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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Return Of The Whip
Last year's Dawn of Sorrow was Castlevania's first entrance into the DS library. It proved to be a hit, both in critical acclaim and sales. It isn't a surprise, therefore, to see Konami releasing the next instalment of its popular Dracula-related series, just in time for the Christmas holidays. Portrait of Ruin isn't exactly related to Dawn of Sorrow, but both share...
Published on 4 Feb 2007 by leonardo

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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A nice introduction to the castlevania series.
Having never played a Castlevania game before, Portrait of Ruin impressed me considerably as a fresh new and innovative re- imagining of the series for the Nintendo DS. Essentially a 2D sidec scrolling platformer akin to its predecessors, Portrait of Ruin centres around the exploits of two young protagonists, Jonhothan a novice vampire slayer and his companion Charlotte,...
Published on 3 Mar 2010 by Ryan O. Gresham


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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Return Of The Whip, 4 Feb 2007
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
This review is from: Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin (Nintendo DS) (Video Game)
Last year's Dawn of Sorrow was Castlevania's first entrance into the DS library. It proved to be a hit, both in critical acclaim and sales. It isn't a surprise, therefore, to see Konami releasing the next instalment of its popular Dracula-related series, just in time for the Christmas holidays. Portrait of Ruin isn't exactly related to Dawn of Sorrow, but both share similar core gameplay elements. New features are included this time round as well to keep things fresh. The result is an instantly satisfying title that will go down in the books as another great Castlevania game.

The story of Portrait of Ruin is set in the year 1944, during World War II. In the midst of hellish times, Dracula's castle mysteriously reappears. Two vampire hunters, Jonathan Morris and Charlotte Aulin, join forces to investigate the occurrence. This is as simple as it gets when it comes to the game's premise - it's merely an excuse to get your characters to explore a huge castle again. This is not really a bad thing though, since it's what Castlevania is all about. The interesting thing here is, you will get the chance to control BOTH Jonathan and Charlotte. This is something that is uncommon in the series.

As you may have expected, both characters have different abilities - Jonathan is the powerhouse that deals high melee damages, while Charlotte is more of a magic user. Despite their differences, controlling them isn't difficult. The basic controls are similar to Dawn of Sorrow, but you can choose to control only one character, call forth your partner to fight beside you, and even switch between characters. All these options are accessible at the push of a button, which makes this double-team attribute extremely user-friendly. There's even an option to perform combo attacks, giving this team feature a further edge as compared to previous single-character campaigns. The downside of this arrangement is that both Jonathan and Charlotte share the same HP and MP. If you choose to play with both of them, losing health for Jonathan means losing health for Charlotte as well. Thankfully, when your partner is hit, he or she wouldn't lose health. Instead, your MP decreases. This is definitely a friendlier approach, since MP does recharge itself over time. With these restrictions in mind, however, you may have to decide whether it's worthwhile to play with the partner.

I won't go much into the weapons, skills and items that you will acquire in this game, except that the whip (originating from the very first Castlevania) is back. Most of these are recycled from previous games, and many of them are rewards for killing enemies or getting into obscure corners. Some of these, however, can only be acquired upon completing quests. Quests are new additions to the Castlevania fold, and are basically things you do that may not have major consequences to the story. For example, one of the quests requires you to kill a certain number of a certain enemy, another tasks you to perform a sword skill a few times. Quests are also largely optional, except for one. The rewards for doing them, however, are exclusive contents that cannot be found anywhere else. True to Castlevania fashion, skills acquired (not necessary from quests) can help you venture further into the castle. The Lizard Tail, for example, allows you to slide through lower ceilings. The Acrobat, on the other hand, lets you use your partner's shoulders as a launching pad for jumping onto a previously unreachable ledge. They are extremely useful, therefore, if you intend to cover every inch of the building.

The castle is once again separated by various themes. The themes aren't as colourful as Dawn of Sorrow, and appear more generic than innovative. You have the locations like the Buried Chamber and the Great Stairway - places that sound, and look darker than the playhouses and gardens from the previous game. However, Portrait of Ruin also introduces an "alternate castle" feature. These additional castles can be accessed by entering various portraits (hence the title of the game) found in the main castle. They are, of course, defined by different themes too. Areas within portraits are comparatively more colourful, which provide great contrast between both universes. It would be a giveaway to explain why you can enter portraits though, so I would just leave that aspect for you to explore. You will no longer be contended just by achieving 100% map coverage anymore though - with these new areas, it's possible to cover as much as 1,000% map, which REALLY sounds like great adventuring prospects.

To complement said adventures, Portrait of Ruin excels in both graphical and audio performances. The game plays like your typical 2D side-scroller, but the backgrounds are rendered in 3D, which give the on-screen action more depth than ever. The details are magnificent as usual, and even with an overall darker feel to the game, the colors remain vibrant and pleasing to the eye. Like Dawn of Sorrow, this game also features an upper screen map support, which, despite its superb functionality, isn't adopted by many other games of similar genre. Music wise, let's just say that the opening theme is good enough to give us goosebumps (the good ones). Sound effects also maintain the high standards set from the last game.

It seems that with each instalment of Castlevania, Konami are getting better at the job. Like Dawn of Sorrow, Portrait of Ruin is a candidate for the game of the year on the DS, and it's hard to see how Konami can further better the series in the next instalment. For now, however, Portrait of Ruin is definitely the game that you should get for the seasons.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars fabulous gameplay, 4 July 2009
By 
Bert Heymans (Belgium) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
This review is from: Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin (Nintendo DS) (Video Game)
This was my first Castlevania game but certainly not my last. I played the game through 3 times and I'm still tempted to pick it up. Great art and music, funny and witty at times and great gameplay..
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best Castlevania title since Symphony of the Night, 30 April 2007
= Fun:4.0 out of 5 stars 
This review is from: Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin (Nintendo DS) (Video Game)
Although I really enjoyed the Gameboy Advance and Nintendo DS Castlevania games, I never felt (before this title) that they squared up to Castlevania Symphony of the Night. I think my reservations mainly came down to the fact that the handheld titles before Portrait of Ruin didn't seem to build on the Castlevania gameplay in any meaningful way.

HOWEVER! Portrait of Ruin really does do something new and worthwhile with the series: there are two characters that you can control in turns, with one tagging along helping out and use as a combination to do damaging moves.

I really loved the idea of accessing different castles by travelling through paintings too. That was a very Mario 64ish touch and again sets the title out from the other 2D Castlevania titles which are essentially just one or two castles.

I thoroughly enjoyed the game - it's certainly the most original and interesting of the handheld Castlevania titles, and the superior sound and partially 3D graphics really brought it up a notch from Dawn of Sorrow (the previous Nintendo DS Castlevania game).

A perfect title for Castlevania fans and novices alike.
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5.0 out of 5 stars just a beast game, 28 May 2014
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This review is from: Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin (Nintendo DS) (Video Game)
just what I wanted for my dsi xl. the game is just as described and I am really happy with it. 5*
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4.0 out of 5 stars Should satiate your vampire slaying needs...retro video-game style, 12 Sep 2013
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
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This review is from: Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin (Nintendo DS) (Video Game)
The second in the DS trilogy of castlevania. This time, the plot is set in 1944 and follows young Jonathan and Charlotte (they're always young these protagonists...), vampire slayers, investigating the reappearance of Dracula's castle (even though he's not due to show up...) Again, the plot doesn't always grab you (and the castlevania series always seems to repeat itself and be a little muddled), but this shouldn't stop you from enjoying and coming back for more. Gameplay is consistent with the other games from Symphony of the Night and is just like Dawn of Sorrow. It follows these 2 games quite closely in particular, the only difference being the use of the 2 characters in terms of gameplay and puzzle solving. Jonathan being the physical threat and Charlotte the magic user. The use of these characters adds a little extra dimension of puzzle solving but the reality is that the game is really an exploratory platformer with rpg elements added. The RPG elements, basically are the levelling up system to enhance your character's stats and the equipping of items to help you progress through the game. Again, like every castlevania, the exploratory element is important towards the gameplay and is strongly recommended to complete this game. Music is good too, and more varied now, because, as a way of being a little different than a few other castlevanias, this game has more varied locales (you're in the castle itself but the castle has paintings which warp you to different places. The Egyptian theme is my fave). Item variety is good, as is weapon choice, although you do find yourself using one more than the other.
If it has to be said about the faults of this game, they're just like the previous entry in the series, Dawn of Sorrow. Levelling can be grinding to a point if you're not fighting strong enough monsters and there is a sharp difficulty ascent as you progress through the castle/paintings. So this becomes a point. Weapon variety is a little issue, you can use whatever item you want but there's little in way of strategy except for learning enemy patterns but this was never a problem for me. The other issue that you may have is that its not always obvious as to what you have to do or where to go (and this game has multiple endings too...)
Saying that, I still found myself enjoying this game and I do play it regularly after completing it (again I aim for 100% map coverage lol) and the gameplay itself is simple but engaging.
This game is more of a progression of the previous game than an actual sequel.
I'd recommend this game to fans of the series, but also to platform game fans who want to try something different than Mario, Sonic et al
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent game, 18 Feb 2013
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
This review is from: Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin (Nintendo DS) (Video Game)
Came within 2 days as a massive fan of symphony of the night this is a must have don't even think about it just buy it!
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I'll whip your ass into shape!, 29 Dec 2007
= Fun:4.0 out of 5 stars 
This review is from: Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin (Nintendo DS) (Video Game)
A BIG game, great atmosphere, loads of variety and things to discover, thoroughly enjoyed it from start to finish!
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A nice introduction to the castlevania series., 3 Mar 2010
By 
Ryan O. Gresham "Angelicus" (Sheffield, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
= Fun:3.0 out of 5 stars 
This review is from: Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin (Nintendo DS) (Video Game)
Having never played a Castlevania game before, Portrait of Ruin impressed me considerably as a fresh new and innovative re- imagining of the series for the Nintendo DS. Essentially a 2D sidec scrolling platformer akin to its predecessors, Portrait of Ruin centres around the exploits of two young protagonists, Jonhothan a novice vampire slayer and his companion Charlotte, a young whitch in training as they embark on a quest to reach the heart of the newly risen Dracula's castle and defeat the dark lord himself in battle.

Whilst the story is relatively minimal, serving simply as a tool to carry players from one area to another, the game itself is surprisingly challenging and entertaining. Players are able to play as either Johnathan or Charlotte and can switch between the two at the touch of a button to make extensive use of each characters special abilities, or alternatively, both characters can be summoned together to tackle larger, more resilient foes. The platforming is as effortless as one would expect from a game series that set the bar for the platforming genre and jumping across ledges whilst attacking swarms of enemies in mid - air has never been as easy. The game's soundtrack is of course wonderful, with a continuous stream of gothic horror movie inspired techno beats to liven up the action even more.

Whilst Castlevania may appear quite dated compared to the Modern Warfare 2's and Assassin's Creed's of today, it is nevertheless a reasonably entertaining playthrough, if only for a while which will provide longtime fans and newcomers alike with a valid reason to carry their DS around for at least a week.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Castlevania Portrait of ruin, 20 Oct 2013
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This review is from: Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin (Nintendo DS) (Video Game)
i liked the series untill i played this thing
its redicioulosly hard and frustrating you don't do much else than die all the time
course of the games insane difficulty level it is extremely unfair
the partner switching is a pain and the experience gaining doesnt help much it is all about finding weapons and armor
if you dont then youre done for
this game is one of the worst i have ever played in that series
Unfair and unforgiving this game is rubbish
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3 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars good game but do get stuck, 17 Jun 2007
By 
J. L. Keller-smith (Leeds UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
= Fun:4.0 out of 5 stars 
This review is from: Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin (Nintendo DS) (Video Game)
Im really enjoying the game but, im stuck in two places in two areas of the game and im not sure how you can get further. It can be fustrating at times but it is fun. You need to think about certain times when you need to use the two player mode and it can get confusing when you are in the middle of a battle and you push the wrong button. but overall a really good game and i would recommend it for anybody who has alot of patiance.
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