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Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin

悪魔城ドラキュラ ギャラリーオブラビリンス

Developer / Publisher: Konami
16 November 2006
Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin [悪魔城ドラキュラ ギャラリーオブラビリンス] - cover art
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3.59 / 5.0
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250 Ratings / 1 Reviews
#1,082 All-time
#37 for 2006
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Releases 2
Filter by: All 2 DS 2
2006 Konami  
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JP 4 988602 132366 NTR-ACBJ-JPN
2006 Konami  
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XNA 0 83717 24112 6 NTR-ACBE-USA
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Now we get into what’s probably the most controversial of the DS Castlevanias, with it really marking the departure of the areas being primarily composed of one gigantic, labyrinthine castle, instead also having a fair few smaller sub-locations scattered throughout, simplifying navigation. Furthermore, at this point a lot of people seemed to have gotten a bit sick of the formula of these games at this point, with a lot of similarities between games eventually causing people to become a bit sick of it all I’d suspect. That said, this game definitely has its defenders who insist on it being far and away one of the best in the series, me being one of them after having finally fully played through the game for the first time. While there are definitely some issues with the game, I strongly believe that it’s a decent contender for one of the best entries in the franchise for a number of reasons.

While the game doesn’t have the souls system that made up the core mechanic of the previous 2 titles in the handheld series, Portrait of Ruin finds some mid-ground to this by certain enemies dropping new spells, still providing the element of chance and replayability due to the vast array of abilities at your disposal, but without it dominating what the main theme of this game is, teamwork. While the idea of being able to switch between two characters on the fly is something prone to overly gimmicky design, roadblocking characters from a bunch of arbitrary capabilities to give the illusion of 2 different playstyles with distinct abilities, the way Jonathon and Charlotte are handled here is absolutely excellent, adding quite a lot of variety to gameplay rather than simply stretching out a regular character across 2 characters and simply being cumbersome. The main way this happens is that while both characters have all the basic movement options and abilities, they play very differently, with Jonathon being a physical fighter while Charlotte is more of a glass cannon mage one, each with their own set of subweapons with their own utilities. What makes this system even more entertaining for me is the way the player can call in the character they’re not playing as to activate their subweapons or simply help fight, at the cost of potentially losing a lot of MP. This provides an interesting risk-reward system, where the player can become considerably more offensively capable without making it the obvious way to approach every situation, especially if you’re one to already try optimising gameplay with these subweapons. something I respect quite a lot considering how easily I could see this being completely mishandled and detracting from the experience. Other things like the ultimate team attacks, which serve as a costly, but safe and powerful way of dealing immense damage, along with some more gimmicky sections to utilise the teamwork element of the game go a long way to make this idea something intrinsic to the gameplay, rather than something merely tacked on to provide some superficial differentiation from past games.

This theme also bleeds into the main game in a few really cool ways that I’m a big fan of, the biggest one being the fact that for literally the first time in any Castlevania game, I actually cared about elemental weaknesses and resistances, since this game seems to have turned up their potency by a lot, making certain types of attacks almost entirely useless against certain enemies, rather than being a fairly negligible amount of damage loss that wasn’t even worth being concerned about. Because of this, it means that both physical and magic attacks are worth using, making switching around on the fly to be an extremely valid, recommended strategy, which I found quite cool. Another massive way that the core theme of this game is used is particularly cool, which is in how a few key fights end up functioning, being multi-target fights where the bosses work together to defeat you. The best example of this is also a really cool subversion of typical formula in these games, where the final boss ends up having both Death and Dracula team up and fight you at the same time, with Dracula’s typically simplistic moveset providing far more of a challenge this time around as the player is forced to also juggle Death’s attacks and create openings for themselves, making it an extremely fast paced battle that requires a lot of on-the-spot thinking and strategising. Overall, this ends up being quite possibly the peak of Castlevania bosses on the whole from any of the games, being a perfect mix of challenge, interesting mechanics and all-around fun.

The boss fights in this game in general manage to be really good for the most part, to be fair, even early fights hitting extremely hard and having a varied moveset to keep the play on their toes, with only a couple of them really being a letdown. They’re also some of the hardest of the ones on handheld as well, with some extremely punishing damage output that levelling up won’t really help with too much, it’s primarily about skill. Even the obligatory Castlevania 1 callbacks manage to be unique, with Medusa actually being a serious threat for a change and actually petrifying the player with her gaze, Akmodan/the Mummy does something for a change, and The Creature is now incredibly high tech, with in-built machine guns and rocket launchers. As for the most controversial change of them all, I actually quite like the way the castle is split into a bunch of smaller areas along with the larger main castle, as while I do really appreciate the level design of some of the previous castles, I stared feeling like there was a formula that was getting very old at this point, with endless corridors and castle rooms making the scenery quite repetitive. By having subsections of this game set in paintings with their own unique settings and mechanics, this problem is fixed and leads to some greater variety and creative freedom, with the player now not only exploring castle rooms, but also Egyptian Pyramids and the streets of Victorian era England just to name a couple of places, really making the game truly distinctive in a meaningful way that benefits it immensely.

Really, this would have a very good chance of being my favourite Castlevania game if not for a couple of flaws that I find drops the over
all experience very slightly, mainly the second half of the game once you fulfill the conditions for the true ending. While I really like the idea of having to go through remixed versions of the portrait levels, with many enemy variants being swapped out with stronger ones and the layout being changed around, I definitely feel like the balancing was a bit off here. The remixes of the enemies in particular is a very cool touch, as it takes those enemies that were extremely similar to others and actually provides more of a reason for their existence beyond reusing enemy designs, working thematically as well as from a gameplay perspective. My issues with these remixes is that in terms of difficulty, it feels like quite a jump, with a lot of enemies being absolutely brutal in terms of damage output, and save points being quite far apart, making death very costly. While I definitely enjoy the fact that the game went for a more challenging angle, I also feel that it became a bit of a slog to get through it, given how deaths were relatively common, which at times resulted in being overly cautious to the point of tedium. I feel like a big reason for this also had to do with the ludicrously short i-frames that the player gets upon taking a hit, making some attacks even more brutal to the point of being near instant death, which could sometimes feel genuinely unfair.

Even with these flaws however, I still found this game to be an extremely tightly designed one, with a lot of thought clearly being put in to make the idea of teamwork and character swapping a core element of the gameplay in satisfying ways. While definitely borrowing a lot from the formula of the series, I also find that this game differentiates itself in a number of meaningful ways that makes it stand out. Of course, I wouldn’t care much about these elements if it weren’t backed up by such great gameplay that constantly seems to one-up itself in terms of creativity and intensity. This one’s heavily recommended for sure by me, to the point where I even like this a bit more than Dawn of Sorrow, despite the fact that that was yet another gem.
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Kempokid 2021-06-26T09:41:50Z
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Catalog

orchidcnr Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin 2024-04-10T17:40:55Z
DS • XNA
2024-04-10T17:40:55Z
4.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
BarnabyFalck 悪魔城ドラキュラ ギャラリーオブラビリンス 2024-04-08T16:15:44Z
2024-04-08T16:15:44Z
5.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
leo_n 悪魔城ドラキュラ ギャラリーオブラビリンス 2024-04-06T13:51:23Z
2024-04-06T13:51:23Z
3.5
1
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
HatchThePlan 悪魔城ドラキュラ ギャラリーオブラビリンス 2024-04-02T18:40:45Z
2024-04-02T18:40:45Z
8.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
ciemnotaizabobon 悪魔城ドラキュラ ギャラリーオブラビリンス 2024-03-30T21:12:07Z
2024-03-30T21:12:07Z
••
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
willoverdoseonmusic 悪魔城ドラキュラ ギャラリーオブラビリンス 2024-03-22T22:07:57Z
2024-03-22T22:07:57Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Maliptail 悪魔城ドラキュラ ギャラリーオブラビリンス 2024-03-17T19:16:53Z
2024-03-17T19:16:53Z
1
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Anatommy 悪魔城ドラキュラ ギャラリーオブラビリンス 2024-03-12T10:12:18Z
2024-03-12T10:12:18Z
3.5
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
eliottstaten 悪魔城ドラキュラ ギャラリーオブラビリンス 2024-03-11T04:54:01Z
2024-03-11T04:54:01Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
foiebump 悪魔城ドラキュラ ギャラリーオブラビリンス 2024-03-06T22:53:43Z
2024-03-06T22:53:43Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
alexgm3107 悪魔城ドラキュラ ギャラリーオブラビリンス 2024-02-21T01:25:24Z
2024-02-21T01:25:24Z
3.5
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
DaggerDraven Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin 2024-02-20T10:31:23Z
DS • XNA
2024-02-20T10:31:23Z
3
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
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CERO: B
Player modes
1-4 players
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1x Game card
Multiplayer modes
Cooperative
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  • Previous comments (1) Loading...
  • heavymetalthunder 2021-06-02 09:08:19.846882+00
    wtf is that overall this is amazing
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  • DavidthePearce 2021-10-14 21:18:40.195932+00
    This would have been a lot more interesting if it had done the Dracula's Curse thing wherein both characters had unique situational utility. Alucard has a big hitbox but long range, Grant has a small hitbox and can climb up walls but has short range. Charlotte and Jonathan play in the exact same way except their attacks, so when I get into a rhythm with one character I don't really feel the need to switch, even when one has an attack which is marginally better against a specific enemy. The whole double protagonist gimmick feels like a waste.
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  • Randomico 2021-11-15 02:26:05.927214+00
    wtf is that overall this is amazing [2]
    better than Dawn of Sorrow
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  • bing_bong_barl 2022-10-03 13:18:33.879375+00
    This sure is a castlevania game
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  • heavymetalthunder 2022-10-21 13:17:38.733396+00
    replayed this and yeah now can get the complaints. forgot about lots of issues. def weakest ds castleania
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  • fighuass 2023-02-11 09:44:49.258783+00
    Charlotte is adorable.
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  • unj 2023-05-11 16:21:44.724183+00
    Double protagonist gimmick aside, the main fresh thing about this game was just making it take place a bit outside the Castle in more exotic locations to just mix up something that as becoming the Megaman of churned-out (but still good) titles.
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  • thm_yrk12 2023-06-15 17:31:17.76595+00
    hideous cover art
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