Ninja Reviews: Castlevania Lords of Shadow: Mirror of Fate

Originally published on April 6th, 2013

Castlevania on the 3DS. It set some pretty high expectations. Boasting “unprecidented 3DS graphics, intense 2-D platforming and a superb “combat system” reminsicent of Konami’s Lords of Shadow on the Xbox and PS3. And boasts they were. Now that isn’t to say Mirror of Fate is a bad game, actually its pretty good. But it sure as hell didn’t live up to the expectations it set up.

To begin, I need to say I LOVE this reboot of the story. Before I get really into it, let me put the:

SUPER SPOILER WARNING!!!!!!!

Having Gabriel Belmont, be the first Belmont in the lineage and having him become Dracula after the tragic events of LoS. Then taking that a step further and making Trevor Belmont the son of Gabriel and have him become Alucard through the tragic events of MoF, and having Simon (the son of Trevor) pick up the whip and have to take on the task of defeating Dracula, it puts the whole thing into perspective.

In the original Castlevania, there was never any clear indication as to why the Belmonts were cursed to defeat Dracula every time he emerged. By having Dracula’s motive be revenge against the Brotherhood that betrayed him, Trevor’s for revenge against the father that killed his mother and shamed his lineage, and Simon’s revenge against the monster that killed his mother, it shows how the vicious circle of revenge lay the curse of defeating Dracula soley on the Belmont’s shoulders, as Dracula was once a Belmont, so if falls to a Belmont to destroy him.

Also, I really liked how Trevor ended up becoming Alucard. When Alucard first hit the scene in Castelvania 3: Dracula’s Curse, he was noted as being the son of Dracula but who was he really? Where did he come from? So many questions were left about his identity. In this reboot, there is a clear history and backstory to his lineage, and it ties the whole thing together beautifully.

But now lets talk about the game. It’s good, but not great. The main problem that I find, and that a lot of people seem to have is that combining the mercurysteam combat engine with simple 2-D platforming just makes the game to easy. Enemies are easily dispatched and even the bossess don’t pose any real threat. I mean, it looks decent and flows nicely enough, but it just feels a bit unnecessary.

Now, personally, I liked the return to 2-D platforming in Castlevania. Probably my favorite Castlevania of all time was Portrait of Ruin on the DS. It has that amazing “MetroidVania” style and it blends action and platform exploration perfectly. MoF kind of does it, using some pretty nice astetics for the background, and creating some solid atmosphere, but to claim “intense 2-D platforming” is just a lie. Its pretty simple as far as platformig goes and at times, frustratingly clunky. Another thing it does, but kind of fumbles on, is exploration. I would have no problem if this game was fairly linear, a return to orginal form isn’t always a bad thing, but MoF tries to do both and makes it fairly redundant. You gain upgrades as you progress in the game that basically allows you to progress further, but you COULD use those upgrades to go back and find hidden health and magic upgrades. Frankly, its just not that necessary.

My other problem was the supposedly claimed “Unprecedented 3DS graphics”. This is another blatent forgery. Again, its not to say the game looks aweful. The environments look pretty nice, but the camera zooms out so far that Simon, Alucard and Trevor all just end up looking like pixlated figures without any solid details. The larger enemies look ok, it just ends up being kind of hard on the eyes. The cutscenes look pretty decent, but the mouths don’t even move during speech. Compare this to the cutscenes and in game graphics for Fire Emblem, or Kid Icarus, even Resident Evil: Revalations (which even in the console release videos looks just as good as the 3DS version), this just doesn’t compare.

Overall, I enjoyed MoF. It’ll give you about 5-8 hours of gameplay (if you go for all the collectables), but the story is worth experiencing if you’re a Castlevania fan. It’s clunky, but definatly a decent first attempt. If konami can use this as a launching point for more installments in this franchise (or installments as a handheld franchise) or if Nintendo uses this as a launching point for potential Metroid games on the 3DS and make significant improvments to the platforming, combat and overall world, there might be a lot to be had. Who knows, maybe they can use this to reboot Simon’s Quest into the LoS universe?

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