Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin (Konami)

The Castlevania series is one of the longest running and respected in all of gaming. Since it’s debut on the NES in 1986, Konami’s hammer horror inspired games have featured in all console generations (barring the current) on a multitude of consoles in various incarnations. The series saw it’s biggest deviation from it’s classic formula in 1997 when Toru Hagihara and one Koji Igarashi introduced non-linear exploration and character progression – gaming elements that hadn’t been seen in the traditionally formulaic 2D action platforming series, but utlised to dramatic effect in Nintendo’s Super Metroid.

Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin is the second installment in the trilogy of affectionately known ‘igavania’ games released om the Nintendo DS between 2005-2008 and I’ve recently gotten back into it – a game I had started playing last year. Portrait of ruin is a deviation from the previous title, and one of the best in the series, Dawn of Sorrow in that you can switch between 2 characters, Jonathan and Charlotte, or have them both appear on the screen simultaneously – the computer commands the character you are not currently in control of. As the game progresses, both protagonists level up at the same time and gain different weapons and items independent of one another. While Jonathan provides the brawn, utlising a vast array of main and secondary weapons, Charlotte is on supporting/assist/offensive magic duties, some of which can completely alter the direction of the story, and, ultimately, the games progression…

I’m defintely having fun with Portrait of Ruin and although it’s not quite on the same level as Dawn of Sorrow, it has mechanics of it’s own that deserve appreciation.

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