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Castlevania: Symphony of the Night

悪魔城ドラキュラX 月下の夜想曲

20 March 1997
Castlevania: Symphony of the Night [悪魔城ドラキュラX 月下の夜想曲] - cover art
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4.27 / 5.0
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1,900 Ratings / 11 Reviews
#37 All-time
#1 for 1997
Dracula's castle reappears five years after his death by the hands of vampire hunter Richter Belmont. With the Belmont missing, Dracula's son, Alucard, awakens and arrives at the castle to destroy it once and for all.
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1997 KCET Konami  
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JP 4 988602 008111 SLPM 86023
1997 KCET Konami  
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XNA 0 83717 17003 7 SLUS-00067
1997 KCET Konami  
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FR DE NL ES 4 988602 060652 SLES-00524
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1997 KCET Konami  
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GB 4 988602 060652 SLES-00524
1998 KCET KCEN  
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JP 4 988602 432626
Castlevania: SotN PSOne Classic
2007 KCET Konami  
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The people who complain about this game's balance are missing the point. SotN is a tremendous game precisely because it's so broken and hedonistic. There is maybe no other game that epitomizes maximalism in design more than this one.

Is the reverse castle too easy? Yes.
Are there way too many overpowered weapons and tools? Yes.
Is the confession room completely pointless? Yes.
Is the game too cryptic with tons of secrets and hidden rooms? Yes.
Are the RPG elements rudimentary and make an easy game even easier? Yes.

The impression I get while playing this game is that the designers did not give a fuck about what "good" game design is and simply decided to go buck wild and put as many ideas as they can into this game because why the fuck not. And from the point of view of a player, It makes this an extremely exciting game to play as it continuously surprises with new hidden layers to discover. And asking yourself if those layers break the game's balance is simply foolish. Who cares about that when the game is this constantly enthralling in its wonders?

In a sense, Symphony of the Night could be considered the defining game of the PS1 and all the new possibilities it brought to how expansive games could be. This 2D game did more with that newfound freedom than any 3D game on it.

God Bless you Symphony of the Night, you glorious mess.
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WinterMirage 2021-05-18T23:59:19Z
2021-05-18T23:59:19Z
4.5
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How do I express my feelings for this game without sounding super snarky? I guess I can't. Symphony of the Night might be one of these games that no matter who you are you will feel a certain energy that solidifies it as a classic right from the start. It has this certain aura that just fills you with excitement and passion. But what exactly is this essence I'm feeling? Symphony of the Night is full of things that just don't really make any sense. It's filled with things that are just there to make you feel like you're into something deep, something meaningful. It hints to something larger than what it is. It's a masterclass of illusion. Symphony of the Night is pretending to be a complex RPG and it works flawlessly.

SotN continues the story of Rondo of Blood but this time around we're playing as Alucard. At first the game teases us by letting us play as Richter but after the opening sequence we switch to Alucard which is a clever way of letting us know that this ain't gonna be the Castlevania we used to know. Another way of the game teaching us through gameplay what's about to happen is letting us play Alucard with full power until we lose all of our power after a short sequence. So now we know that our goal is to bring Alucard back to his original strength. People really praise this first few moments but I'm really not a big fan of it. One thing is that we're not even that strong to begin with at full power and 2nd of all is that this tease really feels like an unnecessary sequence and doesn't really motivate me. It's just a strange start but I guess it adds to the charm of the game.

Now Alucard controls rather rigidly which is to be expected of Castlevania. We can attack just right ahead and diagonally down and we're able to control our jump mid air again. Now this constant changing of the moveset throughout the series is getting kinda confusing and I wonder why they just can't make a final decision and design the game around the controls. Another thing Alucard can do is do a really awkward backdash. I bet it can be used for speedrunning but I wasnt able to do anything meaningful with it. If you think that this moveset will be greatly expanded throughout the game than you're absolutely wrong. The only real movement option we'll receive is a double jump.

Which brings me to the nature of this game which is the whole oddity: SotN was the game that coined the term Metroidvania. because that's exactly what this game is. It's not even ashamed of copying Metroid as its map looks exactly the same. And this is the sole reason this game is so great. It took Metroid and added some subtle RPG elements on top. Technically SotN could be any other game but they chose to slap the Castlevania theme to slap onto it. So instead of exploring Zebes we're runninig through Draculas caslte. The idea of an non linear Castlevania existed since Simons Quest and you could argue that this is a continuation of that design but let's be honest: Konami was looking for ideas somewhere else. Castlevania so great is no where to be found.

And to be completely honest these two designs fit together exceptionally well but most of the gameplay that made Castlevanie great is kinda gone. The atmosphere and visual design however is Castlevania through and through and some of the atmospheres this game is able to create are unmatched. The sprites and pixelart are exceptional and it might be one of the prettiest "32-bit" games I've ever seen. The soundtrack is another marble to behold. Especially the church area on top of the castle is just full of pretty sprites, remarkable vibes and epic jams. Visually speaking this game is a pure joy to explore. The leveldesign is another story however.

Something about the castle feels just off and I can't really put it to words. You know this weird feeling you get when a game feels like a real place but isn't designed like one? Yeah this is pretty much it. All of it feels very gamey, with overly long hallways weird shapes and ideas that seemed cool and that's why they did it. Surprisingly SotN Castle layout ends up flowing kind of alright but you realize very quickly that it is just one big circle with a few connections. In addition some areas just feel very underdeveloped than others and it all really doesn't feel very coherent. All of these things might just be the reason SotN feels so magical to explore. None of it makes sense.

What keeps this map constantly opening up are the various keys that open up pathways and by keys I mean the abilities you'll get. But they're really not anything special. Unlike in Metroid where every ability changes your moveset entirely, the upgrades in SotN feel pointless as you will only use them 2-3 times. It's really disappointing and some of the things I've unlocked never found any use at all. Like the wolf transformation has no use at all. or am I missing something? Then at one point you unlock the bat which feels like the only thing that is usable and it unlocks like 60% of the castles secrets. Exploring just ended up feeling kinda meh as none of it really rewarded it.

Possible rewards could have been more interesting abilities or gear that increases your stats. SotN has a pseudo RPG system but I'd argue it is on the same level of interesting as in Simons Quest. You get a sword and check the number. Is it higher? Equip it. There are minor differences in gameplay for items but overall it just feels like a system that fakes progression and depth rather than actually providing it. It kinda reminds me of Darksouls in which you also find minor random items that change tiny little things. However in Darksouls the stats actually kinda matter. Never throughout the whole game was I investing time in thinking about stats which items to use which summoned creature is better eg. It seems like this tacked on system is just there to hint at something that could've been. Random drops from enemies add to this mythos as well as all the various crap scattered throughout the map. I mean come on never was I like "damn a luck potion! I bet I need more luck for this bossfight now" it just ain't the game to do that.

Speaking of bosses: They are all kinda trivial. You can hack and slash yourself through most encounters especially near the end of the game where you have the best sword. The final boss Richter is laughable easy but wait... He ain't the final boss after all as you have to guess before you beat him to collect some random items and wear a random pair of glasses in order to unlock the 2nd half of the game in which you play as Richter through an inversed version of the castle. The fact that "half" of the game is hidden behind a "sidequest" really bothers me. Rondo of blood did a similar thing and I didn't like it either.

To end this schizo rant on a positive note. I actually really liked playing through this game but it is a very see-through experience. I can definitely see how this game inspired Darksouls (basically the same game in 2D (i know abt beserk)) and many other wonderful games. Did Castlevania improve from this genre change? Probably. I don't know what's about to come but it certainly is the most polished of all the Castlevanias that came before. It's full of tiny little details and lovely vibes and it has an incredible charm. But it is also an incredible oddity. It's just weird and nothing makes sense but I guess that's the whole source of its greatness. Damn I need so go sleep now lol. I'm fine I swear.
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JoahannisBaerStrysl 2024-01-07T21:10:32Z
2024-01-07T21:10:32Z
4.0
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Not a Metroidvania
Before Metroid, items in platformers were optional and temporary boosts that made make it easier for the player to get to beat the level. These items did not define the player character or the game world. One of the defining features of Metroid and what set it apart from other platforming games at the time is the acquisition of items and powerups for the long-term that open up new areas and enable further progression through the game world, as in a traditional adventure game.

What sets Symphony of the Night apart from Metroid is that it continued to rely on the old "subweapon system" of the original Castlevania, a type of weapon that is discarded when the player acquires a new one. In that way, Symphony of the Night is actually closer to a traditional platforming game than it is to an adventure game. The fact that Alucard can carry only one subweapon at once is even more nonsensical given that Symphony of the Night is also an action-RPG, where Alucard can carry a whole inventory of items, from weapons, armour, potions, and so on.

So the antiquated "subweapon system" is not only out-place in what is supposed be an adventure game and an RPG, it also requires a lot of suspension of disbelief on part of the player and ruins the immersion of an interconnected game world with intricate detail and deep atmosphere. It was not until Aria of Sorrow years later that introduced the "Tactical Soul System" that Castlevania finally became a proper action-adventure, and thus the first true hybrid of Metroid and Castlevania.
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dvd 2016-04-18T01:26:31Z
2016-04-18T01:26:31Z
3.5
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just use the shield rod
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menges 2023-04-28T20:10:11Z
2023-04-28T20:10:11Z
4.5
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The Soul of a Genre
I just finished Symphony of the Night for the first time, and it feels like I’ve completed a pilgrimage. Perhaps more than any other game, this one has been cloned and copied to a point where the original barely feels unique. While I knew, academically, that Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night and the entire –vania side of the Metroidvania genre borrow elements from SOTN, after playing it for myself I can finally appreciate how this game’s blood courses through an entire genre.

The funny thing about playing SOTN in 2023 is that there’s scarcely anything here that I haven’t seen before. Stat progression? Gradually expanding movement options? A map completion ticker that’s more than it seems? All of these features that would’ve been mind-blowing in 1997 are now commonplace.

Yet that’s not to say there’s nothing unique here. The aesthetics are still absolutely exquisite. Yamane Michiru’s soundtrack is one for the ages, full of killer organ-laden tracks that would make Bach blush. Visuals and animation are just as impressive, as evidenced by little details like the way Alucard changes directions by floating in reverse before committing to the turn.

Other aspects have not aged as well. The castle’s layout, while impeccable on a macro level, is full of overly long corridors and interminable towers. Fighting the same enemies over and over for minutes at a time as you scale a spire or run through a hallway isn’t much fun. I’m sure this design is partially the fault of limitations of the original PlayStation. Smaller areas with greater enemy variety would’ve lead to more intrusive load times. The game also suffers from major balance issues. The difficulty curve is all over the place, and certain combinations of equipment can completely break the game. To be honest, though, playing around with a certain defensive rod made me realize how much fun game-breaking weapons can be. It’s the kind of oversight that doesn’t exist in the era of post-launch patches.

The biggest surprise for me, however, was seeing the multitude of parallels between this game and another game that spawned its own genre. Yes, I’m talking about Dark Souls. Both games set you loose in gothic playgrounds with horizons that expand naturally as you progress. They also both offer myriad options for player expression, not just in terms of stats and equipment loadouts, but by tossing aside the guardrails and letting each player uncover secrets and overcome obstacles in a unique order. Though the areas remain the same, every playthrough is a new adventure with a new order of operations. I always knew that Dark Souls had connections to the Metroidvania genre; now I understand how deep those roots truly reach.
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toadhjo 2023-04-11T02:24:49Z
2023-04-11T02:24:49Z
4.0
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I don’t have a huge amount of gaming experience. As I was growing up my parents didn’t buy any consoles for my brother, so I didn’t grow up with anything other than Lego Star Wars. This means that I am approaching the games I play both without nostalgia, and with an unfamiliarity that is different from probably most people who consider themselves ‘gamers’. A little over a year ago I emulated Super Metroid [スーパーメトロイド], which was the first metroidvania that I played. It was a revelatory experience for me in many ways, as I was unaware of the concept before. You can laugh at my naivete in this regard if you want. I found it nice that one of the most influential games in a genre was my introduction to it. It’s not like I am finding out what it invented after being familiar with games that borrowed from it. Now I had some minor issues with Super Metroid [スーパーメトロイド]: I felt lost at a few points, the backtracking got a little repetitive towards the end, and I never would have found several of the secrets without playthroughs on the internet. Mostly though I had a great time.

With that lengthy preamble out of the way, which hopefully establishes where I was coming from as I played Symphony of the Night, I need to say: this was the best gaming experience of my life so far. I doubt I can offer any truly new perspective about why this game is so revolutionary and respected to this day, and I certainly cannot make any new points about its role in the grand scheme of the metroidvania genre, but I can talk about why I liked it so much.

I enjoy art in a variety of different mediums, (I like literature and film the most), and I want a different experience out of those different art forms. This game does something for me that I cannot find in any other medium. Firstly, the map design is truly immaculate. No matter which direction I went in, I never felt lost, or like I was wasting my time. The art direction in every different room was also superb. They all looked distinct in their own beautiful way. The score was similarly incredible. The different genres that they draw from never feel dissonant from one another, yet allow every section of the game to have its own charm and feeling. It is cohesive in its variety. This meant that I never got tired of exploring through the game, even when I would have to backtrack through the rooms. I was also delighted by how little backtracking I needed to do. The castle was circular in such a way that I usually ended up connected to somewhere else I needed to go at the end of exploring any given section.

Some people seem to complain about the inverted castle, so I will offer my own defense of it. It is unnerving in a captivating way to traverse a map that you are familiar with, but has been flipped on its head. That in combination with the new enemies, colour schemes, and (occasionally) score meant that it was a particular combination of unique and familiar that caused it to never get tiresome for me.

As for the combat system, I greatly enjoyed that aspect too. I didn’t go out of my way to look up guides to find all the little (perhaps unintuitive) mechanics you can do to give yourself an advantage, and I didn’t feel like I needed to (except I looked up how to get the lighting absorbing crown so when I found out it was pretty much a necessity to beat the one boss). I can’t write in as much detail about this, as I don’t feel like I mastered it on my first play through, but many of the different weapons you are given are very cool. Also you receive new power ups at what feels like exactly the correct pacing. These new power ups meant that as the game went along you could move through the castle even more easily, which further prevented any backtracking from becoming a slog. I am certain this was integral to preventing the inverted castle from getting tiresome, as towards the end I could move through it as a mist form that did damage, which made me feel both powerful, and avoided any annoyances from getting stuck doing too much crowd control.

As a final note, I found the voice acting rather charming. I really loved that final cutscene where Dracula complains about sarcasm as he dies. It was a very satisfying conclusion to a superb game.
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CommieDino 2022-12-02T17:34:23Z
2022-12-02T17:34:23Z
5.0
1
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[Played from Nov 28 to Dec 3, 2022]
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Foppishcrow 悪魔城ドラキュラX 月下の夜想曲 2024-04-23T17:33:36Z
2024-04-23T17:33:36Z
5.0
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czokens 悪魔城ドラキュラX 月下の夜想曲 2024-04-23T08:35:26Z
2024-04-23T08:35:26Z
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VaLeReFeICaO 悪魔城ドラキュラX 月下の夜想曲 2024-04-23T02:15:37Z
2024-04-23T02:15:37Z
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s000lace 悪魔城ドラキュラX 月下の夜想曲 2024-04-21T19:46:21Z
2024-04-21T19:46:21Z
4.0
1
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finalhourush 悪魔城ドラキュラX 月下の夜想曲 2024-04-21T05:13:36Z
2024-04-21T05:13:36Z
4.5
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Einfinet 悪魔城ドラキュラX 月下の夜想曲 2024-04-20T15:49:35Z
2024-04-20T15:49:35Z
3.5
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pissy_jorts204 悪魔城ドラキュラX 月下の夜想曲 2024-04-19T17:30:46Z
2024-04-19T17:30:46Z
4.5
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worldfell 悪魔城ドラキュラX 月下の夜想曲 2024-04-19T06:52:12Z
2024-04-19T06:52:12Z
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Megurenibs 悪魔城ドラキュラX 月下の夜想曲 2024-04-15T18:09:40Z
2024-04-15T18:09:40Z
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Phamtomas 悪魔城ドラキュラX 月下の夜想曲 2024-04-15T09:26:39Z
2024-04-15T09:26:39Z
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FrostSonium 悪魔城ドラキュラX 月下の夜想曲 2024-04-14T20:21:02Z
2024-04-14T20:21:02Z
5.0
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COSMIC_CADET 悪魔城ドラキュラX 月下の夜想曲 2024-04-12T14:22:35Z
2024-04-12T14:22:35Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
1997
Player modes
Single-player
Media
1x CD-ROM
Also known as
  • Akumajō Dracula X: Gekka no Yasōkyoku
  • Castlevania: Symphony of the Night
  • Devil's Castle Dracula X: Nocturne in the Moonlight
  • Castlevania: SotN
  • View all [4] Hide

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  • Previous comments (81) Loading...
  • dalem666 2023-11-08 16:37:43.739515+00
    how is the xbox version?
    reply
    • Regal_Throes 2024-01-11 02:50:00.630775+00
      Basically the best way to play the game. No load times at all or any slowdown. Only problem is no FMVs and no Saturn Maria, but it's amazing.
    • batamamma 2024-04-09 13:04:35.892263+00
      No Saturn Maria for the PS4 version either, but PSP Maria instead.
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  • MouthfulofPaste 2023-12-11 00:14:00.716107+00
    Wtf is dvd talking about in that “review”?
    reply
    • LanI 2024-02-10 22:24:30.443645+00
      Being able to carry only 1 sub weapon ruined the entire game for him. Pretty hilarious ngl
    • More replies New replies ) Loading...
  • Chilindo 2024-01-09 05:47:28.857869+00
    crazy how basically no metroidvania after this actually understands whats made this game so good (same applies to super metroid)
    reply
    • juvenilemoogs 2024-01-16 05:23:33.430454+00
      How so?
    • babyclav 2024-02-27 03:37:01.10983+00
      super metroid is way better tho
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  • Regal_Throes 2024-01-15 04:06:51.587269+00
    I've changed my mind on this game. Still God tier years later. Aria of Sorrow is great but SOTN for some reason just gets it all perfect.
    reply
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  • saturncast 2024-01-19 04:07:35.109598+00
    the soundtrack for this game is unreal. shoutout to michiru yamane
    reply
    • saturncast 2024-01-19 04:18:25.815273+00
      also if you find this game too difficult, go to the inverse library and kill a bunch of schmoos until you find the crissaegrim. it's a cakewalk after that
    • More replies New replies ) Loading...
  • Coldplaz 2024-02-11 00:34:07.619137+00
    Fun game but definitely doesn't live up to the hype like Super Metroid which feels tighter and more balanced.
    reply
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  • Grungy777 2024-03-03 20:30:04.608952+00
    I love a lot about this game, but the tragedy of it is that the complete lack of difficulty really hurts the design. It makes exploring for equipment and upgrades feel pointless, and I totally ignored spells first playthrough because almost nothing was hard enough to bother using them on (yes including Galamoth). I had 100x more fun replaying this on luck mode but a dedicated hard mode would have been even better.
    reply
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  • KesiMiao 2024-04-01 18:09:47.957358+00
    Feels more responsive to play than Super Metroid, but the level design is just more engaging in SM. The strenght in SotN is the variety of enemies and environments though.
    reply
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