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Castlevania: Lords of Shadow: Mirror of Fate

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Nintendo 3DS
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Castlevania's 2010 reboot earned an admirable following, but don't think that Mercury Steam has forgotten about the series' roots.

In addition to a Lords of Shadow sequel, the Spanish studio is hard at work with Mirror of Fate, a platformer for the Nintendo 3DS that harks back to the franchise's classic NES days. You even play as 8-bit protagonist Simon Belmont, whip and all, in a storyline that takes place generations after his ancestor Gabriel's initial spiral into darkness.

The first thing you notice is that Mirror of Fate isn't just a spiritual remake of the original Castlevania games. Sure, the classic 2D platforming of old has been faithfully restored to some degree, but this adventure borrows just as heavily from the mechanics of its Mercury Steam's action-heavy predecessor.

Simon's whip has two attack function - a short-range crack with the Y button, and an area-clearing smack using the X button - while the 3DS triggers are used to block/dodge attacks and to grab enemies and objects. Much like Lords of Shadow, a balance of attack and defence is the key to success, particularly as each ghoulish baddie has their own strengths and weaknesses.

In addition to your basic combat moves - which can make Simon pretty nimble when facing off against wolves, skeletons, zombies and floating magic books - you can collect spirits which can provide additional aid in battle. One is a defensive spirit that can protect Simon from projectiles and hazardous environments, and another is an offensive sort, firing arrows at all and sundry. Both require magic to function.

While the game is as action-heavy as its home console brother, there are plenty of areas that require some pause for thought and the solving of some basic puzzles. Mercury Steam also builds on the traditional 2D Castlevania formula, adding a backtracking element that is reminiscent of Nintendo's own Metroid franchise.

You'll be bouncing backwards and forwards through each gothic environment, exploring new routes each time with the help of upgrades and tools collected from area bosses.

There's no danger of getting lost, at least, because the current waypoint is always displayed on the bottom screen of the 3DS. You can access maps, items and leave notes to refer to later.

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Castlevania: Lords of Shadow: Mirror of Fate
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