It’s hard to find good action games on mobile phones. It’s even harder to find a good cellular adaptation of your favorite established gaming franchises. Games on mobile phones are almost always hard to play, hard to look at, and hard to convince yourself to spend $10 on something you’ll likely regret.
I know first hand from my experience with Resident Evil: Genesis that relying on name recognition alone isn’t enough to make a decision when browsing through the overwhelming amount of crappy games you can download to your BlackBerry, a phone that has never been known for having good games to begin with.
Upon powering up the game, players are immediately treated to a short Prologue which provides a quick summary of what’s going on story-wise and lets the player know why the events that happen when the game starts are occurring. From here players are presented with the game’s main menu which holds a few different options.
On the main menu is a handful of tabs. The tabs initially only include New Game, About, Help, and Options but will also include Load Game after you have a file to load as well as Hard Mode after you beat the entire game once. All of the tabs are pretty self-explanatory, though it is worth noting that the Options tab only offers
I recommend first looking at the Help tab, as it contains just about all of the information you are going to need to grasp the control layout of the game so you don’t spend 10 minutes trying to figure out how to walk up a flight of stairs or chuck an axe towards an enemy’s head.
Once you start your new game you will take control of Desmond Belmont as he and Delores and Zoe, his two sisters, embark on a quest to Dracula’s infamous castle to prevent a secret organization known as “The Order” from reviving the legendary vampire. All of the story is handed out through short dialogues found between boss battles and at other key points in the game and really only serve the purpose of introducing the player to the face-off between Desmond and Dracula.
Gameplay is essentially a mix between the oldschool Castlevania’s of the past with a small peppering of flavor from the modern adventures. You still play the game from a side-scrolling perspective and are free to explore the map however often you want while slaying enemies and collecting scrolls and health weapons as you traverse the castle to your ultimate goal.
Your main weapon is a mythical whip and you are granted the ability to throw projectile weapons such as axes and daggers. Players also have the abilities to use scrolls that they find throughout levels to cast attack spells on their enemies or power-up spells on themselves.
The game’s controls are hit-and-miss. Konami tried some really neat stuff with getting an action game to play well using the BlackBerry’s full QWERTY keypad as a controller and, quite surprisingly, succeeded in a lot of aspects. Instead of using a control method such as ASDW, something that has been proven to not work when playing a mobile action game because of the highly cramped thumbspace, Konami thankfully chose to use a two-handed control method.
The problem is the way Konami chose to utilize it. They essentially mirrored the button functions down a line between the T/Y, G/H/ and V/B keys, mapping same functions for the opposite of each key in most situations. The problem is that not all button functions are mirrored, making some actions like throwing or sliding exclusive a certain side of the layout which gets extremely confusing when having so many keys to worry about pressing when the action gets fast. And hitting the wrong key could be the difference between killing a boss or accidentally back-stepping through the door you entered and being forced to restart a battle.
In terms of Entertainment Value, Order of Shadows ranks about as expected. The game is really fun to play but there is very little reason to play through the game multiple times, aside from the unlockable Hard Mode. There are very few weapons to collect but scrolls help to encourage thorough exploration of each section of the map. It’s an overall fun, though rather short, experience that will hold your attention for a short while at least.
Despite its many flaws, Castlevania: Order of Shadows still manages to be a pretty fun experience that will keep you entertained while it lasts. Though there is very little, if any reason to come back for a second go. The visuals are standard Castlevania fare and the audio is, like most cell phones, best played muted. The convoluted controls work well when not under stress but become difficult to use while trying to do battle.
- It’s Castlevania. For BlackBerry
- Gameplay is a mix between old and newschool
- New and addictive scrolls system
- The story is very shallow
- The adventure is very short and offers little in way of replayability
- Flaw controls hurt the overall experience
Score: 7.13/10 (Good)
Gameplay: 7.5/10 (Adventuring is fun, combat is difficult due to convoluted controls)
Graphics: 7.5/10 (Standard Castlevania spritework does well but isn’t very stunning)
Audio: 6.5/10 (Offers both classic and remade versionsbut is best played muted)
Entertainment Value: 7.0/10 (Short but fun, no reason for a return trip)