Some time ago I wrote about a blog on videogame costumes and how I think there will be more focusing on these subareas of game design in the future – mechanical designs, costumes, whatnot. Now Gamespite (excellent blog, check it out!) has written a lengthy piece on the specifics of 2D animation, using the very sweet Odin Sphere for reference, making the case that the next fullblown (that is, not Nintendo DS-based) Castlevania should be made as a 2D game – which has always been the best home for the series.
It is a point I wholeheartedly back and I’m a little puzzled why the series producer Koji Igarashi is so anti-2D. The Castlevania fanbase is large and they’re almost exclusively 2D guys. The 3D Castlevanias have been varying degrees of suckiness. They’re saying it’s too expensive, but Atlus – behind Odin Sphere and many other very nice-looking, sprite-based games – is not a huge company and their games are not massive sellers.
I was a Symphony of the Night virgin, going in a couple of months ago. I didn’t have the Playstation-era nostalgia baggage to warp my experience, and the game still kicks ass and looks great. I paid money for it. Really, I would expect Konami to be above the 3D-worshipping.
Aesthetics aside, Castlevania has essentially remained a 2D game to this day, with the excellent Gameboy and Nintendo DS versions keeping the series alive. The 3D iterations have been the exception to the norm, failing to match the gameplay or popularity of the original design. I would actually be ready to accept a 3D presentation if they only kept to the 2D design, with side-scrolling and zero camera woes. But sprites will always look better than models in certain contexts. I can’t fathom a 3D Street Fighter, for instance. There are relatively few genuinely successful 3D rebirths in videogame history; the only truly great example I can think of is Metroid Prime. So why mess with the formula?