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Old 05-15-2003, 09:15 AM   #165
Icarus4578
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Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 12,550
Don't let the bloodsuckers bite

Castlevania ~ Symphony of The Night - PlayStation - Rating 9
I walked into my local Toys R Us one day, then walked out one lucky guy. I just bought the last copy of Castlevania ~ SoTN for PS and didn't feel the least bit guilty about it. Considered by many the greatest PS action/adventure game ever made, SoTN is certainly among the best gaming has to offer.

Here's some math for you~
Konami + 2D = Genius

What else is new...?

SoTN stars Alucard, Dracula's son whose name is his father's spelled in reverse. One of the Belmonts, Richter, has disappeared within Dracula's compound, and Alucard goes to the rescue. So why is Dracula's son helping a Belmont out? Play it and find out. One thing that may get on some people's nerves is the voice acting which, although it is crystal clear, is done rather nonprofessional in my opinion. But that's a small fault in an otherwise stellar gameplay experience.
The game is laid out like Super Metroid ~ you fill in a large castle map as you progress, and you can backtrack, find and use items, weapons, magic, transformations, etc. and basically explore while taking on bats, skeletons, and all sorts of other foes. The animation is superb, especially on Alucard, and Konami infused the PlayStation (and the Saturn version) with some of the sharpest 2D graphics yet seen even to this day. The Saturn import version has two extra areas with that many new bosses, but in all truth those stages are poorly designed as are the bosses within, and add little to the overall experience. You can play as Alucard, Richter and Maria from the outset in the Saturn version (as opposed to the PS version where you have to imput the name Richter at the beginning in order to play as him throughout the game, and you cannot play as Maria) but it's nothing to get overly excited about. The PS version has sharper graphics, transparencies, and better audio quality, but the Saturn version has more songs (such as redone classics like Bloody Tears) and allows you to access the sound test from the outset as opposed to the PS version in which you must first beat the game and then make it to the library in the subsequent quest.
In terms of game design, SoTN is unmatched by other actioners save for several like Super Metroid which is undeniably the best of this style of gameplay to date. In terms of action it doesn't get much better though. Alucard has HP and MP like in an RPG and can even gain levels to build his stats up. Every single weapon you equip has its own feel, and many have a special attack you can do by imputting a special command (a-la a fighting game special move). Some even have special uses like the Rainbow Sword which turns enemies into gems you can sell at the library for a ton o' money. Others include nunchaku, fighting gloves, all sorts of swords and other cleaving devices, and more. There are also armors, cloaks, and boots you can equip to further his stats. Some of these also have special functions. Money is used in the library shop to buy all sorts of useful weapons, armor, and other goodies. I don't know what a shop is doing in Dracula's domain, but who's complaining? You also collect food and items throughout, and even gain the assistance of helpers called Familiars which can help Alucard fend off enemies and even open up secret areas by hitting switches out of Alucard's reach. They can even level-up and get stronger! There's also special relics you can use that do several things such as the Leap Stone which allows you to double-jump. There's so much to explore and find, and so many enemies to fight that it will keep anybody busy for at least a dozen hours or so. And then there's the second castle...
The music is some of the finest you'll ever hear coming from a game system and is indeed far superior to any game soundtrack I've heard yet from the new system software. All new tracks include the rocking symphonic entree into Dracula's castle by Alucard titled fittingly Dracula's Castle, the booming basslines and the echoed piano of Crystal Tears, and plenty of other excellent tracks that makes most movie soundtracks seem like a bad joke in comparison. Actually, most movies nowadays don't have good soundtracks at all and sound stiff because the composers have nothing better to do than to rip off themes, motifs, and such from the works of famous and obscure composers that actually came up with their own musical ideas. There is a fine line between influence and blatant ripping off. Castlevania sounds like Castlevania, and that's a good thing.
There aren't that many new games that I would consider to be classic. But Castlevania ~ SoTN is classic and then some. Thank you Konami. As long as there is a Konami there is going to be more Castlevania titles for us to sink our teeth into (no pun intended).

Last edited by Icarus4578; 10-10-2004 at 08:47 AM.
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