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Castlevania: Symphony of the Night (PlayStation) artwork

Castlevania: Symphony of the Night (PlayStation) review


"The orchestrated soundtrack is full of wonderful, mood-setting tracks. Haunting latin vocals are also featured in certain parts of the game. While the voice-acting is just flat-out bad, there isn't enough dialogue in the game for it to make any difference, and the music and sound effects more than make up for it."



Introduction:

The Castlevania series has always been known for it's great 2D action on Super Nintendo and other assorted systems. The name ''Castlevania'' just means quality to most old-school gamers, and finally it has come to playstation. At first glance, I actually thought that this game looked bad, because it changed the weapon from a whip to a sword, and I wasn't sure how well the series would age. I was definitely too quick to judge, because when I finally picked this up for $20, I saw what a treasure it really is.

Graphics:

The graphics in SotN really aren't anything to sneeze at--in fact, they're some of the best looking 2D graphics on the system. Just because they're 2D, doesn't make them look dated, or old-school by any means. This game couldn't have been done any other way, and 2D has allowed it to add great detail and animations to the backgrounds. Stunning spell and attack sequences are also o-plenty here. I'm still amazed by the smoothness of the animation, the unique character and level design, and the great effects of this game. Sometimes, backgrounds are actually in 3D, to lend an illusion of depth, which is most certainly welcome.

Story:

Don't be hoping for an epic, sweeping story line in this game, because it simply isn't like that. SotN has very little storyline, and what story it does possess is without much color. Basically, you're trying to put an end to the madness, blah blah blah, so you have to go through the castle and kill a bunch of monsters. Expect very little character-interaction and dialogue. A typical Castlevania storyline--at least it continues with the tradition of the series in this aspect.

Gameplay:

This is definitely the part where SotN really shines. After the beginning sequence where you barely make it into the Castle-gates, you won't be seeing the light of day for a VERY long time--About twenty hours if you do absolutely everything. Don't expect to be able to beat this game in one sitting, like you might've been able to in other Castlevania games. This requires many hours of difficult and obsessive playing. For the most part, SOTN plays like all its brothers, with a few exceptions. Konami has added a whole lot of depth to the game, mostly focused around RPG-elements.

Along your way, you'll come across save rooms, with a save spot which restores your health and is safe from any enemies. Saving frequently is probably a good idea, because you might die without expecting it. Probably the greatest change from the other Castlevania games is the debut of a screen where you can look at your equipment and items, your familiars, your current level, your current stats, and a few other things. You gain levels from earning exp. points which you acquire by killing enemies--like most RPG's. You can also collect special items throughout the game called relics which can do special things for you, like allow a spirit to follow you around assisting you, or allowing you to obtain certain items.

One of the most interesting parts of the game is (your main character) Alucard's ability to morph into different forms, like mist, a bat, and a wolf. This makes getting to certain items in the game possible. The game is fairly non-linear, so you can do things in a care-free order most of the time, except when a certain item is needed to progress in the game, like fighting a boss or such. All in all, the gameplay is excellent. It falls short in NO category--and I'm not exaggerating. I simply love every aspect of the gameplay, and I hope there will be sequels to come.

Replay:

Konami doesn't hesitate to pack this game with goodies. After the initial game is completed, there are a few reasons to continue on. The most obvious is the incredible amount of secret items and rooms to find in the game. You're likely to be enthusiastic when it comes to finding all the items and such, because it's all very fun. There's nothing more satisfying than getting Alucard above level 60, with all the great weapons and armor. In addition to these added bonuses, there are also a few different endings to keep you playing. All in all, this puppy should keep you busy for 25 hours, if you give it all you've got.

Control:

Standard Castlevania controls have been put to use here, plus a few new others such as combos for spells, blocking, et cetera. Anyone who's played the other Castlevania games will know that the series has always controlled well, but I feel that now it controls even better than before. Alucard goes where you want him to most of the time, and with incredible fluidity. However, there is just one tiny gripe that have, and that deals with the sub-weapon control. The buttons for using a sub-weapon is up+attack. Unfortunately, because you'll be using sub-weapons so much, it's kind of difficult to move and use sub-weapons alternately. This is a small issue, but an issue nonetheless. Other than that, all is close to perfection.

Sound:

Another part of the game which really shines is it's sound. The orchestrated soundtrack is full of wonderful, mood-setting tracks. Haunting latin vocals are also featured in certain parts of the game. It's also hard not to love the usual slashing and slicing sounds of the Castlevania games, with other little blips and bleeps along the way. While simplistic, the sound effects serve their purpose well and entertain successfully. While the voice-acting is just flat-out bad, there isn't enough dialogue in the game for it to make any difference, and the music and sound effects more than make up for it.

Overall:

This has to be my favorite 2D game created. It has so few flaws, it's almost inexplicable! Everything in the game is so well-laid out and presentable. From the gameplay, to the graphics, to the level design, the music, and the menus. RPG and side-scrolling fans will rejoice. And even fans just looking for a good, long adventure will really love this. Konami blew is all away with creating an astonishing 2D platformer/RPG on their first try. I wouldn't be at all surprised if games in the future start to mimic this style or at least delve deeper into the RPG-genre in platforming games. If you don't have it already, buy it quick before they discontinue making this--it won't be long.

Breakdown:

Graphics: 8.5/10
Sound: 9/10
Gameplay: 9.5/10
Story: 6/10
Control: 9.5/10
Replay: 8/10

Rating: 10.0/10

ender's avatar
Staff review by James Gordon (Date unavailable)

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