Rewind Review: Castlevania: Symphony of the Night (XBLA)
Castlevania: Symphony of the Night was developed by Konami. It was ported by Digital Eclipse and published by Microsoft Game Studios. It was released on March 21, 2007 and costs 800MSP.
Castlevania: Symphony of the Night was originally released for the PlayStation in 1997 with everything we had grown to expect from the Castlevania series. You are Alucard and are slated to kill Dracula before he follows through with his evil plans. Pitted with this mission you will take on all kinds of enemies including giant wolves, skeletons and even death himself, the Grim Reaper. With a plethora of weapons, armor, magic and items at your disposal can you stop Dracula before it is to late.
Here’s what we liked:
Stage design – Castlevania: SOTN has a very unique level design that is normally not seen in a 2D side scroller. You start at the front door of Dracula’s castle and must work your way through it, from the caverns below all the way to the attic and everything in between. Each part of the castle will require you to have specific things in order to reach them such as a mist to creep through, a grate or a specific ring to open, or a hidden room under the floor. You never know what to expect when you walk into the next room or through the next door.
RPG elements – Many games try to incorporate qualities from RPG’s such as leveling, equipping armor, or managing items, but it never seems to feel natural. That’s not the case here, Castlevania: SOTN mixes platforming, RPG and action elements flawlessly. The RPG elements are seamless. It constantly keeps you moving forward without spending hours leveling up, mixing potions, and doing whatever else RPGs do.
Story – One of the best parts of the Castlevania series has always been the story. It’s always so deep and it connects from game to game. If you’ve played the past games and know the stories then great; if not the game will fill in the gaps. That’s something that many games need to figure out how to do. Most games that lock multiple stories together have either written the story as if you already know the past or spend too much time recapping the past that it bores series veterans. For the first time it feels like the right mix between the two, just enough back story to fill you in, but not so much you feel weighed down.
Collecting done right – Almost every game in this style/category makes you collect things, it’s a given. As you play through the game, finding each item is less of a grind and more of an enjoyable journey. It’s a refreshing change as normally this feels like an old and worn idea, becoming more of a chore than anything else.
Boss fights – Each boss fight is unique from the last one in every aspect that can be thought of. Some of the bosses are normal size and very powerful where others are weaker, but larger then life making critical hits hard to accomplish. Some of these fights require a specific weapon, piece of magic, or armor in order to complete.
Here’s what we didn’t like:
Graphics – In 1997 when this game hit the PS1 it looked amazing, definitely one of the prettiest games on the market for its time. In 2007 when Castlevania: SOTN was ported, this game deserved a full HD upgrade. Instead it seems to be nothing but a code port, which is sad as it could have stood out much more amongst all the XBLA titles.
Spell casting – Spells have a very Street Fighter type feel to them. Instead of just assigning them to a button, they have been given a motion to be performed with the D-pad or analog stick. Not the worst decision in the world, but it definitely feels forced, as it sometimes just doesn’t seem to work no matter how many times you perform the motions. It’s a problem that has plagued the game since its original debut and should have been addressed.
Minor negatives aside Castlevania: Symphony of the Night is a must have. Complain about 14 year old graphics and spell casting are insignificant to the thousands of thing to do and explore. With an amazing story and memorable battles this game keeps pushing you from start to finish and then some. No matter what genre you are a fan of you’ll find something to love about this game.
Score: Buy it!