Game Boy Advance had three amazing Castlevania games in its lifespan, so it's no surprise to see the third DS entry announced. Order of Ecclesia lands this fall and stars magic-flinging girly girl Shanoa, who's out on a quest to - you guessed it - vanquish Dracula. Quite frankly, that's all we need to know. We'll be there on day one.
Instead of souls (as in the two Sorrow games), Shanoa absorbs glyphs that are strewn about the world. After taking them in, you can assign a glyph to the Y, X and R buttons for various effects, either by mixing them into various combinations or posting the same glyph in two separate slots. The former is more versatile, the latter lets you supercharge the double-posted glyph for a screen-clearing attack. The dagger glyph, for example, allows you to toss them across the screen, but putting it into the X and Y buttons sends a storm of daggers raining down from the sky.
The demo (played by Castlevania producer Koji Igarashi) also showed Shanoa sucking glyphs out of enemies much like Soma Cruz did in the Sorrow games. Not sure if each enemy has a special glyph to steal or not, but we definitely know you'll be backtracking to check for bonus glyphs dropped by rare enemies.
In Igarashi's travels we saw all kinds of glyphs and their combined powers - light, dark, sword, rapier, bow, fire, ice and wind all made appearances. One totally new power was the ability to create a magnetic ball in the room that you can attach to and catapult from. From the look of it, Shanoa doesn't have any regular weapons, as even using rapier and sword glyphs depleted the magic meter. Hm, that's certainly a new twist.
Ecclesia seems to ditch Drac's castle from the start; we saw an overworld map that listed Ecclesia and a monastery as destinations instead of the usual "approach the drawbridge" intro of past games. Keeping it open should mean trips to environments not usually seen the in series (even though 2006's Portrait of Ruin got us out of the castle too).
Everything else is just as you like it. Igarashi has delivered several AAA Castlevania games so there's absolutely no reason to think this one won't rock too. The music, from what we heard, was typically fantastic and thankfully even the art has returned to a more serious tone - no more wannabe anime! If you're a longtime buff and really want to know about the story, all we have is that it takes place in a period where the Belmonts have disappeared yet Dracula remains. Various organizations have risen to keep him at bay, and Ecclesia is the only group that's succeeded. Shanoa, obviously, is part of the Order. Could she be a Belmont in disguise?
We'll find out this fall, when Castlevania reaches its 22nd anniversary.
May 15, 2008