Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin

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The year is 1944. World War II is in full effect; death is common and souls are restless. It is therefore unsurprising that Dracula's castle has revealed itself at this time.

Enter Jonathan Morris, vampire hunter and son of John Morris of Castlevania Bloodlines fame. At his side, Charlotte Aulin, his childhood friend and a talented witch, especially for her age. With these two working together, Dracula may not stand a chance.

There's just one thing. Dracula's not around.

A new vampire has taken control of this castle: a Mad Artist by the name of Brauner. And things are different under his rule. The castle keep is unassailable; it is blocked by magic produced by a large number of magical paintings positioned around the castle. Brauner is almost impossible to find, and the main evidence of his presence is the occasional appearance of his twin vampire daughters. A mysterious ghost has been spotted, and he seems to be completely immune to Brauner's influence. And not even Death is happy with this sequence of events. (No, wait, make that "Death's especially unhappy with this sequence of events".)

And to top it all off, Jonathan can't even use his whip correctly.

Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin is a Nintendo DS game released in 2006 to coincide with the 20th anniversary of the Castlevania series. It boasts a two-character tag system that allows the two characters to work together frequently, an experience-based subweapon system for Jonathan and casting time-based magic system for Charlotte, and a number of non-castle venues accessible via the various portraits. Extra characters and level limits extend the replay value, including one mode controlled entirely with the touchscreen.

Feedback has been largely positive, despite the frequent criticism of the game's anime-based artwork and design, as well as the uncreative second half of the game (a run through 4 levels that are largely simple alterations of previous ones). And the glitches.


Tropes used in Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin include:
  • Acting for Two: Mariko Suzuki provides the voices of the twins Stella and Loretta.
  • Adam Smith Hates Your Guts: Vincent is incredibly ungrateful for Charlotte rescuing him from vampirism. It doesn't even affect the ending, let alone reduce his prices for items.
    • Actually, no. There is a minor change in the ending (Vincent says something along the lines of "I haven't been cured yet!" instead of "Hey! I'm right here!")
  • American Kirby Is Hardcore: Interestingly, Eric AKA Wind looks closer to how he did in the US version of Bloodlines than the original and PAL ones (see here and here). This is probably the result of him being 27 years older in Portrait of Ruin.
  • And Now for Something Completely Different: The basic exploratory nature of the Metroidvania titles remains the same, except that now you can enter paintings with their own mini-world levels in them. Some of the paintings depict settings that just don't normally occur in Castlevania, such as a massive underground pyramid full of Egyptian mummies, a twisted war-torn carnival of the damned, or an early 20th Century European city.
  • Art Attacker: Brauner. When you fight him, he paints on an easel with blood, making a pattern on the screen that damages you when you touch it. He also uses Art Initiates Life to summon monsters by painting them.
  • Bar Slide: The Skull Bartender enemy does this as its attack.
  • Bash Brothers: Charlotte and Jonathan, Stella and Loretta, Death and Dracula.
  • Beethoven Was an Alien Spy: The vampire Brauner is the one and only Victor Brauner, a Jewish Romanian surrealist artist.
    • Didn't the historical Brauner have a son? And no daughters at all?
      • Just the fact that he abducted Eric's two daughters doesn't necessarely mean he had any to begin with.War did turn him crazy, after all...
  • Bittersweet Ending: The true ending, in which Dracula is defeated and Stella and Loretta are free of the curse, but Eric's spirit must pass on.
  • Black Magician Girl: Charlotte and Loretta.
  • Bloody Murder: "The Art of Blood!" "Blood Art Technique!"
  • Bonus Boss: Whip's Memory, which takes the form of Richter Belmont and serves as the training needed to unlock the Vampire Killer's true power. The Bonus Dungeon is also full of them.
  • Boobs of Steel: Stella has the biggest boobs of the game, and she's also the strongest female character (and the only female in the storyline who uses physical attacks a lot).
  • Brainwashed and Crazy: Stella and Loretta.
  • But Now I Must Go: Eric
  • Canon Discontinuity: This game's pre-order bonuses removed Circle of the Moon and the N64 titles from this status (while preserving Legends's status as this).
  • Cannot Spit It Out: You know, John, you could've saved your kid a lot of angst if you just told him about the drawbacks of the whip right off the bat instead of keeping him Locked Out of the Loop.
  • Cerebus Retcon: The Vampire Killer is, and always has been, an Artifact of Doom that drains the life of those who wield it, at least if one is not a Belmont.
  • Chest Monster: They can't fool anybody, because in this game, unlike Dawn of Sorrow, there are no regular chests, just those mimics.
  • Circus of Fear: Two of the levels are (literally) twisted war-torn circus wastelands. If that makes sense.
    • Actually, it does, given the time period the game is set in (and what's going on in the background), and the power of Dracula's Castle just enhanced the dimension of the painting.
    • Fridge Horror / Tear Jerker: It's mentioned that Brauner lost his daughters because of the first World War. The painting (and by extension, the stage) shows the aftermath of a circus and town torn apart by war. Put two and two together. Worse, as you go further into the level, the stage gets turned on its side, and then upside down, representing how Brauner's life was literally turned upside down.
  • Combination Attack: Lots of them. Both you and Stella/Loretta have some potent ones. And that's without mentioning the final battle against Dracula and Death.
  • Comedy: Quite a lot, if you observe...
  • The Comically Serious: Every time during a dialogue, Jonathan's facial display doesn't seem so comic even in Funny Moments.
  • Continuity Nod: Many parts of the "Great Staircase" area, such as stair rooms with the hill guards or the staircases with the skeleton gunmen, are quite recognizable to anyone who has played Symphony of the Night.
  • Cute Witch: Charlotte, but she doesn't like to be identified as such. Loretta may count too, as an evil version, though. And the mook witches.
  • Daddy's Little Villain: Played with. Stella and Loretta act independently of Brauner to attack the heroes, despite him insisting they stay somewhere safe. They're also Brainwashed and Crazy and not really his daughters.
  • Dark Action Girl: Stella
  • Disc One Nuke: The Nintendo WFC shop mode allows you to obtain powerful equipment (such as the Rose Stem Whip) much sooner than you'd get them offline. Ditto for local wireless shop mode, if you happen to know someone who also has the game is further along in their save file than you.
    • Likewise the Shuriken subweapon, which is one of the best skills in the game. It can easily be bought before the first portrait, and mastered before the second one is finished.
  • Distracted by the Sexy: One of the female bosses can charm Jonathan to her side. One of the male demons can be charmed by Charlotte.
  • Damsel in Distress: Stella and Loretta turn out to be two.
  • Dual Boss: In a series first, Death and Dracula fight together for the Final Boss battle.
    • Don't forget Stella and Loretta.
    • There's also the Dracula's Curse protagonists (minus Alucard) who, much like their appearance in Symphony of the Night, show up as bosses, though here it's in the optional Nest of Evil area. With all of them attacking at once, that makes this a TRIO boss.
    • Also in Nest of Evil, the first room on one of the lower floors has two of the Frankenstein's monsters you fight in Dark Academy.
  • Duel Boss: The Whips Memory, AKA Richter Belmont.
  • Elegant Gothic Lolita: The vampire twins, each with Mismatched Eyes.
  • Emotionless Girl: Loretta
  • Expy: The Lecarde sisters are Suiseiseki and Souseiseki. Same dispositions/demeanors, same style wardrobe, same heterochromatic configurations, same associated weapon themes (except they exchanged, and the water is frozen).
  • Four Is Death: Death himself has 4444 HP, which has been a trend for him throughout the Metroidvania titles.
  • Game Breaking Bug: Aside from the occasional freeze glitches, there's a glitch that makes the game Unwinnable if you skip the dialogue after you battle Death.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation: Averted hard with the Sanctuary spell, which is described as curing all abnormal status conditions of anyone within range. This would make it a useful spell to keep handy, but it has a long casting time and an obscene MP cost. Once you have it, your only other hint that it's the way you cure the twins of their vampirism is when Charlotte mentions that she might be able to help now. And, as part of the aversion, you now have to pull the spell off in the middle of a boss fight.
    • Which isn't that hard if you found two of Johnathan's Useless Useful Subweapons, one of which makes all enemy's attacks target him instead of Charlotte, and the other greatly increases his defenses while making him unable to move or attack.
    • To a lesser extent, the Vampire killer. The story makes a big deal as to how the whip's power is important, but unlocking its power is entirely optional and has no effect on the ending, although unlocking it at some point is required to unlock the Richter and Maria Renard extra mode.
  • High Collar of Doom: Brauner
  • Hijacked By Dracula: The only reason that this comes as a surprise at all is because Dracula's explicitly mentioned as being absent at the start of the game. The end of the game makes it clear that he was never absent, just suppressed by Brauner.
  • Hockey Mask and Chainsaw
  • Holy Hand Grenade: The Holy Water, Cross, and Bible are still this trope, along with several spells, and the unlocked Vampire Killer.
  • Homage: The Lecarde sisters, as mentioned previously. Neither of them says "Desu", though. That would be a different character altogether.
  • An Ice Person: Loretta specializes in Ice magic. While her method of attack is indeed ice-elemental in Sisters mode, you don't get access to either of the sisters' boss form attacks.
  • I Let You Win: Death claims to have held back. If so, that "I see your death" attack of his may have been a bit over the top.
  • Just a Kid: Running Gag with Charlotte (16) who doesn't like being treated like a child.
    • It should be noted that once cured with the Sanctuary spell, Stella refers to Charlotte as Miss Charlotte, most likely in gratitude of being cured. Charlotte doesn't mind.
  • Lag Cancel: The backdash and land cancel still exist from previous games. Many of the subweapons can get a crazy rate of fire.
  • Large Ham: Brauner, particularly in his boss battle.

Brauner: BLOOD-ART TECHNIQUE! A PAINTING OF THE SOUL!! I'LL MAKE YOU MY MASTERPIECE!!! THIS... IS ART!!!!!

  • Last-Disc Magic: The Greatest Five Dual Crush, which summons, in order, Richter, Leon, Trevor, Juste, and Simon Belmont. Trevor and Simon would also appear in their original NES sprites.
  • Lethal Joke Item: The cream pie, once mastered. It is very effective against the Whip's Memory (Richter Belmont) once mastered, as it does Dark damage, his elemental weakness, as well as being easy on the MP (allowing for spamming) and decent range.
  • Lighter and Softer: Significantly so compared to most of the other Castlevania games in spite of being set during the disastrous second World War, if you give it an observation.
    • Especially when compared to Symphony of the Night, the first Metroidvania. Note that Alucard is a loner all the way through that game, while in this game Jonathan and Charlotte are trusted partners all the way through.
  • Line-of-Sight Name: The ghost seemingly has no name (until he turns out to be Eric Lecarde), but names himself after the first thing that comes to mind. In this case, blowing Wind.
  • Looks Like Orlok: Brauner fits this vampire design, despite his dignity, formal attire, and monocle.
  • Love Makes You Evil: Brauner was driven to evil when his daughters were killed in World War I.
    • The boss Astarte can seduce Jonathan to her side, resulting in the player ending as Charlotte and poor, deluded Jonathan attacking her relentlessly. 'Tis best to die at that point and start the battle anew...
  • Mana Shield: When your partner takes damage, it goes to MP. If you run out of MP this way, your partner goes back to your pocket. An equippable item allows you to set it back to HP.
  • Mismatched Eyes: Stella and Loretta have one green and one red eye while under Brauner's control, but which eye is which color is different for each sister.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: After Jonathan and Charlotte defeat Brauner, Death comes in and finishes him off, revealing that the last obstacle to Dracula's resurrection has been removed.
    • To be fair, Brauner was going to destroy the world if he was left unchecked, so it's more of a "damned if you, damned if you don't" situation.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: Brauner made two grievous errors: First, he didn't keep Stella and Loretta on a tight enough leash and second, if he had to brainwash them, than he should not have allowed them to enter his headquarters.
  • Non-Lethal KO: Getting reduced to 0 HP by the Whip's Memory/Richter Belmont will simply boot you back to the castle's dining room with all HP and MP intact instead of causing a Game Over. Any items you use during the fight will not be restored.
  • Not Completely Useless: Sanctuary and Undead Killer. The former takes a long time to cast and the other does relatively little damage, but the former is required to get to the endgame, and both can render the Red Skeletons and Red Armours Deader Than Dead.
    • Undead Killer is also arguably the second best whip to the fully powered Vampire Killer, being mostly similar but downgraded in power and with the aforementioned Red Skeleton and Red Armour killing ability.
  • Panty Shot: Vacuum+Charlotte=Fun. Actually, Charlotte gets a lot, start with her crouch pose and work your way up from there.
    • You can get even by casting Tempest near the said enemies to blow up their skirts in turn.
  • Partner In My Pocket: Apparently, this isn't just visual shorthand. Go stand next to Vincent, put away your partner and hold Up for a while. Likely related to how Trevor does it.
  • Pimped-Out Dress: The vampire sisters wear fancy dresses. Charlotte gets several as armor, although they don't show up on her sprites.
  • Pink Means Feminine: Stella's dress is this with some blue.
  • Pink Girl, Blue Boy: Inverted, Jonathan's outfit and menu options are red/pink, while Charlotte's outfit (including her underwear) and menu items are blue.
  • Plucky Comic Relief: The monk-turned-shopkeeper Vincent Dorin tries to fill this role. Let's put it this way: he is bitten by a vampire and slowly succumbs to a similar fate, and it is played for laughs.
  • Portal Picture: Each portrait leads to a different world.
  • Post End Game Content: Depending on the ending you may get more or less, but Sisters and Richter modes are this, as well as Boss Rush.
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: Brauner, when he does his turn-into-a-portrait-and-attempt-to-ram-into-you attack.
  • Purple Is Powerful: Brauner wears a purple suit. Death's robe is also purple shaded.
  • Puzzle Boss: The Dullahan does massive damage (4 hits and you are dead) to your level 7 or so characters with their minimal equipment, and it is unrealistic to dodge EVERYTHING he throws. The solution? He'll never use his most damaging attack if you focus your attacks on his head.
    • Alternatively, one may appreciate the wake up call and start noticing that this boss, like every other in the game, telegraphs every single major attack.
  • Random Drop: Money, spells and subweapons can be got from the corpses (or, seeing they're undead, "recorpses") of your enemies.
    • Rare Random Drop: have fun getting the drop from the Peeping Eye, an object that lets you see breakable walls. It starts at 0.69% of chance. Be ready to get Luck boosting items if you want it.
  • Regional Bonus: Richter's name is spelled correctly in the PAL version, and skipping the after battle taunt with Death no longer breaks the game. Too bad it also removes quest reward duping.
  • Revive Kills Zombie: Charlotte can learn a useful healing spell that also serves to kill otherwise Invincible Minor Minions. Though, gameplay-wise, Sanctuary is going to be used for killing way more than for healing, and it's so slow you may not use it often anyway.
    • The casting time can be remedied with the Sorceress Crest, obtained after getting Charlotte all of her spells. In a new game plus, this can be helpful with the Stella and Loretta fight, especially if two happen to be equipped.
  • Say My Name: When switching partners. "Jonathan!" "Charlotte!" "Jonathan!" "Charlotte!"
  • Shifting Sand Land: The two desert areas, which combine this with Build Like an Egyptian.
  • Shipper on Deck: Vincent in a conversation with both characters on screen.
  • Ship Tease: Charlotte seems to have a hidden crush on Jonathan, but we only see it in the bad ending.
  • Shout-Out: A number of references to other Castlevania games exist, but one of the most surprising is the music in the second desert level, all of which is taken from the MSX game King's Valley II.
    • Dracula's appearance in this game is based on Bela Lugosi's version, which was rarely used after the 3rd and 4th generation games.
    • One of the most useful weapons in the game is Nebula, a chain whip that homes on enemies and can form a protective shield with its special attack. Nebula. Chain. Nebula... Chain... Nope, doesn't ring a bell!
    • The Knee Strike was "inspired by legendary martial artists."
    • This is the third major game in a row to remix Haunted Castle music, using "Cross Your Heart" as the music for the Dark Academy, now renamed "Crucifix Held Close". Not surprisingly, "Iron Blue Intention" from the direct predecessor Castlevania Bloodlines is remixed. Portrait also has the first remix of the "Overture" from Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse.
    • The three award items, Vic Viper, Twinbee, and Konami Man, are references to The Goonies video game for the Famicom. The description for these items are "5000 points", which is the amount the player receives if he/she catches the item before it disappears.
    • The description for the fedora says it just feels right with a whip. The leather whip's description as being for a warrior with panache could plausibly be a reference to the same.
    • The description for the tinned spinach says it may give the illusion of increased muscle mass, likely a reference to Popeye.
    • That Griffon Wing Jump is unmistakably a Shoryuken. Specifically a Ken-style one, as it includes fire.
    • Salamander, Charlotte's most Awesome but Impractical expensive spell, summons a fire lizard. It runs around just like the titular creature.
    • In something of a gameplay callback, the last third of the game consists of visiting inverted versions of previous paintings, in which the bosses you fight come from |the original game.
    • On top of that, in the final boss battle, Death offers up his power to enhance the "not fully resurrected" Dracula. Dracula absorbs this power with a cry of "Soul Steal!!"
    • Not a Konami game, but still. The Axe Bomber is pound-for-pound the Cross Bomber, one of Neptuneman's finishers in Kinnikuman.
  • Shut UP, Hannibal: Jonathan to Brauner

I don't care! Being a family means being connected by heart. Ties of blood and soul is insignificant. When I learned why my father did what he did, I understood. You used a curse to manipulate your "dear daughters"! Now THAT'S sad!

  • Sibling Seniority Squabble: While Stella and Loretta are twins, Stella was born first and acts as the older sister. After Stella breaks down sobbing as their father passes on, Loretta promises to become stronger so she will not have to take as much of the burden.
  • Sprite Polygon Mix: For some reason the Peeping Eye enemy is the only one in the game rendered with polygons instead of the usual sprites.
  • Stellar Name: Stella
    • The Stellar Sword, once owned by Maxim, which is one of the last quest rewards. It's pretty good!
  • Sweet Dreams Fuel: Charlotte's wedding dress and engagement ring, especially if paired up with Jon's tuxedo suit... You know what it means...
    • This art naturally takes this up to the logical conclusion.
    • In fact, Jon and Charlotte's adventure as an opposite-sex duet (also a reason that this Castlevania game is Lighter and Softer) already gives both a hint and a feel of romance - especially given that they are close childhood friends.
  • Sword and Sorcerer: Two pairs of this actually; Johnathan and Stella as fighters and Charlotte and Loretta as witches.
  • Trainstopping: One of the first and most memorable moments of 13th Street.
  • True-Blue Femininity: Charlotte, who wears blue and is the less physical of the heroes (although her magic is still devastating.
  • Unique Enemy: The two giant sandworms in the two Egyptian-themed levels. Sure, they are just Palette Swap of one another, but each one has its own entry in the bestiary, and they never reappear after having been killed.
    • Well, the one in the first desert level does, but it's at the opposite side of the level.
    • Also the dodo, the giant ghost, and the king ghoul, all required for sidequests. The dodo behaves exactly the same as it did in Symphony.
  • Victor Gains Loser's Powers: Defeating the enemies may grant you with new subweapons for Jonathan and new spells for Charlotte.
  • "Wake-Up Call" Boss: Dullahan, the very first boss. Mostly because his attacks are hard to dodge and he can nail you in 3-4 hits. Using Charlotte can make him easier with the right spells, which serves as a helpful reminder that you have another character to use.
  • You Gotta Have Blue Hair: The vampire sisters have purple hair.
  • Your Princess Is in Another Castle: The barrier at the top of the castle should be a giveaway that Brauner isn't the Final Boss.
  • Zettai Ryouiki: Charlotte. Oh so very much.