So Castlevania DS gets the name, "Dawn of
Sorrow," and an official release sometime this fall.
The latest addition to the long line of Castlevania
games looks to be a good one, with some innovative and
interesting uses for the DS's touchpad.
The demo was essentially the first stage of the game,
with some nice dialogue sequences and character cameos
tying Dawn of Sorrow with the previous Castlevania
title, Aria of Sorrow. The look was classic
Castlevania, with some pretty responsive but also
complex controls. There was more than one button for
attacking, and special moves often require a sequence
of timed button presses. Menu interaction was also on
the complex side, with lots of things to equip and use
and no explanation for them. Hopefully that will be
taken care of in the instruction manual for the full
version of the game. Most of the action takes place
on the lower screen on the DS, while you can switch
the upper screen to display either the area map, or
your current equipment screen.
The first stage was pretty simple, even for someone
who hasn't played a Castlevania game in a long time.
The biggest part of the whole area was learning how to
use "sigils", a magic lock/final attack sort of device
which is almost the sole function in the game for the
touchpad. When using a 'sigil', a set of dots
arranged in a hexagon will appear on the screen, and a
line will flash through a pattern connecting some or
all of the dots. Players must then use the pen fto
trace quickly the pattern the light made across the
dots on the touchpad. These patterns range from a
simple "V" to some pretty complex designs.
Fortunately, one of the menu options allows you to
practice drawing any sigil as many times as you like.
Besides being a sort of key to disperse force-fields
blocking segments of the map, sigils are also used as
a sort of finishing move on bosses. When the boss's
HP reaches zero, the sigil appears on the touch
screen, and you have to quickly trace it, or else the
boss won't die.
So it looks like Castlevania has made a smooth move
over to the DS, with some solid gameplay and enough
fun-looking features to make Dawn of Sorrow's Fall
release one worth waiting for.