At a distance Portrait of Ruin smells good. But when you give it a bite it isn't really that tasty.

User Rating: 5.5 | Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin DS
The Good: Great replay value since it's a long-lasting adventure (with many unlockables to go for besides a whole bunch of items); amazing soundtrack, well worthy of the tradition of Castlevania's melodies; good animation, especially in Dual Crush moves and in some boss battles.

The Bad: Replay value is all based on doing the same things over and over; stupid dialogue, and story/plot running faster than it should; stretched rooms just to make a bigger castle.

This new installment in the Castlevania series has the right ingredients: two different characters to switch between or to play together, a huge map to explore, many--really, many--items to get, relics to collect, side quests to solve, skills to learn and master, a superb soundtrack, and good animation/voice acting. So, after all, what's wrong with PoR? The problem is that under all this stuff rests buried a lazy production.

The main question is about the replay value. OK, it may last for weeks or months, but what for? By unlocking some features you can play with other characters and under new difficult levels... the same game. Many--really, many--times. You can also spend your time mastering your skills to become more powerful; but in fact it means: killing thousands (literally) enemies with the same weapon. Many--really, many--times. And still there's a bad feeling about the level design. Seems like the map was filled with huge empty rooms just to bump the castle's size up (Iga--producer--said in an interview about the time the game was being made that "PoR's castle will be 50% bigger than DoS's castle"... Sounds like just a goal to achieve).

The game has its qualities, and there are many: astounding melodies and sound effects, good gameplay with the partnership system (though more skill combinations could have been allowed, like Dual Crushes while under effect of Clear Skies, for instance), and some welcome fresh air given to old enemies as The Creature, Werewolf, Medusa or even Dracula himself. But Castlevania fans should deserve a little more, especially when you have Dawn of Sorrow as a cheaper AND better option.