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Castlevania: Symphony of the Night (PlayStation 3) artwork

Castlevania: Symphony of the Night (PlayStation 3) review


"I can almost hear the speech Koji Igarashi gave when he pitched Castlevania: Symphony of the Night to his staff (imagine the following being spoken in Japanese): "



I can almost hear the speech Koji Igarashi gave when he pitched Castlevania: Symphony of the Night to his staff (imagine the following being spoken in Japanese):

ďOur formula is getting old. Weíre doing things differently this time round, guys. Weíre going to give the player freedoms they havenít had before. Players are going to run around Draculaís castle until they are hellishly lost, then backtrack and try to find that door they missed or that passage they overlooked. I mean, this place is gonna feel huge! Along the way theyíre going to fight terrifying monsters with a veritable warehouse of potions, deli meats, and arcane death weapons. The graphics are going to be incredible. Weíre going to have so much going on in the background that the players canít help but feel like theyíre exploring a real-to-life haunted castle. Thereís going to be orchestral death metal. Thereís going to be puzzles. Thereís going to be a snarky hot chick with a terrible American voice actor who shows up every once in a while. Stop looking at me funny, itís a great idea. It just needs one final thing to make it all come together.

What we need... is a bad-ass.Ē

And thus was Castlevania: Symphony of the Night born and thus did it gain its vampiric star. Alucard is a bad-ass, have no doubt. He wears a cape. He dual-wields swords. He has a move where he sucks his enemyís soul from their body. Aside from the fact that heís voiced by someone who sounds like his balls just dropped for the first time, Alucard is a worthy addition to the vampire Hall of Fame.

But thereís this funny thing about unstoppable vampire bad-asses. Itís actually not that fun to play as them.

Alucard is overpowered. That soul sucking move I mentioned? Alucard is invincible while he does it, it strikes every enemy on screen (and sometimes some that are off-screen), it heals Alucard almost entirely, and he can use it once a minute. Not even bosses are immune to it. Sounds like something you might get near the end of the game, or maybe not even until your second play through. Nope. Itís available right from the start. To activate it you have to pull off a quick series of button mashes reminiscent of Chun-Liís Hurricane Kick, but the timing is very forgiving and youíll have no trouble using it over and over. Believe me; I suck at Street Fighter, but I rock at Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. So will everyone who plays it. And that just doesnít feel right for a Castlevania game.

Donít misunderstand me. Iím not against accessibility. I like the fact that they revamped the stiff Castlevania controls for its PS1 break out. I like being able to maneuver Alucard in the air; I like that his attack response is quick; I like that heís got shields and dodges to mix things up in combat. I just wish I got the chance to use some of these things. It feels like the potential is there. Some of the enemies look like they could mess you up. Classic enemies like the knights have been gloriously re-rendered and now come in all sorts of crazy flavors. I came across this knight at the palace gates who had an owl perched on his shoulder. He barked an order and the bird flew at me while the knight readied his blade, surely planning to attack me while I was distracted with his pet. I prepared myself for an intense fight but it was not to be. The owl died in one hit and the knight in six. Seven cuts of my blade, in as many seconds, had ended the battle before it had barely begun. Why would Konami spend so much time programming cool things like that knight and then not give them a chance to shine? The owl knight is one of the more powerful opponents youíll face. There are enemies in Symphony of the Night who Iíve never seen attack me because I kill them too fast.

Worst of all are the bosses. I once thought that no boss could live up to those of the Castlevania series. But that was before I played Symphony of the Night. Iím not sure which boss here is my favorite. Is it the lizard man with the spear who stumbles backwards every time you hit him, opening him up for another attack? Or is it the giant dog woman whoís stuck in a wall and can barely reach you? I remember while fighting her I got knocked behind her and discovered that she had no ability to turn around. That made things kindíve stupid. I actually felt bad killing her. It was like stabbing a defenseless puppy in the back.

By no means do I miss the cheap deaths of the early games in the series, where a single bat could knock you off a platform to your doom. I probably wasnít the only kid who threw his NES controller across the room once every five minutes while playing the first Castlevania. You never felt fully in control of your doom in the early games. But this iteration lacks any doom at all. It lacks the tension that made the series enjoyable. The early Castlevania games had you earn your victories. The player felt like a bad-ass because he was besting a game that took him time to master and required skill and focus to beat. Beating a Castlevania game was an accomplishment that not everyone could boast of. Here, Alucard is the bad-ass and the player is nothing more than a face in a crowd, one of thousands of gamers who have come before him and beaten the game with the same damn soul sucking move.

I was excited to see this title make its way onto the PSN. I had missed it the first time around and had lamented my oversight as costing me one of the best games in the series. Now that Iíve played it, I come away wondering if this wasnít where the Castlevania games started to go wrong. I canít say I actively disliked the game. Most of Igarashiís changes to the series came off as well executed. Yet, however much I may enjoy the rockiní music or exploring the detailed confines of Draculaís castle, at the end of the gaming day Castlevania: Symphony of the Night leaves me feeling unfulfilled.

It was a fresh perspective, but Iím not convinced itís remained fresh.

Rating: 6/10

zippdementia's avatar
Community review by zippdementia (January 19, 2010)

Zipp has spent most of his life standing in an open field west of a white house, with a boarded front door. There is a small mailbox there. Sometimes he writes reviews and puts them in the mailbox.

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honestgamer posted January 19, 2010:

I can't say that I agree with much of what you wrote here, though the writing was engaging enough. This is one of those games where the experience is all about atmosphere, about customizing your character and not stopping to beef yourself up too much. The game is challenging and exhilerating if you play it properly, but it can lose some of its luster if you decide to ham it up.

And of course, the first half of the game (the half that most people see without realizing that a second half even exists) is much easier than the second half. If you don't over-level yourself and you play through the second half as intended, complaints about the game being too easy suddenly seem incredibly silly.

I don't feel like the game suffers for giving the player the ability to power-level and overcome the more challenging areas, either. That's one of its strengths. I've noticed that you tend not to like adventure and RPG titles where customization plays a key role, though, so I doubt I'll ever convince you of anything along those lines. Still, the review leaves me wondering if you experienced the full game. Did you get all 208% or even close?
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bluberry posted January 19, 2010:

really? I thought the second castle was, if anything, even easier. most of the bosses there die within seconds even if you're not using something like the crissaegrim.
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honestgamer posted January 19, 2010:

I must be the only one who doesn't overpower myself when I go through these games. I do the same thing with RPGs. I guess I just don't have the patience to break the game. Zipp's reference to the soul sucking move surprised me, though. I didn't bother using those skills when I went through the game. After all, you're never compelled or even particularly encouraged to use them to the best of my recollection. I think I used a few fireball spells to unlock abilities or something, but I fought bosses the old-fashioned way and found the whole experience quite satisfying.

Edit: Isn't the crissaegrim one of those one-use items that's super rare? Like... you have to purchase the extraordinarily expensive Duplicator if you want to spam it?
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JANUS2 posted January 19, 2010:

SOTN is stupidly easy, but at the same time I kinda like the fact that Alucard becomes ridiculously overpowered. This is also why I enjoyed Shadow Complex.
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joseph_valencia posted January 19, 2010:

The only old-school Castlevania I can still play from start-to-finish is "Rondo of Blood." The other ones certainly have their appeal and place in history, but I can only endure stiff controls for so long.

Edit: Isn't the crissaegrim one of those one-use items that's super rare? Like... you have to purchase the extraordinarily expensive Duplicator if you want to spam it?

It isn't one-use, but it is super rare. I think I've only gotten it once through casual play.
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overdrive posted January 19, 2010:

The Crissagrim is a special sword that rapid-fire shoots out blades in front of you. It's a rare drop by one of the critters in the second castle's library. I've played through the game a number of times and only obtained it once....completely without trying to. Another time, I spent a good 30-45 minutes trying to get it, but it never was dropped.

The two coolest things about it:

1. Makes it easy to kill those really tough knights that appear in that one room near where Dracula/Shaft's lair is.

2. It's fun to kill the mummy boss in roughly .7 seconds.
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honestgamer posted January 19, 2010:

Discussion of this game raises an interesting question: can a game that is perfectly capable of providing tremendous challenge really be called "too easy" if it provides the player with the tools necessary to make every last enemy easy and the player then chooses to use those tools?

Playing through the game myself, I didn't stop to power level and I rushed from one encounter to another. I was frequently challenged and if I couldn't beat someone after a few tries, I'd stop to customize and to level up a bit and then that enemy would fall easily to my new might. Yet if I had fought through those foes without relying on the optional goodies and levels, I would've had a challenge that was in line with every other Castlevania boss that I've encountered and defeated.

Symphony of the Night is that rare game that's no harder and no easier than the player chooses to make it. There are some games where you have to set challenges up for yourself if you want to face a real threat. Don't grab any power-ups. Defeat this boss or that one without taking a hit. Or the difficulty level you select means that enemies hit you with more damage, or that there are more of them.

To me, Symphony of the Night struck that perfect balance where it's difficulty level is quite simply beyond reproach. The game can be whatever you want it to be. If you want it to be an atmospheric romp through a huge castle and its catacombs, it can be that. If you can't find that adventure to be atmospheric without difficulty, don't spend hours improving your character. If you can't find that adventure atmospheric when monsters are constantly kicking your ass, then there are ways to explore the furthest nooks and crannies, to turn into a god-like entity that rolls through all challenges like a steamroller. All the time, the player is fully in charge.

I'm not sure why so many people go into SotN looking for a challenge, then purposefully collect every item they can find to make the game easier. That's a bit like flipping through a porn magazine with a blindfold on and complaining when you don't see anything worthwhile.
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joseph_valencia posted January 19, 2010:

The appeal of SoTN can be summed up thusly:

- Cool graphics
- Cool music
- Cool character
- Cool controls
- Cool castle
- Cool monsters
- Cool secrets
- Cool voice acting

Besides, if Alucard weren't overpowered, he wouldn't be plausible as Dracula's offspring.
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aschultz posted January 19, 2010:

That's a bit like flipping through a porn magazine with a blindfold on and complaining when you don't see anything worthwhile.

Or better yet, blaming a porn magazine's particularly fetching models for distracting you from the story. That's the imperial "you," not at anyone specific.

Umm...the review itself? That'd be a conflict of interest, as it's part of the RotW pool to be judged.
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zippdementia posted January 19, 2010:

I figured this review might garner some conversation. I am definitely going against the majority on this one.

I haven't been disappointed, either! There's a lot of interesting comments here (in particular, I want to thank Honestgamer for making such detailed commentary). In the interests of getting to my homework for the night, I'm only going to respond to three of the points.

The first point has to do with game difficulty. It's a tricky subject, especially when you get to RPGs, because the ability to level pretty much screws over any difficulty system (excepting those where enemies level with you, but they have their own set of problems). However, in C:SOTN I didn't level and was still able to defeat enemies with barely any thought or effort. Again, as stated in the review, bosses were the most offensive of these easy victories but it carried throughout the game in other levels, such as platforming or basic combat.

Some things stand out about SOTN that made me bring up the difficulty issue. One of the biggest stand outs was the dodge move, which I never had to use. I could have used it, if I wanted to get through the game without taking any damage, but... why would I do that? If trophies and achievements prove anything it's that gamers like to have third-party acknowledgment of their gaming accomplishments.

But now we're deviating from the main point a bit. The question was, if a game gives you tools to make it easy and you use them, is it your fault the game is too easy? The stipulation was that my experience with the game was like me reading a porn magazine with a blindfold (for which I highly reccommend the site Porn For the Blind). It's not an appropriate comparison, however. When I buy a porn magazine, it doesn't come with a blindfold. However, C:SOTN came with all the tools necessary to make it ridiculously easy. And I'm talking about basic stuff. Forget the soul sucking move for a moment... I also point out in the review how I was able to kill one of the more powerful enemies in the game in something like seven hits. That's silly. I'd have to equip the worst weapons to make the game anything of a challenge. Essentially, I would have to WORK to make the game hard. That's not like reading a porn magazine and choosing to wear a blindfold... that's like getting a porn magazine where all the pictures are hidden under scratch-aways.

So, to answer the larger question at stake here, I think that if a game provides you with easy access to difficulty breaking items or abilities, then, yes, it is an easy game and it is the game's fault. But in C:SOTN's case, I think the issue is even deeper than that and has to do with the fact that enemies and bosses simply die too easily while Alucard can take shit tons of damage.

Point the second! I didn't get full percentage, no. I did enjoy the fact that there was a second castle, though its ability to hold interest could be questioned. Playing as Belmont is also a little bit more exciting, but again, at that point you've already seen the majority of what the game has to offer. I decided not to cover those things in my review because they didn't have enough power to change my opinion and I wanted to keep the focus on what really affected me in the game.

And finally, to Spaceworlder... you are correct on all counts except voice acting. I'm sorry, but the voice acting in SOTN is awful, even for a PS1 game.
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joseph_valencia posted January 19, 2010:

And finally, to Spaceworlder... you are correct on all counts except voice acting. I'm sorry, but the voice acting in SOTN is awful, even for a PS1 game.

Awful, yes, but awesome in its awfulness.
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zippdementia posted January 19, 2010:

I... understand.
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ReachBeyond posted January 19, 2010:

Jason, did you recruit Justin Boot from Thunderbolt Games to replace Zipp ? Good call, because i noticed that Zipp is a retard .
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honestgamer posted January 20, 2010:

I try to stay in touch with as many talented reviewers as I can, and I'm always interested in making sure that they're able to write new content for HonestGamers if that interests them. Disco is a talented writer and has been for years. This isn't the first time he's contributed content and I have every hope that it won't be the last.

Zipp wrote a review with which I rather strongly disagree, but he has the right to do so and I approved it upon reading it because I thought that he made his points quite eloquently. Unless you know something that I don't, something that isn't evident in his writing, then I would say that he is not a retard.

You're not off to a good start on these forums. I hope that we can expect better from you in the future, but I suspect that we cannot.
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ReachBeyond posted January 20, 2010:

Uh, no.

Here is one review from RPGFan highlighting the same 'problem' (easiness) .

http://www.rpgfan.com/reviews/symphonyofthenight/Symphony_of_the_Night-2.html

Despite its near-perfection, the Symphony of the Night gameplay has one minor problem. It's too easy, especially when you fight bosses in the game. Just exploring the castle fully (which most RPG fans are likely to do) will almost surely net you enough EXP so that you don't have to use any strategy at all against the bosses; you can just run up to them and hack away, and you'll still generally beat them quite handily. The second castle is more challenging than the first, however.

The reviewer is just not an obnoxious attention-whore enough to give the game a 6.
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honestgamer posted January 20, 2010:

Here's a question for you, then: what do you hope to achieve by calling Zipp a retard and an attention whore? If you hope to persuade others that his review is unfair, there are more constructive and effective ways to do so. Posting an excerpt from someone who disagrees, while not as impressive or even as relevant as you seem to believe, is at least a start.

If you hope to embarrass Zipp or make him feel uncomfortable sharing his opinions here in a user review and on the forums, please take a hike. If you continue to post in your current obnoxious manner, know that mods are mroe than capable of deleting your posts. Don't think for a second that we won't.
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sashanan posted January 20, 2010:

SotN and all its successors seem to be in a constant battle to get the difficulty "just right". Excepting postgame unlockables it doesn't seem any of them has yet gotten the idea to just toss in an easy/medium/hard, perhaps because it is felt that having an RPG level up system in the first place makes that redundant. I do have to say that when I played SotN through (this was after I'd already played and finished the three GBA Castlevanias), I was neither aware of the soul sucking move nor did I find any of the really good stuff like the Crissagrim. Regardless, I got through this one easily enough.

Now that Order of Ecclesia...
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Suskie posted January 20, 2010:

I've been putting Symphony of the Night on my "favorite games" lists forever now, until I realized it's been far too long since I've actually played it. I don't remember it being too easy, but then again I was much younger when I last played it. All of this discussion kinda makes me want to download it off XBLA, which I may do in the near future. I've since played Order of Ecclesia, which as Sash noted is hard as hell. In a good, satisfying way, though.
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jiggs posted January 20, 2010:

i love the anime cutscenes in rondo of blood.
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zippdementia posted January 20, 2010:

I've been putting Symphony of the Night on my "favorite games" lists forever now, until I realized it's been far too long since I've actually played it. I don't remember it being too easy, but then again I was much younger when I last played it. All of this discussion kinda makes me want to download it off XBLA, which I may do in the near future. I've since played Order of Ecclesia, which as Sash noted is hard as hell. In a good, satisfying way, though.

If my review has made you want to revisit the game, then I've been successful.

I think nostalgia can color our opinions of games. I heartily defended Myst on these forums, but I went back and played it and... you know what? Yeah, it's not that good anymore.

On another note, I've been called an idiot again by a pile of Cheetos. Now I really feel like I've done a good job.
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Suskie posted January 20, 2010:

THEY'RE NOT CHEETOS! THEY'RE IMPOSTERS! GODDAMMIT
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Ben posted January 20, 2010:

Some people like to be challenged. Others don't want to be frustrated. It's fine. This is why difficulty levels exist nowadays.

Symphony is a little on the easy side, especially if you pick up some kick-ass weapons or accessories, but I'm not a very patient person, so it's perfectly fine for me.
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zippdementia posted January 20, 2010:

I feel that challenge can exist without frustration. I actually think most of the frustration in games comes from poor controls, not from challenge. If the controls are good, than the challenge will inevitably be fun.

Look at Portal. That game takes timing, patience, logical reasoning, and good aim but the controls are so damn good that you don't get frustrated. You just have fun.

SOTN or any modern Castlevania game has the potential to pull this off, but they haven't. Now I don't about that new Wii game, that actually seemed awesome from Jason's review.
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Ben posted January 20, 2010:

Oh, I didn't mean hard games are necessarily frustrating. That probably came out a bit wrong. I meant that hard games can be frustrating for people who don't necessarily want a tough challenge. They just want to progress through the game without too many hiccups.

I'll admit to being one of these people. I very rarely complete a game on its hardest difficulty, and where proper RPGs are involved, I like to do a little research beforehand to make sure I don't royally fuck up my character customisation.

Portal is a very good example, but it's a challenge of a slightly different sort. The most obvious way for Symphony to be a more challenging game - like in most titles out there - is to nerf your character and/or make the enemies hit harder and last longer.
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zippdementia posted January 20, 2010:

Or they could have made the platforming a bit more involved and provided more environmental challenge. They had a lot of options.
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kingcrappy posted January 20, 2010:

I think people who boast about how they want their games to be more difficult, because a lack of difficulty is a turn off for them, are people who are just trying to cover up their real life insecurities. You want to look cool to a bunch of internet strangers by boasting how you beat a tough as hell game that took dozens or hundreds of hours of trying, dying, and retrying because that's the only kind of accomplishment you can achieve. That's because in real life you're a loser that sits on his ass watching Youtube and contributing nothing to society but a higher national debt through government welfare payments. So in your mind, you're self-justifying your uselessness by advertising your hardcore gamer-ness. Stupid.

"You" means anyone who does this in general, not anyone per se in this topic (except maybe for the angry Cheetos).
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True posted January 20, 2010:

You want a real challenge? Try playing the Saturn Import version where everything is in Japanese--even your stats and equipment--so you have no idea what the items are, what they do or whether or not they improve you. Not to mention the dialogue, so you have no idea what to do next.

Now that's a challenge.

As for ReachBeyond: We may not always agree on here, get along and we (I) do stupid things like challenging others to "Retirement Death Matches". That being said, there's one thing we don't do: Insult other writers for no good reason (except Emp). We're a community here and though we may disagree with a review, we handle it constructively. Calling one of our most talented and prominent reviewer names is not going to do anything aside from pissing off the other regulars.

Just some friendly advice.
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Suskie posted January 20, 2010:

He's looking for a fight and you guys are giving it to him. Just sayin'.

Anyway.

Yeah, challenge is nice, but it's rare for me to feel that a game is too easy. I'd rather plow through a game with very little trouble than be frustrated consistently, to the point that gaming loses its ability to help me unwind. I play games to relax, you know. And so I'm playing Demon's Souls right now? Honestly wondering if this game is more trouble than it's worth.

I do hate it when a game is so piss easy that I feel insulted by playing it. BioShock is my classic example -- you literally couldn't die, which took away any need to be afraid, careful or conservative in your playing approach. Completely destroyed the experience.
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honestgamer posted January 20, 2010:

BioShock's difficulty level didn't harm the game in the slightest, let alone totally ruin in. That's another example of a game where challenge is the last thing anyone should be worrying about while playing it because it had so many other things going right for it and serving as the true focus. Plus you didn't have to use the vita chambers if you didn't want to. The game was designed so that players who chose not to use them found a truly difficult game. Pretty brilliant, actually.
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randxian posted January 20, 2010:

I'm sorry, but this review is intellecutally dishonest. You mention this all powerful move you have access to at the outset of the game.

That's only a partial truth. Yes, you do technically speaking have access to it, but you have to not only pull off the button combination, you would have to actually know it. The game never tells you how to do any of these moves unless you purchase them from the library. Sure, you'll uncover a few here and there by sheer chance, but what are the odds of discovering all of them? I've never actually discovered the one that Zipp is reprimanding in the review. Did you discover it by accident? Or did you look it up on a FAQ? If the latter, then that's a terrible way to go about reviewing. You could conceivably argue any game is too easy if you look up everything in a FAQ/guide. Hell, a lot of older games that were considered hard had codes to skip levels and whatnot. Does that make them too easy all of a sudden? This whole thing is just a ridiculous argument against the game and I'm completely flabbergasted.

It's one thing to say SOTN is too easy. It's something else entirely to be completely shifty writing about it. What are you doing? Preparing for a career as a used car salesman?

If I ask for the Carfax I don't want to see car flaps.
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zigfried posted January 20, 2010:

I think that raises an interesting question:

How much, if any, should a game be criticized for "lacking challenge" if a FAQ had to be consulted to remove that challenge?

Discovering the 'soul steal' move by accident would be virtually impossible (it's pulled off similar to an SNK desperation special by the way), especially for a first-time player who doesn't even realize that such special moves exist. Even if someone did it by accident once, they wouldn't be able to intentionally repeat it. The game is full of ridiculous secrets, like the entire shield rod arsenal, that only become apparent after repeated play. Going into SOTN with foreknowledge of how to do these things ruins the experience. SOTN is a game about discovery.

That being said, I thought SOTN was pretty easy to blaze through (even to get the best ending), and I played it without a FAQ. So I'm not saying Zipp's wrong to criticize the game for lacking challenge... but I agree with Randxian that bringing up the 'soul steal' move is really reaching. It sounds like a good example to people who don't know any better, but it's actually quite flimsy and borderline deceptive. There had to be better ways to illustrate the lack of challenge, ways that might actually mirror a new player's experience.

EDIT: Just fired up SOTN, and you can't actually do the soul steal move at the beginning because you don't have enough magic points yet. You need 50, and only start with 20.

//Zig
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randxian posted January 20, 2010:

Exactly. People who fire up the game for the first time would have no idea the move exists, let alone how to actually pull it off.

It could also be argued most games are much easier if you've played through them and know all the secrets, tricks, and all the angles.
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overdrive posted January 20, 2010:

1. You know, I hadn't thought of this before Rand and Zig mentioned it, but yeah...I have no clue what this special move referenced in the review is. I'm not exactly skilled at fighting games, so those combination moves....I rarely attempted them. I'm sure I hit it once or twice to see what it looked like, but it never was a staple of my offense.

2. The game was still easy enough that such stuff is unnecessary overkill. I'd say I'm more likely to get killed by the first Doppleganger (second boss after the Slogra/Gaibon connection) than anything else in the game now, since I know not to dive into the Clock Tower region the instant I can access it.

3. The one thing about your point, Jason, that I'd disagree with is your stance about how this game can be too easy because of how the player can break it and how the game shouldn't be punished for what a player can do to break it. A lucky person can get something like the Crissaegrim by simply killing the right enemy and getting it as a drop. Something like that game-breaker should be given as a replay reward for getting all 200+ percent or something...not as a random drop. I think it's silly to tell a player to not use something if they naturally obtain it.

4. Still, this is one of my favorite games. I only gave it a 9 instead of a 10 (PS version....although this year, I shall review the XLA version) because of the lack of challenge. But I can see someone else being critical of it. It might be one of those games with great nostalgic value for people who played it when it was new, but doesn't tempt the fancy of a gamer who is now experiencing it for the first time.
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zippdementia posted January 21, 2010:

Hold up there, Jackson (read: Randxian and Zig).

I DID discover the move totally by accident. I knew NOTHING about Castlevania: SOTN before playing it, except that it was heralded as one of the Castlevania greats. I looked at no faqs and the first time I pulled off a special move, I had no idea what had happened and didn't know until I checked out my menu screen.

I discovered the move while trying to break free from a stoning about half an hour into the game. It's not hard to figure it out. Or maybe I'm just spastic.

Overdrive's comments are pretty spot on to how I feel about the game and I think my review makes its points accordingly. For me, this was a game that felt dumbed down and didn't give me the fulfillment of passing any sort of challenge. For me, the fun of a sidescroller is in the challenge. I think much of what people like about C:SOTN is for nostalgia value. Nostalgia is a powerful thing.
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randxian posted January 21, 2010:

If you think the game is trash, so be it. My problem is using examples that are extremely unlikely to happen.

I've played through the game probably at least 2-3 times start to finish and never found this secret move, nor have I ever had an enemy drop this Crissagem or whatever it is. I've heard of the sword, but never actually found it.

Reprimanding a game based on something that's about as likely to happen as winning the lottery is completely absurd.

My main problem is someone who has never played the game previously would have the wrong notion after reading that portion. Zig even pointed out you don't even have enough MP at the start.
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sashanan posted January 21, 2010:

Funny that the question of FAQs came into this. I have argued about SotN in the past that somebody without the aid of a guide or at least word-of-mouth from other gamers could conceivably get the bad ending halfway and think he finished the game. I mean, by the time I got to SotN, I knew that Castlevania loves that trick, but based on the dialogue you get? Without any foreknowledge I don't think I would have recognized it as not being the true ending. I'd just have been disappointed by the short game length. (Precisely this happened to me for real when I first finished Aria of Sorrow.)
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Ben posted January 21, 2010:

I discovered the move while trying to break free from a stoning about half an hour into the game. It's not hard to figure it out. Or maybe I'm just spastic.

Alright, I just read the review, and I've never heard of the soul stealing move before until after consulting an FAQ once I finished the game. You seem to imply that it was luck that made you discover the move, "trying to break free from a stoning", but then you follow it up with "It's not hard to figure it out". It seems slightly contradictory.

I'm not saying what you said in the review is wrong, because it does sound like this move makes your character even more powerful, but you put a lot of emphasis on this one move that you only found out by chance and is perhaps a slightly unfair criticism.

EDIT: Then again, the review is meant to be based on your own experience with the game, which I guess in some ways does make the criticism about the special move valid.
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zippdementia posted January 21, 2010:

Regardless of the soul sucking move, I give other examples of how the game's challenge was not there for me. Also, I never call the game crap, Rand. That is exactly the kind of knee jerk reaction people have when you say you didn't like the game they happen to love. If you read the review again you'll find that I actually use very fair language with the game and say that I like much of what Igarashi changed about the series. But the lack of challenge, I say, takes away from what would make the game a Castlevania game for me.

I buy a Castlevania game looking for a challenge, just like i would buy a Mario game looking for platforming. If that wasn't there, I'd probably be just as unhappy with the experience (Mario Tennis notwithstanding) as I was with SOTN.
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zigfried posted January 21, 2010:

Okay, fair enough on the FAQ bit... it sounds like you just had an unfortunate experience with SOTN. Your explanation makes sense.

The problem is that you're still wrong. The 'soul steal' move is not available right from the start, even though your review makes a big deal out of its fictional immediate availability. Since I've read several of your reviews, I'm assuming this is an honest mistake (before writing, I figure you didn't test to see if the move was actually available or not). However, despite innocent intentions, it's still an exaggeration/falsehood. People who don't know better will be misled, and people who do know better will disregard all your points.

For example, you later bring up the boss that you leapt behind and she couldn't turn around. Normally, that would be a great example to support your point about lack of challenge. But since you exaggerated earlier in the review about the 'soul steal' bit, I found myself wondering:

"Are the other bosses really that easy, or is he picking on an outlier to support his case?"

So my point is that when you feature an example prominently, it's important to get the facts right. It's one thing if you miss a small detail (ie: the soul steal is not performed like Chun Li's hurricane kick) but when you get the big things wrong, it's hard to shake.

It's like when my first draft proclaimed Ys 6 as Falcom's triumphant return to the action-RPG genre. Someone pointed out that Falcom had already released Zwei a couple years earlier. Ignoring that fact would make me look uneducated and/or prone to fanboyish exaggeration. So I fixed the review.

//Zig
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honestgamer posted January 21, 2010:

That's all well and good, Zipp, but the way that you make the soul sucking move sound in your review doesn't even match the personal experience that you've related in response to questions raised about your review. That's a problem. You're welcome to your opinion that 6/10 is the appropriate score for this game. No one begrudges you that (at least no one who is fair-minded). However, you're not using genuine justification to get there.

So what if technically that move is available at the start of the game? It's certainly not available in the sense that you imply! You wouldn't have had it without stumbling across it by pure luck, a circumstance that rarely if ever has happened to any of the millions of other people who played and love the game. And it requires more MP than you have at the start of the game, as others noted. So really, your whole tirade against that particular move, which takes up enough of your review that it's one of the main things people will remember, is built on a false premise. That's a huge misimpression that your review leaves on the reader, one that you should be fixing instead of defending.

You've noted in this topic that platformers aren't worth it for you if they don't provide challenge, and hinted that one way this game could have pleased you is if it provided challenging jumping sequences. That's actually a lot more relevant than your discussion of the soul sucking move. You could spend less time focusing on that move and more time telling gamers where the game actually failed for you. Your impressions would be more reliable, too, because people could then read your review and get a feel for how the game would realistically work for them and they can decide whether they would miss tough jump sequences or not. Your whole piece would be that much more useful.

You clearly don't have to drop discussion of the soul sucking move, either. If I sucked at the game and found that move right near the start, I'll admit that I probably would have abused it whenever an enemy routinely kicked my ass, rather than facing the challenge that comes from fighting fairly. Maybe I would have even gone into some boss encounters the first time and used it right away. I like to think that I wouldn't have, as that's obviously going to cheapen the experience, but I can't say for sure that I would have refrained (especially if the rest of the experience wasn't pleasing me enough to make me feel like putting any effort into things). Readers simply need a better idea of the context in which the move is provided.

Despite the eloquent writing here, the review ultimately feels like it was written before you'd really thought out just why you didn't like the game as much as most people. Your discussion in this topic makes me believe that you know now, but it doesn't seem like you really did when you started writing. There remain some enormous question marks, too. How in the world did you figure out that the second castle even exists (let alone find it and the items necessary to unlock it) without a FAQ? No one that I know of did so back in the day. Your review doesn't make mention of a second castle, but you talk about it comfortably in this topic before dismissing it and playable Richter as unimportant details (though for many, few things could possibly be more important). Did you play around with the familiars at all? How much of the massive map did you clear (you touch on the castle's size in your review, but the way you describe it made it sound like a feature that you didn't even explore until you stated otherwise in this topic)? Not all of that stuff needs to be answered in your review, but your review left me wondering about those specific points and I'd like to know. So would most others who have played the game at length, I'm sure, which is ultimately where this review doesn't work as well as it could have. People who have played the game are confused by your reactions and omissions, which don't seem to factor in much of anything that even makes the game worth playing for people who wind up liking it. People who haven't played the game aren't being presented the information in a way that actually outlines the game as it is likely to play for them, either. Who is your true intended audience? Figure that out, tailor your writing to them and don't conveniently omit important information for the apparent purpose of matching a score. You'll find yourself with a much stronger--and very likely still eloquent--review, one that fits in more comfortably with your library of excellent reviews produced in the past.
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honestgamer posted January 21, 2010:

Zig and I must be on at the same time. He touched on something that I was thinking but didn't put into words as well as he did. Credibility just so happens to be the most important thing that you can get right (or wrong) when writing a review.

When you make one omission and it's important enough, your entire review takes a huge hit. You want a foundation made of concrete and suddenly your readers are left wondering if your argument isn't built on swiss cheese. They start rooting against you instead of considering your points. If you have a backlog of excellent reviews to support you, that's a blow you can recover from. However, most readers won't be familiar with that backlog unless they know you, and therefore are likely to disregard even the valid points that you make throughout the rest of your review.

Or they'll start questioning things that they wouldn't otherwise. Most of my questions that I had after reading the review came because key components of the experience you described seemed factually off-base to me. I wouldn't have even stopped to think about some of the other stuff if not for that.

Zig and I have both been in a similar place. He mentioned his and I'll mention mine: Nightshade. When I first reviewed it, I didn't even know about most of the magic moves because I never had reason to use any of them outside of the tutorial. I took--and still take--occasional ribbing from some of the people who read that original review. Even though magic actually is mostly useless in that game, it does serve a purpose and is required to beat one of the final bosses. People wondered what else I might have missed if I didn't figure out how to use all of the different spells. They were right to wonder. I made the appropriate changes to the review and it's better because of it. My other points were spot-on and now no one has any reason to question them after reading my text.

This is your chance to fix some things in this particular review, and to grow as a writer so that you don't run into a similar situation in the future. I imagine that most of the prolific writers on this site and others have come to a similar crossroads. The ones who learned from the situation are writing today and producing some of their best stuff ever. The ones who didn't want to learn usually quit reviewing because "no one gets them" or because they weren't up to the task. I've seen enough of your writing to believe that you're one of the ones who can learn, adapt and thrive, but only you know for sure.
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joseph_valencia posted January 21, 2010:

I heavily disagree with Zipp on SoTN, but I don't get all this shitstorm over a game review. Maybe it is a jump for him to say the Soul Sucker/whatever move can be gotten off the bat, but I don't doubt that he did learn it and he was able to abuse it. His review presents a unique (quasi-)negative perspective on the game based on his unique experience with it. I think it should stand as it is. Otherwise, it'll just read like every other negative SoTN review. ("Too easy, overpowered, etc. etc.")

P.S. Someone should write a review from the perspective of someone who never found the second castle.

EDIT:
"Are the other bosses really that easy, or is he picking on an outlier to support his case?"

All it takes is one outlier to make someone fed up with a game.
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zippdementia posted January 21, 2010:

I'll have to think on everything that's been said here. I can tell you that the soul sucking move was available for 95% of my playthrough. Thus, to me, it represents a pretty prominent part of the playthrough and my review.
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zigfried posted January 21, 2010:

I mostly agree with what Spaceworlder said, just not the "as is" part. It's absolutely an interesting viewpoint (especially now that I know Zipp did find the move by accident) and worth expressing. I am not suggesting that the 'soul steal' example should be removed.

My advice is just to say it correctly... otherwise people will jump to the wrong conclusions about Zipp's motives. SOTN is a game of discovery. I would normally consider that a huge strength, but Zipp's experience shows that discovering the wrong thing at the wrong time can really weaken the rest of the game.

Basically, by firming up the facts, this is an opportunity to turn a questionable example into a really cool point that people will be hard-pressed to debunk.

//Zig
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randxian posted January 21, 2010:

For example, you later bring up the boss that you leapt behind and she couldn't turn around. Normally, that would be a great example to support your point about lack of challenge. But since you exaggerated earlier in the review about the 'soul steal' bit, I found myself wondering:

"Are the other bosses really that easy, or is he picking on an outlier to support his case?"


I was going to let this slide, but since you brought it up, the boss section of the review is yet another example of Zipp lining up straw men to knock down.

To be honest, none of the bosses are so taxing that you'll curse excessively and chuck your controller at the wall, but very few are complete pushovers. As a matter of fact, I remember a few that can be at least moderately challenging. That's not to mention how some bosses are so well designed and take up most of the screen. As a matter of fact, one optional boss stands at about 50 feet tall and is quite intimidating when you first step into the ring with it. Again, you just pick on a couple of extreme examples when the game sports dozens and dozens of bosses to topple.

I think Jason summed it up perfectly above. Exactly who is your intended audience here. Veterans of the game know some of the facts are misleading. Newbies will be mislead the way it's presented. Therefore the review really accomplishes nothing.

If you think it's just average, fine. If you were disappointed by the lack of challenge, fine. My "knee jerk reaction" is a result of your misleading facts, not the score. All I ask if you present accurate information.

I actually liked the intro to a certain degree. You seem to hint you feel the backtracking is an artificial way to make the game longer and more in depth. Okay, fair enough. I don't personally agree with it, but I can at least understand your point of view here. More stuff like that would make for a better review.

But it's all good in the neighborhood. I just got Dracula X Chronicles for the PSX which includes the game in question. Time to crank up the ol PSP, play through both games, and churn out a review. Justice will be served. :D
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Masters posted January 21, 2010:

Chronicles fucking owns.
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zippdementia posted January 21, 2010:

But Randxian, you're doing the exact same thing that you're claiming I've done, only from the other side of the table! You're showcasing a couple bosses you thought were cool. In my review I used two examples because I didn't want to list six or seven bosses that I thought were lame, including the hippogriff, the dumb werewolf minotaur combo (which was a sweet idea poorly executed), the crappy demon who just kept summoning skeletons over and over while I wailed ass on him...

... the list goes on.

EDIT: Here's the thing. I'm totally in agreement with what everyone has been saying about accurate reviewing and I will be going in to rework some of the wording and emphasis in my review to make it more accurate. But the difference between accuracy and opinion is a slight one. I wrote the review based off my experience with the game, which was not a manufactured or imagined experience. How is that not accurate, then?

Again, there has been some mention of specific phrases or words that could change in my review, but asking me to say that the bosses were cool because you thought they were cool, Rand, is not an "accurate" depiction. You're telling me to give them their due. I've felt like I have. Obviously our opinion on this matter differs, but that doesn't mean my review is FALSE.

That's all I'm trying to make clear, here.
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randxian posted January 22, 2010:

Okay, I'll concede my point on the bosses. Perhaps I am more or less doing the same thing. Most of the bosses probably are average in terms of coolness. However, very few are absolute pushovers like the one mentioned in the review.
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zippdementia posted January 22, 2010:

I respect the opinions of (almost) everyone who has posted on this topic and appreciate the time and attention that was given to this review. It is one of those cases that is hard because I had an experience that went so much against the majority opinion. I would be curious to know if anyone goes back and tries this game out again to hear what their more recent experience with it is like. Sometimes nostalgia makes games better than they are.

On the other hand, it may be the fact that I came to this game so late. The things that would've overwhelmingly impressed me when it first came out, like the graphics or the Super Metroid approach, now just seem cool but not mindblowing and what I'm looking for out of a Castlevania game may have shifted after having played four DS games that play like clones of SOTN.

In any case, I will be going back in to adjust things. No, Aschultz, don't wait for me. Go ahead and do your ROTW as planned!
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sashanan posted January 22, 2010:

On the other hand, it may be the fact that I came to this game so late. The things that would've overwhelmingly impressed me when it first came out, like the graphics or the Super Metroid approach, now just seem cool but not mindblowing and what I'm looking for out of a Castlevania game may have shifted after having played four DS games that play like clones of SOTN.

You may be on to something. I only got to SotN after the GBA Castlevanias myself and only finished it after playing the first two DS ones too (Ecclesia wasn't out yet). When you visit it at that point and the whole milestone in Castlevania history it represented is something you've only heard about, not seen at the time, you just go into it differently.

I think my opinions on quite a few of the classics have been influenced by that effect. I do tend to run behind the facts.
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zippdementia posted January 22, 2010:

You may be on to something. I only got to SotN after the GBA Castlevanias myself and only finished it after playing the first two DS ones too (Ecclesia wasn't out yet). When you visit it at that point and the whole milestone in Castlevania history it represented is something you've only heard about, not seen at the time, you just go into it differently.

I think my opinions on quite a few of the classics have been influenced by that effect. I do tend to run behind the facts.


One of my goals for the last few months has been to discover if that might be a MORE accurate viewpoint of games. After all, it doesn't hold true for everything. For instance, I'm playing through Silent Hill 1 for the FIRST TIME right now and it's great.

What I'm finding it's most connected to is the purpose of the game. Silent Hill is very clear about its purpose and meets that purpose with stellar diligence. Fatal Frame, to take another example, was clear about its purpose but kind've tripped over itself in the execution of that purpose.

Castlevania: SOTN, to me, represents a game that had some ideas as to its purpose but didn't really go 100% on its achievement of those purposes. It wanted exploration but really fell back on backtracking and mirror image castles to achieve it; it wanted platforming but aside from one cool section in the clocktower, avoided putting platforming into its level design; it wanted big bosses but failed to make them impressive to fight.
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honestgamer posted January 22, 2010:

I share your interest in looking at what a game was attempting to do and rating it accordingly, Zipp, but I'm quite frankly at a loss for words when I see you saying that platforming was one of the developers' goals.

Platforming couldn't be a goal, you need to understand, because including good platforming elements in the game would have run counter to pretty much everything else that the game stood for on the most fundamental of levels. Not including a platform-heavy design scheme wasn't an oversight or a blunder. It was careful design!

It's pretty obvious to me that the goal with SotN was to provide the player with a sprawling environment, one populated by all of the typical Castlevania fiends that have tormented players for years... and then some. SUCCESS.

A secondary goal was to turn the tables, to provide a powerful hero who is capable of slicing through those enemies like a hot knife through butter, of exploring every last chamber without often feeling that death is imminent. SUCESS.

So it is that in Symphony of the Night, we see Alucard morphing, leaping and even melting his way through the familiar castle environment that has been his home for much of his life. So it is that we see the son of the castle's lord making short work of its most powerful denizens. If he were struggling to get through a series of difficult jumps, if he couldn't effortlessly patrol those corridors, everything that the game stood for would have been thoroughly undone.

When you played, it's obvious that you were frustrated by the lack of platforming sequences. That frustration colored your experience. You had gone in expecting the leaps and thrills of the previous Castlevania games. When you didn't find them--except in the Clock Tower, where those jumps provide that region's whole identity and couldn't be rightfully excluded--you felt betrayed. In one crucial respect, the game had failed you. Disappointed, you found yourself only just barely entertained by an experience that didn't meet your expectations (expectations, by the way, that arguably were quite reasonable since they had been cultivated through numerous previous titles in the overall franchise that were directed by other designers). When you found a way to power through a game that wasn't proving particularly satisfying, you took advantage of that exploit and thus avoided properly exposing yourself to the many other elements that make it so worthwhile. You got glimpses of those things but couldn't really appreciate them because in some respects you were just anxious to put the unsatisfying experience behind you.

Stacked up against the expectations that you have made clear in this thread, Symphony of the Night is a 5 or a 6 out of 10 sort of game. Stacked up against what it was trying to achieve--and what it did achieve for the gamers who went in looking for that experience--it is a 9 or a 10, maybe an 8 at the very worst. That's a fairly large disconnect. It's going to prevent perfect harmony from ever finding its way to this thread, I'd wager.

And yet I don't resent you for writing the review. I don't feel that you were dishonest. I just feel that you were trying to paint a portrait of your singular experience with the wrong paintbrushes.
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zigfried posted January 22, 2010:

I would disagree with that -- I think SOTN did go 100% on its purpose, that purpose being to "explore and discover". It was never intended to be a platformer. Since most of the game lacks any serious environmental hazards, it's safe to say that the clock tower was simply a nostalgic nod to previous episodes.

The backtracking and surprising second castle were an integral part of the game. Backtracking is crucial to an exploratory game; otherwise, it would slip into straightforward action. (I prefer straightforward action, mind you. However, "what I prefer" does not match SOTN's purpose.) Backtracking is critical for any game of this type, where the player is expected to find items to unlock formerly inaccessible territory. As for the second castle, that was a way to turn familiar territory on its ear.

SOTN takes the concepts of exploration, randomization, and content... and for sheer volume and coolness factor, it still blows away any of its successors in those regards. SOTN incorporated content with little regard for impact on gameplay. The sequels, which seek refinement and increased challenge, actually stray further from the original purpose.

The above does not mean SOTN was my favorite Castlevania. I always found it lacking in challenge and environmental hazards; I prefer Rondo of Blood, which maintains a focus on straightforward action while still incorporating hidden secrets.

In other words, I don't think SOTN's enduring popularity is grounded in nostalgia. Its faults have been apparent since day one..... most people just don't care.

//Zig
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zigfried posted January 22, 2010:

I think it's useful for a reviewer to describe how well/not-well a game achieves its purpose, but that shouldn't dictate the score, as developers' intent doesn't necessarily correlate to how fun a game is. As Honestgamer pointed out, SOTN's purpose was in opposition to player expectations established by earlier episodes. I think it would be fair for someone to explain that SOTN accomplished exactly what it intended to, but still only scores a 5 or 6. That's how some people feel about the newer Resident Evil games -- which prompts the discussion of "when should one series end, and give rise to a new series with new expectations?"

//Zig
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randxian posted January 23, 2010:

Its faults have been apparent since day one.....

What faults would those be? The lack of challenge? It's not that some of us don't care; some of us consider an easier game now and then a good thing, not a bad thing.

I'm not sure when it became such that a game is only good if it brings your blood pressure to a boil every five minutes.
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fleinn posted January 23, 2010:

:) ..about the gameplay. I really agree with zipp on this one. I'm put off by the way the review strips any mysticism away from the game and just places it there as a bunch of sprites that bark at you until you bash them with "magic stick". I mean, that's.. something you could say about many games, but honestly in this case it's actually true. Because that part dominates the game sooner or later.

Whether it's the weapons or the powers.. I got the time-stopping thing and a sword with ice or something like that, and just tore through an entire level that I'd been struggling with for hours. And it didn't feel satisfying in the end. I thought I should have managed to do it with the weapon and powers that I had - but since I had to replay the segment so many times, I was given a crutch of some kind to complete it (and just about every other level afterwards).

It's the same thing that made me hate Star Wars: The Farce Unleashed. In that game, you gain new experience after you die and replay the level. So if you die at the end of a level, you get more powers. And the result is that you either are woefully underpowered, or else you can plow through everything. This isn't good game-design.

--

..what's missing in zipp's review, imo, is appreciating that the gameplay actually can be pretty good. I spent a few hours with a sword and doing dodge-moves, climbing around and solving the mysteries of the castle *cough*... and that was kind of cool. The entire ice-cave in the castle dungeons was brilliant, imo.
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zippdementia posted January 23, 2010:

My Lumites review or my Trackmania review are good examples of times when I may not have particularly enjoyed a game or been interested in its purpose and yet looked past that to its target audience and realized that, hey, these are pretty good games.

But for SOTN I feel like there's some major flaws that people are overlooking or just plain ignoring because it's shiny. I mentioned that exploration was the game's point in this thread and I also pointed out where I feel they failed in that. Super Metroid remains the best side-scroller exploration game. That one made me feel like I'd gone on an epic journey.

SOTN just left me feeling a little empty.

Part of what made Super Metroid work was the challenge. Unless you wait till the very end of the game, when you have the screw attack, finding and figuring out how to get to all the special items is a blast and quite tough. Also, that game is full of scripted sequences which make every moment feel important and unique (the lava battle with the beast down in Norfair, the entire ghost ship sequence, the journey into Maridia, starting on the shore of the wrecked ship, the opening destruction sequence, the end fight, the flight from Zebes, etc etc etc etc).
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joseph_valencia posted January 23, 2010:

Eh, I find "Super Metroid" boring compared to SoTN. The pace really plods after a certain point, and the environments aren't half as cool as Castlevania. (Dank Caves vs. Castle. Castle wins.) I dunno about challenge either. My least favorite parts of Metroid, aside from wandering around with no idea of what to do, were having to retread an area after dying. I think these kind of adventure games have to walk a tight line between vigorous challenge and frequent discovery.
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zippdementia posted January 23, 2010:

After careful examination of this thread and my review, I've decided not to make any changes to the review. I want to be clear that I haven't decided this out of a sense of self importance. Actually, much of what has been said here has been very good discussion and will all be useful information for me in future reviews.

But the key word there is future. I'm happy to let this review stand as a sign both of my experience of the game and my reviewing ability at the time of publishing it.

Taking the unpopular stand against anything is difficult. I've learned a lot from doing it this time and I thank everyone for the time they've taken to talk with me about the review and share their perspectives on how it could be improved. I'll use everything I learned from this experience in my next writing endeavor.

Thanks again, everyone. I really appreciate it.
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sashanan posted January 25, 2010:

One of my goals for the last few months has been to discover if that might be a MORE accurate viewpoint of games. After all, it doesn't hold true for everything. For instance, I'm playing through Silent Hill 1 for the FIRST TIME right now and it's great.

Yup, my first play of that was recent too - 2008 I think - and I loved it also. But that may have more to do with whether a game is timeless, and I'm not sure how possible it is for a developer to set out to make their game timeless. It feels like by definition, that's somethign that can only be told in hindsight.

I would disagree with that -- I think SOTN did go 100% on its purpose, that purpose being to "explore and discover". It was never intended to be a platformer. Since most of the game lacks any serious environmental hazards, it's safe to say that the clock tower was simply a nostalgic nod to previous episodes.

That makes sense to me. It seems to apply to the subsequent Castlevanias too (Circle of the Moon actually less so than the others), and what few areas *are* heavy on the platforming seem to do it as a deliberate break from the mold. The Clock Tower is the usual candidate, and Order of Ecclesia blatantly introduces difficult platforming in its optional lategame areas.

But the key word there is future. I'm happy to let this review stand as a sign both of my experience of the game and my reviewing ability at the time of publishing it.

Pretty much how I approach it. It sounds like bluster coming from someone who barely outputs reviews as it is, but I prefer to look toward newer projects than to touch up old ones even if they contain things I know I might do better now. I'll touch up typos, I'll do something about actually false info if I find out I was wrong on something, but the piece stands and I could adapt it a dozen times but I'd never be entirely satisfied regardless.
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Masters posted January 25, 2010:

Eh, I find "Super Metroid" boring compared to SoTN.

Indeed.

Clearly the best game of this type is Harmony of Dissonance.
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aschultz posted January 25, 2010:

RotW-ish stuff: I can't add any game specific criticism, but I tend to come down on the side of not blaming the game for a potential ruining invincible moment/move. I think the player has a responsibility to resist that, or recognize when something messes up, or a solution ruins his appreciation of the game. I've seen this with Infocom walkthroughs on games I never got to play. I like them less than the games I did. In some RPGs where I cheated, or found a down-the-line cheat that could be used early on, I still found a lot of fun stuff to do. I don't think the game should be forced to defend against all instances of looking under the deck, and because of this, some good writing runs up against a wall and feels too focused on a smaller part of the game than it'd hope to.
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zippdementia posted January 25, 2010:

Well, I don't feel too sorry for SOTN. It's got a million reviews praising it.

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