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Castlevania: Symphony of the Night

aka: Akumajo Dracula X: Gekka no Yasoukyoku, CV: SotN, Castlevania: Sinfonia Della notte, Castlevania: SotN
Moby ID: 3739

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Critic Reviews add missing review

Average score: 91% (based on 73 ratings)

Player Reviews

Average score: 4.1 out of 5 (based on 265 ratings with 6 reviews)

It was not by my hand that I am once again given a disc...I was called here by...HUMANS...who wished to play a kick-ass Castlevania.

The Good
Let's just start at the beginning: I never liked the PlayStation very much at all. Lack of decent 2D support, too many sports titles, not enough variety in other genres, and no RPGs at the beginning pretty much told me to wait and perhaps get a Sega Saturn. Then, came the announcements: Final Fantasy VII, a possible Metal Gear game, the remakes of the Lunar games, and Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. That settled it: I now had to get a system I didn't even want. So I went, got a PlayStation, and waited for Castlevania. It came, I bought, I played, and I thought this game kicked plenty of ass.

Now I'm glad that I own a PlayStation. Read on to find out why.

Anyone who's familiar with old-school Castlevania knows its formula. The CV games were all platform-style games, in which you moved from left to right, and maybe down to up, attacking enemies, grabbing items and weapons, and then killing Dracula in the end. BUT...Konami decided that their 32-bit CV debut should be something special. And indeed it is! Now, instead of just a simple platforming experience, Konami went and took a nod to one of the best games ever: Super Metroid. Instead of set stages, you have one HUGE (or two if you beat the game a certain way) castle to make your way through, with all of its areas being connected in some way or another. This means you can explore the castle as you wish, but in some cases you have to visit a certain area to find an item that'll help you explore another area (again, Super Metroid). Now people must be worried as hell that the PSX can't keep up with loading a castle like this, but never fear. Before entering a new area, you always will pass through a small hallway with a CD icon in the ceiling. These special "loading" rooms will load the next area before you pass through the other side, meaning that you barely have to wait before entering the next area. There are also a TON of secret areas, usually hidden behind walls, under floors, and above ceilings. That means that those players out there (and you know who you are!) looking to get a perfect map percent are going to have a lot of fun!

Ok, so the premise is covered...what about gameplay? Well, to compliment the massive castle and your constant wandering, SOTN mixes some RPG elements into the classic formula. Alucard can gain experience and levels from defeating enemies, and he can find a whole slew of weapons, armor, accessories, helmets, cloaks, items, etc., in order to aid him on his quest. He can even get money in this game, which he can use to purchase items and hints. Some weapons seem useless, while others, like the Crissaegrim (GRIMMY!!) can be cheap as hell, but with such a massive variety of weapons, it'll be fun just to try them all out to see what they can do! And about the experience system: as you gain levels, weaker enemies deal less and less experience points, meaning it's going to get tough trying to reach Level 99 (the highest level). But since there's so much to do and find, you'd probably want to try and reach Level 99 anyway! As for the rest of the gameplay, it's tight and perfected. Controls are easy to remember: one button for the left hand, one for the right hand, a jump button, a "slide" button (Alucard dashes backwards with it, really), one to bring up the map, and the shoulder buttons are used for the three transformations Alucard can find: the bat allows Alc to fly and use sonar to find his way in darkened areas, the wolf allows him to charge and dash very quickly, as well as attack enemies, and the mist allows Alc to pass through vents and grates with ease. Alc also moves with extreme precision; he moves when you press the D-pad, and he stops when you let go. There are no pits in this game where you can die instantly, so you don't have to worry about cheap deaths.

Now, onto the graphics. For being a system with crappy 2D capabilities, Konami really managed to squeeze a ton of 2D effects and cram a HUGE amount of detail into this much-misaligned little beast. Everything, and I mean EVERYTHING, is drawn with the most exquisite and tiny detail, and the whole entire game is so beautifully animated and drawn that if it weren't for the PSX pad and the green light on the PSX being on, I would've almost thought that I was playing my Saturn! (small plug: yes, the Saturn IS the better 2D machine.) There are a ton of special effects used in this game, like transparency, scaling and rotation, and much more!

Sounds and music: DON'T, under any circumstance, be stupid and turn off the volume of your TV to put on some outside music. Absolutely DON'T!! You'll be missing out on one of the best soundtracks composed for ANYTHING. Simply put: SOTN has one of the most beautiful, moving, riveting soundtracks of any game ever, with many different styles throughout. Period. From "Dracula's Castle" (the entrance hall theme) to "Wood Carving Partita" (the Long Library theme), from "Festival of Servants" (the boss theme!!) to "Wandering Ghosts" (the Colloseum theme; and my favorite!), it's just...I can't even describe it. The soundtrack for the game is a hell of a purchase, I'll tell you that much. The sound effects are the perfect compliment to the action, with plenty of crisp clangs, crashes, screams of dead zombies, fwooshes, and a whole ton of other effects. And then...there's the VOICE ACTING!! YES!! If you've got the Japanese version, be prepared to be treated to some of the best voice acting you'll ever hear in your life! It's perfectly chosen, acted, and fits in with the game like a glove. If you've got your PSX hooked up to a stereo system, crank that sucker up to max!

Another cool thing about the game are the tons of Easter eggs and references to previous CV games and Konami games. I'm not going to go into too much detail, but I will say to keep your eyes peeled.

The Bad
Konami's treatment of the English version. They ought to be lynched.

First, the voices in the English version are terrible. Absolutely terrible. Alucard had probably the best voice in the Japanese version, but his English voice is just...ARRGH!! What is this damn obsession with making all the heroes have to sound like John Wayne!? Even his grunts, yells, and saying spell names are terrible! Richter is even worse: his Japanese voice sounded an awful lot like his voice from the first Dracula X (the U.S. never got that particular chapter, though), but in the U.S. version, he sounds like he has a damn cold! What the hell!?? Dracula is simply a joke: his English voice actor sounds like he gargles gravel. Maria's English voice sounds like the actress either sleeps too much or sleeps too little...constant sighs and breaths, plus the immortal "Do you know the name....HHHHHHRRRICHHTAA Belmont?". ARRRRGH!!!

And besides the voices, several cool items from the Japanese version were removed, namely the Halfling Faerie and the Nose Goblin. Even if they weren't entirely useful, they still completed the collection! There were also a couple of weapons I found in the Japanese version that I didn't in the U.S. version, but they were just tiny variations of existing weapons. As for censorship, perhaps? Surprisingly, not much. The succubus is still in the nude (except where her wings connect to her body; she's wearing a little leather strap there), as are the Venus Weeds. But I've noticed that some enemies that were SUPPOSED to bleed in the Japanese version don't in the U.S. version. For SHAME, Konami!!

The Bottom Line
Despite idiotic localizing of this game, Symphony of the Night is still one of the best PSX games in existence. Buy, play, enjoy, and play some more!

PlayStation · by Satoshi Kunsai (2020) · 2001

One of the greatest Playstation games ported over to the Saturn.

The Good
Everything about this game is great, this is basically the same game that is on the playstation, but with two more dungeons for fans to explore. Also, the inclusion of being able to play as Richter from the beginning, and the new character Maria Renard, doesn't hurt things at all.

The Bad
There is nothing that I really don't like about this game, the only real thing that is wrong with it is a few transparency issues.

The Bottom Line
If you own a Sega Saturn, even though this is a very expensive game, this is a must own game.

SEGA Saturn · by Joshua Price (24) · 2005

Best in the series

The Good
You are never done playing this game. The replayability factor is about as good as you can possibly get. It goes beyond just beating the game. There's finding the inverted castle, finding all the relics, beating all the bosses, getting all the weapons... The list goes on and on and on into infinity. For this reason, Castlevania: SOTN never gets boring to play. Really, that is all I should need to say about this game for everybody who reads this review to immediately go out and buy it (hell, buy a freakin' playstation if you don't have one, just for the sake of playing this game). It should seem like a holy miracle that there could possibly be such a game. I shouldn't need to tell you about the beautifully designed levels and play environment, or the easy-to-play interface or any of that other good stuff. That should be all you need.

The Bad
Some of the bosses are too easy. Yep, that's it. Period.

The Bottom Line
I really can't think of anyone who wouldn't like this game, except for maybe a disgruntled Konami employee in a mental institution somewhere. The big picture: You're the good-hearted son of Dracula and it's up to you to stop him from being resurrected and terrorizing humankind for all eternity. To do so, you must destroy his minions in his evil castle, find items and relics that will help you and enlist the help of characters like the castle librarian and the beautiful Maria Renard. Enjoy.

PlayStation · by Sam Tinianow (113) · 2001

The Ultimate Sidescrolling Platformer

The Good
This game has all of the elements of a great title: silky controls, great graphics, super style points (you can change the color of the interior and exterior of Alucard's cape), great story (yeah, its not much, but it does the job well enough), huge levels, great map design, tremendous replay value, oh, and did I mention that its Castlevania? The inclusion of a combo system, special moves, hundreds and hundreds of items, and a castle that is, literally, in hell, make this game great fun to play. The experience point elements of the game keep you coming back for more and more and more and more. The familiars are really fun too.

The Bad
... If I HAVE to say something here, I'd have to ad that the familiars come along a little late in the game and are very hard to power up into anything that can effectively help you combat drac's demon hordes. Still, I did get my skull familiar up to the 60's in terms of level (it only took three weeks! God, this game was addictive).

The Bottom Line
The best run and jumper ever made that doesn't use guns; Alucard can only use melee weapons (pursuent to the castlevania tradition).

PlayStation · by Seth Barkan (2) · 2003

It's better than sliced bread - and sliced bread is pretty damn good!

The Good
An amazing soundtrack, creative enemies, awesome artwork, and addicting gameplay, Castlevania: Symphony of the Night got me hooked from start.
The story is the usual good vs. evil ordeal, but they execute it very nicely. Playing as the half-vampire, half-human Alucard, you must defeat your vampire father Dracula and his demonic castle to save the world once more from his vicious wraith. There are twists here and there in the story and, even if it's not the most prominent thing in the game, it is suspenseful.
Gameplay is a mix of side-scrolling Castlevania action with RPG elements, making it extremely addicting and fun. There is a hoard of equipment and items, each weapon and piece of armor distinct in it's own way. What's more is that there are relics to collect, some of them having everlasting effects and some containing familiars (creatures that follow and help you out). The castle is also very large, having a plethora of areas for you to explore, so the game is very open-ended.
The soundtrack is epic. From symphonic violins to hard guitars, the music is never displeasing (except for one piece, but that will be explained later).
The voice acting was, generally, good and the sound effects were pretty sweet.
All in all, I must say, Castlevania's pros completely over weigh the cons. Of course, however, not all games are perfect...

The Bad
Time for the cons.
The only thing I didn't like was the bad voice acting of the succubus and fairy, which should've been closer to their Japanese versions (in tone and acting).
The only song that I really didn't like was the song in the credits, titled "I Am the Wind". It just doesn't fit in this kind of game.

The Bottom Line
Time consuming (in a good way), Castlevania: Symphony of the Night is a game that should definitely be in your top ten. If it isn't, well, you just have bad taste in games.

PlayStation · by SkysTheLimit (5) · 2006

Black Eagle_79

The Good
I love all about this game, is one's of my bests. The graphics are exellent, the castle is fabulous and to great, they have a multitude of beasts and they are very greats and well designed. The music is the best that i ear of every games. And we have a multitude killing strategics with several magics, magics swords and weapons, items and more. We can combine anything with anything and that's make differents combinations to our characther, ( more strong, more clever, more powerfull in magic and more) that's one of the greatest games for that point.In overrall, is one of the greatest games ever made.

The Bad
There's nothing that i dislike.

The Bottom Line
Is a game like Metroid but really much better to all point, is the best of the Castlevania series.

PlayStation · by St├ęphane Papov (2) · 2003

Contributors to this Entry

Critic reviews added by nyccrg, chirinea, Big John WV, Patrick Bregger, Baron79, ModernZorker, Flu, Alsy, jumpropeman, ryanbus84, Wizo, Riemann80, NeoJ, mikewwm8, Jacob Gens, Jeanne, A.J. Maciejewski, Crawly, Alaka, Tim Janssen, yellowshirt, Cantillon, Luis Silva, Sciere, GreyHome, Evil Ryu, jean-louis, Kohler 86, yenruoj_tsegnol_eht (!!ihsoy), lights out party.