Reviews

Castlevania Puzzle: Encore of the Night – Review

Oh Castlevania, how do I love the, let me count the ways… Konami’s Castlevania series has received a lot of acclaim, but the question you want answered is; does this new puzzle iPhone app live up to the royal Castlevania pedigree?In a word, “no”. Encore of the Night is an average puzzle game that just happens to have your favorite characters from Castlevania thrown in. At first I found the game pretty fun. The puzzle mechanics are good, the graphics are true to the series, and the music is great, however after putting in a few hours of gameplay, I am finding it hard to keep interested in this game.

Encore of the Night is RPG styled puzzle game. Similar to Puzzle Quest you move along a mostly linear path fighting baddies. You can also explore along different branches and find items, different enemies and shops. You can use items in game to increase health, attack an enemy or perform magic. You level up and learn spells, as well as equip items that help your stats and let you progress through the castle.

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See that small, sliver of a rectangle on the left? That's where Konami expects you to stare for the next 20 hours.

Now, when I started playing I really really wanted to like this game. I love Castlevania and was really excited to hear that the iPhone version was out, but Encore of the Night is riddled with many annoyances that add up to pretty poor gaming experience. The first thing that started to get to me was the puzzle screen itself. You spend most of your time in the game in match-3 puzzle battle, but the part of the screen you look at (the part where you are matching the gems) is TINY. Less than one third of the screen is your play area, followed by a large area of pretty much wasted space showing you and your enemy giving each other badass looks while you throw down tiles, then the last section is the enemy’s play area. Your telling me after getting my beautiful new iPhone 4 with the high-rez 960X640 screen that you want me to focus on a small sliver of the screen with non-retina display optimized graphics? No thank you.

I kept trudging through, figuring not everyone can figure out how to use the whole screen like Puzzle Quest (iPhone) or Lumines (PSP the iPhone version does not have multiplayer, boo!) but the annoyances kept piling up. As Nigel mentioned on the unleashed podcast the menus look dated with a small font, and plain blue backgrounds. In some places it feels like they just didn’t bother to finish making graphics for the game. The interface is not optimized for touch controls at all, and can name the menus and in-game movement around the board quite annoying.

OMG, Dracula, I'm totally downloading this game now.

OMG, Dracula, I'm totally downloading this game now.

Every time you encounter an enemy you get this long drawn out animation, almost megaman style, but it’s longer and less interesting. To fully complete Encore of the Night you also have to backtrack a lot to get to areas that were to hard or inaccessible in the beginning. This is where you realize that getting around the board is a real hassle. Just walking around from point to point seems like a chore as you move so slowly around the map. While traveling you will also find many “random encounter” battles. This may be fine while moving foward, but when backtracking you often have to sit through the long sequence for the battle to start, only to have the enemy die quickly because you are so much more powerful than him.

I have to admit, with this review done, I probably won’t touch Castlevania: Encore of the Night again. If I want a puzzle RPG I’ll play Puzzle Quest. If I want to play a puzzle battle against AI, I’ll dust off my PSP and play Lumines. You can’t even play Encore of the Night multiplayer, local or online! It’s true Encore of the Night is more than just a cheap cash in, but not much more. Unless your a Casltevania fan, and want Encore of the Night just to complete a collection, I don’t see much value in getting this game.

Bottom Line: Castlevania: Encore of the night tries to a lot of interesting things, but succeeds at none of them. Even hard-core Castlevania fans will have a hard time making it through this one.

CONS:

  • Encore of the Night is not a good match 3 style puzzle game
  • Encore of the Night is not a good puzzle battle game
  • Encore of the Night is not a good puzzle RPG
  • Encore of the Night is not a Castlevania Game

PROS:

  • More Castlevania Graphics and Music

Let me put it another way:

2pt5-stars

Currently $4.99 in the App Store

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  • Nathan Mustafa, USA

    Nacho, you conned me in to getting this one. Why? I ask, why?

  • JacobRonin

    I agree with your review, Nacho. I enjoyed this game at first…then I realized that matching gems didn’t feel like I was effecting the combat. It felt like I was matching gems, and after about 10 seconds the guys would attack. Also, what is up with the bosses? Rather than just being hard it felt like they were cheating.

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