A lot of you guys complain about how hard this game is, but as I'm writing this, my girlfriend has gotten her way through much of the game. She did say it was difficult at times, but I told her to level up some more. Since then, I haven't heard any complaints, and she talks about how much she loves the game. A little perserverance/grinding and you can make it through this game. It's not Ninja Gaiden or Ghosts 'n Goblins; you CAN level up. My girlfriend doesn't normally play games like this; she just happens to like games with female characters. I hope all you males out there feel properly emasculated because you should. Cease and desist all the whining; if you think this game is hard, try playing Castlevania on the NES. That game is much more difficult; for one, you can't level up.
I am proud to admit that I am a Castlevania fan since day 1 on the NES. I have very much enjoyed all the recent GBA and DS games. However, this most recent one almost pales in comparison to the last few. In fact, not since Aria of Sorrow have I been impressed with the direction this series has taken. Story aside, the fundamentals have not changed. In most cases this is a good thing, but when your on the 20th game or so in the series, the game does become a bit stale. Level design, enemies, and way of advancing has not changed at all. You play as a new character this time around and absorb enemy powers to use as weapons called glyphs. Its really no different than in previous Castlevania games when you find a sword or shield. Not all enemies give you glyphs, but you can assign up to 2 at a time to vary your attack patterns. After a few hours with this game, I found myself bored simply because it feels like I have done this so many times. In the beginning levels you fight the standard selection of enemies, skeletons, bats, lance soldiers, axe men, the usual lot. You pick up foods stuff, potions, and find HP or MP power ups to level up and increase your health and magic. And that's what my gripe is about with this game is that I've done this same thing dozens of times before. Rather than explore one giant castle, you travel between different locations. The more power ups you get the more areas you can explore. So there will be some backtracking. This is no different than exploring one giant castle with different areas attached to it, such as an underground water level, cave level, sanctuary level, etc. No different than previous Castlevania games. One thing good I have to say about this game is the music and control interface is as always excellent. Rent this game first before buying. And if anyone from Konami should happen to read this review, please take note. More originality is needed.
Maybe I'm just not a hardcore enough Castlevania fan, and I admit freely that I can't stomach most of the Belmont-only ones. But usually the ones that go outside the clan's trademark bull whip and can-do attitude approach to vampire slaying are great. This was a screaming disappointment. I wasn't expecting Symphony of the Night or even Dawn of Sorrow, but this thing wasn't even trying. Rather than the awe inspiring variety I'm used to with this brand of 'vania, I find that most of the crests you find are just better-damage versions of the basic 10 or so, and the Glyph Union thing that sounded so great ends up outclassed by Kirby 64 in terms of ingenuity and quantity. The non-glyph equipment is equally uninspired. Maybe it's just my priorities, I don't know, but I goofed with the file that was already on there a few times and sent it back within a week. If you're more a fan of the Belmont ones you'll probably like it more than I did. I applaud the use of a singular female main character, and eagerly await her to return and not be so boring to play as.