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Video Game / Castlevania: Judgment

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"Right on time. Welcome to the time rift."

Castlevania: Judgment is widely considered the oddball in the Castlevania series. Released in 2008, it was announced as exactly what it was: a 3D Castlevania fighting game.

Calling on noted manga artist Takeshi Obata (of Hikaru no Go and Death Note fame) to do the artwork, the game boasts a cast of thirteen familiar faces from the entirety of the Castlevania series in addition to a new game-specific character, justified with an Excuse Plot about pulling people from various time periods to battle a future menace who sought to change history. Long-time bosses Dracula, Death and Carmilla were playable for the first time ever. (Well, Dracula is debatable...) Battles take place in 3D arenas with their share of obstacles, as well as breakable objects containing items that could be used in addition to each character's natural abilities.


Judgment provides examples of:

  • A-Cup Angst: Maria's storyline, taking place three years after Rondo of Blood, involves being jealous of the other female characters' larger breasts. Aeon tells her point-blank she'll get the figure she craves, but will also mature past the need for it. Something of a Mythology Gag since Maria was rather endowed at age 12 when she debuted, only for following depictions to tone it down.
  • Adaptational Modesty: Shanoa. While her Ecclesia incarnation donned a revealing Battle Ballgown, she instead wears a nun outfit, a decision possibly made because it would be easier to animate in a 3D model. The only exception is that her back is still exposed, because she needs the tattoo out to absorb glyphs.
  • Alternate Company Equivalent: Fans have noticed certain characters sporting strong similarities to members of the Soul Calibur franchise:
    • Shanoa is Necrid
    • Carmilla is Ivy
    • Grant is Voldo
    • Golem is Astaroth
    • Death is Nightmare or Abyss
  • Ancestral Weapon:
    • Simon tries to prove himself worthy of the Vampire Killer whip to Trevor.
    • Eric tries to prove the value of the Alucard Spear to the eponymous donor.
  • Arc Number: Aeon has thirteen. Thirteen hours on Aeon's clock, thirteen hits to his Super, thirteen characters brought to the time rift to help him...
  • Art Shift: Takeshi Obata's artwork for this game got a strong reaction from the fans due to being very visually different from the established looks for these characters. Although the early Castlevania games (where most of this game's roster comes from) tended to have inconsistent artstyles anyway, the characters' designs have remained more consistent in post-Symphony of the Night games (once Ayami Kojima became the franchise's main designer), so Judgment was the first radical change in years. Needless to say, subsequent games went back to a more traditional Castelvania artstyle, leaving the redesigns in Judgment as only a temporary shift.
  • Beware the Silly Ones: Maria Renard has the general looks and attitude you'd expect of a Magical Girl, and even has the ability to flub her special attacks and combos, resulting in her tripping and falling — in fact, her Hyper Attack involves her falling flat on her face while trying to pull it off. Despite that, she can kick plenty of ass if she tries.
  • BFS: Eric's spear is larger than he is, though compared to the adults it seems it'll lessen as Eric ages. Alucard's Sword Familiar, used as his unblockable attack, is of normal size, but the Alucard Sword has never been longer, even in the Netflix series.
  • Big Bad: The Time Reaper, here to erase Dracula's reign as Dark Lord from the annals of history. Somehow.
  • Blessed with Suck: Prior to his plot point in Legacy of Darkness establishing that he trained himself to harness such abilities, Cornell seeks to eliminate his beastman nature.
  • Blood Knight: Shanoa, who's willing to test her power on the Belmonts.
  • Boss Battle: Each character has a boss battle against another character in their regular story modes. When True Story Mode is unlocked, players will battle Aeon one more time (or Dracula if the player is Aeon) before taking on the True Final Boss, the Time Reaper. Dracula is also the final boss in Arcade and Castle modes.
  • Breaking Speech: Aeon incorporates these into his Hyper Attacks, with an individualized one for each character, even himself.
  • Composite Character: Carmilla is a weird mashup of the Carmilla we've seen in earlier Castlevanias and Elizabeth Bathory. Which is doubly odd as Bathory already had an Expy in Castlevania: Bloodlines.
  • Costume Porn: The character designs give almost everyone very elaborate clothing.
  • Crisis Crossover: Calling characters from different time periods in Castlevania history. This is meant to explain why certain incarnations of characters were used, such as Sypha (before her alliance with Trevor and Grant), Eric and Maria (younger versions). According to the official Castlevania wiki, the characters entered the time rift in this order:
    • Sypha enters the Rift before the events of Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse. Trevor and Grant enter separately after Dracula's Curse but before Curse of Darkness.
    • Simon enters a year following the events of the first Castlevania.
    • Maria enters the Rift between the events of Rondo of Blood and Symphony of the Night. To be specific, 3 years after Rondo (or 2 years before Symphony).
    • Alucard enters the Rift sometime after the events of Symphony and after passing on the Alucard Spear to the Lecarde clan, but how long after cannot be determined.
    • Cornell enters the rift right before Legacy starts.
    • Shanoa enters during the events of Order of Ecclesia.
    • Eric enters a decade before Bloodlines.
    • The timeframes for Death and Carmilla can't be confirmed, but Dracula is stated by Alucard to have entered after reaching his full strength. As Portrait of Ruin, the last chronological entry before 1999, implied that he hadn't done that yet, one wonders if Dracula entered just before being challenged by the young Julius Belmont.
  • Cursed with Awesome: Cornell is still a werewolf, so he puts those abilities to good use while hunting the other denizens of the night.
  • Cute Clumsy Girl: In addition to her super move's odd outcome, Maria randomly trips during two of her moves. It's a Scrappy Mechanic, as it leaves her open to any combo or super move even if her move connects.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: Cornell and Golem pull this off, tear-jerkingly so for the latter.
  • Deal with the Devil: Subverted. Cornell asks Death if he knows how to cure his condition. Death responds in the affirmative and offers to do it, but demands Cornell's allegiance to Dracula in return. Cornell refuses, vowing to find a way on his own.
  • Downer Ending: The fate of characters in the time rift is unalterable.
    • So Eric still dies in Portrait of Ruin.
    • Mixing this in with a Player Punch, Golem reverts to a soulless being, and is slain by an unknown hunter.
    • After his Blessed with Suck experience and resolve to solve his problem in another way, Cornell will still lose his beastman abilities at the end of Castlevania: Legacy of Darkness... and in exactly the same way as if he had let Death remove them in the first place.
  • Dramatic Irony: Sypha comes from a time prior to Castlevania III, while the other three protagonists come from after it. Some of them take advantage of this.
  • Enemy Mine: Aeon's method requires help from the other thirteen, including the villains. Death in particular is quick to aid him, as he knows what's going on.
  • Expy: Aeon is a composite of two time-manipulating characters from the series: St. Germain from Curse of Darkness (his organization, outfit, inability to directly act outside areas rifted from time, and Death rivalry) and the Chronomage from Aria of Sorrow (the White Rabbit motif with color, pocketwatch, and obsession with being on time, and his opposition to Galamoth).
  • Eyepatch of Power: Trevor wears one in this game.
  • Flechette Storm: Grant has a stance, meter-draining special move, and super move all devoted to filling the enemy with numerous knives.
  • Fragile Speedster: Grant is tied for the lowest health in the game and uses a fighting style based on quick movement and multiple low-damage hits. Similar fighting styles are used by Carmilla and Death, who have slightly more health but are still below average.
  • The Ghost: Galamoth is the mastermind behind the plot. He never appears in the game, and only a single line from the final boss, uttered completely at random, establishes his involvement.
  • Gigantic Moon: In the intro, the moon is portrayed in such a size it would actually be bigger than the Earth itself, unless the satellite has broken orbit and is on a collision course for Eastern Europe.
  • Glass Cannon: Judgment made Death into this, which is either totally bizarre or completely in-character.
  • Have We Met Yet?: As the characters have been taken from varying points in the timeline, this comes up several times. Trevor uses the trope name almost verbatim when he meets Alucard, and both he and Grant take advantage of Sypha's lack of knowledge of them. Alucard briefly finds relief when Maria turns out to have not met him yet.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Oddly, the Golem has the most heart-wrenching story in the game. He becomes self-aware and strives to become human, only to sacrifice his newfound consciousness to save the rest of humanity. He defeats the Time Reaper so Aeon can finish mending the rift in time. In the process, the Golem loses all sentient thought the rift gave him, and is destroyed some time later by a Vampire Killer.
  • Ineffectual Loner: Eric, here portrayed as a child prior to the events of Bloodlines, is unhappy with being The Lancer (literally) to the Morris clan, and goes out to prove he's good enough on his own. Others call him out on his arrogance, and Bloodlines, by happening later, implies he ended up accepting his fate in the end.
  • Informed Ability:
    • One of Death's victory lines is "I decide who lives and who dies. You could not expect to win." This hasn't been supported by the series. (Not canonically, anyways.)
    • The Time Reaper is here to erase Dracula's reign as Dark Lord from history. We're not told how he plans to do that, only that we get one shot to take him out, and only one person can challenge him. Aeon's desire is to find out which of the 13 champions he's summoned is the most suitable. Of course, he could always go himself, since he's unlockable.
  • I Let You Win: The first battle is to prove your candidacy to Aeon. In the True Story Ending, he confronts you at the Clock Tower, stops messing around and fights for real, and makes it clear he hopes you can still win and prove a match for the Time Reaper.
  • Internal Reveal: True Story Mode. During the normal story mode's progression, Aeon tells each character about the time rift, suggests that they pursue their goals, holds back during the initial fight, and is not seen again except for claiming soul keys. At no point does he reveal that he is a time traveler or that the timeline is in peril... until Death reveals that he knows the truth during his story mode. Aeon also explains it to Dracula, but it is only in True Story Mode that he tells anyone else about the situation or shows off his clock-based moves in battle. The implication is that he is only entrusting a single character, who he believes can solve the crisis, with the truth.
  • Intra-Franchise Crossover: Galamoth sends the Time Reaper from 10,000 years in the future into the period in which his rival Dracula reigned and somehow change history.
    • Aeon discovers this and pulls together champions from different eras of history into a time rift, in order to find a chosen one capable of destroying Galamoth's servant, the Time Reaper.
    • If you lose to Aeon, or are playing as him, he decides he'll have to do it himself.
      Aeon: You are not the one. Then I must go myself.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Grant's storyline resolves with this.
  • Jiggle Physics: In spades.
  • Kicking Ass in All Her Finery: All the ladies, given the detailed clothes they have on.
  • Knight Templar: Sypha comes off as this in her story. Firmly believing the forces of darkness to be ultimately responsible for the persecution of her kind, she attacks any and all who wield it without provocation, including Cornell and Shanoa.
  • Lampshade Hanging: Maria introduces her special attack in Judgment with "This is my special!"
  • Limit Break: The Hyper Attacks.
    • Cornell can use his meter to go into a faster, stronger alternate mode.
    • Grant can also use his to throw dozens of knives at his opponent, although if the first few knives don't connect, then he is left wide open until he is hit or finishes. The only real use of this is against the Time Reaper, who can't get hit by standard Limit Breaks.
    • Death can use his meter to fly for a while.
    • Shanoa and Golem can use theirs to keep their dashes going.
    • Dracula can use his in order to keep himself suspended in the air. This eats his meter noticebly faster than the rest of the characters, but it allows him to use a combo that does a lot of damage and is hard to escape from once it hits. The problem is hitting with it.
  • Love Triangle: Grant's storyline stems from his unrequited feelings for Sypha, who went on to marry Trevor.
  • Mechanically Unusual Fighter: Dracula has little-to-no mobility and cannot be knocked down. His dash/sidestep moves are all changed to teleports, including a variant where he teleports directly behind the opponent. Rather than jump, he teleports into the air and can stay up there for as long as his super meter holds out. The majority of his attacks, including normal ones, are projectiles and ranging moves. Basically, he utilizes a variant of his standard Castlevania moveset, in contrast to other boss characters who are given more traditional fighter designs.
  • Mirror Match: Pitting a fighter against his doppelganger will lead to a unique interaction between the two combatants. In his own Mirror Match, Aeon points out that two of the same person could not be allowed to exist at once, lest time be destroyed.
  • Moveset Clone: Simon and Trevor — same Vampire Killer, different applications. Even down to their Limit Breaks, both called "Vampire Killer" after the whip, Simon's is practically Omnislash with a whip, while Trevor's is a single forward stroke that seems to temporarily exhaust him (no effect on gameplay)
  • Ms. Fanservice: Carmilla alone jacks up the age rating of this game.
  • Must Make Him Laugh: Grant's special quotes against Alucard show getting ol' Al to show any kind of emotion as one of his goals.
  • No Flow in CGI: Due to technical limitations, no characters retain flowing hair or outfits. Particularly noticeable in the case of Shanoa.
  • Noble Wolf: Cornell is a knight wolf here to save his sister!
  • Old Save Bonus: Linking to Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia unlocked some stuff automatically in both games.
  • Only Six Faces: You can make a game out of figuring out which Death Note character each character most resembles. Simon looks like Light, Maria looks like Misa, Aeon looks like Near...
  • Overly Long Fighting Animation: Each character's super move takes over ten seconds to play out, and none of them can be skipped.
  • Palette Swap: Curse of Darkness fans will recognize the Time Reaper immediately.
  • Pimped-Out Dress: Maria, packed to the brim with loli-goth appeal and zippers.
  • Place Beyond Time: None of the battles fought within the time rift have any effect on the timeline. Trevor takes advantage of this when fighting Sypha, and Death occasionally laments that his victories are meaningless.
  • Promoted to Playable: If you wish for Death, here he is. Dracula himself follows soon afterwards.
  • Rewarding Vandalism: In true Castlevania fashion, items are obtained by breaking fragile objects that litter the field.
  • Say My Name: Thanks to the Fighting Game genre of this game, we have "LORD DRACULAAA!", "LORD DRACULAAA!", and "LORD GALAMOOOTH!"
  • Set Right What Once Went Wrong: One wouldn't normally think that removing Dracula from power qualifies as wrong, but those who know temporal mechanics disagree.
  • Shapeshifter Mode Lock: As long as Cornell's in the time rift, he's stuck in wolf form.
  • SNK Boss: The Time Reaper certainly qualifies. His health bar is three times as long as anyone else, and he gains new attacks as you chip away at his health bar, including the ability to fire Frickin' Laser Beams out of his hands, summon random magical explosions, and even self-destruct without taking damage. This is taken Up to Eleven on Brutal difficulty, where the number of attacks, as well as their strength, go up.
  • Sphere of Destruction: The result of getting hit with Dracula's Dark Meggido.
  • The Starscream: Much like in the non-canon Kid Dracula, Galamoth is once again trying to wrestle away control from the Dark Lord (this aspect of his personality was also briefly hinted at in his SotN bio). He fails yet again.
  • Stripperiffic: Carmilla's outfit. Oddly, she usually wears less than this in most of her other appearances.
  • Teleport Spam: Dracula can do this. Players will enjoy doing it, get mad at the A.I. of the Dracula from the last stage of the non-story mode, then get mad when more skilful players ruin their attempt at doing the same.
  • 10,000 Years: The Time Reaper's line - "I come from ten thousand years hence." Which, considering the fight prominently takes place outside of any actual timeline, doesn't make any sense at all. On the other hand, it could mean he's from ten thousand years after Dracula's time, which could make sense.
  • There Can Be Only One: The one who challenges the Time Reaper proves it by defeating the other characters in the roster, who must then duel Aeon again for the honor. If they lose, Aeon simply decides to do it himself, but he'd rather one of the champions be the one to do it.
  • Time Master:
    • Ultimately, the game is a duel between two of them: Aeon and the Time Reaper.
    • Considering his role in Aria of Sorrow and the fact that he's the Time Reaper's master, Galamoth may also count.
  • Time Stands Still: Aeon's special attack does this.
  • Title Scream: Said by a random character each time. Golem can use four-syllable words?
  • Token Mini-Moe: Eric and Maria.
  • Too Many Belts: More like Trevor BELTmont, amirite? Seriously though, his vest is made of them.
  • Van Helsing Hate Crimes: Sypha, in her effort to destroy evil, has no tolerance for cursed beings. No matter how benevolent they are. She even hates on Shanoa because of this.
  • Victory Quote: Leading to many a Cliché Storm. Some just scream Soul Calibur.
  • We Can Rule Together: Death's storyline is about attempting to convert the heroes to Dracula's side.
  • Weird Moon: In the intro, the moon is portrayed in such a size it would actually be BIGGER than the Earth itself, unless the satellite has broken orbit and is on a collision course for Eastern Europe.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: Golem wants to know.
  • Whole Plot Reference: If you squint hard enough, to Kid Dracula of all games.
    • Galamoth is trying again to usurp Dracula, take his throne, and control the Netherrealm.
    • The Time Reaper's "I come from ten thousand years hence" line refers to 10,000 A.D., the date of Kid Dracula.
    • In Kid Dracula, Galamoth has in his service a reaper named Shinigami-San, which is Death's name in Japan, thus linking him to the Time Reaper.
  • You Don't Look Like You: Some of the character redesigns are so drastic that their names, weapons and dialogue are the only reliable indicators of who they're supposed to be.
  • Your Soul is Mine!: The fate of anyone hit by Death's super move. Supposedly.