Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin is the latest sequel in the long running Castlevania franchise. Like its predecessor, Dawn of Sorrow, POR will be released on the Nintendo DS, and builds upon the series' use of the DS stylus.
There are two main characters: Charlotte and Jonathan. Charlotte uses magic as her primary weapon, allowing her to perform actions such as shape-shifting and casting various spells. Jonathan is closer to the classic Castlevania protagonist, relying on strength and weapons.
The story takes place before Dawn of Sorrow, during World War II. Charlotte and Jonathan must infiltrate Dracula's castle to stop a new bad guy, named the Devil Painter, and his two daughters from harnessing the powers of Dracula.
Players will be able to switch between Charlotte and Jonathan at any time. There will be times when both characters will be needed simultaneously to solve various puzzles or tag team enemies with attack combos. When both characters are on the screen at the same time, players will be able to control the movement of the active character with the D-pad, and use the stylus to control the movement of the sub-character by dragging it around the screen.
In an interview with IGN, series creator Koji Igarashi confirmed that POR will feature Wi-Fi co-op play. However, the co-op will only be for a special level, not the entire game.
While POR's latest gameplay addition definitely adds a new twist in the always-evolving Castlevania franchise, there are still aspects of this sequel that are not yet clear, and could potentially effect the final product in a negative way. One of these is how the character-building system will work. For example - if Charlotte upgrades, will that upgrade also effect Jonathan in the same manner, or at all? Same with the object and weapon collection systems - will each character have a separate equipment/magic/item list, or will they be able to use each others if needed? With the design of POR pushing for players to use both characters throughout its entire length, aspects such as these could make the game very unbalanced if they are not implemented correctly.
Players will not have to wait much longer to find out, as Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin is scheduled to release later this year. With Koji Igarshi at the helm of this title, though, I doubt players have anything to worry about.