Of all the Castlevania games on the Nintendo DS, this one is probably my favorite. The biggest reason is probably that, unlike the other two, this game is actually difficult. Before I talk about that though, I'll divide this review into small sections covering different parts of the game.
The other two games on the DS, Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow
, and Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin
, while extremely fun, were very easy, even on normal and hard modes. This game isn't impossible, just challenging. Every time you die, which will probably be a lot, you'll know it was your own fault and want to try again. Each boss also has its own strategy you'll need to memorize to beat it, adding to the challenge, and fun, of the game. This game also returns to the level based format of the earlier games in the Castlevania series, which is a nice change for people tired of the castle, but the castle does make a return later in the game. Another big change in this game is instead of finding weapons scattered throughout the levels, you find a very small amount of "glyphs" which fuse the game's magic system and weapon system together. You will have basic weapons, such as axes, swords, and similar things, and then will later find upgraded versions of those same glyphs. You attack using your MP bar, and when that's depleted, it will refill very quickly. It's an interesting change, and takes some adjusting, but it's fun regardless.
You will go through a variety of levels before you reach Dracula's Castle in this game, such as haunted forests, sunken ships, an abandoned monastery, and many more. All of them look great, and show that this is by far the best looking of the three DS games. The game also abandons the annoying anime style of the previous two, and returns to the normal Gothic style of previous games. A lot of the enemy sprites are new as well, mixed in with repeats from older games, making for a nice mix of old and new.
Castlevania games always have a great soundtrack, and this is no exception. The music in this game is great, though its atmosphere is much more upbeat than in other games, it's still excellent.
You shouldn't play a Castlevania game for it's story, and while this has a fairly good story, it's nothing special, it's just enough to keep you playing through the levels. You play as Shanoa, a woman who works in a group called Ecclesia, whose mission is to keep Dracula from reviving. The game starts out with Shanoa about to receive Ecclesia's most powerful glyph, but the ceremony goes wrong and she loses all her memory. It's a cliché video game story, but nonetheless, it will keep you playing through the levels.
Overall Score: 9/10
This is a great game with a better difficulty and good gameplay, and of the three DS games, I recommend it the highest.