My cell phone sucks. I had long suspected this was the case, but Konami Mobile confirmed it when they told me Castlevania: Order of Shadows wouldn't work on my handset. Fortunately they were so determined to get me to play the game they sent me out a loner LG VX9400 V Cast phone preloaded with the title that I now must return to them with amazing amounts of reluctance. If it weren't for the fact that they made sure the phone didn't support my carrier I would have gone into hiding just to keep my hands on it. Unfortunately the same cannot be said for Castlevania: Order of Shadows. I want to believe in mobile gaming...I really do. I figured if any game could make me a believer, Castlevania was it, but slow action and frustrating controls only served to send me running back to the game's faster DS and GBA cousins. Desmond, Zoe, and Dolores join the Belmont clan, with Desmond being the whip-wielding main character destined to bring down the titular Order of Shadows, who plan on resurrecting the Dracula. Desmond whips his way through seven bosses, the last being the dream vampire lord himself.
The gameplay itself is a mix of old and new. While you are pretty much limited to your whip and sub-weapons, your character does gain experience and level, and the monsters have hit points. Mind you there are only 10 levels you can earn, but like many mobile games the whole experience is pretty short anyway. As you journey through the game you will unlock abilities like the back slide and double jump, opening up new levels for exploration. There's even a spell system that lets you cast one-shot magic attacks against your foes, but for the most part it's move, whip, jump, repeat...which wouldn't be all that bad were the controls a bit more responsive.
Playing video games on a phone D-pad while using the central OK button to attack took some getting used to, certainly. I died many, many times before I figured out the proper way to jump. Even once I got the hang of things, however, the response time was a bit off, as was collision detection, which led to several frustrating deaths as monsters hit me before they actually hit me.
The game is relatively aesthetically pleasing for a mobile game, though for some reason the character movement and enemies remind me of shareware PC games from the late 80's. The music is probably the highlight of the game, with passable tunes for your first go round able to be replaced with classic NES Castlevania music after you finish the game the first time. Nifty.
Having not played many full-fledged mobile gaming titles, it is hard for me to quantify my feelings on Castlevania: Order of Shadows. There is some good potential here to be sure, but the experience as a whole felt unpolished. A nice first try, and worth a look for curiosity's sake, but not quite enough to make me change my mind about cell phones as a serious gaming platform.