Castlevania delivers yet again on DS.

User Rating: 8 | Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin DS
Hi, I'm here to review Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin.

Graphics: This game is yet another awesome looking 2d sidescroller on DS. It carries on the series tradition of great animation, strong artistic design and being all around fun to look at. The monsters are cool looking, everything animates smoothly, and there are some really cool 3d backgrounds at times. There is really not much more to say, besides that this game (and the other DS Castlevanias) proves that 2d can't die. 10/ 10

Sound: The sound is probably one of the most disappointing aspects of the game. The effects are well and good, and there are some good ones. There is also a bit of voice acting, which, for the most part, is well done and sometimes funny. However, one area that Castlevania always delivers in is the music, and the music in this game is not as good as other entries in the series. Don't get me wrong; it's very good, and there are a few catchy tracks, but this Castlevania has the weakest soundtrack of the ones on DS. There just aren't as many standout tunes. Like I said, it's decent, and there are some good tracks, but it just isn't as good as other games in the series. 7/ 10

Story: Jonathan, a vampire hunter, and Charlotte, a witch, go to Dracula's castle, which has risen, because of all of the tormented souls. (This game is set in WWII.) There is a mysterious head of the castle who paints pictures and can make them come to life. Meanwhile, Jonathan can't use Vampire Killer, because he is of the Morris bloodline, not Belmont. Things aren't looking good. The story is decent by series standards, and has some interesting twists. There are also some good characters, with lots of personality. I really can't go into any further detail without spoiling anything for you, so I won't. 8/ 10

Gameplay: This is largely the same gameplay as in Dawn of Sorrow. You go around a huge castle, exploring rooms and finding new places, while fighting monsters and leveling up in an RPG style manner. However, there is a new twists to this game: the Portraits. After exploring around the castle, you find portraits that you can enter into. Each one is a different themed level, which gives the game some good variety. However, something that's disappointing is that, in the last third of the game, the levels become similar to earlier ones, which kind of gives you a feeling of Déjà vu. But, each one has its own boss at the end, and there are some great ones in this game. They are challenging, but rarely feel unfair or cheap. With a little thought and practice, you'll be able to take down the toughest of foes. There are some other slight changes to the formula as well.
The most obvious one is the partner system. You can switch between Charlotte and Jonathan on the fly. Charlotte handles spells mostly, while Jonathan is the fighter. This game falls into the same trap as other games like this. Charlotte isn't very good; her defense is low, and she doesn't have a lot of attack power. Meanwhile, Jonathan is powerful, has much better moves and can equip many more weapons. This is disappointing, but it is theoretically possible to use Charlotte for most of the game; just prepare yourself for a much steeper challenge. Also, there are a few partner puzzles that aren't tough to figure out or anything. However, you can use a Dual Crush move with your partner, which is a huge, screen filling move that can eliminate most enemies and even some bosses in a single hit.
There is also a big focus on sub weapons in this game. There is a huge variety of them, from the series classics like knives and holy water, to things like Shuriken, a huge iron ball, and even things like a pie to the face and a paper airplane. These are fun to goof around with, but really aren't going to replace any of the main weapons. It is worth noting that, if you use an item enough, it gets more powerful/ effective, which can be rewarding to some people.
There is also a huge focus on sidequests and hidden areas. There are many areas in the game that are secret and must be found with careful eyes and exploration in mind. The most noteworthy one is the Lair of Evil, which is basically a dungeon where you must fight enemies you won't find anywhere else in the game, as well as some special bosses and past bosses. This is a fun addition. The quests consist of many different tasks; finding a certain item, killing a certain number of monsters, and even weirder ones like talking to the quest giver (I won't spoil who it is) at midnight. This is a good system, and yields some awesome items, like Alucard's Spear (which looks awesome) and a huge Axe, among some great pieces of armor. However, there are some quests whose objectives are not well explained or there is a lack of direction to them. It's nothing that a trip to Gamefaqs won't fix, but it can be frustrating.
Despite any problems the game has, it remains fun to play. 8.5/ 10

Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin is another great addition to a great series. The graphics are amazing, the story is decent and the gameplay is fun. I recommend this game to both fans and non-fans alike. (Hey, pick up Dawn of Sorrow and Order of Ecclesia while you're at it.) This game proves that 2d sidescrollers have some fight left in them yet. So long and thanks for reading.