Castlevania: Mirror of Fate Hands On: Air Dashing Makes All The Difference

By Kris . September 10, 2012 . 1:55pm

Like Castlevania: Lords of Shadow’s combat? Well you’re in luck, because Castlevania: Lords of Shadow – Mirror of Fate will make you feel right at home.


While the demo I played (which Spencer also played at E3) didn’t have any combo counter in place (which in turn removed Lords of Shadow’s usual way to gain magic), I could tell that quite a bit has carried over from LoS, albeit with a few tweaks.


Once again, you have direct and wide attacks, but instead of circling around Trevor (like they did Gabriel), wide attacks essentially act as a way to protect you from overhead attacks arcing 180 degrees from in front of you to behind. The skeletons I fought acted in traditional Castlevania fashion, throwing bones in an arc. Wide attacks were a handy way to counter the bones and knock them back towards their progenitors.


Don’t be put off by the slight behavioral changes of the wide attacks, because for the most part, Lords of Shadow’s combat  remains intact. For instance, holding either the direct attack button (Y) or the wide attack button (X) still gives you a heavy direct or wide attack. Mirror of Fate also includes Lords of Shadow’s ability to launch most enemies by simply jumping in the middle of a combo. While the launchers only worked on smaller enemies, considering that your enemies will come at you from both sides, it’s nice to get some breathing room to take one out.


Perhaps the most significant addition that Mirror of Fate makes to the Lords of Shadow combat system is the ability to air-dodge.


Now, in the original Lords of Shadow, pressing block in the air would send Gabriel Belmont crashing down to earth, and give him the chance to re-launch the poor soul that he already had in the air. That skill is still in Mirror of Fate, but is instead performed by pressing block (L) and Down in the air. Additionally, if you press block and Left/Right, you can perform an air-dodge (or air-dash, if you prefer).


This little dash makes a huge difference in how you can approach enemies. For instance, if I was jumping over one of the larger, shield-bearing skeletons to get to its unprotected back, the air-dodge gave me just enough room to jump at it from a safe distance and still land in a comfortable range to quickly eliminate it. The air-dodge also worked as a handy escape when surrounded, as I could do things like launch an enemy to get airborne, kill that enemy, and then dodge back to get out of the crowd surrounding me.


While Mirror of Fate’s combat isn’t anything like previous portable Castlevania games, I was quickly smitten with the air-dodge, combining it with the double-jump to dodge over boss attacks, get around groups of enemies, and even give my platforming a little extra boost. The funny thing is that the demo never even took the time to “teach” me how to use the air-dodge, so I’m curious to see whether or not the game’s platforming will demand it.

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  • SirRichard

    Air-dodging sounds like it’ll add a nice layer of tactics to the combat, letting you get around enemies and take out the most annoying or strongest ones first while being able to keep yourself from getting dogpiled by skeletons. It’ll probably also be used in getting to hidden rooms or areas that are just out of reach of double-jumps and the like.

  • Jon McGuire

    I really hope this is a good game, I love Castlevania way too much.

  • Göran Isacson

    Air-dodging does sound interesting, and a useful skill to add to old-schoolvania and it’s sparser HP-pool and more direct combat options. I have to admit that the way it’s described here, with the move adding extra distance to your jump forward DOES make it sound like you could abuse it to lessen the difficulty of the fights… but I guess I’ll just have to see how the final product ends up.

  • Valtiel Ikari

    seems like air-dodging will affect a lot the strategy of the game! Probalably wont be used just for dodging.

    At first, wasn’t into the Lord of Shadow world, but Simon Redesign pulled me in, it almost the perfect mix of his original design and some modern stuff, only thing I don’t like about his design is his beard, and hes hair could have been a bit longer, but hey, still like what I see and liking what I’m hearing of the gameplay.

  • LustEnvy

    Finally got a 3DS XL, so I’m right in time for the release of this beaut.

  • Quinton Cunningham

    The amount of hate the LoS series gets purely for its change in gameplay style is simply staggering. And people wonder why game devs are afraid to take risks.

    • Peter Le

      It’s a shame because Lords of Shadow was absolutely amazing. I’ve had a few friends (who aren’t really into Castlevania at all) just dismiss it as a bad game purely due to all the hate it gets because it’s not “Metroidvania”.

    • It’s not quite a risk when it was adding elements from the current big thing.

      EDIT: Not to mention slapping Kojima’s name onto it.

      It was probably a safer bet than a 2D Metroidvania on a major release.

      Now if it was an avant-garde puzzle game along the lines of Catherine, then maybe we could call it a risk.

      • Quinton Cunningham

        Catherine was bigger risk yes, but it’s not like the hate has gone un-noticed by the people involved. =/

        If I recall, MercurySteam is well aware of all the unjust hate they’re getting. I’m glad they aren’t letting it get to them, but it irks me that people totally dismiss these games simply because they “aren’t metroidvania”.

        • They knew that when they decided to reboot a series, they shouldn’t have been surprised.
          Even fantastic looking reboots of pretty shallow series like Tomb Raider get a lot of hate.

  • I wasn’t the biggest fan of LoS, despite rebuying a 360 specifically to play it, largely because it didn’t feel like a Castlevania game. This had nothing to do with the gameplay style, which I mostly enjoyed, and everything to do with the change in atmosphere, aesthetic, etc. The franchise has been all over the place, and I’d be hard pressed to find an entry I genuinely didn’t like, whether it be old school, n64, metroidvania, or Devil May Cry-alike, because they all had a certain common charm. You could always tell you were playing Castlevania, no matter how drastically the gameplay had changed. LoS, however, felt like a somewhat generic fantasy action game, with occasional nods to Castlevania. I got some fun out of it, but it didn’t really hit all the high notes a long time fan might expect, particularly once you leave Carmilla’s castle.

    That said, I think that Mirror of Fate is shaping up to really build off of the potential of the original by offering a little something for everyone. The return of more recognizably Castlevania type characters, the (in my opinion, brave) return to 2D gameplay, and a story that really seems to be built on the Castlevania mythos while simultaneously reinventing it… it could be the Castlevania game to finally bring together the many different facets of the franchise, or at least try.

    Ultimately though, I’m just glad to see more Castlevania. Much like the Megaman franchise, the most heartbreaking turn for the series has been its relative absence in recent years. Whether it be a 2d game, a 3d game, a fighter, an rpg, a multiplayer xbla dungeon crawler, whatever… just keep the over the top vampire slaying coming, and I’ll keep an open mind.

    • Valtiel Ikari

      This is exactly how I felt about the Lords of Shadow!
      But this new title is making have more faith in this new take, but I hope we could have both LoS and the classic universe runing at the same time.
      Like that, everybody would be happy.

  • XypherCode

    Looks promising

  • Amine Hsu Nekuchan

    Please try to be understanding, as a previous poster said, it’s been eleven years and eight games (I think) across which certain gamers have been taught to expect certain things from Castlevania games, especially Castlevania games on portable systems.  While you may thing it silly,it can be hard and painful to deal with disappointment.

    When I first heard there was a new Castlevania game on 3DS called Mirror of Fate, I was ecstatic, practically bubbly.  When I saw the first screenshot of the game I felt my throat drop into my stomach I screamed obscenities, I typed in all caps at people on the internet I was PISSED.  The more I learned, the more my suspicious were realized and the more angry I got.  I finally did manage to calm myself down after a few days and take a step back and see while the game wasn’t anything I liked and certainly nothing I would ever spend money on, it is something many people do seem to like, and I should be happy for them.

    People have different tastes and like different things, just because you liked one or even several games called ‘Castlevania’ doesn’t mean you have to like EVERY game called ‘Castlevania’.

    So to those people looking forward to this game, I am, honestly with no sarcasm very happy for you. I would only ask that when you see people who are upset that you deal with them gently and remember, you are getting something cool you like, but effectively at the cost of something cool they’d like.  And please don’t try to suggest that not liking the game (especially as it’s so different gameplay-wise) makes them a bad Castlevania fan, or that they are somehow closed-minded for not liking it, or a bad person or something.  Again different people like different things and using that sort of rhetoric is just likely to make thing worse.

    • neetyneety

      Very well said. Fans of the old don’t need to change their viewpoint of what they perceive as acceptable for the series, but they should learn to respect those who are open-minded enough to give this a go, and the same goes for vice-versa.

  • eilegz

    the jaggies, the graphics looks so bad, stop pushing blocky 2.5d graphics and do a proper 2d high res

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