We've been waiting a while for Koji Igarashi's Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night, his upcoming Castlevania-esque 2D action/adventure. But while we wait for a release date to (eventually) roll around, we can enjoy the Inti Creates-produced 8-bit adventure Castlevania: Curse of the Moon, which is available for most systems (Xbox One next week).
It may not have the depth of some of Igarashi's greater adventures, but when it comes to channeling Castlevania in the best way possible, Moon gets the job done.
The game puts you in control of Zangetsu, a monster hunter that will stop at nothing to vanquish evil. But his quest is filled with dangers ranging from demons to ghosts to other spectral forces that will stop at nothing to extinguish his life.
Fortunately, Zangetsu gets a little bit of help along the way as he unlocks new characters playable within the game. First up is Miriam, the main character from the upcoming Bloodstained. She'll probably cater to classic Castlevania fans the most, since she wields a whip and is able to get pretty good distance on her jumps.
A Familiar (But Good) Feeling
The other characters that become available include Gebel, a warrior that can transform into a bat to fly into unreachable areas; and Alfred, a magician who can't really do much on the attack front, save for some devastating spellcasting.
What's great about Curse of the Moon is that you can switch between any of these characters as they become unlocked. Even if you want to swap someone out after starting the game, you can do so and then flip back over. This is a great technique if you need to use stronger characters during boss fights or have an out-of-reach item you want to obtain.
The gameplay is classic Castlevania style, through and through. You've got your jump and attack buttons, as well as the ability to summon special weapons including a triple set of daggers and a chain that can reach higher areas. It just depends what you pick up over the course of the game. Granted, these weapons are only available for limited use unless you refill energy, which you can do by striking objects within each stage.prevnext
Short Yet Sweet
And the challenge level is perfectly balanced. Curse of the Moon features two selectable difficulty settings. Veteran is for the old-schoolers that love the feeling of taking on the world and possibly dying within a few hits. But if that's too hard, there's also Casual, with infinite lives available and less health loss with hits. It's great to have these options available.
Curse of the Moon also has great hidden paths. You don't always have to take the straight and narrow. Sometimes you can go through a door and find an XP boost or another neat weapon to use to your advantage. This adds replay value to the game, which is a good thing considering you can probably beat its main adventure in an hour and a half. There's always room to try something new and seek out what you might have missed the first time around.
The boss battles are also innovative, with everything from a demon train sort of monster to other devastating enemies that require you to learn a pattern to defeat them. There are less here than I would've liked but I appreciated what was thrown in here.prevnext
Whip It Good
And that leads us to the presentation. While Curse of the Moon doesn't innovative with 3D worlds, it does impress with its retro motif. The graphics are pure Castlevania style, complete with multi-scrolling backgrounds, charming little animations and great enemy designs. And the levels are really well done too, whether you're working through the outskirts of a city or fighting your way through a monster-laden train.
The music is really something as well. Though I prefer the classic Castlevania scores, Curse of the Moon has a terrific selection of tunes put together by Inti Creates' sound wizards. They tend to repeat a little too often in a stage but there's no question they have the vibe down.
How much you get into Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon really depends on your love for vintage gaming. Obviously Ritual of the Night will offer a more robust experience along the lines of Symphony of the Night, since that's Iga's territory; but Curse nails down that "good ol' feeling" from the 8-bit days, right down to mastering a boss battle and finding hidden items within blocks. The character switch system is awesome, even if they all aren't quite significant; and the music is a pleasure to listen to.
Chalk up another win for Inti Creates and Iga. It'll definitely keep us entertained until Ritual is ready to take over our nights.0comments
WWG's Score: 4/5
Disclaimer: A review code was provided by the publisher.prev