TGS 2005: Castlevania: Curse of Darkness Updated Hands-On

Konami's showing off a new version of its latest vampire-hunting action game at the Tokyo Game Show, and we sunk our fangs in.


Castlevania: Curse of Darkness

TOKYO--The latest entry in the Castlevania series, Curse of Darkness, is only a couple of months away from release now, and we went hands-on at the Tokyo Game Show with an updated build to check out some of the action later in the game. Curse of Darkness casts you as Hector, formerly one of Dracula's most trusted lieutenants who eventually turned against his dark master and helped bring about the vampire lord's downfall. Hector will fight against the remnants of Dracula's forces with a host of innocent devils, which are monstrous allies that will fight alongside you (one at a time) against the hordes of creatures still left inside the dark one's castle.

The roughly 10-minute demo on hand at TGS equipped Hector with the same sword we've seen him using in the other builds we've played previously. Luckily, there were several new innocent devils that we hadn't gotten to spend much time with before. One was a giant suit of armor wielding a massive sword, which was useful for hacking through enemies en masse. But just after the demo began, we traded in this big bruiser for a bird that hovered nearby as we fought through waves of skeletons, bipedal lizards, and big purple ogre-looking things with clubs. The bird familiar was good at attacking enemies quickly and then darting away, and it also came packing a special attack that sent a flurried stream of arrows flying at whichever enemy we targeted.

Our avian friend was short-lived in the demo, however, as we soon encountered a magic-equipped innocent devil that looked strangely like a flying version of Final Fantasy's classic black mage. This guy had a bevy of useful powers. In addition to his regular projectile attack, he had a time freeze power that we could use at will to stop all the enemies in the area in their tracks so we could slash them up at our leisure. The floating wizard also had a lightning attack that struck all the nearby targets at the same time for considerable damage.

This particular innocent devil came in handy when we encountered the boss of the demo, a hulking dragon that breathed fire, swung its tail, and generally did its best to do us in. As per the Castlevania standard, all of your innocent devils' special attacks will consume hearts, and while heart power-ups are plentiful when you're fighting regular enemies, we didn't get any at all while taking on the dragon. So while your innocent devils will certainly help you out in most combat situations, don't expect them to do all the legwork for you. At most, you can count on your ally to soften up the harder enemies a bit before you get in with your weapon and start doing the real damage.

The Curse of Darkness demo we got to try out today was consistent with what we've played of the game previously, with what seems like a pretty robust combat model--we managed to pull off a number of different sword combos just in the first few minutes, using the two available attack buttons. We also saw a nice variety of innocent devils, and each had its own strengths and weaknesses. It seems as though your choice of devil in a given situation will be important, giving the game a bit more strategy than your average hack-and-slash game. We'll be curious to see exactly how much depth is in the game when it ships in November on the PS2 and Xbox. Stay tuned.

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