Castlevania: Blaster of Zombies

So! Portrait of Ruin. Very good, falling a bit short of great. I have, nevertheless, been determined to squeeze my $35’s worth of entertainment from my copy of the game, a process I have set about with rather grim scientific precision. Filling the bestiary (including drops), mastering every subweapon I can find, completing every quest, even filling out that interminable list of items. I’m not sure I can really refer to this experience as “enjoyment” anymore, although there is certainly a dark satisfaction in knowing that each minute I play brings me a little closer to splaying this creation wide open like a pinned butterfly.

Fortunately, I did encounter a little Christmas cheer when I took a moment away from my mechanical handiwork to cruise through the Sisters mode. It’s this little bonus that caused me to score the game as highly as I did — sure, it’s an incompletely developed bit of fluff, but the novelty of playing a Castlevania game entirely with a stylus (and controlling the villainesses to do it) simply can’t be denied. Along the way, I inadvertently stumbled across the greatest Castlevania thing ever: a minigame I like to call “Zombie Blaster.”

One of the most impressive details in Dawn of Sorrow was the fact that certain crumbly enemies and destructible objects would do their crumbling in accordance with the way in which you attacked them. Strike a zombie with a horizontal sword slash, for instance, and its upper half would detatch and fall while the legs stood a moment in confusion; but smash it with a hammer or great sword and its body would shatter, its individual zombie chunks being blasted into the ground at an impressive velocity.

But this quirk of game physics didn’t truly come into its own until Sisters Mode, where Stella’s slashing attack causes zombies and skeletons to disintegrate like most of the Dawn weapons did. But since her attacks are controlled by stylus, they can come from any direction… and at any velocity. A gentle little swipe from the side will destroy a monster much like Jonathan or Charlotte’s attacks. But a fast stroke from below will cause its dismembered bits to fly into the air. And thus begins the game of Zombie Blaster.

The goal of Zombie Blaster is simple enough: try to get as much giblet air time as possible. Ideally, you’ll want to use a quick 45-degree-angle stroke from below. The best place to play is in the Ghoul King areas of 13th Street, and you definitely get bonus points for flinging zombie bits all the way across the courtyard. Double if it’s a Ghoul King.

Sadly, this is simply a makeshift experience and works entirely on the honors system for now. But next time I interview him, I’ll definitely ask Koji Igarashi to implement some sort of scoring system in his next DS game. No, seriously. It’s going to be awesome.

16 thoughts on “Castlevania: Blaster of Zombies

  1. I haven’t bought a Castlevania game since Harmony of Dissonance, but you can bet I’ll stand in line on launch day for the next game if there’s a gibbing-for-distance scoring mechanism awaiting me.

  2. “I haven’t bought a Castlevania game since Harmony of Dissonance”

    That pretty much explains why you haven’t. :P

    Aria and Dawn are about 10x better than HoD, and Portrait is by itself still much better than HoD.

  3. In DoS, I loved using Julius’s uppercut to send zombie cuts flying straight up into the air. It almost made up for that janky-ass sprite they saddled him with in that game. Almost.

  4. I know HoD was a low point in portable Castlevania. It’s just that I usually buy about one game every two or three months, and so far Castlevania hasn’t been a priority.

  5. The reason I loved Quake 1 so much was because when things gibbed, there was a very enjoyable arc to the proceedings. Never imagined a sidescroller could satisfy the same way — it took them ten years to even try. :)

  6. As a leftie, I’m disappointed that Sisters mode lacks a “southpaw” control option, making for a disagreeable and mildly uncomfortable — although still admittedly enjoyable — gameplay experience. My hand always cramps up before I can beat the Mummy boss. :(

  7. Oh man, I’m a lefty too. I haven’t beaten the main game in POR, but I’m really close (I can go kill Draccy right now). I’m disappointed to hear that there’s no lefty option in Sisters Mode. I’m gonna have to have a stern talking to with Iga.

  8. I came in here to whine about the lack of leftie-friendly controls in Sisters mode as well. It really makes things uncomfortable and takes away from what could’ve been a somewhat-enjoyable bit of fluff. As it is, Sisters mode is kind of annoying to play.

  9. Alas for us lefties. I’m worried that Square’s upcoming “It’s a Wonderful World” for DS will have the same problem, perhaps even more so, as it reportedly involves using the stylus for your main combat while using the d-pad to give input to someone on the other screen. Argh.

  10. It’s really not a terrible game, that Harmony of Dissonance, but it’s nothing to write home about either. I enjoyed playing through it twice, maybe not on the same level I did with Aria of Sorrow, but as far as I’m concerned, as long as the game plays well, all the other stuff (music, level design, whatever else video game snobs complain about) takes a back seat.

  11. Well, plus in HoD’s favor: it was brighter and easier to see everything. So if you only have an oooold original GBA, it looks good on that!

    On any other GBA, it:
    -Is really gaudy and ugly looking. Sprites are really wonky, seemingly changing size when you duck. Plus the level design is really odd; nothing as strong as SotN in the least.
    -Music sucks.
    -Spellbook system is totally broken. Subweapons without a spellbook are completely useless in comparison.
    -The expanded castle hardly is even that different, while SotN’s inverted castle at least changed things up a bit more.

    Plus it’s followed up by Aria…which smokes it to no end.

  12. Harmony is neither great nor terrible, but I am inputting this via Wii browser and explaining in greater depth would be hella So.

  13. The one thing I can say in favor of Harmony’s two castles is that they at least made the effort to create a significant visual disparity between them. Even though the architecture was still identical, it showed a kind of attention to detail that was comparatively lacking Portrait’s duplicate stages.

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