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MPJ | chapelofresonance.com





















MPJ's Castlevania The Betterment of 3-D


With thanks to Peklo, who greatly helped in updating this document.

To view the corresponding document detailing the story and cutscenes of the game, click here.

Introduction
Story
Controls/combat system
Areas/bosses
Platforming and level design
Other things


Introduction

s of now, the way things seem to be looked upon is 2D = Awesome (although not always) and 3D = Crap. While some disagree that the 3D entries into the series are not so bad, which even includes me, to an extent (LoI is cool), it is still plain to see that they are far from perfect.

And then of course there are those who not only believe them to be terrible but also believe that a great 3D Castlevania is not possible. I'm sorry, but I can't take arguments like "Castlevania started in 2D, thus it only works in this format" seriously. With a good combination of platforming and combat, including more intelligent and better enemies as well as superior next-gen graphics and atmosphere (I'm sticking by both 360 and PS3 for the duration of this article), a good story and epic level design/ art direction, it could be superb. Allow me to elaborate, my friends.


Story

NOTE: The story I have written here is just something I quickly wrote up to fit in with other elements in this article, as you will see when you read it, and I will likely write a more detailed article about story potential at a later date, of which I have already started planning, at which point I may contradict some of what is written here.

In this bit I should probably start off by saying that I do reference some of the game's areas, which are explained below, so you might not know exactly what I'm talking about all the time.

To start off, I'm going to say this is about Julius in 1999, though of course it doesn't' have to be. Part of this decision spawned from me not bothering to check for other gaps in the timeline. Oh well. You'll have to live with it.

So Julius' town is attacked…wow. New one. Anyway, he runs off to Castlevania, and since I haven't bothered to work this out in full (that's not what this is about) I'll just briefly sum up my thoughts. Julius goes to the castle. At some point he meets Alucard and Yoko's mother. He first meets Dracula in the burning town area. Julius attacks him because Drac's the bad guy, but Dracula isn't really interested and leaves his right hand…sorry second from right hand man, Olrox, to deal with you. You fight this guy several times. Basically Dracula figures that since with Death's help he was able to absorb the power of another vampire before he can do it again. Lots of times, he hopes, since apparently he is to some extent annoyed about being killed off so many times, understandably, so sets about finding vampires (obviously vampires with power, otherwise he could just bite everyone in a village and sacrifice them for him. I was thinking more vampires like Joachim, who had some power without help from the crimson stone).

Anyway, you meet everyone several times through your journey, including Dracula but he's never interested until the end. Since Dracula needs to be sealed away for good this time, there needs to be a side story about this too. Well, Dracula probably isn't gone for good, but so we've been told…Maybe the three main good guys have to make their own magic seal somehow? I'm not sure about that. Anyway, Julius finds Dracula, fights him, then the other two conveniently enter when he becomes uber-peon-destryoing-demon-god Dracula. And then there's all kinds of epicness, but let's move on to the main event now.


Controls/ combat system

Okay, easy. I'll just do a list for you all here. I'm going to do the PS controls since I don't know the buttons on the 360 as well and I haven't used it as much. Those of you who would prefer to play on 360…well, translate I guess.

X: Jump
O: Use equipped subweapon
Triangle: Whip
Square: Use equipped weapon (swords and axes and everything like that).
R1: modify attacks for whip or other weapon/ crash magical ability (hold down triangle there)/ modifier to allow for acrobatics (with X).
R2: other magic. Random stuff that, wait for it….isn't to do with subweapons. Spells that are in scrolls or books or something similar.
L1: Block (perfect block available)
L2: Skill (high jump maybe? (Not on its own because that might not work).
D-pad: Open circular menus (think LoI). One menu wheel for whip upgrades, one for weapons (tap it to switch to a weapon you've assigned to instant switch). There are another two menu wheels for the two types of magic. Different things selected by twirling the right analogue stick.
Left analogue stick: Move the character (Yeah, wow, right), and it is also used to help modify attacks along with R1.
Right analogue stick: Control camera.

In this game, I should add now, there are very few weapons; 8 to be precise; only one weapon from each class with a detailed focus on individuality and upgrades, including combo and attack upgrades. There's the Vampire Killer of course, and since that's always equipped, it's the main event, in a way. Then later on you'll acquire a short sword, a long sword, a hammer, an axe, a spear, a shield to knock back enemies, and a handgun as an extra weapon, to pay homage to AoS/ DoS, since they're connected in a way, and to a previous 3D hero, Henry Oldrey. The gun, while only an extra, can be used in conjunction with your VK, like any other weapon, and you can put different bullets in it, for example silver bullets.

The Vampire Killer whip in this game, I now realise, is similar to Nero's Devil Bringer in Devil May Cry 4, and for the initiated, that's because you can reel enemies in. With the power of hindsight, we can make that better. Unless you batter them in a bit first, a lot of enemies will dodge, block, or even allow themselves to be reeled in so that you can lunge at you. Heavy enemies will only stagger when you do this to them, and heavier enemies still will not budge at all.

The other weapons will be found in the environment and a few will be available at the shop. Each can be upgraded as you progress through the game, as I previously mentioned, to get to secret areas and killing your foes more effectively. For example, a heavy hammer can be used to smash rubble, and an axe can cut through wood.

As stringing attacks together, picture this: Batter an enemy up, reel it in with the VK, smack it with the shield, reel it in again and impale it on your spear. Sweet! You get the idea. The combat is quite intuitive.

So, now I feel obliged to go a little more in-depth and give you an example of a movelist. I'll go for the VK:

Combo 1: press triangle 3 times. This will obviously get higher as you progress through the game
Combo 2: press triangle twice, pause, and then another two times. Again, more upgrades later, and assume that for all future moves I list.
Combo 3: Press triangle once, pause, and then press another two times.
Reel in: Hold R1, press triangle, and back on the left analogue stick.
Enemy lifter: This won't work on heavy enemies the same way it does smaller ones, and because the whip is so thin, it won't lift an enemy the same way something like the long sword will, but holding R1, pressing triangle and forward on the analogue stick will cause Julius to lift a monster into the air. Most weapons would have option of pulling Julius up with them, if you hold triangle and back on the left analogue stick, but you cannot do this with the VK.
Throwing an enemy down: After executing the attack above press R1, triangle and back on the back on the analogue stick to pull the enemy back down to the ground.
Air combo 1: While in the air, press triangle 3 times. For example, this could be a diagonal swipe down, then straight up, and ends with a dash in the air, spinning the whip while falling back to the ground.
Air combo 2: While in the air press triangle twice, pause, and then press another two times.
Air grab: While in the air, Hold R1, press triangle and forward on the analogue to reel an enemy in, and then throw them with a directional input. For bigger enemies and bosses, you can keep tapping triangle to latch on and attack with something else at the same time.
Another air strike: In the air, hold R1, press triangle and back on the left analogue stick to hit an enemy with the but of the whip.
Shockwave: Hold R1, press triangle and spin the left analogue stick in any direction.

So hey, whoever said Castlevania can't have an awesome combat engine too? Yeah…exactly. So there it is.


Areas/bosses

This section details boss designs as well as short descriptions of the levels. There will be longer descriptions for level design later on. I have also included a little map to show how things outside to the castle are connected, and what direction they are in relation to it.

I'd also like to include in this section some ideas on environment interactivity, particularly to do with the enemies.

1.
Castle corridor. Boss: Golden armour (Area1) The Castle Corridor is a nostalgic first area with large window doors, flapping red curtains and red carpets, and the usual sorts of fodder enemies. It also contains exuberantly expensive, lush ballrooms and dining rooms, and all the things you might expect from a 3D version of this classic area. Regarding the environment interactivity I mentioned at the beginning of this section, picture this; instead of enemies simply appearing, the game could further immerse you with, for example, bones laying around a room rising and fitting together to make animated skeletons. Should they lack a weapon, they could tear one of their own ribs out and use that instead, or if they get desperate, throw their skull at you like those in AoS. Axe armours could be situated around the rooms firstly as unflinching suits of armour and spring to life when you advance further into the room.

You get the idea there. All enemies should have interesting entrances like this, and I'll skim over a few examples for each area, but aside from that, some should also use their surroundings to their advantage once they've arrived in front of our hero. For example, if when fighting an axe armour you get close to a wall it might try to slam you into the wall, or if it swings to hit you and misses, instead hitting a fragile statue, the statue will fall on it. I'll also give you one or two examples like these for each area too, to give you a rough idea of how Konami can make the game more exciting through less bland environments. I'd like to point out at this stage that I will not be naming every enemy, because that would be insane. I will just be giving you examples to give you a flavour of the monsters in each area.

The boss for this area is a golden coloured armour. It should be roughly 10 feet tall to give players an idea of what is to come, and wields a single bladed golden axe that it can throw forward on a chain, along with a golden sword in its other hand. When the player enters the room, it is chained to one of the walls, which when you go near it breaks out of them and latches a chain around the axe blade. If you're thinking right now that this boss could a good version of the CoD first boss, you'd be absolutely correct. Inside of its helmet is total darkness, save for two glowing eyes which can fire laser projectiles at you; short bursts or prolonged sweeps. There are finely crafted tables and chairs around the room which it can smash to bits by either running through them to get to you or picking them up by latching onto them with its sword or axe, then hurling them at you. Its weak point is its head, which can be damaged greatly by either climbing onto a table, and jumping onto a chandelier, where you can whip yourself up if need be, or climbing a mantle hanging on a wall, then again jumping onto a chandelier. If you stay on one for too long, the armour will rip it down. Once again, there's a very satisfactory amount of interaction with the environment, which should always be the case for something like Castlevania, better still if there are no quick time events.

2.
Divine library. Boss: None (Area 2)
This is an area inspired from SotN, which you should have guessed by the title if you've played the game. It's a luxurious library, with magic books flying out at you from book shelves. Obviously there are many high book shelves and shining floors that show brilliant reflections of you and the room around you. The shopkeeper can be found, as well as some magical tomes, some of which are needed for story progression, which can be found at different points of the game in locked rooms, and it links to the castle corridor and the town. It would be fitting in this area if there were some well known mythological creatures, though in a way I'm needlessly shooting myself in the foot over this since they're everywhere in Castlevania. But it would need to be ones that suit the area; griffons and chimera; generally monsters that look very magical and are quickly recognisable, a lot of these being summoned by the magical book enemies.

I first thought of this in while thinking up the cutscenes, but I've decided to include an astronomy tower here. There's a big winding staircase that goes all the way around the tower, and occasionally there are rooms in between. There should be more library-like rooms, stacked with the books pertaining to the stars and whatnot. There should also be an orrery somewhere in here, and at the very top there is an observatory.

3.
Haunting Forest. Sub-Boss: Treant, Boss: Wyrm. (Area 3)
This is an atmospheric dark forest in which the feeling of getting lost is likely often present, with the moon brightly shining on you at almost all times, and sparse candle stands here and there shedding light on some of the darker places. Some platforming on trees will be involved to get around fallen trees which when first encountered cannot be destroyed or burnt away (considering the equipment the player would have by this point), or even cut away with an axe, since it won't be strong enough initially. Obviously there will be none of that "forest corridor" nonsense that was present in CoD. All barriers will be more subtle and less obnoxious and obvious, thus prompting less aggravation; more natural things like man made walls, cliffs, large boulders, and groups of very thick vegetation and trees.

Now, an area like this has a good chance of some very natural and/ or interesting enemy entrances. Skeletons can swing through the trees to you like in RoB, or close in on foot from a distance. Snake-like creatures can curl around the branches before dropping down to you, wolves and other such creatures can crawl out of burrows in the ground, flying creatures can descend from the skies and perches in trees, wind demons which reach you initially as mist through the wind, and fishmen can leap out at you from rivers. If you climb some of the trees, monsters that can reach that height will try their best to knock you back down.

The forest has two bosses; one sub boss, a Treant, a giant tree that initially tries to disguise itself among the rest before attacking, swinging and stamping at you, and throwing trees. You can pull yourself up its features with the VK to get up its body and smash it apart; clearly fire will work wonders against it, but if it sees you're using anything to do with fire it will go more on the defensive.

The main boss of the area is a legless, armless dragon boss, which flies and slides around like a snake. The trees around you can be set alight by both you (if you manage to find something to do this with) and him, able to collapse and form blockades, and the bushes can also be burnt away, draining health if either of you walk into them. It can also spit fireballs to keep the player on the move. The boss has an armoured carapace at the tail and head, making its body the weakest point, although also the hardest to get to because it's always trying to face you. Because the front and back of the creature are so strong, it will try to butt you with its head and swing and spear you with the tail. The arena it is fought in is huge, for environmental connectivity. Excellent fire physics are involved here, so they would be spreading and rising like real fire would. The wyrm can also make its way up trees and hurl itself and swing between trees and back into the battle grounds. The player can jump between trees and cut off flaming branches to make them fall upon the dragon.

4.
City in Flames. Boss: Olrox. (Area 4)
A tattered town fallen prey to the might of Dracula's legions, much of the buildings are burning or wrecked. Many skeleton and soldier type enemies are in this area as well as the first boss encounter with Olrox. A large proportion of the enemies will be some of the more grotesque or ethereal ones, sent out first in order to spread immediate terror and loathing of Dracula and his minions; this could consist of deformed demons and phantom swords. Most of the enemies will already be waiting around waiting for you, scavenging through the rubble, some of the stronger ones proceeding to throw it at you when they spot you.

Olrox is first met on top of a burning building in this area. He starts shooting magic at you when you begin approaching the building, and when you reach the top you can deal some damage before the roof collapses and you fall into the burning building itself. He can then teleport to neighbouring buildings. He can use telekinesis and throw debris at you. He can also summon swarms of bats and dark spirits, as well as blades of darkness. When you get too close he can summon a misty black sword from thin air, which disappears back into mist when he finishes with it, which floats away slowly. Can summon dark pillars from the ground and always hovers, evading your hits by sliding away in mid air quickly, making him very hard to hit at times.

5.
Melodious Waterway. Boss: Triton. Extra Boss: Cthulu (Area 5)
The waterway is a vast cavern with high ceilings, dark and morose but beautiful, with flowing rivers and waterfalls; the wonderful HUGE waterfall included; with a fair bit of rocky platforming involved. The enormity of this cavern excites me actually; I've always liked water cave areas. The platforming of this area is shown more in-depth further down the page, but this is an area I think has a lot of potential. There will be some swimming sections in this area, nothing too fancy, but sometimes you might have to dive underwater to pass through a tunnel into another room, or to find items. You might sometimes come across water dwelling enemies too; you'll only be able to use lighter weapons under water, and you'll use the whip differently if at all, though you can use the same buttons for dodging as on land; but really these sections won't be especially long anyway.

Clearly fishmen and mermen will spring from the water like in the forest and may try to drag you under. Ghosts will drift in through the walls, some demons may form out of the water itself, and ice demons will teleport in initially as flakes of ice, sometimes swooping to pick you up and toss at something in the environment, perhaps into a crowd of fishmen. Sometimes you will encounter the boatman, who might take you across especially cold water. There is one particularly large lake, which appears incredibly deep, and at the bottom you can see a giant silhouette of a monster of some sort.

There are actually two sections where you will have to utilise the boatman because of ridiculously cold water. The first is in a long winding tunnel. There are ledges on the side which you can jump up to collect items, and if you show him a certain item that's valuable to him, he will take on an alternate route by opening up a wall in the river. I guess you'll find something of interest here. The second time you see him is of course on the big lake.

Triton, the mythological son of Poseidon; armed with a trident and riding a large clam-like creature; is the boss of the area. The clam has tentacles underneath which move it along. The boss area is mainly covered in water, save for the rim of the room and some rocky islands pocking out of the water, which float around. Lots of wave manipulation in this battle. Giant waves, forces water to form funnels, spinning around like tornados. Triton can block with, spin, stab, and throw his trident (and bring it back like a boomerang- think sword pierce, in DMC3, if you've played it). He can also fire water jets and water "spears" from his trident.

There is also a place in the waterway that leads even deeper to one of the secret bosses, and under that colossal lake I mentioned earlier. On the way, you'll meet Cthulu's human sized followers as warning. When you reach the bottom, you'll find bloodied double doors with three relics that are needed to progress further, three candles above that light when you insert the appropriate items. From there, there are two sets of doors, one which leads to the demi-god Cthulu, and another that leads to another area containing the demi-god Galamoth, both imprisoned by Dracula (or someone/thing else). Defeating both will grant you with a substantial magic upgrade.

Cthulu is obviously an incredibly powerful boss, similar in looks to the SotN monster (and of course in turn H.P. Lovecraft's monster), only much, much bigger. While Cthulu is underwater, half of the room you fight him is land, the water stopped flooding into the rest of the room through a magical barrier. Cthulu will attempt to kill you with all sorts of magic, and may fly around the cavern to swoop down and crush you, though for the most part will remain still, fighting you back with protective barriers and spells. There is no water around him either, but he may create ice platforms from the water to allow you to get closer to him. Taking him down will be a great feat, and the same goes for Galamoth. Just take note here: Galamoth and Cthulu are pretty much in league, as was The Forgotten One from LoI (i.e. the forgotten one of the three because it was imprisoned for so long). Later, the other two went after Walter (presumably Mathias/ Dracula for him) to avenge their compatriot.

6.
Castle cloisters. Boss: Olrox (part 2, battle 2; falling from demon quarters) (Area 6)
This is on the ground floor, and centre eye of the castle. Stone pillars, stone walls and ceilings; generally most of the environment is made up of some sort of stone, as are some of the enemies, including gargoyles which break off from the environment, some like normal gargoyles, some more demonic, so there'll be several variations. Statues will also come to life from the edges of the cloisters. This is pretty much the shortest area.

It features a locked boss room that you can only open from the inside after the conclusion of the second Olrox battle. In the middle of the cloister is a statue of Dracula, which Olrox smashes to bits in the pain of his transformation, flailing around. He can spit fire balls at a fast rate, or fire a single large one and send debris from the point it hits. Olrox can also stamp, punch and jump on you, as well as occasionally using his dark pillar and spikes techniques. Towards the end of the battle he becomes desperate, punching at the walls to make rocks falling on you, increasing the rate which he fires fireballs, and less controlled so dodging must be timed better as well as being more alert of the surrounding. He will begin to summon more dark pillars around the place too. Once he is defeated, he will deflate back to his normal form and crumple on the ground, where a cutscene will ensue before his body bursts into flames and many small things depart from it, flying in all directions. Olrox will also scale the walls quickly, jumping down to crush you.

7.
Unholy chapel. Boss: Stain glass knight. (Area 7)
A chapel with long stairways, gargoyles, huge beautifully coloured stain glass windows, and many new area specific enemies including amalric snipers, different types of ghosts, stair guards and fallen angels to name a few. Here Amalric Snipers transcend to higher enemies, appearing in flashes of light through the stain glass windows. They use their bows, sometimes in unison, and often land to attack with glowing white swords, executing combos. Again in unison sometimes, they will attempt to impale you with shards of "light" from their wings, which send you flying if they hit you. If they surround you to do it, and you dodge, they'll all suffer major damage unless they too manage to dodge.

The boss is a knight and his horse made out of stain glass. The roof of the room is entirely stain glass also, and there some windows around the room as well. The knight can form many weapons out of shards of glass, including a shield, a sword, an axe, a lance and a spear to throw at you, all of which can be smashed over time. If he throws the spear, you will either have to dodge or block even after escaping its initial area, since it will smash into pieces which could still hit you. He can separate and fly at you, like a "dangerous teleport". He can also try to trample you on his horse, which can also be smashed over time, and can "arrows" out of a crossbow.

8.
Forgotten wasteland. Boss: Sand golem. (Area 8)
This area is a sort of combination of the Sandy grave from PoR and the Ailon ruins from CoD, only done right. It's a barren area full of destroyed and long disused buildings of a long past civilisation, now home to Dracula's legions. Mummies and sand monsters will crawl up from the sand, and skeleton birds will fly in from the skies.

The boss is a monster made from sand and rocks with ribbons entangled together round it like a mummy which rises from the ground. It summons sandstorms to damage visibility, sand whirlpools in the ground to suck you in a throw you at a wall or something else in the arena, and can shed some of its body to turn into sand snakes to chase you around. There are lots of broken down walls and pillars which the player can climb and get a better view when there's a sandstorm. There is also a semi-circular, double entrance cave at one side of the arena. Which can also help in instances of a sandstorm.

9.
Peak of darkness. Boss: Glacius. (Area 9)
The peak of darkness is a single high mountain, getting gradually more snowy and harder to climb as the player progresses through it. The mountain is abundant in yetis, savage fenrir dogs, ice demons, frozen zombies, and subterranean diggers. You will sometimes be required to dodge landslides from higher up the mountain, and will sometimes enter valleys on the outside of the mountain where it's clearer to see. Glacius, the boss of the area, is the reason for most of the disturbances like this.

The boss fight takes place at the peak, in between 4 frozen, broken apart walls, and 4 frozen towers too. The boss itself is a huge hydra type beast, able to breathe ice breath, charge at you menacingly and form ice walls to block you in close to it. It starts off with only one head, but every time a head is cut off, which is most effectively done with the axe, 2 more grow despite the massive damage, offering insane damage to you if you cut them off too often and too many times, so the most advisable place to hit would be the body. When a head is cut off, it shatters into ice upon hitting the ground. Also, its blood is so cold that it hisses and freezes things it touches. When it is defeated, it staggers around the tattered arena stumbling into walls and uncontrollably firing ice everywhere, before falling onto the ice, smashing it, and revealing the cave area; where you descend the mountain via the inside. The carcass can be found lying at the bottom of this next area.

10.
The Nature of Avarice. Boss: None. (Area 10)
This are contains 2 main paths plus a drop down the middle. There are many side rooms which contain useful and/ or necessary items, and also many treasure chests containing Dracula's hidden fortune. There are many broken bridges which connect the two paths together, but to stop players simply moving on if they fall, they cannot progress unless they obtain a relic. In the rock there is much shiny minerals and jewels, and sometimes crystalline structures, with gold scattered all over the rock. Climbing back up requires you to do some whip swinging.

11.
Olrox's Quarters. Boss: Olrox (part 1, battle 2). (Area 11)
After picking up a certain item from inside the mountain, you can go back to the chapel and progress up to Olrox's Quarters. His area consists of large paintings, long corridors and expensive looking halls and shiny floors. Lesser vampires are abundant in this area, with stronger ones placed nearer Olrox's dining room, where resides. The courtyard from SotN returns here, without question, with a variety of undead creatures waiting around to kill you. This area contains mainly broken and unstable staircase, by order of Olrox to hinder your progress.

The first part of the second Olrox boss fight is at the end of this area. In his boss room he is seen at one end of a long dining table sipping wine, with a large portrait of himself behind him. The room has 2 floors. This time he has more advanced sword moves, including wider sweeps and longer combos. Given the more enclosed space, he summons more darkness pillars, as well as spikes from the walls and floor. He can summon more of his personal vampire guards and the bats he summons can attack in more advanced formations instead of just charging. After his first form is defeated he goes insane with his magic and inevitably smashes the pillars of the room crashing down and smashing the floor and causing them both to fall several floors into the cloisters. After Olrox is defeated at the bottom the player may go back up the shaft later by either flying or high jumping to enter several side rooms on the way down.

12.
Clock tower. Boss: Harpy Queen. (Area 12)
The clock tower is platforming central, as you'd expect. While jumping around on moving gears and avoiding spikes, there are also enemies to tackle, many of them flying, including harpies and succubae, but more on platforming later. Like the Treant in the forest, there will be enemies made from cogs and gears, gear steamers, like those in Bloodlines, which initially hide themselves among the static ones. Along with these, there will be sentient spikes in the spike pits which strike out when you approach and fly around. If there are lots of them, they will fly in formation to attack, and join with Gear Steamers if there are any of those around.

There is also some straight-forward corridor wandering and a wall climb outside to reach the Harpy Queen, a giant harpy that swoops around trying to pierce you with its beak and claws, firing razor sharp feathers, air warpage balls (like the CoD projectiles) and waves in the same vein. The Harpy Queen has two sets of wings. It usually only uses one, but will open the other pair when it needs to hover, and can send winds after you, straight or curling, like a tornado, which will spin you before hurling you across the room, perhaps into spikes embossed from some of the walls. Certain places of the floor are made of wood, and can smashed, then used to hang from underneath with an axe while it uses these wind attacks. The Harpy Queen will summon Harpy hatchlings to attack you too, and there are eggs around the arena; if any get smashed, the Harpy Queen will become enraged. You can jump on the back of the Harpy Queen for a good shot at its wings. It will take flight and fly around the tower, sending fledglings after you, and if you damage the wings enough, it will crash land back into the arena, giving you a chance to get a good few hits in while it's gasping for breath. This room showcases an excellent view of the castle from the top (think a HoD type clock tower boss room).

13.
Castle keep. Boss: Death(1) Olrox's ghost(2). (Area 13)
This is a standard Dracula-ish final area (though not the final area), featuring astounding architecture and some difficult enemy types. It also includes the frankly obligatory but breathtaking long open air stairway with the clock tower in close proximity, and Death situated in the throne room. In this area, since Death is the main boss, the higher enemies will be subordinates of Death; robed and armoured skeletal knights, holding different weapons and bearing an insignia, which enter by opening portals with their weapons, like Zead does in CoD.

Death starts off by summoning many scythes and sickles, controlling them to form different formations, including bundling together and chasing you around the room as a snake-type thing. He can also use time and space manipulation (i.e. teleporting). He can also use space manipulation to bring you closer. He can take his own big scythe and fly around slashing and dashing at you, and also shouting taunts in a made-up language, in his loud and hollow voice, with a sort of echo-y texture to it. He can summon clones, too, either just to try and get a simple slash on you from several directions or having transparent versions follow you around for a bit, which can easily be destroyed, and kind of disappear into smoke. He can also teleport you onto the walls and ceiling, to make it even more bizarre, and can teleport in from all directions. Every time he moves, the back of his cape seems to disintegrate and bits of back material float to the ground. When this happens on the wall or ceiling, after you teleport back to the floor, it all floats back down. A little way after that Olrox's and Death's ghosts open the portal with their last strength. Death disintegrates. The player must climb a large amount of floating stone steps formed from the wall of the tower next to the throne room (pulled apart by the portal and now floating; think prince of Persia: TTT platforming for the last boss, only not as annoying, with flying skulls and whatnot coming at you from the black portal in the sky) and upon reaching the top will be able to save before finishing off Olrox and entering the hell portal. Olrox is clearly very angry by now, shouting a lot, his voice having a sort of wispy and far-off quality, yet still loud.

14.
Palace of the damned. Boss: Damned Simurgh (like the phoenix of Islam, also with letonic (hyena/lion) qualities. (1) Dracula(2) Dracula's Wraith(3) Demon Dracula(4). (Area 14)
A hellish looking area with brimstone, lava, shoots of fire, and random places of elemental properties incorporated around the fiery theme, such as water archways and crackling lightning candles. And no, I'm not smoking ANYTHING. Think of the area as a whole as a mix between a living cave and Dracula's Castle, with marble pillars built into and partly covered up by the rocky walls and ceiling and whatnot. And then there are things like mantels and other decorative things that can be hung about the place too. In some of the walls there are trapped monsters that will try to reach out through the rock when you approach. This is the area home to the most powerful lesser monsters in the game, which goes without saying really; enemies like demon lords, final guards (and we're not talking palette swaps of axe armours; there'll be none of that in this game), fire demons which rise from the lava, powerful demons from demonology which enter portals; the portals being their seals; and various deformed and mutated demons.

Halfway through the area a fire bird is sent by Dracula to impede your progress as much as possible; an attempt to slow you down while he finishes whoring out vampire souls to increase his power. The battle will be on a piece of rock around lava, basically, with gates and low walls shutting you from moving on, without killing the bird first. The bird can obviously use the element of fire, breath fire dragons to chase you, fly into you and fly into the lava to splash lava on you from the "lake". Anyway, it's only the sub-boss and the main event comes later.

After killing him you are then allowed to continue on through the area to Dracula right at the end, starting off in his traditional form with traditional attacks, like a wizard, casting an impressive variety of spells, including spikes that shoot from the ground, fireballs that follow you in formations, he dashes, and he tries to bite you. Then, secondly, a deformed Dracula with more; slightly stronger; attacks, and more health. Thirdly a giant demon form, much stronger. The environment around him will go haywire and split apart when this happens. At this point, Alucard and the Belnades will join to help you bring down this monstrosity, which is obviously going to be difficult even with help, especially since you've been worn down by this point. Demon Dracula is a 10 foot tall or so demon somewhat similar to his Rondo form, i.e. the same general shape. His skin is a bloody red, and so you can see his veins bulging through. He has curved horns on the back of his head and all the way down his back, one either side of the spine over the roots of his wings, demonic and bat like. The arena is vast, with infinite horizons, a red and black sky with speeding clouds and thunder and lightning in the distance, the floor like a transparent layer of thin skin with blood and water running through randomly in all directions.

Demon Dracula will attack with both physical strength and magic, surprisingly speedy for his size, sometimes dashing about, similar to the Skeleton Knight boss in HoD. It has four fists to thrust punch with, and will open its wings sometimes when a character passes by its side, knocking them flying. Dracula will cast magic from his hands, like a huge amount of energy bolts which follow you or the other two around, trying to surround you and block you in. If all three of you get too close for too long he will resort to sending out shockwaves, which tear up the ground. Dracula will sometimes summon a heavy demonic sword to attack as well, executing wide spread combos. If you strike with a sword the same time he does, you'll enter a short button tap contest and lock swords. With his tail he will grab you and slam you against the ground or run you through with his sword, unless you escape. Dracula can pick you up and fly you high into the air then throw you down, unless you manage to escape first, and also in the air he will shoot spikes from wings as a long range attack, like the move the succubus uses in SotN. Demon Dracula also has a couple ridiculously powerful doomsday type attack, as you'd expect. While charging up, Dracula send out small explosions, then soon after lets out a colossal one, like that ones Walter and Death let out in LoI, only in all directions, since obviously Dracula isn't static and wants to hit all of you. The second great attack is where he floats in the sky, in a ball, or fetus-like position, summoning power and releasing small explosions before finally letting loose, distorting the air and the surroundings and summoning a meteor shower.

To make the battle more personal, sometimes the characters will communicate. Alucard will talk about Dracula as a father, Julius about the whip and the family curse, and the Belnades girl will talk about general retribution, and the lives Dracula has taken. Then of course Dracula will reply. Also, if someone is downed and another character is in very close proximity, they'll help the down person to his/her feet.

Boss: Soma.

For this battle, the only melee weapon you will have is the VK, as well as your sub-weapons. Though not other magic that you acquired in the game.

Soma will be able to use the fire sword from AoS, the Kaiser Knuckle and also one of the spears; it doesn't really matter which; for his melee weapons. With the fire sword and Kaiser Knuckle he will be able to do counter attacks, thanks in part to a particular soul he uses. He can do a couple of combos with each, including an uppercut, and moves once in the air, as well being able to swap between them instantaneously.

The Black Panther soul allows him to evade you and dash around you, and the Giant Bat soul allows him to turn into a bat and speed into you, much like that move in SotN that Alucard could do.

On top of that, he's got the Skull Archer soul, which he can use in very quick succession, the Ghost soul, which sends a few spirits after you, and the Mandragora soul, which sends out a shockwave and knocks you flying if you don't get away from him quickly enough.

Secret areas:

1.
Caverns of greed. Extra Boss: Galamoth. (Area accessible after obtaining the 3 emblems, which are scattered throughout the game. Perhaps found in the Castle keep, The Nature of Avarice, and Olrox's Quarters.) Connects to the Melodious Waterway, and leads deeper underground.
One of the two secret areas, this cavern lies deep below the castle. The place is wrecked, walls smashed with claw marks around from when Galamoth was brought down here, struggling like mad. Again, more water involved in some places, with this time many sparkling jewels set into the rock, treasure lying here and there, a wrecked pirate boat and the favoured giant boss from SotN. Speaks for itself really. I think obviously there would be stairs and platforms around the place so you can get to its head, since in 3D you don't have to keep its head where you can always see it, and it will be bigger.

The Galamoth battle takes place in a multi-storied circular tower (under ground still). There are three levels completely surrounding Galamoth, who is chained up, so it's a little bit like the battle with The Forgotten One, only you can move between layers as you wish. On the bottom layer, Galamoth will stamp on the ground, sending shockwaves out, doing this more frantically the longer you stay there, and lengthening his toe nails to spear you. On the second layer he will click his fingers to cast spells, and on the top layer will breathe a destructive breath and fire lasers from his eyes, becoming more aggravated the longer you stay there. Galamoth can also flood certain layers with evil energy, which looks like a transparent purple waves crackling with lightning; to allow him to recuperate at those places, and will hurt you if you go into it. For the second half of the battle, Galamoth will break from his restraints and ending balls of lighting after you exploding after a certain time, and crashing his staff down on you, shattering parts of the environment, which include a stab, a vertical attack, and when on the bottom and middle layers will spin 360 degrees with the staff, also trying to stamp on you a lot more. And quickly jab with his free fist. He will also summon lightning pillars from the air (connected to the ground) to follow you about. As well as that, he can head butt and bite, and breathe the evil energy that he used in the first part of the battle. One of his harder to dodge attacks is, quite literally, lighting rain from his staff (that's bolts, not "rain" drops). Since he's free from the chains, he'll also catch you unprepared by mixing up previous attacks, like kneeling down when you're on the ground floor and fire lasers at you.

If you beat both Cthulu and Galamoth, as an easter egg Julius will bring it up to Dracula when they meet for the last time in the hell realm; when talking about Dracula's insanity and greed he'll mention these two, about how he could have disposed of them both with help from Death and others. But wanted to wait till he was powerful enough to do it all by himself.

2.
Infinite tower. Boss: None.
This is the other secret area, this is only accessible by smashing down the concrete "door" with a larger weapon like warhammer, for example, and connects to the very edge of the chapel. A save room and teleporter at the top and bottom and 25 entirely different looking floors in between featuring an onslaught of powerful enemies. On the 26th floor are a couple of invaluable items and another spectacular view of the castle. One point here: let's not have all the rooms exactly the same this time, so that we fall asleep half way there, or feel the urge to put a fist through the screen. A little craziness wouldn't hurt anyone inside Dracula's castle so they could try to mix it up a bit with totally unrelated designs.


Platforming and level design

Right, an important one, obviously. I know the N64 games had platforming but from what I've seen they didn't get a good balance. There seemed to be hardly any fighting monsters in those. And then the last gen titles did it wrong in a different way. Lament showed some potential but there wasn't much there, and Curse had all but no platforming in favour of….well, nothing. Remember, the important thing is for it to feel natural to an extent, so in other words you don't turn a corner in a corridor to find a random block for you to jump on to get to someplace. Obviously there can be some leniencies though, since you can just pass some things off as a sick joke on Dracula's part.

I'm not sure of any other way to do this other than go through the areas again, since that seems efficient to me. So that's what I'll do.

Castle corridor: To be honest, not an awful lot is needed here, but I suppose you could swing yourselves on the chandeliers, since I think the LoI whip platforming should return. Whip swinging needs to be fully utilised in this game.

Divine library: Bookcases. Obviously. There can also be some ladders going up bookcases which you climb or move from the bottom if you push it, or whip it or whatever. I suppose the poles to swing your whip can be included somehow. In fact, unless I specify otherwise, assume from now on that there going to be poles and things to swing on. I will also say if there's a pole-type-thing that I feel like pointing out, and if you think it's obvious, too bad I guess.

Haunting forest: Well there are the branches for one thing. There can be lots of swinging involved here, and simple jumping when there are big trees that have thick branches.

City in Flames: Lots of buildings are falling apart here, preferably in front of you. There's nothing like seeing buildings crash to the ground and making your way up and around the rubble to progress. I guess there can also be some things that only work once otherwise they'll look stupid. Like jumping up and using a lamp post to swing over a pile of rubble. Course, if you see a lamp post elsewhere, feel free to swing on it, even if it gets you nowhere. This is a good area for secret areas to be….secret. Or hard to spot, I suppose. Just try lots of jumping over things and even hitting smaller piles of rubble to smash it apart. Later on if you come back there will be rain and the fires will be starting to go out. It would break my heart to see that fire there the whole game without doing anything to the town whatsoever, apart from what you've already seen. So the easy way out is to simply extinguish it! The buildings will be very weak at this point, so you can smash some apart with a hammer and find some secret items.

Melodious waterway: I've already explained this one a bit, but again this can be a platform heavy area (with lots of enemies too mind. No stopping that). This can involve lots of jumping and grabbing hold of ledges. There can even be a route on one side of the big waterfall room to climb up.

Castle Cloisters: Not much can be done here, admittedly. Unless it's made into….NOT a cloister. But then it wouldn't be a cloister. It's not a very long are anyway, so this doesn't present much of a problem.

Unholy chapel: This is a good chance to add some pole swinging here, as long as it makes sense. There are lots of stairs too (I'll make another mention to this sort of thing at the end of this section).Some of the stairs are broken down the middle so there's just some simple timed jumps required here. You can also jump between bells in the bell towers. If you need to swing them, hit them with a heavy weapon at the base of the bell.

Forgotten wasteland: Umm. Well you can always skip between pillars to get over some very steep sand dunes or quick sand (with a sort of…. high bank on one side or something). Other than that there's not much that I can think of.

Peak of Darkness: Well this is obvious. It's a mountain, and yeah, I know most people don't jump to climb up mountains, but this is Castlevania, so deal with it. Apart from being steep there can be lots of leaping for ledges higher up like in the waterway, and then there'll be avalanches to dodge, and canyons jutted into the mountain, though I added that in the last section.

The Nature of Avarice: Well you're going down….so no there won't be much platforming. However, if you find yourself having to come back up, you will have to do some simple jumping and whip swinging. Some of Dracula's treasures in the side rooms will be high up too, for obvious reasons, so you'll need to work a little to get to them.

Olrox's Quarters: There will be similar sorts of platforming to the Castle corridor. There'll be chandeliers here, and mantels to climb up and possibly a few smashed up places in the floor to jump over. There'll obviously be a chance for some good platforming in that tall courtyard of his too.

Clock tower: Now this is a good one, since here you get to run along moving cogs and gears, both ones on their sides and ones that are flat. And then if we take it to the next level and actually have clocks, of all shapes and sizes. In the tower, simple things like jumping on clocks can be allowed too.

Castle keep: For this one there will be lots of stairs and large rooms with ledges to climb up round the edges to get onto big pillars in the middle (like in PoR, where there are giant goblet things. Basically ornamental, normally, only a Belmont likes to climb things, so I say we let him. I was also thinking there could be ledges like in this one bit in SotN. It's near the beginning of the game, right above where you first meet death. It'll have walkways that have collapsed in the middle, so that you're crossing over places you've already (or haven't, occasionally), only you're higher up, and nearer to the throne room. Really, though, this is a very combat-centric area.

Palace of the Damned: Anything! Climbing stairs of water, jumping between half shattered pillars, jumping over blocks over a lava river (unless you've got a fire ring or something that will protect you from fire). This is an excellent chance to go crazy with the platforming.

Caverns of Greed: Well in here all you need to do is jump big gaps that have given way…for whatever reason. There'll be lots of stalagmites on the ground too, and stalactites on the ceiling that can be hit and damage enemies if you find some beneath them.

Infinite tower: Well you can jump from the top….if that counts. To proceed up some floors you'll also have to go outside and climb round the outside, which should mix it up enough.

So there you are, platforming done. There are a few more things though, that I'd like to get cleared up. A high jump could be made too, perhaps done by a certain input in mid air. A wall kick would be nice too.

Secondly, this isn't to do with platforming specifically, but I'd just like to say that the developers shouldn't shy away from making stairs, and making the ground not all flat. I mean, what were Dracula and Walter thinking? Were they flattening the ground for road works or something? Let's see some


Other Things

Don't be fooled. The title might not be the most imaginative in the world but I want to make some random yet important points here that don't really fit in the other sections.

• A new game plus feature, which previous 3D games have lacked. It's not entirely necessary, but even so, it rounds off the whole package just that little bit more.
• Simple things to make it more friendly to the player, like an option to restart at the last save point at the game over screen, and cutscenes that can be skipped and paused.
• The story should be excellently presented in the cutscenes, with top-notch voice acting (Adam D. Clark, Crispin Freeman and that lark of talented VAs, plus more), interesting dialogue, and some fast paced action here and there, which surely would only enhance the experience.
• Being able to run faster than Hector would be nice. Leon ran at a sufficient speed, but I'm guessing Hector had a tumour or something nasty inside him that was slowing him down. And how about the return of the falcon claw from LoI, where you do a flying kick back to the ground if you press X after a double jump.
• Simple touches like specialising the save rooms and teleporters would be nice. Like in the forest area there could be ivy creeping round the save statue or tree roots poking through the teleporter room (assuming it's in a room).
• Unlockable Alucard and Belnades games? They don't need to have as many cutscenes as Julius does, but still, some proper unlockables would great. And difficulties that aren't harder only artificially (*cough*level capping*cough*).
• Actually, now that I think about it, I don't think you should be able to carry a million health items. They got the right idea in CoD. Maybe 5 potions max, 3 high potions and 1 super potion at any one time.
• Yamane to compose the music, since she did a brilliant job with LoI. My original intention was to have Kojima do the art, since that poor anime that's been utilised as of late does not fit with this game at all, but now I think I want someone else entirely. The end.

No, really…the end. THIS is how a 3D Castlevania should be. Let's have a good story, that bears significance, a graphics engine that isn't based on one of Konami's worst games, that allows for dynamic lighting and thus enhance the atmosphere, actual platforming, better combat, and corridors that don't stretch on for hours only to end to read you "now do it again".

-Matt-


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