If there has ever been a series of games that have needed two screens, it is the recent Castlevania games. With sprawling maze-like maps, full of alternate routes, secrets and devious dead ends, you needed to check your position every couple of rooms. This meant pausing the game, thus rudely interrupting your gothic romp. Now though,checking the map is just a matter of peering up at the top screen. Marvellous.
As well as your trusty map, your average vampire slayer also has a love of overly anal stats. The DS once again proves itself useful here. Pressing select switches from your map to your stats screen where you can see what you have equipped, how far you are from leveling up and how much money you have. Each time you encounter a new foe, its bio and picture will be displayed. Vanquishing the enemy will display its weaknesses and what items it drops. All this may sound trivial, and in most games it is, but here, whilst not exactly a ground-breaking feature, it is extremely useful.
The touch screen is also utilised in certain parts of the game. Once you have weakened a boss enough, you will have to draw a magical seal to trap him. Be careful though, if you make a mistake the seal will shatter and the boss will regain some health. Fortunately you will be able to practice each seal from the menus. This is especially handy if you have trouble remembering the patterns. You will also be able to shatter certain blocks with the stylus. Whilst it does sound like switching to the stylus could be a pain, reports from the Japanese version of the game indicate that it works well.
The Castlevania series has always been pure eye candy. The recent games show just how effective 2d graphics still. Dawn of Sorrow is no exception. The animation in particular has been taken up a notch and you will also notice many other visual treats such as multiple levels of parallax scrolling and huge multi-jointed enemies.
Early reviews of import versions of this game are so far extremely positive. Dawn of Sorrow is shaping up to be a must have game for any DS owner. Whilst it may not showcase the special features of the console it still manages to make good use of them.
The Good: A sure addition to the DS’s library of A-rated games.
The Bad: Although we could use some new gameplay mechanics.
The Ugly: Some of the huge demonic bosses you have to fight.