Castlevania: Symphony of the Night (PSX) Review

Released in 1997, SOTN is a direct sequel to Castlevania Rondo of Blood, which at the time hadn’t gotten a proper US release. In this one, Richter Belmont has disappeared and Castlevania itself reappeared 4 years after the events of Rondo of Blood. Alucard, Dracula’s son last seen in Castlevania 3, awakens to discover what has happened with the help of an older maria from the previous game. This is the first of the Metroidvania style games, where the player explores an entire castle, gains new abilities, and fights bosses to uncover the plot. A second mode letting you play as Richter in a traditional Castlevania is opened up upon finishing the game. The game sports an amazing soundtrack and a number of dialogue scenes with voice acting (even if it is cheesy). SOTN wasn’t a big hit at first, until critic scores and word of mouth raised its status among gamers, prompting a number of re-releases.

SO HOW IS IT? This is probably my favorite Castlevania title and one of my top video games with its amazing soundtrack, gameplay and graphics. This one is still my favorite Castlevania and got me back into playing the series. Love the plot and exploring the castles, and even finding a full map to see where I missed. Playing with the different weapons was fun and game is a decent challenge! Even playing a traditional game as Richter is fun and he has some wild moves! Different endings require the player to perform different actions at some key events, or wear certain items during boss fights, like SOTN and Harmony of Dissonance. Remember anything maria says or clues you find!

GRAPHICS AND SOUND: Graphics are absolutely beautiful in this game, still the fact this came out in 1997! Everything is large and colorful, even the bosses that tower over your character! Your menu screen is well-displayed and easy to navigate too. Alucard and Richter are beautifully done, and Alucard’s fluttering cape as he jumps and runs is something to smile at. Richter has that whip swinging move Simon had in SV4 too. The castle is gorgeous from the upper levels, the hallways, and even the caverns and catacombs underground! Be sure to check out the clouds and moon in the background when you get to the top of the castle too!

SOTN is a must-have soundtrack to own. Go now and find a non-bootleg version of it and blast it on the ride to work. This soundtrack will get you going and has so many memorable tracks. Boss music will get you pumped up, and i still enjoy the music in the castle entrance levels. The track playing in the chapel area and the caverns is creepy yet chill that you can zen out to it.

PLAY CONTROL: Alucard (and Richter) control beautifully. You got the normal buttons to attack and jump, throw up a shield (for Alucard), use sub-weapons and more. Shoulder buttons control your form changes as Alucard and doing various street fighter-ish moves on the gamepad enable your magic spells (or buy them from the Librarian). You will need to make use of all of Alucard’s form changes in one way or another, including using them in an offbeat way to finish filling in your map for the inverted castle. Hitting your attack and shield button while using 2 specific items enable some special moves.

CHALLENGE: This game isn’t hard, though most of the difficulty will be some of the boss fights, along with the exploration aspect of both castles. You’ll find your inventory overloaded with healing consumables you find lying around or buy from the Librarian pretty fast. Some boss fights are harder than others in both castles, some you can cheese your way through, others you can’t. Game is pretty much over if a Crissaegrim drops LOL. Trying to get the full 200.6% for both castles will take time, since you’ll need and want to explore everywhere for hidden rooms you can break down with attacks or using your gas cloud form, especially those little single out of the way rooms.

The Richter game on the other hand, is old school Castlevania. Not as hard as Rondo, but you can only heal at save points and after boss fights. Challenge here is survive as Richter through both castles as you explore, fight, and find hidden rooms, and try not to die till you hit the next save point. Richter has some damn snazzy moves to compensate for not being as rounded as Alucard to get you through some spots. Don’t forget his item crashes!

I GIVE THIS GAME 4.5 OUT OF 5 VAMPIRE KILLER WHIPS!!

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