In 1997, the first Castlevania game was released for the Sony PlayStation. Instead of taking advantage of the new 3D graphics, the series’ then-new producer, Koji Igarashi, stuck to the 2D style. The game also marked a massive shift in gameplay. Despite being a huge fan of the classic NES trilogy, Igarashi wanted a Castlevania game unique from the rest of the franchise. Igarashi wanted to make an action game that can be played dozens upon dozens of times. It was a risk to make an enormous change to a long-running series. However, it was one that paid off.
Castlevania: Symphony of the Night became a sleeper hit and later went on to universal critical acclaim, appearing on multiple “greatest games of all time” lists and is fondly remembered as one of the best games of its generation.
Castlevania: Symphony of the Night is one of the rare examples of a game living up to its reputation and credentials. Just about every little tiny detail in this game is fantastic and its one Castlevania fans will be playing for a long, long time.
Symphony of the Night is a top to bottom masterpiece
Symphony of the Night is a sequel to the acclaimed Rondo of Blood and actually starts with recreating the final boss fight of that game. Although, this time Richter Belmont and Count Dracula are sharing now-infamous dialogue.
The beginning is actually a creative bait and switch, as players now take control of Alucard from Castlevania III. Dracula has risen once again, and Alucard storms his father’s castle to end his bloodline. Although, the start of the game, Alucard will be destroying everything in his path until Death “aka the Grim Reaper” takes all of his abilities away. From there, Alucard will have to explore the castle to find new weapons and techniques.
Symphony of the Night is known for being the first “Metroidvania” game, as it uses many elements of the Metroid series. The emphasis on non-linear exploration of Nintendo’s series, combined with the action-platforming of Castlevania. The map is even similar to Super Metroid. Symphony of the Night contains a leveling up system, as seen in many classic RPGs. It certainly makes up for some addictive gameplay.
Alucard will be traversing his father’s domain and players will see jaw-dropping 2D graphics. For a system not well regarded for its 2D games, Symphony of the Night is hands down one of the most gorgeous games on the system. The animation on the characters alone is worth the admission, but the overall range of environments and stages show off the creativity behind the game. The disturbing catacombs, to the church towers, to the long hallways are all incredible to look at.
Alucard plays much different from other Castlevania heroes. The son of Dracula uses a variety of swords, shields, spells, and transformations to help him battle his father. Alucard can turn into a bat, a werewolf or a cloud of mist in order to fight his way. A number of weapons and items to equip is almost overwhelming, but it allows for flowing diversity with customization and combat. For a game as huge as this one, it’s good to note that Symphony of the Night’s combat never becomes a chore.
Boss fights are awesome, but always find a way to challenge the player. Each fight is different and more unique than the last one. Alucard fights Greek myths, gigantic zombies that summon flies and even a certain Belmont. The final battle with Dracula is also incredible.
Finally, there is the soundtrack. Symphony of the Night truly is, for lack of a better word, a symphony. There is a wide array of music types for players can enjoy. It is, without a doubt, the greatest assortment of sounds in a Castlevania game. Some range from atmospheric, such as the Marble Garden’s theme, to fist-pumping anthems, such as the remix of “Bloody Tears.”
Maybe this Symphony goes on a bit too long
It’s no longer a spoiler, but players are required to go through the game twice. Upon beating what is supposedly the final boss, the “true” castle is revealed to be one upside down. Symphony’s castle is already a monstrosity of evil. Having to combat enemies again, but this time upside down may be a turn off for some players. It’s also more difficult this time around, so players are warned.
Castlevania: Symphony of the Night is a phenomenal game in its own right, and managed to give the franchise the right amount of originality it needed. Aside from, what could be considered, the immense length, Symphony of the Night is arguably the franchise’s magnum opus. It’s unique, creative, addictive and fun. Most importantly, Symphony of the Night’s reputation one that is justified. Find a copy of this game and just play it.