There is always some controversy when one game takes too much inspiration from another. With indie games modelled after well known series, this can be a serious issue unless there are mitigating circumstances. In the case of Citidale: Gate of Souls, there are many mitigating factors, since while it is no doubt a Castlevania clone, it does have enough differences. As well, the fact that Konami has taken certain actions as of late that have proven controversial, has led some to feel this game is a justified creation.
Let’s not make any mistakes, this is clearly based on Castlevania and in fact, evolved out of a fan game version of Castlevania Legends. However, I feel the game does stand on its own merits and made enough changes. The pixel art style is absolutely great, and the music is amazing. The music really reminds me of some of the best of the NES era and that is always a plus. It has a haunting nature to it, that just fits well with the setting of the game.
The gameplay is well designed and the game has an innovative hook. The game can be played entirely on the gamepad, with the TV showing an extended map that shows more areas and even hidden ones. Or if you want, you can switch the setup so the map is on the gamepad and a single screen is shown on the TV. The enemy design is good and the power-ups all work fine, but there is one issue. The game feels very slow moving at times, and I do not mean the pace. I mean the game itself feels like it is moving slowly. This can throw you off or be annoying, but it is not a major issue and you can easily adjust to it. It is just something to keep in mind.
Overall, I feel this is a game that follows the path fangames should. It changed itself just enough to stand as its own thing with its own identity. It feels different enough that I feel this is a legitimate game and should not provoke controversy. As for the game itself? Aside from the slow feeling, I liked it. It has great music, good action and enemy design, and was fun. I must recommend it.
The Wii U gamepad has not been used as well as it could have been in its lifespan. Let’s get that out of the way before we go any further. When games that use the gamepad well come out, special mention is merited to celebrate this.
Rorrim on Wii U makes use of the gamepad in a very interesting way. Imagine two worlds mirrored to each other and one can be viewed on the TV screen and one on the gamepad. This may seem confusing and it is at first, but you can quickly catch on to what you are supposed to do and how to handle things.
Rorrim is a puzzle game that uses both screens to navigate travelling through dungeons, with the dungeon on the screen being mirrored onto the gamepad. You must navigate through both worlds at once and this can be difficult when you factor in obstacles and traps. This is a thinking person’s game and each move you make ends up requiring a lot of thought being put into it. The wrong move made on one screen can cause problems for you on the other. This is a unique gameplay style and I appreciate the work put into this by the developers.
The music in the game is great and while it isn’t anything that stands out in a major way, it is still good music and can be appreciated by anyone. The art style is also good but does lose something due to the usage of two screens. Its not a deal breaker but it is something that is noticeable to me. Maybe others will see it differently though, and I admit I could be wrong.
Do I think you should buy this game? I think it is definitely worth checking out. It is a good puzzle game with a unique gameplay bent and that is always worth looking into. The game uses the gamepad better than many games from Nintendo and that alone gets praise from me.
I recently had the chance to talk with Ezekiel Rage, developer of Citidale: Gate of Souls, and discuss the upcoming indie game. Please have a look at our conversation
JB: Where/How did you get the idea to make your game Citadale – Gate of Souls?
ER: It actually started as a Castlevania fangame. I wanted to do a remake of Castlevania Legends. It was my first time using the engine I use and as such I figured creating a remake would teach me a lot about the program. And as development kept getting more complex and different from the original, I decided to make it its own thing instead of a remake.
JB: Obviously Citadale takes influence from the Castlevania series, but are there any other game series that Citadale was influenced by?
ER: There is a rather obscure NES game called Faxanadu that inspired me greatly. Another influence was the SNES game Demon’s Crest.
JB: Konami’s reputation has taken a beating over the last while. Do you think that will help you with promoting a game that is essentially a spiritual sequel to the classic Castlevania games?
ER: To be honest, I have no particular thoughts on that subject. I hope that the game will be doing well but whether the success of the game is influenced by Konami’s decisions or not is not something I am concerned about. I suppose this discussion would probably be worth having after the game has been released.
JB: You have some interesting ideas for this game, such as it being primarily played on the gamepad, while the TV screen shows a bigger map. What made you decide to do that?
ER: When I decided to port it to Wii U, which was in 2014, I thought that it would be an interesting way to play the game. Of course you can switch views at any given time or not use the GamePad at all, and we do support most input devices on Wii U. The main idea I had was a boss fight that would take up more vertical space than the TV can give you. I realized this boss fight in Stage 3, by the way.
JB: Besides Castlevania, what were some of your favourite games growing up?
ER: I am a HUGE Zelda nerd. I have a Zelda shrine, so to speak. I own all the games with packages and manuals, lots of merchandise, and I even have a Zelda tattoo. There was also game on Super Nintendo (and Sega Genesis, but the SNES version was better) called Maui Mallard in Cold Shadow – I love this game. Terranigma and Lufia are among my favorite games, along with the aforementioned Faxanadu, the classic Mega Man series and of course the Metroid series.
JB: What Castlevania games influenced this game the most? That is, besides Legends, what other games inspired the design and gameplay?
ER: Well the very first NES Castlevania was not only hugely influential on this game, but also on my younger gaming self. I also took some inspiration from Dracula X on SNES (yes, I know, Rondo is better), in that you can’t upgrade your main weapon for example.
JB: What were your favourite Castlevania games to play?
ER: Obviously I love Symphony of the Night. I am also very partial to Legacy of Darkness and Simon’s Quest. Super Castlevania 4 and Portrait of Ruin also rank among my favorites.
JB: With regards to the last question, what were some of your favourite game genres growing up?
ER: I love action adventure games, really. I like to explore interesting settings – be it old castles or intricate dungeons.
JB: Making this game focused on the Wii U could be considered risky at this time. What led you to that decision?
ER: I have been a huge Nintendo fan growing up. I always wanted to create a game for a Nintendo system so this was really an easy decision to make.
JB: What do you think of the indie scene on the Wii U?
ER: It is far bigger than most people think, and from what I can tell quite popular. Of course there are positive and negative examples but overall most Nindies are actually very good games.
JB: Do you have any plans to integrate Miiverse into this game?
ER: We actually do support Miiverse. We also have stamps in the game.
JB: What are your hopes for this game? Would you want to make a sequel if this does well?
ER: My hopes are that it does well enough to warrant a release of story DLC. I could do a sequel but I’d much rather release the continuation of the story as DLC – a sequel would use the same graphics and graphical style anyway, because I am a one man development team (well, one and a half, I have an amazingly talented programmer/publisher friend) and creating complex graphics is simply not within my field of expertise.
JB: Is there anything you would like to say to the readers of Real Otaku Gamer?
ER: Well, obviously I hope you check out my game and my upcoming projects. I would also like to thank you for taking the time for me and I wish you all the best 🙂
Thank you for taking the time to do this interview and good luck with the game.
You can follow Ezekiel Rage on twitter here and check out his website here