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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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1,728 Ratings / 11 Reviews
#33 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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1997 KCET Konami  
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1997 KCET Konami  
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1998 KCET KCEN  
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Castlevania: SotN PSOne Classic
2007 KCET Konami  
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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
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[Played from Nov 28 to Dec 3, 2022]
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Throughout my reviews, I mention the Metroidvania genre constantly. Even if I’m not discussing a game that fits comfortably in the realm of the niche 2D platformer subgenre, games that borrow Metroidvania elements always receive my praise for emulating its impeccable game design. Nintendo crafted Zebes as a non-linear maze for the player to get lost in and succumb to the dread of total isolation, fitting for a franchise set in an alien world in outer space. For ten years, Metroid owned this style of progression and world building for itself, seemingly because no one was confident enough in attempting to mirror the franchise’s idiosyncratic design effectively. However, there is a reason why the “vania'' portion is the latter half of the genre’s name, and Castlevania is obviously the source. Up until the first 3D generation of gaming, Castlevania spent the previous generations as one of Nintendo’s prime third-party series, whose notoriously high difficulty helped cement a brutal legacy for every 2D platformer of the pixelated era of gaming. After several games involving the Belmonts side scrolling their way up Dracula’s grand, gothic estate, the series was due for a change. Castlevania experimented once with their second game, Simon’s Quest, and bombed to unforseen proportions in gaming. After ten years of Castlevania, the series had enough of a footing with more established tropes and properties to subvert. To expand the parameters of the series, Konami was bold enough to take more than a generous helping of Metroid’s core design. Their end product, Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, overtly used Metroid’s world design and sense of progression while masking it with Castlevania’s properties. However, Symphony of the Night was not a mediocre Metroid pastiche. In fact, Symphony of the Night was so exemplary that it was the single game that made people coin the term Metroidvania. Symphony of the Night gave the Metroidvania genre more credence, using its design to translate Metroid’s elements to an unfamiliar environment.

I speculate that using (Super) Metroid as a template was not Konami’s initial decision when crafting Symphony of the Night. For the Castlevania game that made the most radical shift in direction, Symphony of the Night is ironically a direct sequel to another Castlevania game, something seldom done in the series. Symphony of the Night begins as a remixed ending of Rondo of Blood (or Castlevania X for western audiences) as Richter has reached his penultimate climb up to Dracula. In this revamped version of Rondo of Blood’s climax, Richter and Dracula parley a heated debate about Dracula’s role as an omnipotent oppressor of mankind and if people want and deserve his presence even if it carries with it a miasma of misery. The wine glass that smashes after Dracula tosses it to the ground signals that it’s time to duel, and it’s a recreation of the final fight from Rondo of Blood (and thankfully, not Castlevania X). After Richter defeats Dracula (either on his own or with the help of Maria if the player falters), a reel of exposition introduces Symphony of the Night. Richter, the most recent Belmont to vanquish Dracula, has mysteriously disappeared on the night of a full moon, and Dracula’s castle has prematurely erected itself only after four years since Dracula’s last defeat instead of the approximate hundred-year timespan. Something fishy is afoot, and Maria searches for Richter while Alucard takes it upon himself to wake from his century-spanning slumber to defeat his father.

Castlevania markedly started their open relationship status with Nintendo in the 16-bit generation if Rondo of Blood and the Sega-produced Bloodlines are evident enough. Thank God Konami continued to “play the field” with other consoles because Symphony of the Night would not have been executed the same way if the series was confined to Nintendo consoles. During the early 3D era, Nintendo were hellbent on making sprites along with the 2D perspective obsolete practices of a then recent bygone era, like when “talkies” emerged and completely ousted the silent films of the 1920s. In the wake of their wild ambitions, Nintendo failed to realize that not every 2D platformer series was going to translate beautifully to 3D, with Castlevania 64 being a notable example of this among the myriad of failed attempts. Genesis owners were treated to a Castlevania alternative with Bloodlines but the PS1 was the optimal system to own for the quintessential fifth-generation Castlevania experience. The key behind Sony’s success with Castlevania where Nintendo failed was letting the developers expand on what they already established in generations prior instead of wiping the slate clean in a new dimensional space. Symphony of the Night proves that 16-bit graphics are not the pinnacle of refined pixelated visuals because the graphics of Symphony of the Night are breathtaking. The 32-bit graphics meant to render the most primitive of 3D aesthetics made for the most gorgeous pixel art seen in a video game. Colors are as eclectic as par for the Castlevania course, but the refinement in the visuals captures a balance between the striking lights and the deep, dark hues to create a grand atmosphere that straddles a line between moody and bombastic. Backgrounds are stunningly detailed, more so than any other Castlevania before it, and the resplendent sprite work of the foregrounds look more realistic than any of the 3D polygons of the era. Symphony of the Night is the peak of 2D Castlevania’s visuals, and we wouldn’t have known that pixel art could look as crisp and intricate if Sony borrowed Nintendo’s initiative to rid gaming of the visual style altogether. I wish other games on the PS1 followed suit with continuing the pixelated sidescroller format.

While the visuals defied the fifth-generation initiative of 3D, Symphony of the Night is still guilty of possessing some new features that were still in their primeval stages of development. Rondo of Blood’s PC engine featured snippets of compressed lines of voiced dialogue but fortunately, it was used on rare occasions. In Symphony of the Night, voice acting is far more commonplace, and it’s as awkward as one would expect. “Die, you monster! You don’t belong in this world!” and “What is a man?! A miserable little pile of secrets!” from the opening conversation between Dracula and Richeter make up what is surprisingly some of the most notable lines of video game dialogue, albeit if its popularity stems from ironic snark rather than genuine reverence in the same league as “All your base are belong to us” from Zero Wing. Conversations between characters usually involve Alucard speaking to someone, and I’m not entirely satisfied with the voice actor’s tone for the character. Maria Renard might be all grown up years after Rondo of Blood, but the husky, mature voice she has sounds like she’s aged fifty years instead of five. The voiced dialogue is yet another indication of poor, directionless voice acting in the early 3D era. Still, there is something about the bravado and enthusiasm of the vocal delivery that makes it endearing, elevating it above other examples of fifth-generation voicework. It’s surprisingly passable, but it’s a low bar to hurdle over.

Every other aspect of Symphony of the Night is dedicated to broadening the elements presented in the previous Castlevania titles. The Metroidvania genre is not so far removed from its 2D platformer progenitor but rather, it acts as a thicker expansion of its tropes and general format. Levels in traditional 2D platformers, namely every Castlevania before Symphony of the Night, are linear paths that the player must survive and make it to a spot that serves as a goal. Branching routes may be offered but no matter which direction the player chooses, each alternate path eventually leads to the same conclusion. The locations in Metroidvania games also have an end goal but the game forces the player to reach that goal through more circuitous means with less urgency involved. On top of that, the levels are connected so fluidly that I’d be hard pressed to refer to them as “levels.” Rather, they are areas of a more sprawling, interconnected world. It’s easy to forget when playing a Castlevania game that each level is restricted to the confines of Dracula’s castle because of how varied and spacious they seem to be. Bringing Castlevania’s epochal setting to the format of a Metroidvania game not only makes sense because of the closed off, yet spacious parameters it upholds, but it adds a sense of cohesion to the towering, gothic manor. The castle’s components are essentially the same as we’ve seen it several times over at this point, but now the settings get to breathe as the player becomes privy to the layout of the estate without any of the vague blips in between sections made by the typical 2D platformer format. The only section usually in a Castlevania that is unfortunately omitted are the grounds outside, most likely to maintain the cohesive setting of the castle. The only time we see the forest outside the castle is at the beginning when Alucard is bull-charging through them to get to the closing castle gate in time like Indiana Jones, sans the recovery of a hat once he makes it in time.

Dracula’s Castle makes for the perfect Metroidvania world, but its execution carries an entirely different ethos to the maps in Metroid. Not only were Super Metroid’s areas meant to cause claustrophobia, but the sense of digging deeper into the rabbit hole of uncharted territory made the tension grow tighter as if the oxygen was getting thinner with every inch. Symphony of the Night, on the other hand, does not want to frame Dracula’s castle as a vacuous haunted house where the exits are all rusted shut. Instead, the game wants the player to revel in its magnificence. Symphony of the Night takes the opposite approach to Super Metroid’s deep excavation and makes the singular setting of Dracula’s castle monumental in scope. The player still feels overwhelmed by the setting but in a more awe-striking manner rather than a discomforting one. Dracula’s castle has always felt massive from the individual portions of it we’ve seen in previous titles, but imagine each of those levels as a seamless amalgamation thanks to the gift of non-linearity. The map here manages to be even larger than the alien worlds that make up the collective of Super Metroid’s map, with four transport rooms available in different sections of the castle. Symphony of the Night emulates the feeling of getting lost in a celebrity’s million-dollar mansion, a tribute to the Count that accents his eminence and ego.

Another factor of the castle’s vastness can also be attributed to lenient restrictions on exploration. Objects and heights that hinder progression in this nonlinear world are prime essentials to the essence of a Metroidvania game, but Symphony of the Night uses these elements sparingly. With the exception of a few areas, the player can scrounge around most of the areas in Dracula’s Castle without being halted by too many barriers. A sparse number of snags in the halls of the castle is made to elevate the scope of it, but isn’t this counterintuitive to the Metroidvania design? Shouldn’t every corner of the castle be littered with roadblocks to uphold what Super Metroid established? As it turns out, not necessarily. Symphony of the Night has made me realize that constant progression restraints in Metroidvania games can be vexing. Points of inhibition garner interest, but offering too many of them in close quarters, especially at the start, can disenfranchise the player. It works in the strained environment of Metroid, but Castlevania was never intended to feel cramped. The player has the ability to run from one side of the map to the other right at the beginning, never halting the player’s sense of wonder and awe with exploration. The small amount of obstructions like the blue force fields and the mist gates are enough to satisfy the Metroidvania requirements. Dracula’s castle needs to retain its status as a sprawling spectacle, and having too many impediments would have been too close to the oppressiveness of Metroid for comfort. Castlevania is already copying enough from Metroid, so the game should be allowed some leeway to develop its own rules before Alucard starts donning a space helmet and using a futuristic hand cannon like a disturbing case of Single White Female.

Dracula’s castle is so formidable in Symphony of the Night that the Belmont mainstays can’t even overcome it. Its new unorthodox design triumphs over the capabilities of the iconic vampire-slaying clan, like a caveman being thwarted by using a utensil after getting too comfortable eating with his hands for his entire life. The Castlevania series has put many different Belmonts in the spotlight as the primary vampire killer, but Symphony of the Night marks the first game where a Belmont is not the protagonist. Extraordinary circumstances call for even more extraordinary capabilities, and Alucard is certainly someone who possesses these. Yes, the same Alucard from Castlevania III is at the helm of ending Dracula’s reign of terror in Symphony of the Night. Konami (literally) resurrected a character that shared a sidekick billing with two other characters behind Trevor Belmont in a Castlevania title released generations before Symphony of the Night, so what was the impetus for dusting him off and giving the prestigious role of the first non-Belmont protagonist? Firstly, Alucard’s extraordinary capabilities I was alluding to beforehand shan’t be forgotten by anyone who has played Castlevania III. Alucard’s ability to transform into a bat and fly over the heads of enemies made him the wildcard of Trevor’s posse. The same ability translates to his lead role in Symphony of the Night, now unlocking a new, unseen potential with it. On top of hovering past the reaches of the enemies, the primary use for Alucard’s transformation abilities is now traversing the out-of-reach corridors of the castle. Alucard can also transform into a wolf and a cloud of ephemeral mist which are used occasionally for traversal, but they do not match the soaring potential of the bat. However, all of these innate abilities are stripped away from Alucard by the Grim Reaper at the beginning, so they all serve as the game’s “power ups” that allow Alucard to access more of the castle upon their retrieval as seen in Metroid. The Belmonts simply seem too base and barbaric to conquer what Dracula’s castle has become, so the androgynous, supernatural Alucard is a great surrogate to deal with the castle’s newfound complexities.

Alucard also has more of a stake in the Castlevania story than Sypha and Grant ever did, and arguably more than any of the Belmonts. Alucard is none other than Dracula’s son, an impure half-breed of human and vampire. His name is even an anagram for Dracula, spelling out what Dracula’s name would look like seeing it in a mirror like “Redrum” from The Shining. Narrative depth was not something feasible in the days of the NES, so Alucard’s connections with Dracula were difficult to delve into. However, Symphony of the Night elucidates on Alucard’s special placement in the Castlevania world. The big question everyone ponders over is that if Alucard is Dracula’s son, why would go to great lengths to defy him? Alucard, to his father’s chagrin, is a “human apologist.” Dracula’s contempt for mankind stems from the horrific murder of his human wife Lisa, Alucard’s mother, burned at the stake by the local villagers and their church for blasphemously bedding the Count. This event understandably scarred Alucard, with a nightmare sequence of his mother’s death triggering at some point in the game that represents his trauma. However, Lisa’s parting words were to forgive the humans instead of begrudging them, something that Alucard respects while his father does not. In order to uphold his mother’s wishes, Alucard must stop his tyrannical father from exterminating the human race. Alucard’s backstory and the conflicting circumstances of his existence make him a much more interesting protagonist for a Castlevania game. His journey feels more personal than the obligatory trek the Belmonts undertake every century.

Alucard’s greater capabilities for traversal make him a more suitable candidate as a Castlevania representative for a Metroidvania game, but how does he fare in combat? Alas, Death has also stripped Alucard’s mighty offensive prowess, and must recover it along with his vampiric powers. Alucard regains his strength via the system found in an RPG game, leveling up after a certain number of points from defeating enemies. The RPG genre, specifically the Action-RPG, and the Metroidvania genre are not mutually exclusive, but their accumulative properties through progression often see some overlap with one another. As Alucard slays the creatures of the night that lurk around Dracula’s castle, he is granted a certain amount of experience points like in a typical RPG. The player cannot determine which attributes to improve upon leveling up as each level milestone automatically increases Alucard’s offense and defense. This lack of a choice may be indicative of a shallow RPG leveling system, but Symphony of the Night compensates for its simplicity in this regard. Alucard’s build is customizable through the wide assortment of weapons and armor. Besides strength and defense, the player should also consider other stats like intelligence and luck before equipping them. Their magic and critical properties are arguably just as vital as the former two, and the beauty of a build is that the player has a choice. Plenty of objectively stronger weapons and more durable armor will naturally be found as the player progresses, found in deep crevices of the castle and from the remains of enemies. Alucard can also purchase weapons and armor from a figure called the “Master Librarian,” but his stubbornness to stay put among the massive shelves of books makes visiting him a bit inconvenient. The Action-RPG elements along with purchasable goods may seem like the game’s most unique contribution to the Metroidvania genre, a peculiar deviation that gives Symphony of the Night’s gameplay its own identity. Upon further consideration, does Samus not increase her firepower with the upgrades she finds and trade in her armor for one with better defense? Are these upgrades not equatable to leveling up in a point system? Perhaps RPG elements were always present in Super Metroid, and Symphony of the Night’s more overt system exposed Super Metroid’s subtleties.

The two attributes that are not increased with leveling up are Alucard’s maximum health, and heart ammunition for the sub-weapons Alucard inherited from the Belmonts. Upgrades for both of these can be found on the map, but they will be a consistent drop when the player defeats the bosses. There is at least one boss per area in Dracula’s castle, and they might be my favorite crop of bosses in a Castlevania title so far. Some encounters have Alucard fighting familiar foes like a doppelganger fight, while the Werewolf and Minotaur fights exemplify the game’s pension for dual bosses. Other bosses like Scylla and Legion fill the entire arena with enormous mass. The latter of the two is a particular highlight as it’s an orgy of naked bodies coalesced as a giant sphere, and I can thank Sony for their lenience on graphic content as opposed to Nintendo here once again. On top of their creative quality, something is satisfying about the way these bosses are encountered. Scrounging around the castle and stumbling upon the bosses unexpectedly is always a stimulating surprise and gives me the satisfaction that I’ve explored the area thoroughly. All the while, defeating them still feels like the penultimate challenge of a level similar to the previous games.

However, the challenges presented in Symphony of the Night do not match any of the ones from any of the previous games. The Metroidvania’s tendencies for nonlinearity and accumulative progression has naturally made Symphony of the Night much easier than what Castlevania fans were used to, and a good number of them find fault with this. Although I never found myself in a state of anguish-induced prayer trying to overcome any section of Symphony of the Night compared to previous games, it is not a walk in the park. The open-ended level design with few barriers allows the player to visit most areas of the castle, and they’ll soon discover that some areas offer steeper challenges than others. Symphony of the Night has what I like to call “suggested difficulty.” The game never overtly directs a player towards a certain trajectory but if the enemies deplete Alucard’s health bar drastically with one hit, the game expects the player to have the common sense to go somewhere else and return later with more experience. The course of areas suggested subtly by the game always provides a suitable difficulty curve, even in the beginning when Alucard has nothing but his bare hands and a butter knife as his means of offense. All the while, experienced players can still choose to endure the harder areas. Most of the same enemies from the classic games return (along with so many others that the Master Librarian catalogs a bestiary), and the player has to recontextualize them. The bottomless pits that would be interspersed in the architecture of Dracula’s castle have been omitted completely. Hence, enemies like Medusa Heads and Flea Men are now as irritating as flies. However, every enemy is still a liability in the endurance test to find the next save state to regenerate their health, and the rooms of respite are parsimoniously dispersed. Upon learning the layout of an area, it’s refreshing to plow through enemies with experience and save progress at their leisure. Symphony of the Night is as challenging as the player wants it to be, a testament to its liberally-designed world.

At times, Symphony of the Night’s free-flowing philosophy neglects the player. That one specific exception is with the game’s true ending. The player is intended to collect three specific items and equip them while fighting the final boss, but the game is true to its laissez faire approach and does not give the player any indication of what and where these items are. Without them, the game leaves on an unsatisfactory narrative of defeating Richter under Alucard’s suspicions of him trying to resurrect Dracula. If the player has these three items, Alucard instead sees an orb floating over Richter who turns out to be Shaft, Dracula’s right-hand man from Rondo of Blood. All this time, he’s been using Richter as a puppet and controlling his mind, and attacking him instead of Richter exposes his mirage. The specific directions are far too obtuse to discover naturally, so much so that players back during this game’s release only heard about it from word of mouth.

Also, not following the game’s specific instructions will lock the player out of the second half of the game: the notorious inverted castle. If the player defeats Shaft’s orb, Alucard will find himself in an exact copy of Dracula’s castle but flipped on the Y-axis. The player must traverse through the castle again, and it’s not as tedious as it sounds. The inverted castle may not offer any new areas to explore, but it does offer a new slew of enemies that prove to be more formidable than anything in the upright castle. However, the game fails to recognize that Alucard can now bypass everything with his bat form. It’s the last powerup the player acquires in the normal castle for a reason. The amount of health-draining enemies mixed with the army of weaker enemies often clutter a room, and using the bat mitigates the hassle entirely. At this point, the player is also probably overleveled, eliminating the incentive to gain more experience defeating enemies. The player will also most likely be at an adequate level to deal with the inverted castle’s bosses, who all possess body parts of Dracula, like in Simon’s Quest. If players follow the game’s suggested path, they will fight the bosses from the first Castlevania. A fun tribute for sure, but the novel charm of it is ineffective due to Rondo of Blood already doing something like this. Even the vengeful fight against Death for Alucard’s full power is underwhelming. Optional bosses like Beelzebub and Galamoth are perhaps TOO challenging to even entertain the thought of fighting. Overall, the inverted castle does not match the same level of quality as the normal one. The wondrous sense of exploration is not present due to its uncanny design, and all the challenges it provides can be passed over like a helicopter in a foot race. Still, it makes up a gigantic portion of the game that shouldn’t be missed in terms of getting your money’s worth, and the final fight against Dracula after completing it sees the Count in his most beastly form yet. No one will want to leave the game without a solid resolution. However, I’m still skeptical whether or not the inverted castle was a necessary addition to extend the game when the first half was substantial enough.


The Castlevania series butchered the foundation of the series with experimentation long ago with Simon’s Quest on the NES, and the series was apprehensive to deviate from the series formula for the longest time. Castlevania: Symphony of the Night proves that all the series needed was more time to take a better source of inspiration, specifically Nintendo’s iconic sci-fi series Metroid. Metroid’s influence has given Castlevania an immaculate breadth, a potential that couldn’t have been possible by sticking to the tropes of regular 2D platformers. Its ample world design coupled with its ease on boundaries makes the game feel sumptuous, fitting for the game’s lavish presentation. Before Symphony of the Night, most people probably would never have associated it with Metroid in the slightest, but Konami’s effort to mimic Metroid’s foundation has formulated a marriage of sorts with many offspring between the two. Their relationship blossomed because Castlevania understood Metroid better than Metroid understood itself. Castlevania is definitely the breadwinner of the two, for Symphony of the Night made Metroid more accessible. All the while, Symphony of the Night still upholds an incredible sense of exploration and world design that most Metroidvania games decades onward still struggle to attain. Metroid might have supplied the mold, but Castlevania sculpted that marble into the Michelangelo's David of the genre. It’s no wonder why developers then started to take notice.
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Erockthestrange 2019-06-01T05:09:43Z
2019-06-01T05:09:43Z
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Before any of you smartasses comment on anything starting with the word “actually,” I’m aware that Koji Igarashi has gone on record stating that A Link to the Past was his primary influence in crafting Symphony of the Night’s world design. I can see many parallels between A Link to the Past and Symphony of the Night, yet it still reminds me more of Super Metroid. The public didn’t coin the genre “Zeldavania” for a reason.
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gutserk 2022-07-08T12:29:56Z
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crouton33 悪魔城ドラキュラX 月下の夜想曲 2023-10-04T02:04:55Z
2023-10-04T02:04:55Z
3.0
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noirdrive 悪魔城ドラキュラX 月下の夜想曲 2023-10-03T23:33:00Z
2023-10-03T23:33:00Z
4.5
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macacocomchupeta 悪魔城ドラキュラX 月下の夜想曲 2023-10-03T19:40:46Z
2023-10-03T19:40:46Z
4.5
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
anonymous01201 悪魔城ドラキュラX 月下の夜想曲 2023-10-03T17:07:15Z
2023-10-03T17:07:15Z
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nanowarrior 悪魔城ドラキュラX 月下の夜想曲 2023-10-03T17:06:34Z
2023-10-03T17:06:34Z
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onetesticletom 悪魔城ドラキュラX 月下の夜想曲 2023-10-03T13:51:56Z
2023-10-03T13:51:56Z
4.5
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Roquetteur 悪魔城ドラキュラX 月下の夜想曲 2023-10-02T00:44:15Z
2023-10-02T00:44:15Z
5.0
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ChuckDynamiteFBI 悪魔城ドラキュラX 月下の夜想曲 2023-09-28T16:45:03Z
2023-09-28T16:45:03Z
3.5
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Nacho353 悪魔城ドラキュラX 月下の夜想曲 2023-09-28T01:13:42Z
2023-09-28T01:13:42Z
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yourdadcosplay 悪魔城ドラキュラX 月下の夜想曲 2023-09-28T00:01:55Z
2023-09-28T00:01:55Z
3.5
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chatlog Castlevania: Symphony of the Night 2023-09-27T21:37:57Z
PS1 • XNA
2023-09-27T21:37:57Z
4.5
4
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chatlog 悪魔城ドラキュラX 月下の夜想曲 2023-09-27T21:37:35Z
PS1 • JP
2023-09-27T21:37:35Z
4.0
1
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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 (69) Loading...
  • thm_yrk12 2023-06-21 21:19:42.426113+00
    gorgeous ass game
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  • M1N4fknRVVM3Z 2023-06-24 22:11:46.080088+00
    so fucking good
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  • thm_yrk12 2023-06-25 15:59:17.830197+00
    i hate those stupid armoured flea men with every fibre of my being
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  • emaqed 2023-07-09 14:24:21.334794+00
    This game is absolutely crisp, and one of the only games I consider "perfect" in their design.
    So why is konami so fucking stupid? Why isn't it on steam and switch?
    I am very glad for the mobile port, but konami are imbeciles who don't make this masterpiece available on all platforms, as it deserves to be.
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  • SongityBoy 2023-08-06 10:44:28.561043+00
    A MISERABLE LITTLE PILE OF SECRETS
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  • DomMazzetti 2023-08-10 22:58:55.990764+00
    Inverted castle slander.
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  • TheHonorableMinisterBBG 2023-09-13 23:52:57.586262+00
    the soundtrack is incredible. love the area with dance of the pales as the theme
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  • okayfrog 2023-09-28 00:52:37.885526+00
    man how is this not on Switch/PC yet
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