Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Three simple steps to do in order to enjoy Castlevania: Judgment

If you care even just a smidgen about the Wii's upcoming Castlevania: Judgment, then you've probably already heard the hatewagon making a racket from the far corners of the intarwebs, its frenzied passengers probably driven to jump in by the horrible sight of a ripped Simon Belmont in shorts, courtesy of Death Note artist Obata.

Let's forget, at least for the moment, about the fact that the game allows for full 3D movement (read: much of the time in-game will be spent running around playing tag), or the fact that the game still leaves much to be desired at this point - only mere days away from its November 18 release. I normally don't wish for a delayed release, but I'll do it only for this game. Only a pushed-back release date and a frantic redesign - both art and gameplay-wise - could save Judgment.

Instead, let's talk about how you, in a great, determined effort to stay loyal to the franchise, can try to genuinely like the game. As in *like* like, enough to even anticipate the game's release with a joyful glee in your face. That's not even forced. At all.

Three simple steps to do in order to enjoy Castlevania: Judgment

1. You must become a fan of the Death Note series.

For steps 2 and 3 to actually work, you have to at least know about the crazed phenomena that Obata is best known for: Death Note. Chances are that you already do, but you have to work up such enthusiasm until you start setting up fansites and shrines for any of your favorite DN characters. Once you find yourself trawling fanfiction.net for DN smut or the dredges of Information Highway for Rule 34, then you're good to go.

2. Pretend that the characters are from Death Note.

This one's actually easy. Thanks to Obata, the character renditions in Castlevania: Judgment look like they're based on the Death Note cast, in what could be an ingenious attempt to shamelessly promote whore out his series.Taking into account the weird fashion sense prevalent in the game, just pretend that the Death Note cast got sucked into an alternate universe or plane of existence...like the Shinigami World (make sure you already accomplished number 1 so you know what I'm talking about), for instance, thus the weird duds.

For the sake of creating a convincing backstory, let's say all of the playable characters are fighting for a chance to become the Shinigami King. Or something to that effect. Feel free to come up with your own storyline for each character, the character backgrounds I've written below are just examples of what bullshit you can come up with from the top of your head. The more desperate you are, the better.

 Simon Belmont as Light Yagami

    This one's a no-brainer for everybody who've seen Death Note. Just trim Simon's hair a bit...voila, instant Light Yagami. He's even got the very same smoldering rapist's look, too. Of course, there's the problem with the Death Notebook not being in the scene, but you can pretend that Light/Simon's motive in joining the brawlfest is to recover the ownership of the notebook from the Shinigami King. And to get a decent replacement for his...shorts.

    Maria Renard as Misa Amane 

      Look at the sight of Obata's gothloli take of the pure, innocent Maria (circa Rondo of Blood) - Obata did not even bother to use the right kind of gothloli that fits Maria's timeline. What the hell, Maria already came from the gothic era but the artist still found a way to mess with her design...that's a lot of creativity there, indeed. What's up with the silly suspenders on her stockings, and the loose garters around her thighs?

      Judgment's Maria looks like a ditsy cosplayer who couldn't even do basic garment coordination (and since we're talking about gothloli here, this is saying much) and is clearly confused about animal rights - look at the poor owl she crammed into the end of her staff. She's just perfect for Misa Amane: model, cosplayer and ditz extraordinaire.

      We know that Maria has to keep an owl with her at all times, but she didn't have to use the owl as a living, breathing decoration for her staff. Good grief, imagine the amount poo the owl "accidentally" drops on her from time to time in protest. Yeah, he looks pretty pissed.

      Death as some random Shinigami

        Saying that Death would be a shoo-in for a Shinigami will make me game for grammar Nazis with a penchant for spotting redundancies. However, this is worth a mention as Obata's Death is one of the very few good things going for the game. A Death who gets down and dirty, takes off his cowl and cape to deliver some otherworldly asswhupping? I'm pretty much sold here.

        Alucard as adult!Near 

          Okay, this took a bit of stretching, but think of doing this as part of a sincere effort of making this game a little palatable.Cosmetic similarities aside, both Alucard and Near are socially inept to some extent, and both speak in a somewhat cryptic, clipped manner. Near's awful fond of his toys; you can just think of Alucard (as adult Near) roleplaying as a vampire bastard by swinging his toy sword around, wearing his vampire bastard costume.

          That aside, I can't believe that Obata deigned to remove Alucard's trademark ruffly cravat from his costume, something that was retained even in the anime redesign of Dawn of Sorrow. For shame, Obata; a non-fabulous Alucard is not an Alucard at all.

          Aeon as Teru Mikami

            Aeon is a new character exclusive to Judgment - and I hope it stays that way. I wouldn't want some batshit-insane character who lugs around a large watch like it's nobody's business. Obviously the pair of glasses that he wears isn't enough to let him read the time off a standard-sized pocket watch, and he's cuckoo enough not to resolve the issue by getting proper corrective lenses, but opts to upsize his clock instead.

            Batshit-insane is the operative phrase here, and no one fits Aeon's role better than the deranged obssesive-compulsive fanatic, Teru Mikami (he'd probably pull off the same "heck, I'll just get a bigger watch instead" stunt too, come to think of it). Just look at how they both look and - perhaps - act alike, save for the hair color.

            Shanoa as Naomi Misora

              Ah, sweet sexy Shanoa. She, and her game Order of Ecclesia, is probably the best thing to happen in Castlevania since pot roast. But of course, Obata still found a way to botch her almost fail-proof design by turning her into some sort of a MILF nun with babymaking hips (according to Ryan). I don't have a problem with it, though. She's still awful sexy, but is the headdress/wimple really necessary?

              Her closest counterpart in Death Note is Naomi Misora, as both have the same temperament and have similar motives in their respective stories. Order of Ecclesia agent Shanoa, bereft of her memories, searches for her ex-colleague in order to safeguard the fate of the world; while NBI agent Naomi, bereft of her husband, searches for her husband's killer in order do safeguard the fate of the world.

              Grant DaNasty as Rem

                Now this, this, is what I'm all up in arms about. See, in case you haven't played Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse, Grant DaNasty is supposed to be a pirate - NOT a mummified humanoid. Last time I heard, pirates were all about yo-ho-ho and a bottle o' rum, kitschy bandannas, waving rapiers around or manufacturing deebeedees.

                I'm not even sure if Obata even took into account Grant being a pirate while coming up with this design; he probably only thought of a way of slipping a reference to Shinigami Rem into the game.

                Even an 8-bit game portrayed a pirate better than Obata:

                See that small hunched figure at the bottom of the screen? That looks more like a pirate than Grant in Judgment.

                3. Cover the first half of the title screen using a piece of paper with "Death Note" written on it.

                You still there? Good. Of course, all of your efforts will be for naught if you're greeted with a title screen that says "Castlevania: Judgment," sending you into another bout of depression as you realize that you're playing a Castlevania game with characters that don't even remotely look like they came from the franchise.

                The easiest way to deal with the problem is to have someone hold a piece of paper and cover the upper half of the title screen with it to replace "Castlevania" with "Death Note," like so:

                Have it covered as such until you exit the title screen. It's not too shabby; after all, "Death Note: Judgment" rings better than "Castlevania: Judgment." You know, the usual judgment upon death, the final reckoning, etc. etc.


                Or you can just...you know, forget that the game even exists.


                Everyone's Uke said...

                Ugh. Proof that the Death Note artist is a one-shot wonder in terms of character design.

                VARIETY BITCH. DO YOU KNOW IT?