Review by Psycho Penguin

"Look up the word pinnacle in the dictionary, then play this game and see one."

The Castlevania series has never been one of my favorite series, mainly due to the challenge and lack of fun factor. But after great reviews about it, and how it was just like Super Metroid, I decided to give it a try. Boy, was I glad I did. This is definitely one of my top three Playstation games!!! Only Star Ocean 2 , Legend of Legaia, possibly Street Fighter Alpha 3, and Lunar: Silver Star Story Complete come close.

If you are breathing, you should play this game!!! It is one of my favorite games of all time! The game is basically, at heart, a lot like the classic Super Metroid. I am a huge fan of this game, and will be for the rest of my life. It is one of the few games where I have actually stayed up at night to beat. And it was definitely worth it, because from the awesome introduction to the incredible ending, Castlevania: Symphony of the Night is a fun filled game fest! I just love this game, and am such a big fan of it!

To be fair to the four people that actually disliked the game, I can see why it is disliked by them, and I think it has a little more to do with 'the ruining of the series' name'' then any gameplay issues. This is a totally different Castlevania game than any you have ever played before (okay, so Circle of the Moon is out now, and that's a lot like this, but that came out AFTER this one so it really doesn't count as much, now does it?), and that may have pissed off some of the diehard Castlevania fans who wanted to play the same old same old stuff. Then they complain about lack of innovation. If you can realize that this is a different type of Castlevania game, a breath of fresh air to the series, then you will love it.

I think that one area that the Castlevania fans have a little room to complain in is the storyline. Yes, it is true, the storyline doesn't really fit into the whole Castlevania series spectrum. However, there is a reason for this. I think Castlevania is one of those series where all the games don't run in chronological order. For instance, after Castlevania 3, Alucard shouldn't be in this game. However, this game probably takes place earlier in the Castlevania time period than castlevania 3 did, so it makes sense if it does indeed turn out that way. Alucard is the hero, and again, you have to come into Dracula's castle and defeat him. Along the way, you meet up with a girl named Maria, although these visits are so rare and sudden you'll end up not giving a crap about her.

The graphics are 2D, which is the best part of the graphics. The 3D Castlevania game was far from perfect and featured terrible camera angles, so I'd rather play a beautiful hand drawn 2D game than yet another 3D adventure game any day. Good job, Konami. First off, the enemy designs are great! Each of the enemies in the game have their own unique look to them, and the design of the enemies is superb. I especially enjoyed some particular enemies in the first castle. The coolest enemies in the first castle, in my opinion, are the ones where if you kill them, their heads fall off and blood squirts out of their neck hole, where their head is supposed to be. Parents put your children to bed, because that sure isn’t pretty. Castlevania: Symphony of the Night earned at least a mature rating based on that enemy alone.

The rest of the enemies are also well designed. Bosses in the game were superb in detail and massive size. Sure, there was one instance of 'sprite recycling'' where konami took Alucard's sprite and made a 'doppleganger' version. Regardless, I think there was a good reason for this, so I am not going to complain too much. The character designs in this game are great as well, as each character has their own unique look to them, from the stunning Maria all the way to the lowly librarian. The backgrounds were also incredible, as each section of the castle had its own unique look to it. For instance, the Long Library has a background filled with shelves of books, and dark eerie lights, among other things, while the outer keep has this misty look to it. Great background designs. Actually, everything in this game has such a great design to it, I can not help but call this game 2D bliss! Overall, the graphics are incredible, from the great character designs to the wonderfully varied backgrounds! And it was done in 2D too! Yay!

Not only does the game have terrific graphics, it also features tremendous music, which should be a staple in the Castlevania series by now. The game really takes full advantage of the music and sound capabilities that the CD aspect of the Sony Playstation provides. The music has this unique feel to it that really blends in well with the feel of the game. For instance, when in the Long Library, this dark eerie music plays, which is a nice touch because the feel of the Long Library is that of a dark and mysterious place. The same thing applies to most of the stages, as the music that plays during the stages fits the feeling of the stage perfectly! Even the music that plays during the boss fights is just incredible! I especially enjoy the boss themes in the game, because the boss themes are just so well orchestrated! I have noticed while playing that the developers of the game like to use a lot of piano tunes in the game. This is fine, because in my opinion the piano tunes in the game are great! I would have liked to hear a little bit more guitar work in the tunes, but that’s no big deal I guess, because the piano really fits the feeling of the game perfectly, and probably blends in much better than some guitar tunes would have.

Sound effect wise, Castlevania: Symphony of the Night is superb! There is a lot of great sound effects, ranging from the sound of an enemy dying all the way to the sound of Alucard running really quickly. Sometimes, when he lets off an attack with his sword or weapon of choice, he lets out a yell that sounds really unique, and when he dies, you can hear him going NOOOO. Even in the beginning, where dracula dies and goes NOOO THIS CANNOT BE, you will automatically be drawn into the sound effects.

There is a major downfall to the sound effects though, and that is the cheesy dialouge which is featured during the voice acting scenes in the game. For instance, when Alucard says ''I think not'' It comes out like ''I think…. Naught''. It sounds really weird. i think the voice acting could have been significantly improved. Other than that, though, the sound effects in the gameare pretty good! Overall, the music and sound effects in Castlevania: Symphony of the Night are great, well at least in my opinion they are!

Again, the control is pretty good, especially for a game of this types. All the basic moves are easy to perform, although the special moves (which require you to push a complex series of buttons) are far more difficult to pull off. I did find it very difficult to pull off some of the more advanced moves in the game, because they require you to push a series of complex buttons in a very short amount of time. For instance, let’s say that I want to do a special attack while running around. I would have to push up, left, square, triangle, down just to do a special move. That is really unnecessary in my opinion, and I would have preferred had there been an easier way to do the special moves in the game. Regardless, the controls are decent. But they would have been much better had the special moves been easier to pull off. Otherwise though, I don’t have many complaints about the contro. Overall, the control is far from perfect, but is still decent and easy to use while in the heat of a tough battle.

Remember that game Super Metroid, where you have to find stuff in order to do other stuff? this game uses the same basic concept but adds to it, because now Alucard can build levels. The more levels he has, more HP and MP he has. Also, there is a lot of exploration, and there are also a lot of enemies to fight. You do not truly beat the game until you kill every single enemy, and go through both castles. So really, this game remains unrivaled in the gameplay department. It combines the classic adventure elements that were loved in the previous games in the series, and adds to it some unique role playing game elements, like the experience points, hit points, and more. Also, magic runs rampant now in the game, which is a first for the series I believe. i felt this was such a needed breath of fresh air, as it made the series about ten times as better.

The thing I really enjoyed about the game was the fact that it combined exploration with the classic platforming action of the other games in the series. Don't listen to the people that say Konami abandoned the entire idea of platforming action for this game, because it is simply not true. many of the various sections in the game have you jump from one platform to another, and there are spikes underneath. Sure, sometimes you can just fall down and go back up when you miss a platform jump, but that's where the whole exploration aspect comes into play. So, now you know the truth. ^.^

There are a lot of unique items to collect, which later go on to help you out. For instance, you can not really beat the game until you get items that allow you to turn into bats, mist, and more. It would have been cool had their been more things that you can turn into, for instance, a zombie, but I am not complaining too much because the gameplay is incredible! The game is complex, yet simple at the same time. How could this be? Well, there is a lot of stuff to find, and a lot of enemies to kill. Also, the map does a great job in showing how huge the castles are. But after a while, once you get the hang of the game, you notice that the game is simple in form. Also, another role playing game aspect of this game is the fact that you can collect gold, which can then be used to purchase items. You get gold by slashing those familiar candles. Overall, this is an incredible game that combines aspects of the old Castlevania games with some role playing game elements! Great job, Konami!

Of course, I consider this game to have great replay value, as it is one of the few games that I decided to stay up late at night to beat! And if I want to stay up late at night to beat a game, it must have great replay value! Make no fuss about it, this is a truly classic game, and it ranks right up there as one of my favorite games of all time. Therefore, I also consider it to have great replay value. This may be a SPOILER, so look away now if you don't want to be spoiled. There is a second castle in the game after you complete the first castle. it is an upside down version of the original castle, meaning you can get up to 200.6 percent. You will spend many hours getting to 200.6 percent, which will make up most of the replay value right there.

This game may seem too complex at first for the newbies, but once you get into it the only challenge is beating some of the enemies and collecting some of the harder to find items. Yeah, sadly, Konami seems to have forgotten all about the insane challenge that has usually been associated with the Castlevania series, and has released the easiest game in the series. Regardless, it is still a decent challenge, despite the fact you will probably see yourself end up dying less times than you expected to.

There is no doubt about it, this is one of the greatest games ever released. People seem to suddenly have mixed opinions about this game. While most share my sentiment on it, some people say that because of the ''****'ed up storyline'' and lack of castlevania platforming elements, that this isn't really a good game. However, there is still some feeling of the original Castlevania games, and the whole new gameplay experience makes this a fresh new addition to the series. There is really no reason not to play this game, so get it today.

Good Points
-The graphics are some of the best I have ever seen.
-The music and sound effects rock.
-Controlling Alucard is easier than you may expect.
-Tons of replay value, because of the percentage counter.
-This is the most fun Castlevania game ever.

Not So Good Points
-The voice acting could have been better.
-The storyline could use some improvement.
-Some might not like the new direction the series took here.
-This is not a very challenging game, which will disappoint the Castlevania faithful.

I Run Down The Game... Psycho Penguin Style!
Storyline - 7.1/10
Graphics - 9.8/10
Music - 9.7/10
Sound Effects - 9.6/10
Control - 9.6/10
Gameplay - 9.8/10
Replay Value - Above Average
Challenge - Below Average :(
Game Length - 30 Hours (total)
Is This Game Worth A Purchase? - Oh hell yeah!
Overall - 9.8/10

The Bottom Line
A terrific game, which may disappoint some faithful to the series, but will otherwise impress everyone. There is no reason not to own this game, as it is only 20 bucks. Get this game today, you will NOT be sorry that you did!


Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 05/20/00, Updated 01/04/02


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