Monday, March 17, 2014

Koji Igarashi Leaves Konami

Dracula throughout history has proven to be a pretty unkillable bastard.  He's survived being killed by at least a dozen Belmonts on at least as many video game consoles.  He's been murdered by his own son, he once got beaten up by a little girl who threw an owl at his face - he's even been defeated by a teenaged Japanese resurrection of himself in one of his more sillier adventures.  What do you expect though?  Dracula is the immortal vampire ruler of a hellish castle who keeps Death himself around as a recurring flunky.  The "Castlevania" franchise has been a pillar of gaming for generations now, and it seemed to be as immortal as its star methuselah.  ...Until now.

Long-time series commander, Koji Igarashi, has left Konami, with Saturday being his last day of work.  During his reign, beginning as writer and assistant director of one of the greatest video games ever made, "Castlevania: Symphony of the Night", Igarashi has been the producer of much of the series modern installments.  He defined the word "Metroidvania" by making brilliant sidescrolling maze-like adventure video games.  Those included the generally brilliant "Aria of Sorrow", "Portrait of Ruin", and "Order of Ecclesia".  And also the badly misguided "Curse of Darkness", and the bizarre fighting game, "Castlevania: Judgement" (which featured the very worst character design of any video game in history).  Igarashi's video games were often repetitive, but they were all generally all fun, had their own style, and kept Castlevania relevant to modern gaming for over a decade.

All of that ended, of course, with "Castlevania: Lords of Shadow", a mediocre video game built mainly to finally bring Casltevania into the third dimension... mostly by stealing gameplay from "God of War" and "Shadow of the Colossus".  "Lords of Shadow" was developed by Spanish developer, MercurySteam, and had no input form Igarashi of any kind.  MercurySteam managed to follow up their generally mediocre game with the far more terrible "Lords of Shadow 2" which landed with an inglorious thud last month.  "Lords of Shadow 2" decided that the best way to keep the franchise alive was with awful stealth missions and pitiful gameplay.

So now Igarashi is leaving to find his own stars.  He'll probably resurface the same way that Richard Garriot, Yasumi Matsuno, and Keiji Inafune have - with a Kickstarter campaign to make a new video game based upon his older better work.  Kickstarter has become the inevitable graveyard of gaming celebrities.  So Castlevania might live in, but under a different name - luckily Dracula is a public domain character, so he can easily saunter over to join Inafune without a lawsuit.  As for Konami's Castlevania games well... You'll be missed.  Castlevania:  1986 - 2014.


  1. What do you think went wrong with Castlevania's transition into 3D? Do you think the series was trying too hard to retain its 2d character? The last one I played was Lament of Innocence, and although it was a good. It just wasn't all that fun. I couldn't put my finger on what exactly it was. Everything looked great. But it just kinda felt like EHH!!
    From what I've seen of the others they also lack the unique character of the older Castlvanias. Is the teams inexperience with 3d to blame?

    1. I just think they were not really trying to make a Castlevania game. The N64 and PS2 attempts at 3D Casltevanias were pretty much disasters, this has always been a sidescrolling franchise. Its tough to get that same natural arcady flow of a sidescroller in a 3D universe. It could be done, but I don't think the best way was by trying very hard to be God of War.

      If anything, they should have kept the Metroidvania style and just added an extra dimension. Make it a huge maze-like platformer action game, and keep the pacing the same. Only its a 3D work you're exploring, not a 2D one.

    2. Honestly I would have liked a bit of a return to a 2nd platformer like Castlevania Rebirth or Super Castlevania 4. I might be the minority here , I think that's when castelvania was as its best and its been years since the last castlevania like that.
      But then again all good things must come to a end and I wish Koji best of luck
      Sword Of Primus

  2. Wait when the hell did Soma kill Dracula? Soma is Dracula that's impossible. but there is Harmony of Despair where they did fight but that game is hardly what I'd call silly and that game is non-canon apparently. Besides you don't know Dracula's sillier adventures until you played Kid Dracula. the one where he played a quiz game with THE STATUE OF LIBERTY!!!. ''ahem'' Anyway Castlevania even before Lords of Shadow was in a very troubling position. Where would the series go exactly? the Sorrow series pretty much wrapped up the entire series as much as a loved POR and OOE a lot of the tension was killed. Personally after the disappointing failure of LOS 2 which I thought had a lot of potential I believe this series needs to retrace it's roots, Maybe another Sorrow game that has Simon's quest elements like towns and more castles to explore with better grammar obviously. but it should be symphony of the night sprite and art style. With modern gaming tech Konami can put in Classicvania parts where you play as Julius and Metroidvania parts but maybe this is just the sad dream of a fan nothing better to do than post this on some random guys blog. Anyway I remember that you didn't like Dawn of Sorrow besides the stupid fucking seal system what were the problems?