Review – Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia (DS)

Developer/Publisher: Konami
Year: 2008
Fun Fact: the 10th Castlevania game released this decade (I think)

There’s been a handheld Castlevania game every single year since 2001 (counting the GBA port of the original NES game) but Order of Ecclesia is the BEST, which is quite an accomplishment given the extremely high regard and ratings the other releases have received. The latest release, starring fair, amnesiac maiden Shonoa, takes some of the strongest elements of past Castlevania games and combines them into an airtight new game.

Introduced in Ecclesia is a world map, breaking somewhat from the strict Metroidvania setup of most of Castlevania outings since 1997. The world map works more or less like you’d expect allowing the player to move freely from one area to another. The areas are unveiled over the course of the game and provide a wide variety. Some areas are basically straightforward action levels similar to what one might expect from pre-1997 Castlevanias. Others require more exploration and treasure-hunting. In other words, if you love the Metroidvania playing style, it’s still here, but it’s not the exclusive design idea.

The game features all of the RPG elements of recent Castlevanias, as well as side quests that seem somewhat Zelda-ish, as in inane little errands performed by request. Some of these side jaunts will reward the player with useful items, while some seem less worthwhile. Magic Points are included and every single offensive maneuver uses some of them but, thankfully, they auto-replenish. The items that use most of the magic are ‘glyphs’ aka weapons. Glyphs are somewhat similar to previous Castlevania ideas in that many of them are dropped by enemies and provide some new ability. The glyphs are equipped just like weapons and used in the same manner. Various glyphs can be combined for abilities and especially strong attacks. Some can also affect performance and status – my favorite allows Shonoa to move at seriously fast speeds.

Unlike most of the Koji Igarashi-produced Castlevania titles, Ecclesia is actually difficult! I died many, many times at the hands of bosses, especially. In fact, it was equipment that got me through the final boss fights more than my stats. Along with the surprisingly high difficulty level is a surprisingly high-quality story. It’s not epic but it makes some sense and offers something more than the ‘some jerk wants to resurrect Dracula’ line.

Grade: A+
Conclusion: Get it!


New Castlevania Order of Ecclesia trailer begs you to buy

This is the brand new TGS 08 trailer for the upcoming Castlevania Order of Ecclesia on the DS. If this video does not convince you to buy the game later this month than nothing will. Great soundtrack as usual, screen filling sprite based enemies (without slowdown? I’m sold) and a fresh take on the series introducing a very heavy emphasis on magic rather than weapons, as well as a quicker “sling-like” navigation through levels. I believe the DS Castlevania games are among some of the finest 2D games in recent memory and Ecclesia seems to not disappoint in this regard.

Shanoa gets busy in the ‘Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia’ trailer

The new Castlevania for DS got a Japan release date for October 23rd. Considering we got Portrait of ruin just a couple of weeks after its release in Japan, its safe to say we will see Ecclesia arriving sometime in November. In the new trailer Shanoa (the new female lead character) shows off a lot of her magic spells, as well as just a few quick seconds of a “werepanther” transformation. The huge enemy sprites look amazing with tons of detail, stages look varied, taking us out of the castle corridors (check out that ship wreck level!). Last but not least the music is catchy and great as usual, expect yet another killer soundtrack.

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