Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia is... different.
I want to say.. it's really freakin' hard >:O But that's only because I haven't memorized the new patterns. Boss patterns, weapon patterns, glyph patterns, etc.
It really feels like a wholly different game, but reminds me of really classic SNES/NES castlevanias at the same time. I think the scenery changes, like the forest, towns, etc are really nostalgic. It's kind of a shock to have a menu with all these different maps to travel to as well, though.
The Glyph system is interesting. At face value, it's more of the same. More killing monsters to collect every glyph, etc. It's also the core of the weapon upgrade system, I think. I certainly haven't mastered it yet. It took me forever to figure out that the swirly triangle that shows up means a monster has a POSSIBILITY of dropping a glyph. I thought it meant that I didn't meet the requirements, or didn't hit the monster in the right weaknesses, etc, to get it to drop it. The whole glyph absorption process is kind of a pain in the butt, too, since you have to take a few seconds to suck it in. It makes it a little difficult to get them, since you have to find a monster that has a possibility of spawning a glyph, and killing it alone so you arn't damage while you try to suck it up.
The art is definitely nice. Honestly, if it's Ayami Kojima, she's progressed a LOT since her last game. It's hard to say, since I'm used to seeing gorgeous pale men from her, and not ruddy townsfolk and strong female leads. The art is definitely gorgeous, and I've been very impressed with the character designs for the townsfolk sso far. I just can't tell if it's her work or not. This is strange, to me, at least, for how instantly recognizable her work usually is. I looked around, and no one seems to know who the artist is. Some people are assuming that since it isn't the craptacular anime wackiness we had for the last two DS games, it MUST be Ayami Kojima. I think it looks way different than what we're used to seeing from her, but the shading and small details are very similar. There's one or two people in the intarwebz insisting it's "Masaki.... somthing...?" and generally kind of confused who this mystery artist is. Still, it wouldn't surprise me in the least if it wasn't Kojima. It looks good! I love her stuff, but this is good too, and so much better than the anime style from the last two DS games.
This game is very hard, though. They like throwing bosses at you at the BEGINNING of the stage, and not the end, so you have to plan to stick around longer than you might normally be inclined to just to level, etc for the boss at the beginning of the next stage. I'm sure some have bosses at the ends, too. I don't know yet :P I've died on most of the bosses a few times now! And THE CREATURE... the classic frankenstein monster boss is just a regular trash mob here! The bosses have patterns I'm not nessesarily familiar with from previous games, and this whole weapon weakness system is new enough to make the game pretty challenging to pick up and play. I can't wait for the medusa heads to kick my ass in the clocktower. Or will they??
Anyway.. this reminds me a lot of Super Castlevania IV as far as learning curve/difficulty... with a lot of the equipment/RPG elements brought in from Symphony. This is either going to be one of my new favorite castlevanias (Up with SotN, Super Castlevania IV, and Dawn/Aria of sorrow) or somthing I'm going to be so pissed off with that I'll put it away and forget to ever finish it (Castlevania II-Simon's Quest, I'm looking at you! Shame on you for making all those collapsing block platforms!)
Funny story- At my Grandmother's house, we wern't allowed to play an NES game until she'd conquered it. The only exception I ever found was Castlevania II- Simon's Quest. My grandma was having a hell of a time getting past this one part on a marshy level with breakable bricks. She let me try it. I failed XD We stubbornly stuck at it a while, but I don't think I'll ever forget those horrible breakable platforms. And OMG.. Simon was slow and failed at jumping! Wiki says it came out in '88, so I couldn't have been older than 10 when I was first exposed to what would be a somewhat mild Castlevania addiction... :P
ANYWAY. This game is hard. It makes me sad, because I think about that horrible level in Super Castlevania IV where you had to run UP the clock tower, jumping up platforms and killing monsters before the giant clock wheel coming up from below crushed you. I don't think I could handle another one of those :P On the other hand, I remember how must horrible screaming frustrating fun my brother and I had taking turns trying to beat that stage. The treasury stage after it was all the more sweeter :D BEST GRAPHICS EVER!