- Platform: Nintendo DS
- BBFC Rating: Suitable for 12 years and over. Not for sale to persons under age 12. By placing an order for this product, you declare that you are 12 years of age or over.
- Media: Video Game
- Item Quantity: 1
Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin (Nintendo DS)
- Encounter over 100 diverse enemies in your adventure to stop Dracula's resurrection
- Summon your partner and execute cooperation attacks to decimate your enemies
- Collect items, weapons and magic as you explore the castle
- Fight with and against your friends in multiple multi-player modes
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portraits hide the secrets of Castle An ancient vampire threatens the fate of the world using the damn castle Dracula and his mystical paintings to open portals of death. Fight alongside jonathan morris, young bearer of the legendary whip and charlotte matavampiros Aulin, a witch with great magical abilities to defeat evil in the most blindly hours of humanity.
No matter how long-running they may, be there are some game series that will never become household names, unless that household happens to contain a number of very dedicated video games fans. The Castlelvania series of 2D platform adventures is one of the most beloved of all niche franchises but this second outing on the DS is, by the games normally conservative standards, quite a departure from the norm. Its set during World War II and you control not one vampire hunter but two. The first is the traditional whip wielding, animal impersonating, Jonathan Morris and the other is a young witch called Charlotte Aulin. You can switch between characters at any time or call on their help solving puzzles or engaging in a simultaneous attack.
Sensibly the game ditches the intrusive use of the touch screen seen in Dawn of Sorrow, instead choosing to focus on making the two characters as different as possible with Johnny concentrating on traditional Castlevania melee weapons and Charlotte learning a range of different offensive and defensive magic. As usual in a Castlevania game both characters gain experience as they defeat enemies, slowly increasing your stats like a role-playing game. The 2D graphics are as exquisitely detailed as ever but the level design is perhaps a little more pedestrian than normal. Thankfully the bizarre range of enemies makes up for this to a degree, with some particularly ingenious bosses. The only real disappointment is that the much vaunted co-op mode is only for a few special levels and not the whole game. Even so, its still an improvement on the last game and the best new Castlevania since Symphony of the Night on the PSOne.
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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.
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
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.
Most recent customer reviews
I'd paired it along side with Order of Eclesia.
its redicioulosly hard and frustrating you don't do much else than die all the time
course of the games insane difficulty...Read more