CASTLEVANIA: Symphony Of The Night
(Konami, June 1997)

With all the hype and attention on other Playstation titles like your Tomb Raiders, Resident Evils, Crash Bandicoots and even your Final Fantasies, people may overlook one of the Playstation's best games ever made; Konami's huge 2D adventure game and cult favouite CastleVania: Symphony Of The Night! Here is this month's Game of the Month.

The storyline starts off as vampire killer, Richter Belmont, is about to fight Count Dracula (the ending to Dracula X: Rondo of Blood for the Super NES and PC Engine), after Richter wins the battle the game now jumps ahead 4 years later as Count Dracula's Castle suddenly returns yet again and Richter is no where to be found. Alucard (originally from CastleVania III: Dracula's Curse) awakes from his 400 year sleep after a intense nightmare only to realize now that he must enter CastleVania and try to stop his father, the evil Count Dracula, once again from taking over all of Europe ........ but where is Richter Belmont and his step sister Maria?

Alucard actually prefers to use swords and magic spells compared to the traditional whips found in the usually CastleVania games plus our new hero as the ability to transform into a bat, wolf, or even mist after you find the right power ups to help reach new areas. Because he is the son of Count Dracula and half vampire he will take damage from water and the holy Boomerang Crosses so he's not perfect and that reflects his storyline down the road too.  Although Alucard is Dracula's only son, he's not really welcome back with open arms when he returns to CastleVania. He starts off the game fully equipped with weapons and armour but Death himself robs him of everything after their talk doesn't go too well.

Luckily the castle is filled with several treasures and items to gather so you power up Alucard over time plus you can even purchase various goods from an old friend of yours which is another first for the series. Alucard can also gain experience and equip weapons and armour just like in a real RPG's similar to that of a Final Fantasy and Phantasy Star game although this game is still all action plat former, so even if you're not a fan of RPG's changes are you'll still like CastleVania: Symphony of the Night.

Castlevania on NES was never like this!

The graphics actually got the game here in a lot trouble because they are still in 2D (Sony hates that) but you'll be glad Konami didn't cave to the pressure because these visuals will blow you away. The game is filled with a large amount of detail from every stage to the dark and cloudy Clock Tower area to the enclosed halls filled with books of the Library. Don't forget about the ugly bosses too like a Frankenstein robot with a giant hammer to a huge ball of dead bodies. I was surprised when this game only got a Teen (T) rating because of all gruesome stuff here. First there is one giant disgusting boss that is rotting on meat hooks with huge bees circling it which you got to see to belief, and secondly there is tons of blood pouring from almost every enemy so sometimes you don't even have to kill them to see the red stuff (like the jousting skeleton on a decapitated horse torso). I'm not complaining here because this is actually based on a horror story but I wouldn't let young kids play it. Symphony of the Night could easily be a PlayStation2 game thanks to its amazing level of detail.

As if the game’s killer 2D graphics weren’t enough just wait till you check out the knockout sound tracks here too. The music is a mixture of classical and heavy rock n' roll themes to get your energy pumping while still reminding you that are in the 17th century. This game is so huge that the game has over with 20 different music tracks available plus the fantastic sound effects are just as good as well. Unlike the Gameboy Advance CastleVania his edition also uses real voices for the most of the major confrontation scenes and the voices are not too bad (but they are not too good either). Wait till you hear the Succubus women early on in the adventure, her acting just plain sucked!

Bottom line: This amazing game not only includes the classic CastleVania platforming game play we all know and love but it also has advanced new RPG elements too that really draws you into the adventure. Another cool thing about the game it's a big one too (easily one of the biggest CastleVania ever) with multiple endings so don't expect to finish this one the same day you bought it. The game even lets play as Richter Belmont after you finish the game once (by starting a new game as 'Richter'). With it’s stunning 2D visuals that make it one of the best looking games of the console and great musical numbers it's almost too much. This is one legendary game here!



*Uncommon Playstation game

overall rating: 97/100

Find Castlevania on eBay here!

For 1 player only
Rated (T) for Teen
graphics: 9/10
sound: 10/10
gameplay: 9/10
replay: 9/10

(Ryan Genno) 2002

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