gamers (83%) found this review helpful
Castlevania on the GBA and the DS continues to do one thing each time around : get better and better. At this point, there isn't much more that can be done to make these titles any more appealing than the previous ones, so to say the least PORTRAIT OF RUIN is on par, and a LITTLE BIT better than DAWN OF SORROW. The graphics are pretty much the same, the monsters have more detail and their deaths are a little bit more graphic than in the previous title. The story in this game is much better, and the ability to switch between and use two characters at once is absolutely incredible. The only setback that I have noticed is for me at least, the characters in Dawn of Sorrow were a lot more interesting than the ones available in this title, but thats a minor flaw. In short, Castlevania continues to claim the top spot for action-platforming, on console or on handheld. If you are a fan of violent action adventure titles, pick this up. If you have played any of the previous titles (especially Aria or Dawn of Sorrow) don't even bother renting this - you probably already know this is a must-buy. Definately one of my top five favorite DS games so far.
I, personally am not a Castlevania fanboy, but I have played previous installments of the series. POW (Portrait of Ruin) is some what the same as all of the older Castlevania, but with a catch, you can play as two characters. Adding the second character makes the game a little more interesting, but still doesn't compensate for the repetitive game play. The game looks pretty good and the controls are tight and easy. Like all of the other Castlevania games POW has no camera problems. The only reason I was really disappointed was in the lack of touch screen usage, sure you use the touch screen with one set of characters, but it really does not do much for the game; it would have been nice to at least be able to control the classic whip with the touch screen. The game also only uses the top screen as a map/bestiary, not utilizing the dual-screen function, so this game ends up being more like a good looking GBA rather than a DS game. All in all this game is fun for four to six hours before it begins to get repetitive, it looks fairly good, but underutilizes the DS' capabilities.
Once again, Dracula's castle rises up and must be dealt with. In this adventure, you can switch on-the-fly between a weapons-guy or a magic-girl. Instead of the levels being confined to the castle (reverse or not), you'll be fighting a catalog of monsters throughout the various paintings (hence the "portrait of ruin"). The story, taking place during World War 2, is written well enough. Most familiar to the Castlevania franchise is the great gameplay. Platform games, especially 2D ones are of rare beauty and this title maintains it well. Also making a comeback are equipable weapons, secondary weapons, armor, spells, etc. What doesn't make an appearance (and sorely missed) is the monster soul-collecting from the "Soma" series games (e.g. Dawn of Sorrow). The idea of catching the souls just to see what power you would obtain gave the game a whole extra layer. Swapping characters doesn't seem to make up the difference either, since you tend to stick with one. But numerous save points and warp portals allow for a gamer-friendly experience. Unlike the other DS Castlevania game "Dawn of Sorrow", I have yet to see any touchpad use in "Portrait of Ruin". No real loss, but it would have been interesting to see how it could have been improved (you can, however, create your own badge or logo). Overall, this game maintains the great quality of the Castlevania franchise, trying new things by sacrificing others. No huge gain, but no loss either.