E3 2012: First Look – Castlevania: Lords of Shadow – Mirror of Fate (3DS)

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Konami’s classic vampire-hunting franchise finally returns to handhelds, swooping in on Nintendo 3DS owners with Castlevania: Lords of Shadow – Mirror of Fate.

That’s quite a mouthful, I know – the next handheld installment of Castlevania was actually confirmed by Konami a few days before E3 started. Originally featured exclusively in Nintendo Power, leaked information and magazine scans revealed plenty of information about the game, but the big show gave us our first official look at the Nintendo 3DS game. Since we like to share, here is everything we learned this week about the forthcoming Castlevania for 3DS, subtitled Lords of Shadow – Mirror of Fate:

The Son of a Beast

Spoiler Alert!
If you haven’t finished the original Lords of Shadow, you may want to before reading about the plot in Mirror of Fate. The E3 “announcement” trailer (found below) gives some background details about the plot, which not only connects the first Lords of Shadow with its sequel (also confirmed at E3), but features a new protagonist named Trevor Belmont. Trevor is actually the son of Lords of Shadow’s hero, Gabriel – fans of the original should recall that Gabriel eventually gave into the darkness tempting him, becoming “Dracul” (better known as Dracula) in the process.

Dracula tends to be on on top of any vampire hunter’s “most wanted” list, and after 25 years of raising Trevor, the Brotherhood of Light – Gabriel’s former allies – sends him on a quest to kill his father, putting an end to his reign of terror. Along with this new protagonist, the plot will feature four additional playable characters – each tasked with exploring the open-ended castle environment, defeating legions of Dracul’s minions as they explore the labyrinthine halls and uncover the secrets in every corridor.

[Update: Two of the additional playable characters have been confirmed – Simon Belmont was the first, while Alucard was revealed during the 3DS press conference at E3 on June 6, after the original article was posted.]

Concept art of a murky dungeon design

Some Old, Some New, The Same Formula Stays True

Details about the gameplay were also revealed, putting an end to all the questions about the basic mechanics. The game is based around both the classic exploration-based, 2D side-scrolling seen in previous handheld Castlevanias, and the combat-based 3D action/adventure style used in Lords of Shadow. If there was anything I didn’t like about Lords of Shadow, it was the lack of the traditional exploring and old-school design seen in the handheld Castlevania games; Mirror of Fate actually combines the modern and classic styles, and features a “2.5D” perspective. There is plenty of exploration to be had, but with the extra punch of the combat mechanics that worked so well in Lords of Shadow – which felt much like God of War, Devil May Cry, and Ninja Gaiden. Each playable character will feature an individual playing style, complete with unique weapons and abilities, though each is based around the general wide-area attacks, power moves, and the use of special items such as throwing daggers/axes.

There’s a touch screen map that allows you to doodle or jot down helpful reminders about puzzles, collectible item locations, and more – a nifty feature that really made a big difference in games like Zelda: Phantom Hourglass and Spirit Tracks, both for the original DS. Like most of its predecessors, Mirror of Fates features experience points that accumulate as you defeat enemies and boss characters, but the game doesn’t include any of the RPG-style attributes or leveling seen in the previous handheld Castlevania entries. Instead, Mirror of Fates features unlockable combos and abilities, which ultimately open up the combat system and add more depth to the capabilities of each character.

[Update: Additionally, Konami confirmed during the 3DS press conference at E3 that Mirror of Fate will utilize StreetPass connectivity between players, transferring game data whenever two owners of the game connect. Sadly there were no further specifics about this function revealed at E3.]

As you can see in the trailer above, footage of the game shows off the visual style, which carries over the Lords of Shadow art design very well. The cel-shaded direction doesn’t hold back on details, with the environments and character models sporting just as much flash as you would expect in a console game. Ultimately this one looks to impress when gamers finally get a chance to experience the action with the full benefits of the 3D effects. Also, the cut-scenes appear to feature full use of voice-over, so I hope to hear the same talent from the original Lords of Shadow (Patrick Stewart?!) in this handheld entry.

[Update: It appears Patrick Stewart isn’t the narrator in Mirror of Fate, at least not in the trailers shown at E3.]

This classic Konami franchise has made a home for itself on Nintendo handhelds; with the addition of the combat mechanics from Lords of Shadow result in the same rave reviews and critical praise of the three Castlevania games on the DS and Game Boy Advance? Stay tuned for more trailers and information on Game Freaks 365.

Meanwhile, pick over the E3 trailer and screenshots for all the details you can, and leave a comment that lets us know what you think of the 3DS’s first Castlevania adventure.

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