I can’t hurl too many superlatives towards Castlevania: Symphony of the Night because I love this game. I’ve been a huge fan of the Castlevania series since the original on the NES and have been playing any version I can get my hands on whether its on NES, SNES, Gameboy, Genesis and now the PlayStation. This was one of the games I bought used shortly after purchasing my PS as a nice action-adventure alternative to the sports titles I was primarily into at the time. I just assumed that a 2D Castlevania game on a 32-bit system would be an amazing gaming experience and I wasn’t wrong. Symphony of the Night excels in just about everything that it tries to do, which is a lot! The castle is beautifully rendered with so many details that I find myself staying in rooms longer than I need to in order to enjoy the view. The music and sound effects are impressive as well and really take advantage of the CD quality available on the PS. The voice acting can at times be a little over the top and there are occasional localization gaffes but its easy to overlook that when everything else about the game is so perfect.
As for the gameplay, you play as Alucard, Dracula’s son who has returned to his father’s castle to defeat Richter Belmont (of Rondo of Blood fame). You’ll also meet additional characters within the castle that help advance the plot. Of course, Castlevania: Symphony of the Night is known as the originator of the “MetroidVania” sub-genre. What this means is that aspects of the Metroid/Super Metroid games (non-linear, access to areas are closed until certain items or skills are earned/found) melded together with Castlevania elements (gothic horror, hack and slash). This game also provides elements of RPGs with the level-up system & magic spells, strengthening Alucard’s attack as the game progresses. For the Castlevania purists, there are still items to break to reveal special weapons, hearts (for your special weapons), money (which you can use in the shops to buy items) as well as potions, and other items to help protect and strengthen Alucard. You have an inventory screen to keep track of everything you have earned, bought and found and can equip and use items as necessary. There is also a map of the castle that you can use to see what parts you’ve been to and what parts you’ll have to back-track to once you’ve gained whatever magic or skill necessary to advance. I’m currently re-playing through Symphony of the Night and I’m still in awe at how perfectly perfect this game is. Castlevania: Symphony of the Night is simply a must own for any fan of the series, fan of action platformers or fan of adventure games (ala Zelda, Metroid, etc.)
Currently in my collection: game, manual, case