Review: Castlevania Judgment

CastlevaniaJudgment.jpg Castlevania Judgment was a failed idea from the start. A 3D fighting game amalgamation of past Castlevania games for the Wii? Just saying that sounds all wrong. I tried to remain optimistic throughout its development since the screenshots and game footage shown pre-release showed some promise, but deep down in my heart I (and surely every other Castlevania fan) knew the game would be a stinker in the end. And sadly it is.

Eyeballing its menus upon boot up, Judgment shows off a staggering roster of play modes. Arcade, Versus, Training, Tutorials, Survival, online play, interconnectivity with Order of Ecclesia on the DS (don’t own Ecclesia so unfortunately I couldn’t test this), a Story mode for each of the game’s 14 characters, and even a neat Castle mode that sees you working through floors of a castle completing various missions on the way to confront Dracula, unlocking character customization accessories along the way. There really is a ton of stuff to do.

Unfortunately the rest of the game is so dreadful you won’t want to explore all of these initially enticing modes. Judgment is a mish-mash of a game that combines elements of Soul Calibur, Smash Bros. and Power Stone into one mess of a 3D fighter. Everything about the game is just wrong: the graphics are muddy and bland, the character designs are generic and uninspired, the camera is a total pain in the ass, the characters are completely unbalanced (some far too weak, some way overpowered), the voice acting is laughably cheesy, and the fighting mechanics are so simplistic and shallow that even a casual gamer would grow bored with them after a few battles.

Attacking requires nothing but wild flailing of the Wii Remote. There’s no subtlety involved in the force or direction of your swings whatsoever. Just swing away and your character’s attacks are the same over and over again. Konami was kind enough to at least offer optional schemes for the GameCube and Classic controllers, and using these standard control methods does work better. However, instead of wild remote flailing you’re still just button mashing, so the game still isn’t very fun.

Smash Bros. Brawl aside (since it didn’t force crummy motion control schemes on us!), fighting games and the Wii simply don’t belong together — Castlevania Judgment is further proof of this. This game is a permanent stain on the Castlevania legacy and yet another reminder that the series just doesn’t work outside the realm of 2D. Hopefully Konami will finally realize this and quit wasting valuable time and assets on these awful 3D spin-offs. I doubt that’ll happen, but I can dream, can’t I?

SkipIt.jpg

Pros:
+ Massive mode selection

Cons:
– Shallow, poorly balanced fighting mechanics
– Lousy character designs
– Ugly, dated graphics (even for the Wii!)
– Unwieldy camera

Game Info:
Platform: Wii
Publisher: Konami
Developer: Konami
Release Date: 11/18/08
Genre: Fighting
ESRB Rating: Teen
Players: 1-2

About the Author

Matt Litten is the full-time editor and owner of VGBlogger.com. He is responsible for maintaining the day to day operation of the site, editing all staff content before it is published, and contributing regular news, reviews, previews and other articles. Matt landed his first gig in the video game review business writing for the now-defunct website BonusStage.com. After the sad and untimely close of BonusStage, the former staff went on to found VGBlogger.com. After a short stint as US Site Manager for AceGamez, Matt assumed full ownership over VGBlogger, and to this day he is dedicated to making it one of the top video game blogs in all the blogosphere. Matt is a fair-minded reviewer and lover of games of all platforms and types, big or small, hyped or niche, big-budget or indie. But that doesn't mean he will let poor games slide without a good thrashing when necessary!