This is probably the best 2D platformer I've played in years. Everything, from the sound and graphics, to the play control and fun of the game is top notch. The game feels like a mix between the SNES version of Castlevania IV and Metroid, because of the non-linear type level environment. Graphically the game does not seem that great from still pictures, but the animation is very fluid and the special effects are very cool in motion. The music soundtrack is also very good, and the sound effects as well. The play control has no flaws at all, once you get down the basics you will be able to make your way around very easily. Another big plus is there isn't any load time at all during the game, it is masked by "loading" rooms (the ones with the "CD" up at the top of the room).
The game features tons of weapons, powerups, and other goodies to keep things fresh as you move along. It even has two possible game paths...a quicker one, which will leave you with the "bad" ending, and then the full game, which, after completing the first castle, puts you back into the action with the castle inverted, with all new enemies and weapons, and more bosses to battle. Overall, each castle is basically one huge level, and you advance to different areas as you gain more items, keys, weapons, and such. You may have to revisit an area after you gain an item, or cause a door to open, or whatever. A helpful feature is the map (press select), because you'll be making many trips through different areas. (another great help are the teleporters placed in spread out areas.) The inverted castle, although full of much more difficult enemies, is actually easier because by that time you're familiar with the level layout (even though its upside-down now) and there are no longer any blocked passages. After you beat the game, there's an added bonus of being able to use Richter as the main character instead of Alucard (start a new game, and put your name as Richter). The game will be harder in the fact that about 3 or 4 good hits can kill you, and you only can use your whip and the special weapons, and cannot pick up any items at all, except hearts for special attacks and the special weapons themselves. However, on the plus side, all the doors are open, and some of the bosses aren't there at all. Also Richter gets to use the "special" attack from the special weapons, and they do a TON of damage (try 180 hp per hit for the holy water rain attack, which does many many hits.) The special attacks also look very very cool, and it makes me wonder why Alucard can't use them during the normal game. Another thing to note is after picking up certain items, Alucard can morph into different forms...seemingly taken strait out of Legacy of Kain. ( you can morph into a bat, a wolf, and mist.)
Overall this is probably the best platform style game I've played in a long long time, and no one that I know that's played it has anything bad to say about the game. In fact, I can't say I can find a single major flaw in the game, which is pretty rare these days. Anyway as an import game, its still very playable even though the menu is in Japanese, I was able to finish the game no problem. The US version should be out around October, maybe earlier if we're lucky.