To start this off, I expect this thread to have MAJOR spoilers in it if it develops the way I WANT it to develop, so please read at your own risk.
Has there been any series of platformers/action games that has sold as well as the Castlevania games? Who would have ever fought when I picked up a copy of Castlevania (re-print) in 1988 for my brand new NES that I'd be playing a game in a series that I'm STILL playing over 15 years later?
I picked up a used copy of Castlevania: Lament of Innocence last week for $25 at my local EB. I was kinda expecting a bad game, after seeing some notes here when the game first came out last Novemember. I was rather surprised.
The game has all the FEEL and play of a 3D Castlevania game, and it was handled very well. The graphics are extremely good, with each stage well defined and some of the bloodiest scenes I've seen in games. The game ran almost perfectly on the PS2. The controls handle like a dream, all very quick and easy and responsible. The camera angle is almost perfect, the voice actors did their job very well (although the script was kind of corny), and the challenge of the game was JUST about right, nothing too hard or easy.
I also recall saying that I was sure the game would have great music, as almost every game in the series does. No disapoiments here. While I wish there had been more classics included, all of the music had the Castlevania feel. I think the Golem Boss music, the Anti-Soul Lab, and the House of Eternal Remains are my personal favorites ones, enough to make me go out and buy the OST.
Here's a really nice touch -- when you beat the game as Leon, and then re-load your save, you can buy a music box, which opens a Sound Select option on the main menu. The writer of the music has comments that you can readh on each piece. I don't recall her name, but a little checking told me that she also wrote the TOP NOTCH soundtracks for Symophany of the Night, Harmony of Dissocence, and Aria of Sorrow (as well as the much older Bloodlines). It's a nice feature more games should have. Also, her comments sugget she played a rough beta of the game and then decided how each area made her feel, and then wrote music to match those feelings. I'd say she did a wonderfull job.
Finally, the game was a welcome addition to the legacy of Castlevania. We've recently seen the 'last' game in the timeline come out (with Aria of Sorrow) and now we see the first. We learn how the Belmont clan started it's fight aganist Dracula, how the famous whip Vampire Killer came to be, and who Dracula 'really' is. There's a few small points to clear up to make everything fit nice and neat in the timeline, but every TV series or book series has holes like that also.
My only compalints with Lament of Innocence was that the stage design kind of seemed too similar -- room, hallway, room, hallway, etc. -- and the game was short (although you can play through the game two more times as different people). I went all OVER the castle and got a 100 percent on the map, and my total game time was about 10 and a half hours.
This is another case of a great game not worth full price but well worth what I paid for it. I hope we see more 3D Castlevania games like this. I also would'nt mind seeing a TRUE RPG Castlevania game -- something turn or fast action based, where you can recruit people, do quests, and the like. I think Konami could do very well on it.
BTW, here's a rough timeline of the games in the Castlevania legacy:
1095 [ Castlevania: Lament of Innocence ]
1450 [ Castlevania Legends ]
1476 [ Castlevania III Dracula's Curse ]
1576 [ Castlevania The Adventure ]
1591 [ Castlevania II Belmont's Revenge ]
1666 [ Castlevania Resurrection ] *Cancelled*
1691 [ Castlevania ]
1693 [ Castlevania II Simon's Quest ]
1748 [ Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance ]
1792 [ Vampire Killer Dracula X: Chi no Rondo ]
1797 [ Castlevania: Symphony of The Night ]
1830 [ Castlevania: Circle of The Moon ]
1844 [ Castlevania: Legacy of Darkness ]
1852 [ Castlevania: Nintendo 64 ]
1917 [ Castlevania: Bloodlines ]
2035 [ Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow ]
There's a great story in LOI, but now it means some events in the game and Legends don't agree. I say we fix Legends so that it matches everything else.
I've also always liked how all the games have tied into one another, although in most cases indirectly instead of directly. There ARE some games that can be considered sequels -- Simon's Quest comes right after Castlevania, Belmont's Revenge right after Adventure, and SOTN right after Dracula X (and it includes Dracula's Curse as well). And just like with the Lufia games, Legacy of Darkness comes AFTER the first N64 game.
I never read Dracula until I was in high school, but I can thank the game for making me want to read the book.