A few months ago, I was watching one of my Internet stories, a show about classic games, good and bad. The topic of conversation was the classic Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, one of the...
Perfect gameplay, stunning PS1 era graphics, hilariously bad voice-overs
Infrequent save points, randomly escalating challenge.
A few months ago, I was watching one of my Internet stories, a show about classic games, good and bad. The topic of conversation was the classic Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, one of the defining titles of the Playstation library. Growing up as a Nintendo fanboy, I never had a PS1 and as a result, my memories of the Belmont clan began and ended with Super Castlevania for the SNES. Upon a modern playthrough, the hype is more than deserved. SOTN is not only the best game in the Castlevania canon, it’s one of the best 2D experiences ever made.
In Symphony, you take the role of Alucard, son of the long dead Dracula (yeah, it’s just Dracula spelt backwards. Go figure). But when a wizard named Shaft (write your own joke) attempts to resurrect the long dead vampire, Alucard returns to his castle home to stop the uprising. The story gets lost in the wandering nature of the gameplay, but it works enough to keep you engaged. The best part of the tale is the campy voiceovers and hilariously poor translation. Isn’t “What is a man! A miserable little pile of secrets” a meme or something? If not, it should be.
Luckily, the majority of the game is spent exploring the intricate environs of Dracula’s castle. If you’re a fan of Metriod style backtracking, exploring and secret finding, you’ll be right at home in SOTN. Combat is exciting, control is tight and you have a range of entertaining enemies to tackle, each with their own exceptional death animations. The variety of zombies, skeletons and some supremely creepy ghouls keep the gameplay constantly fresh and varied. The game also has some RPG elements with a host of upgrades, weapons and spells along with a basic leveling system to keep things interesting.
And it’s a good thing too, because you’ll be going through those creatures again and again and again. Much like its Super Metroid counterpart, save points are spread out and the challenge varies wildly. One minute you’re rocking the socks off of an Axe Knight, the next you’re getting pounded by a flock of Medusa heads. Get to know that Game Over screen, intrepid gamer. You’ll be seeing it often.
However, you won’t mind the repetition thanks to some of the best 2D graphics to grace the PS1. Animations are fluid, character models are incredible and the soundtrack is second to none. At times the music doesn’t fit the mood of the area, but with a score so perfectly executed, I forgave the occasionally wonky tone.
If you’re a fan of 2D adventuring, dungeon crawling or clean oxygen, Castlevania: Symphony of the Night is an absolute must play. With legendary graphics, a terrific soundtrack and perfectly tuned gameplay, SOTN is a fantastic experience regardless of era or age. The challenge may make some gamers grit their teeth, but I say suck it up, young lad. This is what gaming was before save states, internet FAQ’s and follow arrows. A true masterpiece in every sense of the word.