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.
Adam Smith Hates Your Guts: Vincent is incredibly ungrateful for Charlotte rescuing him from vampirism. About the only thing that changes is his dialogue in the ending, he doesn't have the courtesy to reduce his prices for items.
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 hereand 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.
Barbie Doll Anatomy: Averted so much. True, we don't see our heroes or the main antagonists naked, but monsters like the Harpy, are completely nude with nipples!
Barrier Change Boss: Death is one in this game. His cloak will change from the standard black (in which he's weak against spells and resistant to physical attacks) to white (in which he resists spells but is weak against physical attacks) and back again throughout the battle.
Bar Slide: The Skull Bartender enemy does this as its attack.
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.
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.
There's quite a few, actually, in addition to the Shuriken and Ice Needles mentioned above.
The humble Long Spear. A weapon as strong as the fully-powered Vampire Killer (ignoring the other benefits the whip has), but it's the common drop of the Armor Knight, which you can meet in large quantities as early as the second portrait! It will probably last you until you get the True Vampire Killer.
The Heaven's Sword, which you can get in the 3rd portrait. It has great range and can hit multiple times, not to mention that a jump-cancelling technique allows you to spam them really easily. You can easily laugh your way through the first fight with Stella with this weapon.
The Medusa Whip, also found as early as the 3rd portrait. Mediocre in terms of pure attack power, but anything weak to Earth will be petrified with a hit from this (with any hits afterwards doing double damage), making a lot of nasty enemies later on trivial.
Gameplay and Story Segregation: Averted 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 Jonathan'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.
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.
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...ISART!!!!!
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 once in a while.
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 Castlevania: 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 who helps Jonathan and Charlotte 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.
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.
Multiple Endings: Like most Metroidvania games, there's more than one ending. It is also the first game in the series in which the bad ending results in a Game Over screen rather than a credits roll.
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. 100% subverted if you actually defeat Stella and Loretta. Jonathan curses himself for defeating them, but before he can go in for the kill, Brauner comes in to stop him (while begging on his knees, no less) to give a short speech about how he and his "daughters" are related not by blood but by souls. He then leaves via teleport, to Jonathan's surprise, leaving the duo to escape while the castle crumbles. Now what does this have to do with the plot, you ask? Well, remember how Death points out how Brauner was the last thing standing in the way between him and reviving Dracula? Well, since you made him leave and the castle is in shambles, Death's little gambit took a turn for the worse. You can just imagine him giving himself a facepalm for that litle miscalculation.
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, then he should not have allowed them to enter his headquarters. See Nice Job Breaking It, Hero above for an even better example.
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.
Onee-sama: Loretta calls Stella this in the Japanese version, either using "Stella" or "Sister" in the English version.
Panty Shot: Persephone's 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.
Peek-a-Bangs: Jonathan, true, not every character in the series had costumes that were proper to their age. But they were close. But this haircut, and in a guy, IN THE FOURTIES!??!
Personal Effects Reveal: After the first fight with Stella, you obtain a locket that reveals that she and Loretta are Wind/Eric's daughters.
Pimped-Out Dress: The vampire sisters wear fancy dresses. Charlotte gets several as armor, although they don't show up on her sprites.
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.
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.
Say My Name: When switching partners. "Jonathan!" "Charlotte!" "Jonathan!" "Charlotte!"
From the way Jonathan and Charlotte interact with and tease each other so often - including in the good ending - it is already way too obvious that they are more than just close friends, hinting that they have sincere feelings toward each other.Someone apparently forgot to tell the manual writer, though, since the manual outright says their relationship is "platonic".
Shared Unusual Trait: 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.
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!
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.
At least from the original Castlevania and its X68000 remake (released as Castlevania Chronicles outside Japan) collectively; the werewolf boss only ever appeared in the latter, but the mummy boss did not, despite Chronicles being a revision of 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!!"
Albeit not from a Konami game, The Axe Bomber is pound-for-pound the Cross Bomber, one of Neptuneman's finishers in Kinnikuman.
The boss of the London-esque 13th Street is the Werewolf. Hm... That seemsfamiliar...
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.
Sibling Yin-Yang: Stella is a more emotional swordswoman, while Loretta is a more detached spellcaster.
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.
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, Jonathan 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; Jonathan and Stella as fighters and Charlotte and Loretta as witches.
Trainstopping: One of the first and most memorable moments of 13th Street.
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.
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.
Wizarding School: The Dark Academy is one of these, and similar rooms make up part of the Forest of Doom.