Judge not, lest ye be judged...
Let's not beat around the bush. Based off of the playable E3 demo of Konami's Castlevania Judgment for Wii, I couldn't say that the game was very good. I might go as far as calling it bad, but I would want to see the full product before I can say for sure.
For those not aware, Judgment is Koji Igarashi's solution to get a Castlevania game on the Wii. Instead of creating a proper Castlevania game with the vampire slaying action we all know and love, he decided to develop a fighting game with a hodgepodge of Castlevania characters from over the years. True, long-time fans of the series might salivate over the fact that Alucard and Simon Belmont are in the same Castlevania game, along with Dracula, Maria, and ten additional characters. Just the prospect of getting to square up against Dracula—the Dracula—would normally be something too good to pass up.
Alas, the fighting game crafted around all of these Castlevania characters appears to be nothing more than a Wii Remote waggle-fest. Wii Remote motions performthe A button fires whatever sub-weapon your character has in inventory. Castlevania staples like holy water, throwing knives, and the cross will be there, as are other items. Also in line with Castlevania tradition, the use of sub-items requires you have hearts in stock, which can be obtained through destroyable candlesticks that are littered throughout the 3D, free-roaming levels.
That seems fine enough, but more waggle comes into play when you want to start performing stronger attacks. Holding down the B trigger and giving the Wii Remote a swipe will perform a strong attack. Combination attacks are possible with the right sequence of button presses and follow-up remote swipes. Additionally, characters have special moves which can be performed by holding A+B while performing a swiping motion. This requires your character have some special meter at their disposal, which can be filled by attacking your opponent. In other words, do more waggling.
While I was playing the game against other people, most of our matches devolved into us frantically waving the Remote around, hoping to connect with attacks. Even when I tried to be strategic and thoughtful about my moves, I realized I was still performing the exact same motion with the Wii Remote every time I wanted to perform a strong attack or a special attack. At least in the demo, there were no special motions to perform or no sense of variety for the player. It's just swipe, swipe, swipe, and swipe some more.
The characters certainly had different moves. Simon's attacks were based more on physical, mid-range combat, which is what you'd expect with his trusty whip at his disposal. Maria's attacks were completely based on magic, meaning she could swoop about and attack from a good distance, even having the ability to hover while she jumped. Alucard used a combination of physical and magical attacks. While I have no doubts that fourteen different characters will have about that many different styles of play, if every single one of them uses the same basic control setup with the same old boring remote swipes, there may not be much of a point for that variety.
Judgment's gameplay is very fast, and it feels similar to Power Stone or similar roaming 3D fighters. It's not like a traditional 3D fighter, a la Soul Calibur, although Konami's fighting game looks a lot like it when going to select a character or set up a fight. Someone even made the comment that the game kind of looks like a Soul Calibur rip-off. (I found that interesting, considering that Namco's Soulcalibur Legends for Wii could be perceived as a Castlevania rip-off from some perspectives.) It certainly doesn't play like it, or at least not yet. The game was still early in production, or at least it appeared that way, so Iga and crew may yet have some cleaning and polishing to do.
But if I may be completely honest, Castlevania Judgment is not the Castlevania game fans of the series really want to see on the Wii. (Again, just like SC Legends wasn't the Soul Calibur game fans wanted to see on the Wii.) Even if the final product turns out to be good, there's going to be that part of us that is going to be disappointed that we're not hacking up zombies and vampires and exploring a castle, knowing that Dracula is waiting at its core. Being able to choose him from a character select screen sort of defeats the purpose.