I was lucky enough to play a BETA version of Hasslevania (which should be released within a week or so) to write a preview for, although I have been reliably informed that even though this is the last BETA before final release, many changes have already been made since this version.
I write this preview rather apprehensively (and will keep it relatively short) for two reasons:
1. I never got to play the Castlevania series in any great length when I was a kid so it is hard to comment on this in comparison to its source material.
2. I did not manage to get very far into this due to time constraints.
On a general scale, first impressions were positive. It was smooth and everything was nicely drawn and adequately animated. Even within the small amount of ground that I did manage to cover, there were lots of little secrets and areas to explore (apparently the game as a whole is quite large), which is always a nice touch, since it adds replay value. Various powers can be gained along the way such as travelling more quickly and jumping more quickly (although after collecting these I didn't notice the speed difference as much as I thought I would).
Soundwise the game consists of intentionally cheesy sound effects backed by a pleasent soundtrack. Some may get annoyed at the sound effects, since they do become repetitive but once I was immersed in actually trying to achieve a goal within the game, I didn't really notice them a whole lot. Speech is worked into the pause scenes within the game, where the main character is talking to others. The speech that I did manage to hear, like the sound effects, seemed to be intentionally cheesy and reminded me of a second-rate 'Everybody Loves Raymond' episode. I have to admit that the game didn't have quite as much atmosphere as I would have liked but it kept me entertained and that's the main thing.
One quibble I did have in this area was that you are not able to skip speech scenes. I have no idea whether this is going to be changed within the final version but it did become a little annoying, since I managed to die a couple of times before the first save point and had to re-sit through the speech more than once. It's amusing the first time but by the third, I was ready to hurl my monitor out the window.
The game has various difficulty levels. I chose 'Vanilla,' the easiest and even on this it didn't seem to be a walk in the park so it looks like this might take a solid few hours to finish.
For those still on dial-up: the game is going to weigh in at around the 135MB mark. You have been warned.
Keep your eye out for release.