Castlevania Judgment Review
Player(s): 1-2 (online or local)
Extra Features: Wi-Fi (Online) Versus, Download Content for Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia on DS
Ever since Castlevania took the leap to a 3-D look back in the days of the Nintendo 64 the series has seen its share of ups and downs. The 3-D games sometimes don't carry the same Castlevania feel that the 2-D Castlevanias showcase but they have brought a nice break from the usual 2-D look of the series. The 3-D games have helped to showcase a more cinematic feel to the Castlevania series even though they haven't quite hit the nail in the coffin like many of the 2-D installments. If you're a fan of the 3-D games like me though, you really look forward to any news of a next-gen Castlevania title, which is why I was so excited to hear about a new 3-D Castlevania on the Wii console, that is, until I learned that the Castlevania game in question was a... fighter? I'm usually open to new ideas so this change in genre didn't strike me that hard but it sure wasn't music to my ears.
Castlevania Judgment pulls a big list of Castlevania characters together for a tournament. Each Castlevania character is going about their normal lives until they meet up with a mysterious individual by the name of Aeon. Aeon creates a dimensional time warp that allows all Castlevania characters to cross over from different time periods to meet and fight all for the goal of having their wish granted by Aeon himself. There are altogether 14 total fighters in Castlevania Judgement: Simon Belmont, Alucard, Trevor Belmont, Sypha Belnades, Grant Danasty, Shanoa, Eric Lecarde, Cornell, Maria Renarde, Carmilla, Dracula, Death, Golem and Aeon.
From the get-go, you will likely notice that many of the traditional characters in Castlevania Judgment have been redesigned by a new artist (manga artist Takeshi Obata). Simon Belmont has much the same look as his Ayami Kojima concept from Castlevania Chronicles and Alucard basically maintains his overall look from Symphony of the Night, though he looks a lot younger. Some characters look completely different from the way that we remember them such Grant Danasty's bandaged appearance and Eric Lecarde's much younger look (a child?). I have to give credit to the developers for having the guts to bring in Cornell from the usually loathed Legacy of Darkness N64 title. Even though he now dons some armor that doesn't seem to match him, for a fan of the 3-D Castlevanias such as myself, it's great to see his return. Many of the characters don't have that bad of a design from a normal point of view, but to a Castlevania fan with a fond memory of how they used to look, some of the new designs were a turnoff to me. In a way, I'm kind of glad that my favorite character, Richter Belmont didn't make the cut.
The core gameplay is set up in 3-D arenas and plays out much like a brawl in Square-Enix's Ehrgeiz. Fighters normally run when the analog is used and just about all attack combinations are flashy and some of them cover great distances. Each character has a wide range of attack combinations and special moves exclusive to them. All character attacks seem to match each character rather well. Simon and Trevor both use their whips during combos and players such as Sypha and Shanao use plenty of magic during attacks. The Wii remote and nunchuk work very well in the overall control of each fighter. With a simple few shakes of the Wii remote, you can perform a series of combo attacks to your opponent.
Attacks vary depending on whether your fighter is standing still or running. By holding down the B button and shaking the Wii remote, a new set of attacks can be performed while standing or running. You can actually charge the B button then shake the remote for a different attack as well. A guard break move can be performed while holding the guard button and each fighter has a few attacks that can be performed while jumping. Both the guard and jump buttons are performed through the Z and C buttons on the nunchuk. Fighters also have a super move reminiscent of a Final Fantasy summon spell. A super bar fills up during each match and a super move can be executed by tapping down on the directional pad on the Wii remote once the super bar is completely filled.