When Konami first announced support for the Dreamcast in early October, it conjured up images of DC versions of its greatest titles - Metal Gear, Contra, Castlevania, etc. We've learned that Konami of America, not one of its Japanese development teams, is in fact working on Castlevania for the Dreamcast.
Details are sketchy, but we've found out from a source closely connected to the development team that Konami is planning a fourth-quarter '99 release, and that the game features a total of 80 different monsters. The team was working on a separate Dreamcast title called Dragon but was moved to the Castlevania project last spring, headed up by the team leader of Broken Helix (who has since left the company). Now, many of the people who originally worked on Bottom of the Ninth, including the game's new lead, have been brought over to work on it.
However, there may be some trouble brewing inside the development of Castlevania Dreamcast, dubbed "Cancelvania" by insiders. A team of about a dozen people is working on the game, small for a project of this magnitude. Some of the development staff were moved from Konami's Illinois offices. According to our source, those staffers moved from Illinois signed a contract saying that they would not leave the company for a year - and if they did, would be charged moving expenses. That contract ends Nov. 1, and we've been told some members from both the Castlevania and Survivor: Day One teams are planning to jump ship.
Our source told us that the feeling at Konami of America is that even though the Japanese teams make great games, the people in charge at the US offices don't have a clue.
Castlevania is a project that fans will be instantly critical of if it doesn't live up to the standards set by the original titles. Konami has tried handing off one of its signature Japanese titles (Contra) to an outside developer before, and that did not meet with critical success. Konami of America would not confirm which titles are being developed for the Dreamcast (just that it is a licensee), nor would it offer comment on any reported problems with the development of said titles.
Does this all mean that Castlevania on the Dreamcast is doomed to failure? No. It is a very ambitious task, but if done right, we could all be playing a fantastic version of Castlevania next fall. At GameSpot News, we hope that it comes through.