In 1997 , Castlevania dropped down and changed the face of Castlevania forever. Before Symphony of the Night's release, it seemed as though the series was becoming stale. Certainly it was never bad, but Konami felt it needed to move forward in some way, shape, or form. The best way to do that was with a revamp. Since Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, it's taken on a more Metroid syle feel. It turned out to be the best decision for Castlevania.
Castlevania: Symphony of the Night begins with Richter taking the reigns in, literally, the last level of the Castlevania which precedes it. It seems like a "level" thing at first. You confront and defeat Dracula. After Dracula has been banished once again, things seem okay until just five years later when Richter disappears and Dracula's castle appears out of no where. Afterwards, Alucard, Dracula's son, decides to investigate.
Castlevania has never been the most for telling stories, but there's something very charming about Symphony of the Night. It is when we get into the shoes of Alucard that we truly understand what it means for Castlevania to take a huge step forward. As I menioned, it has a Metroid feel in that it is no longer a level by level design. You can now explore Dracula's table to your hearts content, provided you find the right upgrades to get you to certain areas. You'll begin with nothing, but as you progress you'll find switches that can open doors, upgrades which allow you to get deeper into the heart of Dracula's castle. Throughout your journey you'll be able to turn into a wolf, bat and a cloud of mist.
Not just that, but there's a large RPG component at work within it as well. You'll find tons of different weapons and armors you can equip. There is also a levelup component. No longer do you have a simple health bar. You have Hit Points. The more enemies you kill, the more experience you get and you'll eventually level up. And there are a lot of enemies to kill, and a lot of Dracula's castle to explore.
Graphically there may not seem to be much to Symphony of the Night. There's a nice lot of artwork here, and the character models are nice, but you're getting a 2D side-scroller through and through. It runs fairly well, though, and it also has fluent motions. It's also cool that the overall adventure can last you ten hours your first time through. To date it is one of the longest Castlevania titles.
The best part about Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, is without a doubt it's awesome soundtrack, which sounds magnificant. It has some of the best music you can hear in gaming. It may very well have one of the best soundtracks in video game history. The voice acting is a little stale and cheesy, but at least you don't have to hear it too much.
Castlevania: Symphony of the Night is often an overlooked Playstation Classic. Luckily, it is available on the XBOX360 arcade, as well as the Playstation Network. It's a game that deserves the attention of Castlevania fans. It remains, to this day, one of the best (possibly THE best) game in the series.
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