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Castlevania: Symphony of the Night (Xbox 360) artwork

Castlevania: Symphony of the Night (Xbox 360) review


"On the other hand, the Reverse Castle possesses the Crissaegrim. This sword, only obtainable as a dropped item by a particular monster (one so weak, you'd never expect it to hold something so godly) is one of my all-time guilty pleasures in gaming. In an instant, Alucard goes from a mere overpowered protagonist to a deity of unholy destruction, flinging waves of agony in front of him with every tap of the attack button. Even the fearsome Guardian suits of armor will fall in no time, while many bosses can be obliterated before they even seem to be fully aware an intruder is in their lair. Few things in gaming can provide the sort of savage, sadistic joy this sword does."



Once upon a time, in the far away land known as 2004, I reviewed Castlevania: Symphony of the Night for the PlayStation. While it was admittedly an easy game, it proved to be one of my favorites from that era. I conquered it over and over, trying to beat my personal time records as I raced around both versions of Dracula's Castle.

Those memories never left me -- a fact that became apparent when one of the first things I did upon purchasing an XBox 360 was spend the points to download this title. There really was no common sense or logic involved with this decision, as I still owned my original copy and could play it whenever on my PS2 and the only additions to the Live Arcade version were online leaderboards and achievements. That didn't matter. I COULD download it and, therefore, I did. There are very few games I'd consider worth buying for one system if I already owned it on another. Symphony of the Night was near the top of that short list.

Recently, I decided it was high time I took a trip down memory lane, so I put down the game I'd been playing for the last week or two and fired up this one. It's amazing how little my feelings have changed over the years. As far as the game goes, I could tell you to click on the hyperlink in the first paragraph, read my 6.5-year old review and leave with me telling you that I still love the game as much as I did back in the day. Maybe now, I find parts of the Reverse Castle to be sort of dull and tedious, as certain uninspiring foes like those jack-throwing skeletons and indestructible floating skulls are so commonplace, while many of the more imaginative critters are confined to one or two rooms. And you got the idea, at times, the designers might have been running out of ideas for opposition, as I believe five different bosses from the first castle are recycled as ordinary foes here.

On the other hand, the Reverse Castle possesses the Crissaegrim. This sword, only obtainable as a dropped item by a particular monster (one so weak, you'd never expect it to hold something so godly) is one of my all-time guilty pleasures in gaming. In an instant, Alucard goes from a mere overpowered protagonist to a deity of unholy destruction, flinging waves of agony in front of him with every tap of the attack button. Even the fearsome Guardian suits of armor will fall in no time, while many bosses can be obliterated before they even seem to be fully aware an intruder is in their lair. Few things in gaming can provide the sort of savage, sadistic joy this sword does. It's just one of many reasons I love this game, along with the awesome soundtrack, loads of secret rooms to find through careful exploration and massive, grotesque bosses like Granfaloon and Beelzebub.

With that said, I still must admit that I felt a certain amount of buyer's remorse as I went through the game on the 360, as the experience does get lessened a bit playing it on the 360. As I advanced through the game, I found myself wondering why the game seemed a bit more difficult than I remembered it being. For a while, I was going to simply chalk it up to rust, as I hadn't played it in a few years and was struggling to remember things like the order I liked to explore the castles. But then the reason hit me -- it was as simple as going from a control pad to analog sticks.

Back in the early days of the PlayStation, analog controls were a novelty. Heck, I'm pretty sure that early controllers didn't even have them. It was later in that system's life that they became implemented into games and eventually replaced D-pads as the primary method of moving characters. Symphony of the Night was one such game designed for a D-pad. At times, particularly when doing things like swinging my sword at enemies low to the ground, I struggled to get the controls to do just what I wanted. I found out I could used the D-pad on my 360 controller to effortlessly pull off motions like that, but the thought of simply using the pad to play the game never seriously entered my mind. I've simply gotten so used to analog sticks that if the option to use them is there, well, I use them.

Such is life. Regardless, Symphony of the Night is a great game and I can guarantee that this recent trip through it won't be the last one I take. Only...I think down the road, I'll be playing it the way it was meant to be played: with my PlayStation disc on a D-pad. Anything else just doesn't have the same impact.

Rating: 8/10

overdrive's avatar
Staff review by Rob Hamilton (February 10, 2011)

Rob Hamilton is the official drunken master of review writing for Honestgamers.

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