E3 2006: Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin Hands-On
The return of the whip!
Konami was gracious enough to treat us to an extensive hands-on period for their forthcoming Konami game Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin, and it seems to have the two things that are going to please long-time Castlevania fans when it comes out later this year.
The first is the same adventurous spirit that has been maintained in recent Castlevania games. You've got a lot of searching in rooms and puzzle solving to do, while there's still a traditional gathering of enemies that can be brought down. There's also levelling up to complete and different weapons to power up, like a powerful electrical attack between your two parties and a devastating boomerang that seems to cut all down to size.
But the real treat here is that Iga-san managed to give gamers what they want- the return of a character with a whip. That's right, the main character, Jonathan, doesn't use a sword in this game, but rather a whip that can be powered up and smashes through enemies with most distance and efficiency than your typical sword. Christine, his cohort, also has a few good attacks of her own, like a tri-blade that may be short on distance but is quite devastating in its own right.
One of the cooler aspects of the game is that you can switch off between the two anything during the gameplay session, meaning that you have two powers to choose from instead of just the one. This is a great battle system that allows a character to rest up while another gets fresh in the battle. The game has a rock-solid presentation, with beautiful multi-scrolling graphics with 3-D details here and there, as well as new outdoor environments that take the Castlevania series outside of the castle walls for a change. They look awesome. The music is very faithful to the series as well.
Oh, and, yes, we did have a boss encounter. We ran across a large, stomping knight with a huge sword and a spiritual head, who would lob spirit balls at us when he wasn't lunging at us every way since Thursday. It's a pretty good boss encounter, although the game is filled with enemies that require a great deal of skill to get past.
Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin looks glorious and should be a thrilling addition to the Konami line-up once it arrives later this year. They closed out the session and invited us to a little bar with food and drink, and on the way out, we even gave a nod to the great Iga, sitting down and chowing down with some friends. He waved back. Awesome.