Review by Shadow Edge

"Great everything!"

Finally! A new, refreshing CV! We're already tired of CV games that is played stage by stage with Belmonts and their whip. Konami gave us Symphony of the Night, a fresh installment to the hit Castlevania series.

Graphics: 9.5/10

The graphics are very, VERY rich in colors and detail. The background obviously had LOTS of effort put in. Incredibly detailed, excellent harmony of colors, crisp and sharp, what more can you ask for?

Sprites move very smoothly too. Thanks to it's many fine layers, Alucard (the hero) moves smoothly. Enemies also don't suffer. They are also well animated and detailed.

I couldn't ask for more when it comes to the visual effects such as explosions, beams, transforming and stuff. It has amazing transparency. Konami really worked on these.

The only downside is the icons of items in the menu. Few (stress the word "few") icons look kinda garbage, like the crest of the Alucard Shield and some other icons. That's the only thing that stopped me from giving graphics a perfect 10.

Gameplay: 10/10

"If you think you've seen it all, you haven't"

Those are the words you'll find at the back of your SotN CD case if you were kind enough to buy the original.

The words were true. The game is so big that you'd be wrong if you said "I've seen everything in Symphony". I myself was surprised to see some things I haven't before, even after playing this game ten times or so.

Gameplay is a refreshing new concept that sweeps away the old CV gaming of stage by stage playing. You have a BIG castle to explore, lots more than a thousand rooms to explore. And of course there are also the not-so-obvious secret rooms, which holds powerful items or relics. Tons of enemy monsters to kill, lotsa bosses to slay, tricky rooms, and lots more.

The concept of the game is simple. You start from the castle entrance and kill monsters for you to gain levels and more power. The enemies are just right for your level when you arrive at that certain area, so you shouldn't worry of fighting too strong monsters, nor should you worry about getting lost because of the many paths trailing to different areas of the castle, because this game is straight forward. Some areas are closed or unreachable, which means you must find certain relics to give you powers, like doublejump, underwater breathing or high jump. So this means the game is well balanced.

Another thing great about this game is that Alucard can transform into a bat, wolf or ethereal mist once you get the right relics. Bat form gives you the ability to fly and see in the dark. Wolf form can run very fast which is also useful. Mist form transform you into a white, foggy thing, rendering you invincible to any attacks and allows you to pass through bars and such. All forms consume a certain MP continously.

You can't just survive by slashing your enemies or transforming. You also have spells in your arsenal, spells like summoning spirits or stealing life from enemies. Spells can be learned by buying them at the castle shop. Alucard can also learn the spells if you know what buttons to press to perform it if you have enough MP.

Weapons aren't as simple as tools of war to be used as slashing or smashing weapons. Certain weapons also have powers, like powering up shields, million stabs, act like boomerangs that fly through the screen, etc. etc.. Shields also have their powers, like stat boosts and summonings, which can only be done if you have the certain weapon that can do it.

There are lots of kinds of weapons in the game, like the usual sword, and more kinds like rods, short swords, great swords etc. etc., so you can choose which weapon you like to use to gore monsters. Some also have special properties, like absorbtion, different elemental properties and such.

Sub-weapons are still in the game! You can choose from the classics like dagger, axes, etc. etc. to the new ones like the aguinea. Like older CVs, you get them from smacking candles, chandeliers, etc. etc. And like older CVs, they consume certain amount of hearts, which can also be obtained from candles. Sub-weapons and hearts will only materialize once you get the right relic. One dissappointment here is the holy cross. It was better in the previous CVs.

The negative side of the gameplay? Levelling up takes a damn lot of time. Sure, at low levels you level up like all the time. But wait until you're above 50. When you level up in this game, not only does your EXP for next level up rise, the experience you receive from enemies fall. So at around level 75, almost all enemies give you an experience point of 1, while you'd need about 10,000 experience points for the next level up.

One final note. Stress the quote I wrote at the top of gameplay. If you want to experience Symphony by about twice more, you should run your brain a bit more. Or just check GameFAQs. :)

Story: 8/10

The game begins with Richter, exploiting what happened in 1792 in the Transylvanian side of Romania. You play Richter and defeat Dracula. There's no chance you'll lose to this, because if you die, Maria will come and use her powers to heal Richter and make him invincible.

However, one night 4 years later, Richter suddenly vanishes without a trace. Maria looks for him. Dracula's castle has suddenly appeared again. Alucard, Dracula's son who has fought his father over 300 years ago, once again enters the castle to kill his father once and for all. Alucard also meets Maria, and the two of them decides to also look for Richter.

You may not know, but Symphony was really meant for the Sega Saturn. Because Saturn was released at the same year as the Sony PlayStation, Saturn was lay forgotten in a corner. Since the PSX has more processing power, had better tranparency capabilities and more well known, SotN was ported for the PSX, and the bad thing is that there are things that were removed from the game like extra areas, items and relics.

It's nice to play with Alucard, nice to know that you're not playing as a whip-wielding Belmont again and instead you'll be rescuing one. Great story, but lacks a tad bit of originality.

Sounds: 9/10

The sounds deserves almost a full 10. Why, you ask? Well, for starters, all the music used in the game is orchestrated. If you don't know how an orchestra sounds like, watch a box-office hit film like Spiderman. Good movies use orchestrated sound. With the fact that while exploring the castle while you're hearing orchestra that's so sweet to the ears, you won't get bored playing! Sound effects like spells and slashing are very satisfactory and very realistic too.

Like to listen to the game's music? You'll unlock the sound test mode after you finish the game once. And if you're not patient enough to do that, simply pop your SotN in your CD player and play track number two to hear a remix of SotN's main music. Your PSX or PC will also do.

The reason why I hadn't given SotN a full 10 is because of the badddd voice acting. The characters speak slow, monotonous and somewhat stiff. It also has wrong stress on words. The only character lucky enough to have a good voice actor is the game's menace, Dracula.

Controls: 10/10

Controls are perfect because they're easy and simple. You use the d-pad to navigate through menus and the game. X is for OK and jumping, Square and Circle is for Alucard's left and right hand, and Triangle to backdash. Once you have the relics, L1 is for Mist, R1 for Bat and R2 for Wolf. Easy and plain simple. Perfect 10.

Lifespan: 9/10

If you've been reading this review thoroughly, you'd know I've played this game 10 times or more, which certainly proves the game's lifespan and replay value. The game is just so big that I still find things I never knew before. Finishing the game once allows you to play as Richter and unlock some things in the game. Overall, this game's worth playing again and again. But that's just probably me. :/

Ratings
Graphics : 9.5
Gameplay : 10
Sounds : 9
Story : 8
Controls : 10
Lifespan : 9

Total : 9 (9.25) (Remarkable)

PROs:
- Very big game
- Lots of things you can and would want to do
- Excellent and innovative gameplay for a CV game
- Great orchestrated music and superb sound effects

CONs:
- May get repetitive after a while
- Bad voice acting
- Leveling up is too tedious at later levels
- Some things were stripped from this game from it's original Saturn version

RENT OR BUY?
BUY THIS GAME. This game should be in every PSX gamer's collection. You should be happy and proud if you managed to get a Saturn version of SotN, unlike me. :(


Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 05/12/05


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