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Preview: Castlevania: Lords of Shadow--Mirror of Fate

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Castlevania: Lords of Shadow hit the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 in 2010, and its direct sequel, Castlevania: Lords of Shadow—Mirror of Fate is coming to the Nintendo 3DS. Like its predecessor, Mirror of Fate occupies a completely different Castlevania universe than the long-running timeline that was first established on the NES—but unlike Lords of Shadow, the gameplay in Mirror of Fate is far more reminiscent of Castlevania’s Nintendo DS entries, like Dawn of Sorrow and Order of Ecclesia.

Back to 2D—Sort Of

Mirror of Fate features polygon-based graphics, but it plays primarily in 2D and 2.5D, with the occasional shift into a fully 3D environment. Whereas Lords of Shadow had an emphasis on combat and action, Mirror of Fate encourages nonlinear exploration and discovery.

Mercury Steam, the team behind Lords of Shadow, is developing Mirror of Fate as well. “We felt that traditionally Castlevania games had done well on handheld, and indeed found a home there to a certain extent,” producer Dave Cox told Nintendo Power. “The whole team really felt we could do something special and memorable on the format that would immerse players totally. The N3DS has allowed us to create something totally unique and exclusive to the format that we think players are going to absolutely love.”

Say “Hi” to the Belmonts (Again)

The story for Mirror of Fate picks up 25 years after the end of the events that played out in Lords of Shadow. Dracula is gearing up to give humanity hell, and a young vampire hunter named Trevor Belmont steps up to stop him before things get too hairy.

The name “Trevor Belmont” should ring a very familiar bell for Castlevania fans, but again, Mirror of Fate takes place within Lords of Shadows’ continuity reboot, so this is not the same Trevor you know and (presumably) love. You should still recognize some of the threads connecting the characters, though: the gameplay in Mirror of Fate stretches across time, and players will eventually be able to control Trevor’s descendent, Simon Belmont. Two other unnamed characters are in the game as well. As Mirror of Fate progresses, you’re able to switch between the four characters at predetermined points and work through Dracula’s castle during different time periods. Each warrior boasts different abilities, and even though they’re exploring the same castle, there are marked differences between their experiences. Some paths may be closed off to characters that can’t double-jump, for example.

Hey You, Let’s Fight

Even though Mercury Steam primarily wants Mirror of Fate to be about exploration, combat still plays a big role in the game. Simon wields the fabled Vampire Killer whip, while Trevor utilizes the Combat Cross that made its debut in Lords of Shadow. Trevor can attack enemies directly with the X button, or execute a weaker, wide-reaching assault with the Y button, which is ideal when he’s surrounded by enemies. Trevor also has access to defensive blocks and dodges, can use light and shadow magic, and can wield secondary weapons like a glaive and an electric bomb.

Simon Belmont doesn’t have his ancestor’s talent for magic, but he has some familiar secondary weapons at his beck and call, such as throwing axes and burning oil that works well against crowds of baddies. He can also summon mystical guardians to fight for him, or protect him from harm.

Mirror of Fate’s home base—the Nintendo 3DS—lends the vampire hunters some help, too. You can use the touch screen to leave notes for yourself and mark places that you might like to re-visit later, and SpotPass and StreetPass will come into play, too—though the game’s publisher, Konami, is keeping those functions a secret for now.

Old Guard, Meet the New Guard

Some fans have had a hard time getting used to the darker, grittier take on Castlevania that was introduced to them in Lords of Shadow, and it’s too early to tell if Castlevania: Lords of Shadow—Mirror of Fate will make them feel at ease. However, it’s a good sign that Mercury Steam wants to re-embrace what has made Castlevania so much fun on the Nintendo DS: exploration. At the very least, it’s intriguing that Trevor and Simon make a return of sorts. There’s no vampire hunter like an old vampire hunter, even if that vampire hunter is still kind of new.

Castlevania: Lords of Shadow--Mirror of Fate is scheduled to hit the Nintendo 3DS in Fall 2012.

(Source: “Into the Shadows,” written by Chris Hoffman, published in the June 2012 edition of Nintendo Power.)
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