TOKYO--Castlevania Judgment marks a new genre for the Castlevania universe: head-to-head fighting. Set in familiar grim, gothic arenas, notable characters from the series' past battle it out in melee combat controlled by accessible Wii controls. We spent some time in Konami's booth at the 2008 Tokyo Game Show checking out the latest build of the game, and we've got updated impressions on the technical performance, as well as info on newly announced characters.
When we played Judgment at E3, there were only four announced characters: Simon Belmont, Maria Renard, Alucard, and Dracula. This time around there was a new playable character on the roster, as well as a number of familiar faces showcased in a dramatic trailer. Death was the new playable character, a skeletal fellow who danced on pointed, bony legs and attacked with a formidable staff. A series regular, Death has eschewed the Grim Reaper's cloak for a sleeker, more battle-ready look that still managed to give us the heebie-jeebies. Other characters that were featured in the trailer but not in the game proper include Shanoa (heroine of the upcoming DS game Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia), Eric Lecarde (who has appeared in both human and ghost form in previous games), and Aeon (a new character who plays a similar role to Shang Tsung from Mortal Kombat, summoning all the fighters to compete in battle). This accounts for eight of the purported 14 characters in the game.
The new build seemed smoother and the characters moved with more speed, giving the whole game a livelier feel. There was still some graphical imprecision, especially in busier stages, but on the whole this version felt like a good improvement on the E3 build. We also caught a quick glimpse of a character battling a giant minotaur, perhaps indicating a challenge that goes beyond mere one-on-one combat. Castlevania Judgment is slated for release this November, so check back soon for updated impressions and character announcements as that date approaches.