Castlevania: Symphony of the Night
Metroid. Contra. Mega Man. Castlevania. These are a few of the all-time best games that were founded during the 8-Bit era which have thrived on several platforms. These classics are revered by gamers and critics alike and often bring a tear to one's eye in fond remembrance. One by one. these games are making their way to the new generation of 32- and 64-Bit systems. Castlevania: Symphony of the Night is the latest one; it is out now in Japan and will be coming out for the PlayStation in the U.S. fairly soon.
Symphony is the latest chapter in the long-running macabre story line about the famous Belmont family's attempt to destroy the infamous Dracula.
In this installment Alucard (Dracula's son. who was recruited in Castlevania 3 to help kill his evil pappy) is woken up from his self-induced eternal slumber to fight evil once again. Although Alucard (Dracula spelled backward, in case you didn't figure it out yourself) is the main character, you will eventually find a way to play the entire game from the start as Richter Belmont as well.
The game starts out with you reliving the final events that happened in Dracula X as Richter. After Dracula is killed, you find out that Richter mysteriously disappears. Soon after that. Castlevania mysteriously reappears out of season. Being that this ancient castle only appears once each hundred years, you realize that strange events arc at work here. So you set off as Alucard to figure out what's going on.
To the delight of Castlevania purists (at least here-in the EGM offices). Symphony of the Night has the same traditional side-scrolling action as found in the previous games in the series. The major differences are the better graphics and larger color palette and the inclusion of a (short) FMV intro.
But it is obvious that the game designers used the PlayStation's power to enhance, but not change, the basic game at heart in fact, once you look past the graphics, you might swear that you are playing a classic 8- or 16-Bit game that you've grown up loving.
Throughout Symphony, you can find tons of awesome features that may make you think this was as much a role-playing game as a side-scroller. For example, you can find a weapon for each hand (or wield one weapon and one shield) and wear different types of armor, rings, headgear, cloaks, etc. Everything can modify your various basic attributes, like Strength. Constitution and Luck, or they can change how much damage your weapons can do. You'll also gain experience and raise levels as you progress, making you stronger and preparing you for the greater challenges ahead.
You, as Alucard, also have a powerful magic casting ability. As you gain spells, you can execute them by performing various controller motions. (Can anyone say "fireball?") By avoiding a typical RPG menu-driven system, Symphony can keep this a smooth-flowing action game.
You can also transform Alucard's physical state to help in offensive or defensive maneuvers or to help him reach normally inaccessible areas (see sidebar). Along the way. you may also find one of many companions. A fairy mightnag along and resurrect you. if you find yourself say...dead. or she might cast a fire protection spell on you. if you are getting blasted too much by flame-tossing enemies. You may also call upon more offensive-oriented sidekicks, like a demon or a sword.
Be careful when playing through this game. Looks may initially be deceiving. We don't want to spoil anything here, but when you finally get your hands on the game, and it appears to end too quickly, try something else. You may end up being pleasantly surprised. (Hint: If you look at the screen shots on these two pages, you might find one in particular that has something strange going on in it. And we're not talking about the ability to play as Richter in the game either!)
Being that we were so impressed with the finished Japanese version of the game, we can't wait for the American version. And if game companies continue to make sequels like they made Symphony of the Night (games do not have to have polygons in them to be good!), then we have a very bright future to look forward to indeed.
- MANUFACTURER - Konami
- THEME - Action
- NUMBER OF PLAYERS - 1
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It's been four months since we previewed the Japanese version of Castlevania: Symphony of the Night (known as Dracula X: Nocturne in the Moonlight overseas), and already Konami's managed to get to us a near-complete English version of the game.
Symphony of the Night is the sequel to a rare PC Engine game that was never released in the U.S. called Dracula X: The Rondo of Blood. It's hailed by many diehard gamers as one of the best side-scrolling action titles of all time, and easily the best Castlevania game of them all.
A stripped-down, pale-by-comparison "port" was released for the Super NES in 1995, but it was a mere shadow of the game it was based on. Fortunately, the PlayStation sequel is as good as. if not better than its predecessor.
Symphony of the Night takes place five years after the first Dracula X. The main character this time around is Alucard. Dracula's son and one of the main characters of Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse for the NES. While the gameplay is essentially classic Castlevania (thank God), a host of enhancements have been thrown in to really add to the overall play experience. First up is the ability to equip weapons and armor.
Alucard can equip swords and shields, staffs, two-handed weapons, projectile weapons, various rings and necklaces, and even a custom cape that allows you to change the colors of your mantle during play (and Joseph thought his technicolor dreamcoat was cool yeah right!). You can also gather an assortment of useful and interesting items throughout the game, and get help from any one of up to seven helpers (including a bat a demon, a sword and a faerie). Additionally, you will obtain items as you progress that let you change into one of three forms-wolf bat or mist. Finally, the game as a whole plays more like Super Metroid than it does like previous Castlevanias; that is. you can travel anywhere about the castle freely [more or less; some areas can't be accessed right away of course), rather than moving from set stage to set stage, allowing for a longer, more satisfying quest.
Now, onto the changes we've found since the Japanese version was released. First of all, Konami is planning on tweaking the Al a bit to make the game more difficult (the Japanese version was a bit on the easy side). Next, they've added a Sound Test to the game (accessible at the shopkeeper's area in the Library) that allows you to listen to all of the game's great tunes. And finally, the fatal bug that was in the Japanese version was removed from the U.S. one. There will still be five different endings you can obtain, and yes. if you're real good, you'll be able to play the game as some other characters beside Alucard.
Castlevania is one of the most influential video games in history, and this may very well be the best version yet (yes. even better than the amazing PC Engine version). Be sure to check back next issue when we'll have the Review Crew's thoughts on the final version of the game.
Be sure to check out the Enemy List in the Library every now and then. It keeps a list of every enemy you've seen, and if you've already obtained them at least once, the items they drop. If you're striving to find all of the items in the game, this is the best way to check up on what you're still missing and where to look for it.
If this isn't confirmation that the Konami of the old days is back and better than ever, I don't know what is. Castlevania: Symphony of the Night is probably my favorite PlayStation game yet, and easily the best of the Castlevania series (of which I'm a huge fan, by the way). The graphics are incredible--everything is animated with an amazing attention to detail, and the special effects used throughout provide an atmosphere that just begs to be experienced. The soundtrack is awesome as well--every song is brand new (no remixes like in past Castlevanias), and each fits its area of the game really nicely. Also, the game is huge--there are two full castles to explore, tons of monsters and cool Bosses, hundreds of items to obtain and so on. And if that wasn't enough, once you complete it all, you can play through again (with a code) as Richter, the hero from the prequel to SotN. Still, I do have two minor qualms about the game. One, I think the voice acting bites. The voices themselves are fine--but the actors don't seem to understand their parts, and it adds an element of cheese I'd rather not have to deal with in a game of this caliber. Two, the game is a bit too easy, which is a letdown because past Castlevania games have been known to be tough. Other than that though, SotN rocks, and I honestly can't recommend it enough.
I'm so happy that SCEA approved this "lowly'' 2-D title for the U.S. The newest Castlevania is absolutely awesome. It looks good, it sounds good, it plays good, although it may get a bit boring at times. It plays just like the 16-Bit hall of tamers (especially Metroid). The RPG elements and the sheer number of ways you can attack make SotN one of the best PS games of all time. This masterpiece more than makes up for Contra: Legacy of War...
How ironic that Castlevania X, one of the PlayStation's best games, is 2-D. This game is ridiculously fun, the graphics are awesome (lots of huge creatures and cool effects) and the music fits the game's mood perfectly (the voice acting is cheesy and monotonous though). There's so much to do and explore in Castlevania X that it will hold anyone's attention for quite awhile. Any fan of action games should definitely buy this stellar title.
This is exactly what I'm looking for in a 32-Bit Castlevania game: great graphics and animation, plenty of way-cool Bosses and tight 2-D gameplay. C:SotN plays like the awesome PC Engine CD Dracula X, except with the RPG and exploration elements of Castlevania 2 and Super Metroid. You get more than enough weapons to discover in the game's huge castle. I only wish they stuck with the same tunes from the previous games.