Castlevania Judgment Hands-On

A cast of characters from past and present Castlevania games come together in this Wii-exclusive fighter.

Simon Belmont has come a long way since his first 8-bit appearance on the Nintendo back in 1986. It's been 22 years since this franchise made its debut, and Belmont's battle with Dracula continues in Castlevania Judgment. Veering away from the 2D action platformer that the series is known for, Castlevania Judgment is a 3D fighting game, complete with over-the-top finishing moves. We've had a couple of opportunities to crack Simon's whip back at the Electronic Entertainment Expo and the Tokyo Game Show, but now we can delve further into the gameplay modes to play with the cast that has been handpicked from previous Castlevania games.

Grant is like a really flexible mummy.

Koji Igarashi, the producer who has worked on the franchise for the past 10 years, has stated in interviews that he doesn't view Castlevania Judgment as a fighting game, but as a "3D versus action game." Despite what he says, it still looks a fighter, but it's a very simplistic one. In short bursts, the Wii Remote controls are decent, but if you're looking for precise timing and long-term play (because it can get tiring), using a GameCube controller or Wii Classic Controller is also an option--as well as a welcome one.

You'll have the opportunity to see whether the Wii Remote works for you when you play through the tutorial and try to nail the combos. The lessons are split among beginner, intermediate, and advanced so you don't necessarily need to master the advanced moves before jumping right into it. Using the Nunchuk, you control your character's movement, while the C button allows you to jump and double-jump, depending on the character. You need to shake the Wii Remote to execute a normal attack, so you can imagine how much shaking you're going to need to do. Shaking it continuously will yield a combo, and you can hold the B button for a more powerful attack or the Z button to execute a move that can't be blocked. The Z button is used to guard when you're not on the offensive, but because you can't move while you have your guard up, the other option for avoiding an attack is to dodge by shaking the Nunchuk.

The fighting mechanics aren't complicated, considering each character will bust out with his or her specialty move with the same set of button presses and waggling. Your "Super Finisher" move--which comes with an animated cutscene that you can't skip--can be activated with one button, as long as your skill gauge is full. There are no fancy combinations to remember, and it really boils down to which character's skill set you enjoy the most. The hulking Golem is ridiculously slow, but he can take a whip in the face better than anyone else. We liked using Maria because her owl would allow her to float in the air for a short time, which enabled you to control her while she attacks. For the whip-wielding characters, such as Belmont, once you unleash your combo, you better hope you hit your target; because if you miss, you're leaving yourself completely defenseless. Carmilla, a character who received quite a makeover, handled well and was quite nimble in her killer stilettos. The lack of clothing might have something to do with her quick movement and flexibility, but regardless of that, she had some powerful attacks, reeling in her enemies from a distance. What doesn't work well, unfortunately, is the camera, which seems to have a mind of its own. There are times when you are completely blocked by objects in the area or your opponent. The areas can be fairly large, so it's not very helpful when your view is being obstructed.

Is that Jaws in the background?

To give the game that Castlevania feel--instead of being another gothic-themed fighter--you'll have familiar-looking subweapons to use, such as daggers, holy water, axes, a cross, and a stopwatch. Using these subweapons will cost you hearts, which can be picked up in stages by breaking open barrels. There are several game modes as well, even though most of them require you to do the same thing--defeat your opponent. There's a Story mode for each character, which allows you to learn more about each one, as well as unlock new characters to play. If you don't want to deal with the talking, the Arcade mode pits you against the computer, and you'll simply fight one opponent after another. Castle mode is a series of objectives that you need to meet as you traverse through Dracula's domain. You'll have to meet requirements, such as performing a 6-hit combo or defeating your opponent using your subweapon. As you progress, you can customize your characters with the unlockable items and accessories you gain. You can play against a friend in Versus mode or go online using Nintendo's Wi-Fi Connection. If you're really good, you can see how long you last in Survival mode, which is where you try to take out as many people as you can without losing.

We already saw Simon, Alucard, Maria, and a few others the last time we checked out the game. We are now able to complete the character roster after spending some time playing with the rest of the human and nonhuman cast. They include: Grant Danasty (Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse), Trevor Belmont (Dracula's Curse and Castlevania: Curse of Darkness), Sypha Belnades (Dracula's Curse), Carmilla (Castlevania II: Simon's Quest), Cornell (Castlevania: Legacy of Darkness), and Golem (Castlevania: Rondo of Blood).

It might surprise Castlevania fans to learn that the character designs are done by Takeshi Obata, the artist for the manga series, Death Note. Simon sheds his rugged appearance and barbarian boots to go for something a little more revealing, as well as elaborate. Obata's anime art style is very apparent in all the characters, giving them a more elegant (and slightly feminine) feel. Simon might even sport a classy, baby-blue top hat because you can customize your character with accessories from the main menu. Each stage offers a unique experience, especially when there are stage hazards to avoid. The clock tower is surprisingly roomy, given that you're running on top of moving gears, and the torture chamber is full of traps to avoid. If you want an even playing field, you have the option to turn the special effects off. The levels, for the most part, are sinister and gloomy, which is fitting for the Castlevania universe. The opening cinematic is very well done, and it's too bad that the rest of the animation that we came across didn't look like it. The music was enjoyable, setting the tone and atmosphere with a mix of haunting melodies, as well as triumphant tunes, all riddled with mystery. Music tracks and artwork can be accessed through the gallery as you unlock them.

Carmilla is remarkably agile for someone who is… top heavy.

Castlevania Judgment is certainly a different take on the beloved franchise and one that hopes to appeal to a wider audience. The simple controls will make it more accessible, plus the character designs are detailed and attractive--as long as you're not too hung up on how the characters looked before. As an added bonus, if you own Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia on the DS, you can also unlock a couple of characters automatically. Be sure to take a look at our gameplay videos to see how the action unfolds. We'll be checking out the game in greater detail once the game ships on November 18.

Written By

Want the latest news about Castlevania Judgment?

Castlevania Judgment

Castlevania Judgment

Follow

Discussion

56 comments
Evilnator
Evilnator

Well, you see, shaking the controller is optional, you should be able to use ur controllers from GCN, or the classic controller.. but waht did they do to cornell?

noah10
noah10

looks pretty cool,but I don't know if shaking the wii remote will be cool,or sortu bad.

alfaomega
alfaomega

this sux, they screw this game!!

Lennah
Lennah

I don't know...I like Castlevania and I like fight games...but together??

beamme
beamme

First of all, does not like the new Alucard or Grant design.Second, not much hope for this one. Now I wouldn't mind a Castlevania fighting game, and I've definetly played enough of them to get a kick out of seeing all those chars duke it out. In fact on paper this sounds awesome to me, but it's obvious it's not executed well enough which is a sad thing. Heh, who knows I might still pick it up, but I'll reckon I'll regret it.

CrimsonKnight52
CrimsonKnight52

I miss the classic 2D Castlevania games. You know, the ones that this game is attempting to vomit all over.

Daruki
Daruki

@nintmanag: Brawl is not a fighting game. It's a party game. :U

g1rldraco7
g1rldraco7

I wasn't gong to buy this game, but since it has a werewolf in it, I will buy it.

Wolfbane21
Wolfbane21

Since Cornell is in this, I WILL BUY!!

danwarecritic
danwarecritic

From the screenshots it seems that Castlevania's subweapons will be a part of the game. They should include Hector from Curse of Darkness. That would be cool.

wogboypaul
wogboypaul

what have they done to castlevania.. im definatley NOT getting this

dannyaugust
dannyaugust

It seems as always that the Wii is being bashed. With all due respect, the system needs to have kudos. Nintendo has been labeled as a "Kids" gaming system since the GameCube. Pending the third party support. The Wii strikes gold with this exclusive title and there is only brash comments. I agree with maxgil2 that there are plenty of good fighting games on the Wii. Anything from Mortal Kombat to Guilty Gears to Soul Caliber Legends. Yes, the control schemes for the titles are not a series of button moves along with direction slides. I frankly detest playing online with players that spend too much time playing. I do not give a majority of my time to fighting titles but when I do, I do like to have a challenge, not a slaughter. I believe this will be a solid title, "fighter" or not. I believe it will appeal to all gamers.

maxgil2
maxgil2

Hope its good, but from the above preview it doesn't sound too good...I dislike the "simple" conotation ..means either its just gonna be a button smasher or in this case lots of Wiimote shaking..but fingers cross that it will be good ..to the guy that says there's no good fighitng games on Wii, played Guilty Gear? I wish ppl would stop using Smash Bros Bawl as an example of a good fighting game, cos its just an ok fighting game...its not what you call a good fighter.

Lisandro_v22
Lisandro_v22

It seems to be more suited for a regular controller than a wiimote, I hate to say this but if this game was good enough to sell in other systems they wouldn't have released it on Wii, don't misunderstand me I don't have anything about wii but the lack of mature games seems like it will be the sole motivation for customers to buy this game, I wouldn't be excited about this game even if I had seen it 4 years ago for my ps2, but now that I'm feeling the abstinence (I only have a wii) I don't wonder why some wii owners will get it.

duhsbo
duhsbo

I hope Konami learn a thing or two with this game for a future 3D Real Castlevania...

DJ_5
DJ_5

Looking forward to this

oblivionownn
oblivionownn

I cant wait till this game proves everyone wrong about how bad it is.

nintmanag
nintmanag

" Hormov13 Posted Nov 9, 2008 6:19 am GMT This Game Looks Retarded. Lets face it there is absolutely NO GOOD FIGHTING GAMES OF THE WII AND THERE WILL NEVER BE ANY GOOD FIGHTING GAMES ON THE WII." *cough* Brawl. *cough* I think I've made my point. I'm willing to give this a chance, if they fix up the shoddy animation I saw in the E3 video, and they perhaps put a bit more depth (not to mention an extra non motion-related control scheme) into the game play.

Hormov13
Hormov13

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

cytheh
cytheh

@LinkLuigi: There's a castlevania game under development for ps3/xbox360, surely, that must be a 3d castlevnia game :D let's hope it will be as good as the 3 in NDS

LinkLuigi
LinkLuigi

Seriously, I think that the Castlevania franchise is strong enough to experiment. To the fool that said it has fallen as far as Sonic, you need to play more recent Castlevania games. I think that the franchise as a whole is sucessful enough to dwelve in unknown waters. This game has promise, it seems good from the previews alone, and if it is sucessful enough, it will be safe enough to try more 3D Castlevania games.

stAmbrosius
stAmbrosius

i was realy hoping for Carrie Fernandez and Charlie Vincent, the greatest vampire-hunter ever.

aquajet16
aquajet16

So basically this will be like SE FF Dissidia? I wonder we got a lot of spin-offs nowadays...

JetMonkeyking
JetMonkeyking

@ nintendofanjp Because Carmilla looks almost EXACTLY like Ivy

nintendofanjp
nintendofanjp

I love Castlevania and the idea of this game but why does it look like a Soulcalibur clone?

ivanfred
ivanfred

phase4illini: ...it's almost a little crazy for me to say this (giving EA's past), but Capcom needs to take a few notes from EA's recent Dead Space and realize that it's completely possible to get back to making an outstanding 3-D action-thriller, something Castlevania would be well suited to become. Either that or stick with the tried, true, and outstanding 2-D Symphony of the Night format. ============================= I was about to suggest that everyone play this game when it is released before bashing it. Then I read your post and realized that the Wii does indeed need a game like Dead Space. At the moment Resident Evil 4 is the only quality atmospheric game that Wii owners can play. Komami might be able to earn a lot of money if it takes a chance and makes a Castlevania game that is similar to Dead Space and Resident Evil 4. In fact, Konami should take a page from Square and do both a fighting game and a genuine Castlevania game. This is nothing more than consumer dribble.

Toro_Nev
Toro_Nev

I hope this game turns out good!!!!

Yomigaeru
Yomigaeru

flywheels, Eric Lecarde is indeed in this game. As for me, the only Castlevania I really didn't like was Castlevania 64. For better or worse, I'm willing to go ahead and buy this, regardless of what the "professionals' have to say about it.

SUPER_FLY_
SUPER_FLY_

this has flop written all over it

taddia
taddia

phase4illini said: Posted Nov 6, 2008 10:05 am PT Sad that Castlevania has fallen this far. The series seems to be going the way of Sonic... with random spin-offs like this. I think it's almost a little crazy for me to say this (giving EA's past), but Capcom needs to take a few notes from EA's recent Dead Space and realize that it's completely possible to get back to making an outstanding 3-D action-thriller, something Castlevania would be well suited to become. Either that or stick with the tried, true, and outstanding 2-D Symphony of the Night format. This is nothing more than consumer dribble. ------------------------------------- Oo not so many castlevania's spin off in the market.. + its a konami series, not capcom 8) At any rate, im unsure about this game. Companies just wants to use the wiimote waggling at all costs, even when its usage feels like being forced inside a game. This game could turn out to be so much deep and complex if they focues on using the classic controls. don't u all think is a waste to throw such a nice detailed graph in the bucket, with a gummy gameplay?

SmartGhost
SmartGhost

stil have the Ds series and ill rent this

Dualmask
Dualmask

flywheels - I remember seeing the name "Eric" in one of the screen shots. Could be Eric Lecarde from Bloodlines/Portrait of Ruin. I personally have no opinion as to whether the development of this game was a good idea or not. I can only hope it turns out well. I will add it to my Gamefly queue with skepticism.

phase4illini
phase4illini

Sad that Castlevania has fallen this far. The series seems to be going the way of Sonic... with random spin-offs like this. I think it's almost a little crazy for me to say this (giving EA's past), but Capcom needs to take a few notes from EA's recent Dead Space and realize that it's completely possible to get back to making an outstanding 3-D action-thriller, something Castlevania would be well suited to become. Either that or stick with the tried, true, and outstanding 2-D Symphony of the Night format. This is nothing more than consumer dribble.

amillionhp
amillionhp

"not really a castlevania to me.. They should do 2D SOTN style again." Yeah, you're right. We don't have enough of those at all. There has only been like what, 5 or 6 more SOTN clones plus a brand new one that just came out. But you totally hit the nail on the head. We still need a lot more....

senjutsu
senjutsu

not really a castlevania to me.. They should do 2D SOTN style again.

shadowblade99
shadowblade99

I'm hoping that this game isn't another trusted franchise turned Wii flop like Soulcaliber Legends.

jadefury27
jadefury27

this is such an odd move. i hope it pays off for konami in the end. i probably won't buy it till it hits $20 though.

flywheels
flywheels

I'm reserving judgment (no pun intended) until I get a chance to play, but it looks like it'll be fun. Like the cast of characters, though were is the cast from Bloodlines?!

CamiKitten
CamiKitten

I'm still so unsure! I love the Castlevania franchise, but I'm scared for this game. Plz don't flop!

Metamania
Metamania

I'm also a fan of fighting games as well and I don't know much about this title. It does look interesting and sound interesting, so I'll give it a shot.

King9999
King9999

As a fan of fighting games, I'm not sure about this one. But Iga himself doesn't view this game as a fighter, so maybe I'm approaching it the wrong way. I don't like the character designs.

angelkadaj
angelkadaj

I don't know if this is gonna be a good game. Castlevania are pretty good, but this?

EchoEcho
EchoEcho

"ilidiandemon: I don't care if it will be good or horrible... I'm getting it! Because I'm a big Castlevania Fan and I buy any crap they release :P" Well, I'm glad you like crap then, because that's all this is: a steaming pile. This is an insult to longtime Castlevania fans, in my humble opinion. I'd love a fighting game using Castlevania characters. But all this is, is a shallow, over-simplified button-masher, and it doesn't even have Castlevania characters. What it does have, are the characters' names slapped onto horrible redesigns that bear next to no resemblance to the original characters. Shame on Konami for even thinking of this garbage.

angelbless
angelbless

I cant wait... hope that camera doesnt become a problem.

ilidiandemon
ilidiandemon

I don't care if it will be good or horrible... I'm getting it! Because I'm a big Castlevania Fan and I buy any crap they release :P But I only do that because Konami rarely (totaly) desapoint us with the serie. Ecclesia rules, that one should too!!! I can't wait anymore!