The Order of Ecclesia isn't the only vampire-slaying organization out there. Becoming enamored with the new Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia for the Nintendo DS has reminded me of last year's Castlevania game that was produced exclusively for mobile phones, Order of Shadows. You may remember that it received poor reviews when it was released, but sometimes it takes a while for players to truly understand how a seemingly lackluster game actually works. It's not rare to see a game derided as a dud at launch and then years later become a semi-fondly remembered classic. So, has time been good to Castlevania: Order of Shadows? Apparently not. The Castlevania Dungeon explains.
[T]he game stars Desmond Belmont as he fights through Transylvania to defeat the evil Rohan Krause, who is resurrecting Lord Dracula for whatever sinister purposes. There are cutscenes with Desmond's sisters Zoe and Dolores — their parents were murdered, you see — but there's really no reason for any of this window dressing to be here, other than it trying to emulate the grown-up Castlevania games. It has no place in the official timeline — it takes place in the 1600s, somewhere, apparently. Desmond looks kinda of lame, with a weird spiky haircut. There's no in-game artwork in the game outside of his sprite, but before I'd seen the concept artwork, I'd imagined he'd look something like Larry Butz from Capcom's Phoenix Wright games. According to the developer, the spiky hair was meant to be a homage to Kid Dracula, oddly enough.
The controls, as can be expected for a cell phone game, suck. Since diagonals are a pain on cell phones, you need to hold down Up in order to jump forward. If you let go of Up, you'll start falling to the ground. It's also extremely hard to step on stairs, since you need to find the sweet spot, otherwise you'll just leap in the air and make yourself look like a chump. Even though the game's enemy placement occasionally asks that you jump and attack at the same time, you may as well forget trying to do that easily - it's not going to happen. Desmond's whip snaps are incredibly slow - he actually pauses for a few seconds to retract the whip, leaving him extremely vulnerable - although he does have a backdash that lets him cancel out of his attacks.
Here's hoping that Konami learned important lessons from this experience. I'd much rather see Castlevania remain on dedicated game consoles and portable systems where the series belongs, but if it does have to branch out into mobile phone territory, then the result should at least live up to the Belmont legacy.