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Castlevania: Symphony of the Night (PlayStation) artwork

Castlevania: Symphony of the Night (PlayStation) review


"One of the greatest games ever to grace the PSX has been seen increasingly in electronics stores everywhere, despite the fact that it's quite a few years old. The game that I'm referring to involves a great storyline, memorable characters, enough items to choke on, the undead, and, of course, the immortal Count Dracula. "



One of the greatest games ever to grace the PSX has been seen increasingly in electronics stores everywhere, despite the fact that it's quite a few years old. The game that I'm referring to involves a great storyline, memorable characters, enough items to choke on, the undead, and, of course, the immortal Count Dracula.

That's right, I'm referring to the PSX installment of Konami's number one game franchise: Castlevania: Symphony of the Night.

This game starts out intriguing, with a semi-eerie yet catchy soundtrack (that's actually worth going and plunking down some money for by itself) and an opening sequence that, were it not for the text on the screen, would make you think you were watching the late late Saturday night horror flick. It's that powerful.

The first scene opens up with a nod to its immediate predecessor, Dracula X, as Richter Belmont is shown making his final ascent up to the castle keep. This, I should note, is the only place in the game where it is impossible to die. The only enemy in this portion of the game is Dracula himself, and even if your life gets cut down to zero, you're made invincible. So that takes care of that. Dracula's dead again, and the world is a much better place. The end, right?

Wrong.

The game was just giving you a little taste of the graphics and the playstyle of the it. Cut now, to four years in the future, on a night where Richter Belmont has mysteriously disappeared and, perhaps coincidentally, Castlevania has reappeared. His friend Maria sets out to find him.

Now, enter the hero: Dracula's estranged son Alucard, who cut his ties to his family tree and was supposed to have entered into an eternal sleep. Having sensed the awakening of Castlevania, Alucard makes his way to Castlevania to deal with his father once and for all.

Here's where the game picks up again. In another tease, upon inspection of the equipment screen, you're automatically given all of Alucard's equipment (armor, shield, helmet, necklace, and a really cool-looking sword). You'll have that for all of five minutes. When you advance a little bit into the castle, Death comes and takes your equipment away.

Now is where the game has a kind of RPG feel to it, as the player is forced to find all sorts of equipment to help Alucard stay alive, and also kill enemies for experience points; for as he increases in level, his stats also increase and he is able to live longer the further you go into the castle.

I won't go into any detail about the type or number of enemies and areas in the castle, but I will say that there is no part of the game that is not worth looking at and appreciating the detail and the work that went into it. The designers really outdid themselves on this one.

In addition to the graphics, another element stands out in this game; ironically, it's the one game element that I normally abhor: character voices.

This is the first time in a video game when I haven't been racing to my mute button whenever it's time for a crucial point in the story. The actors really did a good job in conveying the attitude and the mood of the characters (well, the one exception is the lady who played the Succubus, but that's a small part anyway).

Of course, even with this game being one of the best out there, it's still not without its flaws. One of them, and the one which happens to be my main gripe, is the tediousness of battle. I mean, the enemies regenerate every time you leave the room and come back. This, to me, is fine if you're wanting to build your level, but if you're trying to get somewhere quickly then it quickly becomes a pain.

My other complaint about the game is that items are too rare. It's hard enough to get that rare sword that can only be gotten by killing a certain enemy, but come on, killing a roomful of enemies and only getting a potion? You would think that a game as challenging as this one would at least be a little more lenient in the item-dropping.

Gripes aside, though, this is without a doubt Konami's greatest achievement on the PSX. And to think, most electronic stores carry it now for only a measly twenty bucks. Buy it. You'll be glad you did.

Rating: 9/10

seif's avatar
Community review by seif (Date unavailable)

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