Castlevania Judgment Review
Castlevania Judgment box art
System: Wii Review Rating Legend
Dev: Konami 1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid 4.0 - 4.4 = Great
Pub: Konami 2.0 - 2.4 = Poor 4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
Release: Nov. 18, 2008 2.5 - 2.9 = Average 5.0 = The Best
Players: 1-2 3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
ESRB Rating: Teen 3.5 - 3.9 = Good

Although Castlevania Fans have been treated to some hit or miss titles in the past, none have been as worrisome as Castlevania Judgment. From the moment this title was announced, many were worried about how a franchised based on side-scrolling whip-cracking play could possibly translate into a legitimate fighter, especially on the Wii. The good news here is that Castlevania Judgment isn’t a complete disaster and, for the most part, works. However, that doesn’t mean it works well.

Castlevania Judgment screenshot

One of the main issues that many longtime fans will have with Caslevania Judgment almost immediately is with the look of the game. All of the characters have been redesigned by “Death Note” Mangaka Takeshi Obata, and most of the Belmont crew only bears a passing resemblance to their former selves. All of the different characters have taken on a highly gothic edge, complete with sunken eyes, spiky hair, and heavy clothing. The vastly altered look of the different characters is definitely off-putting to longtime Castlevania fans, and it starts the whole Castlevania Judgment experience off on the wrong foot.

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Another thing that really hinders this game is the battle system. Each character only has a handful of standard attacks, and even though some special moves can be unlocked, the battle system remains far too simple for even the most casual of players.

Castlevania Judgment screenshot

You can either play with the Wii-mote and Nunchuk combination or the Classic Controller/GameCube controller configuration. But no matter which way you choose, this game is boring to control. With the Wii-mote controls, you can execute standard attacks by waving the Wii-mote around, and you can perform combos by pressing the B, C, and Z buttons in conjunction with a sharp Wii waggle. Although the controls are very easy to learn, the Wii-mote isn’t always responsive when you wave it around, which is very frustrating.

If you decide to use the GameCube/Classic controller configuration, you’ll find that attacks are much easier to perform, but because the battle system is so simple, you’ll find yourself bored rather quickly. Each character only has a few effective attacks (in addition to a cinematic special attack), which will require a very simple button smash, and there are few opportunities to execute varied moves that venture beyond hitting the same button combination over and over. Anyone can master the controls in Castlevania Judgment in a few minutes, which really hinders any sort of challenge this game may have presented.

Castlevania Judgment screenshot

Another big problem with the battle system is the gross character imbalance. Some characters, Like Simon Belmont, have simple attacks that are chainable and lead to easy single-button smash victories against even the toughest of opponents. However, characters like Maria Renard and Alucard have very weak single-button attacks, and their more-powerful combo attacks take a lot of time to execute, which leaves them extremely vulnerable in challenging combat situations. This issue becomes very apparent when you are playing against non-A.I. opponents, and they make certain characters practically unplayable in versus matches.

However, once you get past the look and feel of the game, you may be surprised at how much content there is here. Despite having a slim roster of only fourteen characters (including the Belmont crew, Dracula, Alucard, and Death), there are plenty of modes that you can play through, including a story, arcade, and a mission-based dungeon mode. The story mode is largely forgettable and basically plays the same as the arcade mode, with small snippets of dialogue separating battles with different characters. However, the mission-based dungeon mode is actually quite interesting and is structured like a multi-door tower in Dracula’s castle. Each door can be “unlocked” by completing conditioned battles, and this mode was surprisingly satisfying.

Screenshots / Images
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