God mask. However, the mastermind of Gabriel’s entire journey is revealed. Satan himself manipulated one lord – the Necromancer – into using the Devil mask on Gabriel, forcing him to kill his own wife. In his lust for revenge and to see his wife again, Gabriel gathers the three mask parts, ignorant of the fact that Satan wants his disciples killed so he can have the mask for himself. 12 • GameOn Magazine


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Character Biographies Ultimately defeating Satan and sending him back to the underworld, Gabriel uses the mask to see his beloved Marie one last time, but realises the mask cannot bring back the dead. Victorious but alone, the holy warrior slumps to his knees in despair, unaware of the even darker future that lies ahead.

residence in the castle where Carmilla once ruled. As father and son battle, both slowly come to realise – through use of the titular mirror – their lineage, and as Trevor lies gravely wounded, Dracula attempts to save his son by imparting his blood to him.

Unsuccessful in his attempt, Dracula buries his offspring in a tomb engraved with the name Alucard. The bloodline continues however, and Alucard’s son, Simon, learns of his heritage. With his newly

After the events of Lords of Shadow, Gabriel learns that the defeat of the three lords has freed an ancient demon, the Forgotten, from his prison, and if it reaches the human realm, then Earth will be destroyed. Venturing back to the castle where he once defeated Carmilla, lord of the vampires, Gabriel again meets Laura, one of the last remaining vampires, who informs Gabriel that in order to reach the Forgotten, he must drain her of all her blood – for only a darkhearted individual can enter the demon’s realm. Slowly losing his humanity, Gabriel faces off against and defeats the Forgotten, absorbing his power of immortality in the process, finally setting him on the path of becoming Dracula. The events of The Mirror of Fate follow, in which Gabriel now calls himself Dracul, and has taken up Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 Edition

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Character Biographies reborn father, Simon attempts to defeat Dracula one final time. Somewhat successful, Dracula disappears in a red light, with his son remarking that the likelihood of his father still being alive to be high. However, centuries pass, and the present day comes to be. Dracula, now withered, weak and hiding in darkness, is approached by his former comrade and necromancer lord with the news that Satan’s return is imminent and his first port of call is revenge on the man once known as Gabriel.

Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 Edition

Zobek A founder of the Brotherhood of Light and a supposed friend of Gabriel’s, Zobek was originally one of the three holy warriors who ascended to heaven, leaving his earthly body behind in the process. Throughout Lords of Shadow, Zobek encourages Gabriel to retrieve and assemble the pieces of the God mask to resurrect his beloved Marie, knowing all too well that the mask never had the ability to do so.

himself resented. However, unbeknownst to him, Zobek was being manipulated by an even greater evil – Satan – whose idea it was to use the Devil mask’s power to manipulate Gabriel into killing his wife.

Thinking himself victorious, Zobek is presumably destroyed by Satan before he can utilise the God mask’s power, with Lucifer claiming it for himself. The traitor isn’t seen again until the epilogue of Lords of Shadow, where we learn that the former lord has been seeking out the At the climax of newly reborn Gabriel to warn Lords of Shadow, him of Satan’s impending return Zobek reveals and quest for revenge after the his real identity former defeated him centuries to Gabriel, ago. informing him that his entire Trevor Belmont quest has been a ruse so he could Gabriel’s only son, hidden from obtain the God him due to the foreseen darkness mask. Whilst in his future, Trevor Belmont the three lords makes his first appearance had formed an in Mirror of Fate as a human uneasy alliance and father of Simon Belmont. after their better Knowing that his father is none halves had other than Dracula, Trevor sets ascended, none out to destroy his now inhuman of them wanted parent in order to restore the to part with their Belmont name to its former piece of the mask, glory. a truth that Zobek 14 • GameOn Magazine


Articles

Character Biographies However, unaware of the true circumstances surrounding his father’s descent into darkness, Trevor walks blindly into the castle once belonging to Carmilla not knowing that he will fall in battle only after learning of Dracula’s tragic history. As father and son do battle, Trevor reveals to Dracula that he is the monster’s son, a fact that the lord of darkness doesn’t believe. As Dracula fatally wounds his son, Trevor uses the mirror of fate to reveal not only that he is in fact the vampire’s child, but also learns the truth of his father’s past. Lamenting the fact that his father resigned himself to his fate whilst he tried to fight his, Trevor slowly succumbs to his injuries in front of his father, now stricken with grief. In an attempt to save his son, Dracula imparts his blood to Trevor but is subsequently unsuccessful in trying to save his life. Not knowing his son’s true name, Dracula buries him in a tomb engraved with the name Alucard.

after witnessing the apparent murder of his parents when he was six years old. Aged 35 when the events of Mirror of Fate begin, Simon enters Dracula’s castle, unaware that his real father - now reborn as Alucard - resides within. Battling his way through demons and other Simon Belmont dark entities, Simon encounters Alucard numerous times, The youngest of the Belmont unaware of their connection, clan, Simon, like his grandfather, and continues on his journey embarked on a quest of revenge to a confrontation with Dracula. Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 Edition

Upon finally reaching the throne room, Alucard, now fully aware of his own history, joins his son in battle against the dark lord, achieving victory. Alucard however, remarks that Dracula’s death was typical of a vampire’s demise, implying that their foe still lives, cursing the fact that his descendants want nothing more than to destroy him. 15 • GameOn Magazine


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Top 5 Castlevania Games

Top 5 Castlevania Games Neil has a look back at all the games within the franchise and picks his top five of all time, listing them in no particular order.

By Neil Hetherington

Symphony of the Night (PlayStation/ S u p e r Xbox Live Arcade) Castlevania IV (SNES)

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idely regarded as the pinnacle of the franchise, the game took elements from Metroid with the open plan game stage and item searching and moulded it with the classic monster slaying that we’ve grown to love. Featuring arguably the greatest soundtrack of all time, Symphony of the Night won the hearts of gamers around the globe and to this day, players still attempt to beat the game with speed runs or out of sheer nostalgia for their beloved franchise.

A personal entry for myself due to the title being the first game that introduced me to the series. Super Castlevania IV took me on a wonderful journey through a rich and enticing world, slaying monster after monster, I was instantly hooked. The whole Mode 7 spinning room sections blew my mind as a kid as it was something I hadn’t seen before in a game and the soundtrack is something that even to this day, sends shivers down my spine upon hearing it.

"The most recent of the Castlevania games took the franchise from 2D into 3D" Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 Edition

Lords of Shadow (Xbox 360/PlayStation 3/PC) The most recent of the Castlevania games took the franchise from 2D into 3D and bolstered the game with an allstar cast to voice the characters. While this game set the tone of the Castlevania storyline before the emergence of Dracula, it quickly became a fan favourite due to its amazing gameplay. This is certainly a game everyone should put on their bucket list.

Order (NDS)

of

Ecclesia

This cracking little title was a joy to behold, it was like having Symphony of the Night’s little brother on your handheld Nintendo. Introducing a glyph system allowing players to augment their characters abilities 16 • GameOn Magazine


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Top 5 Castlevania Games and powers, allowing you to twat the evil denizens out of your way with consummate ease . The game does have a brutal difficulty level but thankfully, due to the RPG elements in the game, this curve balanced out as you levelled up.

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Certainly a game to have a crack managed to vanquish Dracula at if you haven’t done so already. for good in 1999. 36 years later, 2036 to be precise, and the soul Aria of Sorrow (GBA) of Dracula is looking for a new vessel to inhabit so that his legacy Aria of Sorrow took players way can resume. into the future, to a time where the Belmonts and Alucard have

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Lost in Japan: Rondo of Blood

Lost in Japan: Rondo of Blood While Western gamers enjoyed Super Castlevania IV and Bloodlines, little did they know that the truly coolest 16-bit Castlevania of all was hiding away on the shelves of Japan.

By Matt Leslie

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f you polled people on what Castlevania game they associate with the Super Nintendo the vast majority, if not all of them, would respond with Super Castlevania IV. There’s little mystery to this: Super Castlevania IV was among the first batch of good games for the console, is jacked up to the brim with Mode 7 and it even has “super” in the title. Quite frankly, there’s not a lot of love for the other Super Nintendo entry to the series, Castlevania: Dracula X, but this is sort of a shame. Dracula X still boasts amazing graphics, sound and atmosphere and retains that traditional Castlevania feel and movement from the original trilogy. Even if it does kind of let itself down with patches of irritating level design and poor enemy placement, it’s still a fantastic addition to the Super Nintendo library. Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 Edition

The real reason Castlevania: Dracula X on the Super Nintendo gets a mixed reaction is because it’s considered to be a somewhat butchered port of a game on the TurboGrafx-16 released only in Japan. The Japanese title for this game is Akumajou Dracula X: Chi no Rondo, which literally translates to “Devil’s Castle Dracula X: Rondo of Blood”, and this article could probably stop right here because a title that awesome basically speaks for itself. You can tell Konami meant business just by the fact there’s an X in the title; in the 90s an X in a videogame title was basically unofficial shorthand for “RADICAL”. However, since the Super Nintendo version was also radical enough to have an X in the title this article will refer to the

TurboGrafx-16 version as Rondo of Blood to avoid confusion. Rondo of Blood is the true 16bit successor to the original Castlevania trilogy on the NES as it takes all the assets from those games, polishes them a little and cranks the dial up to eleven. You see, Super Castlevania IV simply spent too much time faffing around. Every other level seemingly focuses on utilising Mode 7 as much as the Super Nintendo could handle without its innards melting, and the game has one of the most pointless features ever, allowing you to hold a button and flail the whip around aimlessly. Super Castlevania IV loosened up character movement and allowed you to attack in eight directions, sacrificing the tension of a true Castlevania game to become a more audiencefriendly action game. It’s a good 18 • GameOn Magazine


Articles

Lost in Japan: Rondo of Blood game and everything, but it’s not as good as Rondo of Blood, not that it should take that as an insult.

need to approach every single situation constantly thinking about whether you need to flee or fight. It’s difficult to stress how absorbing this element is

"You need to know where you are and what you're doing at all times or the game will punish you every time." The key difference between Rondo of Blood and Super Castlevania IV is there’s no wasted motion allowed with Rondo of Blood. You need to know where you are and what you’re doing at all times or the game will punish you every time. Jumping gives the player a little more control over the jump arc than the original Castlevania and you can now jump up the stairs, but you still commit to these lengthy leaps and impatient players are liable to take a hit for unnecessary movements.

and how vital it is to an action game: every movement you make matters because every movement an enemy makes is equally important. Rondo of Blood is hard, it’s crazy hard, but pretty much any hit the player takes is their own fault

because the game never throws an obstacle or an enemy at you without letting you see its movement and attack patterns first. Rondo of Blood gives you the tools, and more importantly the information, necessary to handle any situation it throws at you. However, it’s not just the gameplay; it’s basically undeniable that Rondo of Blood is just freaking cool. When Richter Belmont takes a hit from a large enemy he does a huge backflip and slides back on his knees; when the player leaves a screen with enemies on it they all explode; when the player kills an enemy and gains points, rather than just having the points

This control style is a big part of Castlevania’s tension and atmosphere that Super Castlevania IV just sort of threw away: your movement is limited but your whip can absorb most enemy projectiles, so you Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 Edition

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Lost in Japan: Rondo of Blood added to the total, the numbers on the score spin round like a slot machine. All of these things are in the game for no reason other than the fact that not having them would make the game marginally less awesome. Every level is filled with crazy scrolling backgrounds and settings, as well as these incredible sprites that a ridiculous amount of work and love went into. After an anime style intro and a “storming into the castle” opening level the following three stages have great remixes of music from the first three Castlevania games. The message is clear; this is Konami’s heavy

Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 Edition

metal remix of Castlevania itself. It’s the first Castlevania all over again but wearing sunglasses and jumping the Grand Canyon on a motorcycle.

everything that’s awesome about traditional Castlevania mechanics, and there is one hell of a strong argument for it being the best Castlevania game ever. If you’ve never played it, there’s a remake of it on the PSP which also allows you to unlock the original Rondo of Blood once you’ve beaten it, and there’s also a perfectly emulated version available on the Virtual Console for the Nintendo Wii.

For the sake of some balance here are a couple of nitpicks. Rondo of Blood really enjoys throwing a ton of enemies out at once and there are occasions where this causes the framerate to chug a little. Also the recovery time after getting hit is a little too brief and it’s possible to get Rondo of Blood is packed with utterly destroyed by one enemy memorable bosses and cinematic if you panic. elements, it’s incredibly difficult, soundly designed and completely Alright, now that’s out of the engaging. In other words, it’s way, Rondo of Blood sums up 100% Castlevania.

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Miscellaneous

If you liked this special edition, be sure to check out The GameOn Magazine at the links below by clicking below.

Kindle UK Kindle International Full Colour Other Special Editions

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Articles

Non-stalgia: Symphony of the Night

Non-stalgia: Symphony of the Night Having never played a classic Castlevania title, Matt explores whether the series stands up under scrutiny, in a retrospective that’s free from any rose-tinted nostalgia.

By Matt Young

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ostalgia. It carries a lot of weight in the games industry; a game can often ensure a huge chunk of sales because it’s supported by a franchise that you played to death back when you could barely wrap your tiny hands around the huge, angular chunks of plastic they called controllers.

people have numerous happy memories of playing it in the past, they refer to it as a ‘classic’ and use it to describe other games. Castlevania IS nostalgia. But guess what? Until writing this article I HAD NEVER PLAYED A CASTLEVANIA GAME. So what I want to know is - without that warm fuzzy feeling - do the oldNostalgia gets you right in the school, side-scrolling action heart because it harkens back adventures still hold up? to an age when your spare time was a blank slate, relationships For my academic study into weren’t an issue as the opposite vampire slaying badassery, I sex were gross and you played decided to try out Symphony of that one beloved game to death the Night - my in-depth research over and over because you (Yahoo Answers) uncovered that could only afford one title a most considered this the best of year (or you owned a Nintendo the early games. So through the 64 and that was all you got, combined power of my PSP and whether you had the money or the Playstation Store I was taken not). Those times were good. back in time to 1997. Press Start. Having been around since 1986 Castlevania is clearly something Upon booting up the game one of a nostalgic franchise: many of the first things that caught

Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 Edition

me off balance - roughly around the time that the opening boss Dracula disappeared in a barrage of explosions (I thought vampires sucked blood not petrol?)- was how hokey the whole thing was: the god awful voice-acting; the badly written script (‘What is a man? A miserable little pile of secrets!’); the cringeworthy, gothic-infused, power metal soundtrack... It was almost hateful. Yet for some reason I wasn’t offended by the whole thing. Truth is, despite attempting a nostalgia free playthrough of a beloved game, I found myself experiencing... nostalgia. The hokeyness was forgivable because it reminded me of the cheesy games of the 90s I’d grown up with: Resident Evil, Metroid and Konami’s own stalwart franchise, Metal Gear Solid. The game was cheese personified. But that was ok. 22 • GameOn Magazine


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Non-stalgia: Symphony of the Night Hard. My playthrough of the game was hard with a capital HAAAAAARRRRRD. The opening few areas posed little threat but only a few minutes in and I was dying. Frequently. Symphony of the Night, like many games of the good old days, was unforgiving; a few smacks and I was down and upon biting the dust I was banished back to my last save game (and if, as was often the case, I hadn’t saved for a while at specified points, due to my modern gamer’s overreliance on forgiving autosave mechanics, well... that was just tough). I didn’t mind though, I like a challenge. Playing areas over and over again did, however, give me time to reflect on the game’s many retrospective downfalls. My character, Alucard, moved slowly, like a man slogging through water (or blood, to stick with the theme), he ran slow and jumped slow and though his dash

Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 Edition

move left behind afterimages to suggest speed, I wasn’t fooled. The stages were dull, art design was lacking and my character model was simple, plain, ugly. At least the monster designs were cool, which was good, because it was they that I was smacking in the face. I waded through it though, determined to discover the gem that has so many in awe of the series. As my character strengthened, boosting his stats and upgrading his equippable weapons, I eventually found it. For me, the thing that sold oldschool Castlevania as a legit gaming experience was that it had the molten, beating heart of an RPG and carried with it the best feeling when dealing with RPGs: progression, the feeling of becoming one bad ass-mother. Areas that tore me to pieces over and over early on could

suddenly be flowed through in a bloody, vicious dance of grace. Exploration was a blast as well there’s no set path through the titular Castle of Castlevania so there was a satisfying sense of progression as I unlocked abilities (bat, smoke etc) that allowed me through previously impassable areas, slowly unveiling more and more and more of that damn map until I accidentally stumble into a boss fight that turned me to organic mulch sending me back in time...because I’d forgotten to save. Aesthetically it hasn’t dated well but for me gameplay is what counts and I can safely say that my non-stalgic look back on this game has instilled in me a reverent respect for a game series that I’ll be exploring in more detail for (I’m sure) years to come.

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Discovering Castlevania 64

Discovering Castlevania 64 Matt plays through the first hour of Castlevania on the Nintendo 64 and reports back on his findings through the eyes of hindsight.

By Matt Leslie

D

uring the 80s and the 90s, Castlevania played a vital part in Nintendo’s early home console days. The series offered a dark, highly atmospheric and essentially more mature gaming experience to counterbalance Nintendo’s more wholesome and cartoonish coin collecting products. Castlevania had big hits with the very first game hitting the NES in 1986 and later spawning two sequels, and Super Castlevania IV first arriving in the initial launch window for the Super Nintendo. Konami spread the series around with releases on other consoles like Castlevania Bloodlines on the Sega Mega Drive and Castlevania: Dracula X on the PC Engine, but fans of the series knew one thing for sure; if you went Nintendo, you would get Castlevania, and it would be awesome.

Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 Edition

It’s no surprise t h a t people would be hyped for Castlevania on the Nintendo 64, which is sometimes mistakenly referred to as “Castlevania 64” as was the fashion at the time, but Konami really were irritating enough to simply give it the exact same title as the first game. There was a lot of excitement for the game, not only was it a new Castlevania game on a new Nintendo console, but it was going to be the first Castlevania game in 3D! What could go wrong? Well, Castlevania fans are split on the issue; many fans consider it one of the lowest points of the series, but the game did receive a fairly respectable critical reception on arrival and still has its defenders to this day. However, all of this is coming from someone who has never

played it, but I’m going to change that and delve into the world of Castlevania (on the N64) and keep a log of my thoughts as the game goes along. Is Castlevania a poorly aged mess of a transition to polygon graphics? Or is it an under-appreciated classic from the early 3D gaming era? Let’s dive in right now and find out.

The First 10 Minutes Almost immediately there’s a bit of culture shock as the title screen is introduced by some guy playing a violin animated in the most disgusting 3D polygons the N64 is capable of. This was probably considered impressive at the time and given a pass, but it has to be said the fifth console generation has aged worse than any other because of things like this. There’s no real way around it, it looks awful. 24 • GameOn Magazine


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Discovering Castlevania 64 Anyway, I’m going for Normal difficulty and the game presents a choice of two characters: Reinhardt and Carrie. I have no idea who either of these characters are so I go with Reinhardt as he has the funnier name. What follows is a hilariously clichéd text scroll which explains that Reinhardt is the heir to the Belmont clan and basically he has to go fight monsters because he just sort of does. Alrighty. The actual game starts with Reinhardt looking manly (or as manly as a pile of cubes rendered by the N64 will allow) in a bit of random wasteland outside the castle that seems to

have no visible entrances to it whatsoever. The only reasonable explanation for this is Reinhardt went straight to the castle, got spooked and ran away like a little

player. It’s that special kind of bad that’s a little difficult to explain, but while the camera follows you around reasonably well enough while wandering

"There only seems to be one sound effect for walking" girl into the woods to calm down and this is where the game starts. Either that or the level design is a bit uninspired. A cutscene triggers and Reinhardt gets into his first fight with a bunch of generic skeletons, and it’s already apparent this game’s camera isn’t going to be a team

about, when action kicks off it’s never where you want it and it’s like the enemies are coming out of the screen towards the character. Also, this may be a weird thing to mention, but there only seems to be one sound effect for walking which is way too loud and plays on every step. This might just be because there’s no music yet, but if I’m getting annoyed by something like that this early it’s probably going to be a real problem later.

Another 10 Minutes Later I got stuck briefly as there’s a huge gate blocking the only path and it’s not really clear what you have to do to get past it. Being a dumb gamer I tried just hitting it with my Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 Edition

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Discovering Castlevania 64 whip to see if that would work, and since this is a dumb game of course the gate burns into flames and a huge skeleton boss jumps out to play. He’s really easy, but his trick is he pulls extra smaller skeletons out of the ground to fight you which shows another one of the games’ huge issues: the targeting system.

to the boss (as the game proudly boasts by having the words BOSS VIEW in the bottom left hand corner for no reason) so it sort of confuses your brain when Reinhardt will suddenly start whipping in opposite directions at nearby flies or something. Also, keep in mind the giant skeleton is pulling little ones out of the ground, constantly It’s always difficult to tell why creating new targets to auto lock these things don’t work when to and further confuse you. they don’t work, but I think it’s because the game will always Another issue with the camera auto target the enemy closest has cropped up as well; it always to you regardless of threat or tries to get directly behind you logic. This is a major problem when it locks on to an enemy. here for two reasons. First of all This is a good idea in theory, but the camera is constantly glued it moves in a way that makes

Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 Edition

Reinhardt obstruct your view of the whip when you make an attack, and I’m having issues telling how far away I am from enemies and how long my whip’s hit box is. Consider me an expert on this as I am someone who has beaten literally two Ratchet and Clank games; these targeting issues combined with this game’s camera are going to be what kills it for anyone. Another problem that’s cropped up is the enemies were dropping little jewels and other items and I couldn’t figure out how to pick them up. I tried crouching but kept accidentally doing a Mega Man style slide and dropkicking skeletons in their knee caps. After trying literally every button it suddenly dawned on me that you have to be standing still on items and hit the right C button. Perfect, nothing could be more beneficial to the game’s flow, it would be just flat out silly if you could say, just walk over the items to collect them. Maybe there was a memo sent out at the time by Nintendo to third party developers demanding they use every single button to try and justify the N64 controller’s weird design. 26 • GameOn Magazine


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Discovering Castlevania 64

A Further Forty Minutes of Failure

or try to tap the jump button to climb up, as a lot of people’s instincts would force them to do, This isn’t really the game’s fault he will just fall off. as much as it is mine, but I’ve now realised if you tap the jump Wrapping Up and button fast and play around Conclusions with the analog stick Reinhardt does strange little bunny hops in As my time with Castlevania random directions that seem to passed and I continued to take defy physics. I can’t stop doing notes on things I started to realise it, and it is starting to have a that this game was suffering slightly derogatory effect on the from more problems than it has atmosphere. polygons. Considering there’s only about six polygons in it Speaking of jumping, there’s a that’s not as bad as it sounds, but major issue with platforming in Castlevania has aged horribly and this game as well. There are a lot has a lot of nagging issues that of jumps that Reinhardt can only make it largely unplayable today. make by grabbing a ledge and However, I have played enough climbing up, but again it took me of it to sum it up and comment about a dozen attempts of trying on it as part of the series. everything I could think of to get it to work. It should be pointed Really, the issue is it just doesn’t out that part of these issues are feel like a Castlevania game at all, because I’ve been spoiled by especially not a traditional one. modern games which usually The level design and graphics have some sort of mechanic that are brown and muddy, which grabs ledges automatically, but it is largely due to the hardware should also be pointed out that of the time but it still hits the this doesn’t make Castlevania’s atmosphere of the game hard. A shortcomings any less annoying. lot of the game has no music and Basically, what you do is hold the music that is there is generic forward and the jump button and forgettable. Even if you through the entirely of the jump dubbed Bloody Tears over some and Reinhardt will climb the footage it still wouldn’t resemble ledge for you, keeping in mind a proper Castlevania game. that if you let go for a second The tight sophisticated action Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 Edition

gameplay has been replaced by bumbling around brown polygons, getting lost while button mashing to kill enemies that could be replaced by a bunch of students in Halloween masks which would actually be more threatening. It actually has a lot more in common with the Metroidvania style of Castlevania games than the classic linear ones with its opened up levels and constantly respawning enemies. However, instead of a focus on exploration and levelling up and the things that people like about those games, it’s more like a pointand-click adventure game with awkward platforming and action bits. 3D games just hadn’t been figured out enough at this point for something like Castlevania to make the leap with the same amount of confidence that Mario did. In fairness, Castlevania might get better later on, but the nagging issues were far too irritating to soldier on with it. It’s certainly not the worst game ever or anything, but another thing it certainly isn’t is a game we can recognise and cherish as a true Castlevania experience. 27 • GameOn Magazine


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Top 5 Hardest Castlevania Bosses

Top 5 Hardest Castlevania Bosses Neil takes us through his top five hardest and most annoying bosses from the Castlevania series.

By Neil Hetherington

Dracula - Castlevania (NES)

attacks due to this boss punishing your slightest mistake; AH, this is un-fucking-real, coupled with random fireballs or I know old console games laserbeams you were literally in were harder than what we a world of hurt. gamers have to encounter now but Dracula is a top class Charlie Slogra Super Uniform November Tango with Castlevania IV (SNES) several master’s degrees from the University of Bastard. Take one part Ridley (Metroid) I can safely say that I have and six parts random jumpy died more times to this boss bullshit. Mix in a bowl thoroughly, than I have died in every other bake at 180 degrees Celsius and Castlevania game to date. He the result is this boss which I is a complete and utter horse’s had numerous rage inducing phallus. moments with. With his trident that can shoot Blackmore - Order of fireballs, jumps with flame trails Ecclesia (NDS) and even his beak of death, this boss was a thorn in my side for This guy was a pain in the ass, many, many attempts. having hard-to-predict attack patterns and damage values Dracula/Deathcombo higher than a freight train. - Portrait of Ruin (NDS) You had to have exceptional execution with your moves and Holy shitballs this fight was

G

Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 Edition

insane. You’re constantly under a barrage of fireballs from a teleporting Dracula as well as being chased by Death around the screen. Not only do you have to deal with this but you also have to face Dracula’s final form if you survive fireball hell in the previous phase. I’m sure the developers sat around the table and asked what kind of encounter would the players really hate, then implemented it!

Dracula - Dracula X (SNES) Okay, I’m sure the devs were taking the piss when they were tuning this encounter. He has an incredibly high health pool, meaning you have to hit him in a numerical total that matches a small country’s population and then to top it all off, he transforms into a demon where his attacks are almost impossible to dodge. 28 • GameOn Magazine


Miscellaneous

Do you like games? of course you do. You’re reading a gaming magazine. That was a silly question.

If you live in the United Kingdom, we would like to inform you of an event our community runs which will give you the opportunity to meet, game, and chat with some of the writers and editors for GameOn magazine. From 11th to 13th April 2014, we will be holding our 90th LAN party with spaces for 50 players. A LAN party is an event where you can bring down your PC or console for a weekend and just link up with other like-minded gamers and play games with them. It is based in the UK Midlands, and the prices is £55 for the weekend (£10 if you just want to come and socialise). For more information go to: www.gameonlan.co.uk or email contact@gameonmag.com if you have any queries.

Issue 53 • March 2014

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The Ramblings of a Castlevania Fan

The Ramblings of a Castlevania Fan Neil rambles about his time with the Castlevania franchise, starting out from the humble beginnings to recent times. This is what happens to old people, they ramble about the past.

By Neil Hetherington

T

he first time I encountered a Belmont was in Super Castlevania IV on the Super Nintendo. It was one of the first games for my shiny new SNES, and one that sent me on a journey through this rich and wonderful franchise. I still get chills down my spine whenever I hear that eerie music during the start of the game; a harrowing build-up before the amazing stage music kicks in, then the adrenaline starts pumping as you can’t help but tap your foot and bob your head to the track while whipping those nasties into shape. Super Castlevania IV was a launch title for the SNES so naturally the game had to use the features of the system. It was one of the first games available for the console to use the mystical Mode 7 capabilities. I cannot express

Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 Edition

how infuriating it was during the levels where you had to swing Simon Belmont between safe platforms while the entire fucking room span round. After I had completed this adventure I felt prompted to delve deeper into the history of Castlevania and sought out a NES with a copy of the first game to play through. I knew at this moment I was hooked on this series, a series that to this day still fills me with glee when a new title emerges. During my time with the NES version of the franchise, I felt a little frustrated but that was my own doing. Going into the game having played a more fluid and up-to-date title, I tricked myself into thinking that this early blast with a Belmont would be similar, only to be greeted with

punishing pixel perfect jumps, fairly clunky controls (compared to what I had previously played) and a harsh difficulty curve. However, this did not deter me from continuing my adventures. What nearly did put me off is Simon’s Quest; just what on earth went on with this game? A non-linear path for the player to take, NPCs who could bullshit you with lies and put you on a path of death, harder and more frequent enemy encounters at night. Gah, this just was not for me; I preferred the linear, twat everything in sight style gameplay of the two games I had already played. I have to admit that since Super Castlevania IV, and the NES encounters, it was a number of years before I sampled the delights of another Draculaslaying romp-a-thon, due to 30 • GameOn Magazine


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The Ramblings of a Castlevania Fan working, studying and starting down the path of becoming a member of the glorious PC gaming master race. This changed when Symphony of the Night hit the Xbox Live Arcade and I delved back into my love affair with this series. Controlling Alucard instead of a Belmont was a fun twist for myself; instead of using whips, this non-linear RPG-esque title had you wielding a vast array of weapons, magical power-ups and even fireballs and shit! This spurred me into visiting various Castlevania games that I had missed in my hiatus from the series: Order of Ecclesia, Rondo

Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 Edition

of Blood, Aria of Sorrow and many more titles sated my blood lust for some whippy stabby action. When Lords of Shadow came around I very nearly creamed myself with excitement, though I was slightly apprehensive with the series’ direction shifting from traditional 2D gameplay to 3D. These apprehensions quickly packed their bags and fucked off after I managed to get some hands-on time during gamescom of 2010. The smoothness of the combat coupled with the fantastic storyline and acting talent behind the characters just made me salivate pure bacon

grease in anticipation, then when I managed to get my hands on the completed game I literally became a recluse in my own home. My soul and free time were being consumed by this tremendous game, hanging on every word from Begbie (Trainspotting) and Captain Jean Luc Picard of the U.S.S Enterprise as they marched forward slaying demon after demon in order to conquer the lords of shadow themselves. Now I sit here, waiting patiently for the release of Lords of Shadow 2, knowing that the game will blow my bollocks off with ease and I’ll enjoy every damn moment of it.

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Articles

Interview with Lords of Shadow Producer, Dave Cox

Interview with Lords of Shadow Producer, Dave Cox Ross managed to ask Dave Cox, Producer of the LoS Series some questions about upcoming game, Castlevania: Lords of Shadows 2.

By Ross D. Brown

G: At 28 years o l d , the Castlevania series has to be among the longest lasting and most prolific games series of all time. What is it about Castlevania that you think gives it long lasting appeal and staying power?

GameOn: My favourite question, and one I ask everyone whenever I get to do an interview. For newcomers and those unfamiliar with the title, can you describe your game in five words (or less)? Dave Cox: Epic Vampire series’ stunning conclusion! Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 Edition

D: It’s a series that, at its core, has a fantastic premise: ‘hero with weapon fights vampires’. From that germ of an idea, it can be extrapolated into anything. The worlds that have been created over the years have been inventive and the ongoing story continues to intrigue. I’ve always loved the series, so when the opportunity came up to move it forward I knew exactly where I wanted to take it and what to do with it in terms of content and gameplay.

G: Castlevania: Lords of Shadow was a game that achieved significant critical acclaim and was well received by both series fans and newcomers. However, no game is without its flaws. What criticisms did you take on board based on Lords of Shadow, and how have you used the feedback from that game to make improvements to Lords of Shadow 2? D: We are our harshest critics, and as soon as work finished on the last one, we knew exactly what needed addressing. We wanted a bigger sense of scale, so hence the new free camera was essential, we wanted to remove the linearity s went for an open world environment, and we wanted to reduce the QTEs. We also wanted the titan elements to be more integral tot he levels – part of them even – which is demonstrated early on 32 • GameOn Magazine


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Interview with Lords of Shadow Producer, Dave Cox So in this game we play Gabriel Belmont, and he’s a vampire. Specifically, he is Dracula, who G: Combo-based fighting is generally seen as a bad guy. games have proven extremely But, in the game, he’s fighting popular of late, with several against all sorts of monsters excellent titles such as God of and baddies. So - is Dracula the War: Ascension , DmC: Devil bad guy in this?.. Or the good May Cry and Darksiders II guy?... Or somewhere sort of in being released over the last the middle? couple of years. What does Castlevania: Lords of Shadow D: Not everything is black and 2 have that makes it stand out white. Yes, you are the most against these other titles and reviled Vampire of all time, but appeal to players? Lords of Shadow shows there

create this beautiful world and, a lot of the time, the fixed camera did it no justice. When we wanted to move it to modern times and a city that is tainted with evil, we wanted the player to see exactly what was at stake and what they had to explore.

"We started this story on the current gen, so it is fitting it ends here!"

D: Evil is timeless. We wanted to show that, no matter what technology does or brings, evil can infiltrate anywhere – and gives evil forces better means to do so. Vampires do not respect progress, and we wanted to show how the original castle has tainted the modern world, with its dark powers effecting the look and feel of the modern world. Plus, a good fish out of water story, is always a great hook!

with the siege titan, where you physically play your way up it.

D: Because it doesn’t focus on that one element. CVLoS2 is an epic mix of combat, character development, puzzle solving, and exploration. It doesn’t tie the player to one route, and actively urges them to explore to build up Dracula’s abilities as they progress. This is not a hack’n’slash game by any accounts. There is combat, but just mashing buttons will get you nowhere – timing and not getting hit bring their own reward. G: So we’re a little confused… Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 Edition

is a tragic history there. He is bored of immortality, but driven by urges he cannot control. He is offered redemption, though, if he can take ion an arguably greater evil... G: What drove the decision to move from the more linear progression of the last game, to the open world in this one? What additional challenges did this introduce to the development process?

G: What drove the decision to move the story into a modern day setting, and in what way does this impact on the style and gameplay compared to the first Lords of Shadow?

G: Any plans for Castlevania on the new generation of hardware? Can you tell us anything about those plans?

D: We started this story on the current gen, so it is fitting it ends D: We worked really hard to here! 33 • GameOn Magazine


Reviews

Castlevania: Lords of Shadow

Castlevania: Lords of Shadow Review Release Dates

Publisher: Konami Developer: MercurySteam Genre: Action-advenuture Platform: PC, X360, PS3

The following is our 2010 review of Castlevania: Lords of Shadow.

F

or the first time in 25 years of Castlevania, the franchise is wiping the slate clean and heading down a path which is unfamiliar for the series. Touted as a reboot, Castlevania: Lords of Shadow is a 3D action adventure title, opting for more of a hackand-slash style of gameplay rather than the 2D platformer we’ve all become accustomed to over the years. As this is a brand new direction, the storyline for this title has no correlation or association to the existing storyline of the eternal struggle of the Belmont family against the dark lord himself, Dracula. Not even Alucard, the star of what is arguably the best Castlevania title to date, Symphony of the Night, makes an appearance in the fresh look Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 Edition

5 October 2010 (USA) 8 October 2010 (EU) 16 December 2010 (Japan)

By Gary Durston

of this game. So, all that you may have learned or know of Castlevania is best left at the title screen, and this world should be entered with a completely empty mind. Gabriel Belmont is about to take you upon an epic, epic journey. Gabriel is a member of the Brotherhood of Light, a holy order tasked with keeping the order between good and evil; protecting the world against lycanthropes, trolls, vampires

for his love of mountains and the high places of the World. As well as being a member of the Brotherhood, he’s on a personal quest against the Lords of Shadow to resurrect his slain sweetheart, Marie. Castle-Bayonetta-May-Cry-Of War, sets you on a very linear path of typical go here, fight this and find that relic to complete the level, with very little deviation to explore. This means item hunting will be very minimal indeed.

"Castle-Bayonetta-MayCry-Of-War, sets you on a very linear path" and annoying little devil-batthings that hurl fiery bombs of irritation at you. Gabriel is not a true Belmont; having been left as an orphan child on the order’s doorstep, he has took the name

Upgrades for your ‘Combat Cross’ (Belmont’s primary weapon) are either part of the mission path, or only available after revisiting a level when you have gained the appropriate skill to pass 34 • GameOn Magazine


Reviews

Castlevania: Lords of Shadow an obstacle, while secondary weapons are collected via items dropped by defeated enemies. While the levels do branch off from time-to-time, they all lead to the same end point to progress further in the game. This may deter hardened Castlevania players, who may be used to the open ended nature of older titles - since Symphony of the Night took the franchise into the realms of RPG. However, the linear mission structure actually does an admirable job in driving the story behind the reboot. In an effort to break up the ‘Hack n’ Slash’ moments in the game, Castlevania will have you scaling walls, swinging over crevasses and solve basic puzzles. The pace of at which these sections have been set out seems to have hit a sweet spot, as you’re not constantly battling enemies or forever wandering aimlessly. You get a sense of true progression through levels and rarely have moments of being hopelessly lost.

will earn experience points, which can then be used to purchase new combo abilities for Gabriel. These will give our protagonist bigger combos, harder hitting attacks, and generally make him a force to be reckoned with. Additionally Gabriel has access to both Light and Shadow magic, which further augments his abilities. While Light magic is active you can regain lost health, as each hit you perform on a monster will steal some HP from him. Also you can use Light magic to unleash huge holy attacks which

stun groups of enemies, allowing you some breathing space. Shadow magic will increase your overall damage with your Combat Cross, as well as adding an explosive element to your throwing daggers. You can also purchase extra abilities for your Light and Shadow magic moveset, which really does become necessary later in the game. To replenish these magic meters you have to absorb neutral energy orbs dropped by slain enemies. There are also fountains in some levels that allow you to fully restock on these magical elements.

As you advance through the game you Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 Edition

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Castlevania: Lords of Shadow

Scarecrow Concept Model

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Castlevania: Lords of Shadow Lords of Shadow Concept Art

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Castlevania: Lords of Shadow Additionally, if you are able to chain together a number of combo hits without receiving any damage you fill up a concentration meter. When full, all hits made against enemy characters will cause them to drop the natural orbs onto the battlefield. Successfully being able to sustain this meter will allow Gabriel to either constantly use Light or Shadow magic, as there will be an abundance of raw materials to absorb. For a 3D game of this style, it’s unusual to have a fixed camera which cannot be altered by the player. While this works reasonably well on the most part, there will be times when you just

Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 Edition

wish you could pan around to spot that grappling point, or that hidden passage to some loot. This fixed camera also confuses the controls, particularly when it changes angles while you are still moving.

featuring beautiful architecture and gorgeous design overall. Each level has its own distinct feel and look to it, making sure that you will never be bored by the visuals. The further you travel along Gabriel’s storyline the more your jaw drops at the

"Unfortunately this level of visual nerdgasm takes its toll on the Xbox 360" However, this is a fairly small annoyance in what is such a beautiful game. Belmont’s path will take you through absolutely stunning vistas,

scenery, and there is no denying that developers, Mercury Steam, have done an outstanding job here.

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Reviews

Castlevania: Lords of Shadow their beloved soundtrack is not present in this title, opting for a completely new musical set to accompany this new reboot. The soundtrack does really add to the atmosphere of Castlevania, yet a little part of me wished to hear Dracula’s Castle theme from Symphony of the Night in this new title.

Unfortunately this level of visual nerdgasm takes its toll on the Xbox 360, and you will notice frame-rate issues during cutscenes or moments of intense fighting against a high number of opponents. That being said it does not drop to unplayable levels of stutter, and since it’s mainly during cutscenes when this is noticeable, it is not really a game killer. No doubt this will be another tool in the Xbox/ PS3 wars, as this title does run noticeably better on Sony’s hardware. Now, an epic game such as this would not be complete without some epic voice talent behind the roles of the various Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 Edition

in game characters. Our protagonist, Gabriel Belmont, is voiced by Robert Carlyle (Begbie - Trainspotting), while fellow Brotherhood member Zobek has the talents of Sir Patrick Stewart (Captain Jean Luc Picard - Star Trek), who also does the narration for the game. Voicing the Dark Lord himself, Satan, is Jason Isaacs (Lucius Malfoy - Harry Potter). Fans of the Castlevania series may be disappointed to know that

Castlevania: Lords of Shadow is a well rounded package, which will offer hour upon hour of enjoyment to those who pick this up. From the epic vistas, to the superb voice acting and the 20 hours or so of game-time through its 12 chapters, each of which vary between two and ten levels, there is plenty to absorb from an awesome reboot of the franchise. Die-hard fans of previous titles may find it a bitter pill to swallow that their beloved 2D platformer has now gone 3D and in a new direction, but I urge you to leave your reservations behind and at least give the new game some time. I’m sure you will not be disappointed.

Castlevania: Lords of Shadow

9/10

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Previews

Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2

Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 Preview Release Dates

Publisher: Konami Developer: MercurySteam Genre: Action-Adventure Platform: PC, X360, PS3

B

efore even beginning to recount this hands-on experience of Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2, it’s only fair to begin with a spoiler warning. As a direct sequel to Lords of Shadow, its associated DLC and its 3DS companion Lords of Shadow - Mirror of Fate, the story is so utterly interlinked that the first sentence of the next paragraph could prejudice the story you’ll find in that game. If you think you are going to play either of those titles before you consider Lords of Shadow 2, then perhaps you want to come back to this preview once you are done. Don’t say you weren’t warned.

25 February 2014 (USA) 28 February 2014 (EU/UK)

By Ross D. Brown

Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 (LoS2) follows in the footsteps of 2010’s successful Castlevania reboot, placing the character in the handsome shoes of protagonist Gabriel Belmont, who now goes by the rather recognisable alias of ‘Dracula’. Following on from the previous DLCs, and as revealed in Mirror of Fate, Gabriel is a lot more vampiric than in the previous game.

demo, however, took place in events prior to this; during a prologue in which his castle is under siege by the Brotherhood of Light.

The demo immediately thrust the vampire into combat against a large number of foes, which provided the perfect opportunity to get to grips with the game’s robust combat system. The fighting is largely combo-based, and heavily reliant on switching LoS2 will predominantly take between the various weapons in place in a modern day setting, the player arsenal. following Dracula rising from a centuries-long period of sleep, The default weapon is the as he fights to prevent the Shadow Whip: a medium speed imminent return of Satan. The attack with a bit of range to it. This weapon proved to be effective against the majority of the enemy types in the room, and mixing it up with a combination of light, strong and area effect attacks proved relatively efficient against large groups.

"The demo immediately thrust the vampire into combat against a large number of foes" Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 Edition

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Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 Stringing successful attacks together, whilst dodging and blocking enemy attacks, will build up the ‘focus meter’. Once this is fully charged, any further attacks against enemies will cause them to drop blood orbs which, when collected, provide a source of ‘Void Magic’.

empty, it cannot be equipped. However, if a player is skilful enough and avoids being hit, the focus meter can be maintained even while using the Void Sword and enemies will continue to drop blood orbs, meaning that, in theory, the weapon can be used indefinitely.

These magic resources are tied to the use of the second weapon, the Void Sword, which is a short range, fast attack weapon that, when used, will drain health from enemies and gradually fill up Dracula’s own health meter. Using this weapon drains Void Magic and, if the magic meter is

Combining these two weapons was sufficient to get through the early stages of battle inside the castle, but after a while tougher enemies began to appear with thick armour and shields. This required the use of the Chaos Gloves, the final weapon available in the demo. Using

Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 Edition

the Chaos Gloves felt slow and clumsy compared to the other two options, but the sheer power was capable of smashing through enemy defences, draining huge amounts of health and stunning opponents during combat. All three weapons have their uses, and their own combos to exploit, but the strength of the combat system is best demonstrated when everything is tied together at once; with weapon switching, dodges, blocks, counters and brutal, blood-drinking finishing moves all flowing naturally into each other.

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Previews

Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 Dracula Concept Art

Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 Edition

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Previews

Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2

Dracula Concept Art

Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 Edition

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Previews

Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 and control the camera angle; something lacking from its predecessor and one of the few things to attract negative critical comments in that title. It certainly seems that such criticism has been taken into account and addressed during the development of LoS2.

When properly controlled, Dracula is an agile killing machine. He leaps around the battlefield, dodging enemy attacks and seamlessly switching between weapons mid-fight, to exploit enemy weaknesses and perform complex and deadly combos. It’s a faced-paced and elegant system that hits that perfect sweet spot of being easy to use, but hard to master. After clearing the room of invaders, the Dark Prince moved further into the castle and engaged in a bit of platforming action, clambering through the crumbling ruins, traversing collapsing walls and leaping over deep crevasses. Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 Edition

There was little danger of getting lost in these sections, as the route was clearly signposted by swarms of bats, whose flight patterns showed where to find handholds and which direction to travel in. While it is true that this does provide an element of ‘handholding’, it actually proves to be a useful system that prevents the false obstacles that come with getting lost, and therefore places the emphasis solely on the player’s skill in traversing the obstacles in their path.

Following this section, as Dracula emerged from the castle interior, he had first glimpse of the Siege Titan assaulting the castle. This enormous mobile fortress loomed over him, but before any thought could be put towards how to tackle this giant robotic humanoid, a Golden Paladin attacked. This dualsword wielding, armour-clad behemoth put up quite the fight, as he leaped around the area delivering punishing attacks. Following a short skirmish, the Paladin retreated to the relative safety of the Titan.

Unwilling to let the golden warrior escape, Dracula gave pursuit during a lengthy and actionpacked platform sequence, in which he had to scale the mighty Titan while it continued the assault upon his castle. The climb Worthy of specific note is that was made all the more difficult these sections benefited from by the constant harassment of the player’s ability to manipulate the Golden Paladin, who was 44 • GameOn Magazine


Previews

Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 attacking from afar with explosive arrows. Further problems were caused by regular enemy battles as they emerged from the Titan itself, in an attempt to thwart his ascent. This sequence was notable for its impressive cinematics and special effects, as the ground underfoot literally shifted and altered as the Titan moved, requiring quick reactions and sending many enemies tumbling to their deaths. After a long climb, and despite the best efforts of the Golden Paladin and his explosive bow attacks, the goal was finally within reach. At the summit, the pursuer decided it was time to end the game of cat and mouse and face the vampire directly.

the climb, I was eager to get my compliment that can be given to hands on him and teach him a any game based on a preview; lesson. when the demonstration ended there was genuinely The Paladin landed with his disappointment, and the swords in hand, ready for battle. desperate desire to continue The dark protagonist readied his playing. If the demo played is own weapons and prepared for indicative of the final product, the final, epic, showdown‌ and then Castlevania: Lords of On a personal note, it has to that is where the demo ended. Shadow 2 promises to be a be admitted that after being brilliantly realised game, and a hounded and frustrated by this There may have been swearing. high point in the history of the opponent for the duration of This is perhaps the biggest Castlevania franchise.

Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 Edition

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Reviews

Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2

Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 Review Publisher: Konami Developer: MercurySteam Genre: Action-advenuture Platform: PC, X360, PS3

Release Dates 25 February 2014 (USA) 28 February 2014 (EU/UK)

We currently have a review of Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2, however; it is under embargo until 25th February. We will add in and re-compile the magazine once this embargo has lifted so please check back at http://gameonmag.com for the updated version!

Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 Edition

46 • GameOn Magazine


Reviews

Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2

Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 Edition

47 • GameOn Magazine


Brothers: The Thoughts of Two Gamers

Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 Release Dates: 25 February 2014 (USA) 28 February 2014 (EU) 28 February 2014 (UK) Issue 48 • October 2013

48 • GameOn Magazine


Castlevania magazine