October is the month of terror. In addition to several blogs, sites and Youtube channels dedicate their programming to dealing with this theme, from 2017 (better known as “backward year”), the season of horror started to count on a new tradition when it comes to childish yearning for a nerd entertainment content: THE LAUNCH OF A NEW CASTLEVANIA SEASON OF NETFLIX !!!
As I already spoiled in the title of the post, this text is not about the beautiful work that Netflix has been developing with one of the most beloved games franchises of all. To be honest, and to counter a bit of my posts on Twitter on the subject, I do not even think that Netflix Castlevania is this reinvention of the whole wheel.
That she has above average quality, no one disagrees with that. But I think the happiness of the fans (old and new, which the series has been conquering with each passing day) is more to see a franchise so loved to be treated with respect, quality and competence than even the holder of their rights to trafficking.
Anyway, all this excitement and digression was just to say that 2017 was a special year for fans of the Castlevania franchise: it was in him that the Symphony of the Night completed 20 years of release. I do not need to hide that this is my favorite Castlevania of all time, and I doubt I’m one of the few fans in the series who thinks so.
However, as a less coherent and focused gaming player than I am, I let the date go blank here on the blog without a text to match. It’s not that I’ve forgotten. In fact, I even praised SOTN via digital version on PSN at the time. To be even more true, the Word file in which I wrote this same post has been creating virtual webs on my desktop since the year before, so much my desire to write about one of the greatest classics of the games ever made.
And the problem is precisely this: because it is a classic almost inanalisável (today I f**k the neologisms), I always had an uncomfortable difficulty to talk about this game in particular. So what changed from 2017 to here was the fact that Castlevania, because of the animated series, came back into the spotlight again?
To be honest, nothing. The reason for wanting to finally analyze Castlevania Symphony of the Night was just the same: Castlevania seems to have come back with everything and he wanted to play all the titles of the franchise for the thousandth time and, to make up for a foul here in the blog
As expected, a lot of people started digging up their dusty consoles from the closet and dropping the verb on the franchise’s games, which is a great way to bring even more fans to this wonderful universe (though Konami, creatively, is making a mess and walking towards it).
So, one of the new sources of information about Castlevania that I discovered was the channel of the Master Alucard, a guy in love with the series since the most remote times and who has super detailed, balanced and interesting reviews on the games of the franchise. Before you start talking about the Symphony itself, there is this tip (many of the impressions and considerations I’m going to make in this post were inspired by the channel above, so feel warned and do not accuse me of plagiarism, okay?).
IT’S BEEN A LONG TIME, OLD ONE …
First of all, since the topic is plot, I need to advance some information about the development of the game that, although I have learned about them very recently, are vitally important to understand some aspects of my text and some criticism I will make about the game (yes, dear reader: SOTN is fabulous but does not fail to have flaws).
In fact, there is only one, which is the fact that this Castlevania was conceived as a debut project of the director Koji Igarashi (Iga for the intimates) and that Konami itself gave nothing for it (believe: Konami at that time zelava by their IPs, then the mistrust was more than justified).
As it was a 2D game at a time when 100% of the softhouses were with the flaming parakeet to launch anything in 3D (even if the result was something bordering the beast, like the Polygon Man), the project was barred by Sony of America for a while, because she thought “2D was past and 3D was the new wave of the emperor” (twenty years later … Stardew Valley, Hollow Knight, Street Fighter 5 …).
Were you shocked and revolted by this comment? It’s not me who is saying: search the history of the production of this game and you will see that the company has rushed Koji Igarashi to launch the game ahead of time, a fact that is reflected in some elements of gameplay and content of the game. Castlevania Symphony of the Night has won the world and has become the best franchise game by 9 out of 10 players of Castlevania … After a successful opening of holes in Japan and become practically an instant classic of the 32-bit generation … which did not prevent the game from being released in a hurried way and with some elements missing.
Already putting forward something that I would only comment on the topic System, I kind of always found Castlevania castle too small for an open map game. Compare with SNES’s Super Metroid map, and you’ll see that the ratio simply does not keep up with the storage improvement provided by the compact discs. The development rushed by Konami may be one of the reasons for this impression I have always had.
Symphony is a spin-off, term used for a game, film, or any work that is canonical but it is not an “official” episode of the continuity of that same work. The term is somewhat confusing, as some spin-offs (as in the case of the Valkirie Profile Silmeria) happen in the past but advance the events of the future of the franchise. I know, it got even more confusing, but whoever played must have understood.But anyway, the topic is to talk about what happens in the plot of the game, is not this how it works? Then, Symphony tells the story of Alucard, the very same child of Dracula who is a playable character in Castlevania 3 of SNES. Someone is wanting to resurrect Dracula, the old man’s castle reappears after only three years after his most recent disappearance and each Adrian Tepes end the whoring of the creatures of the night and save the day.
The game begins with an introduction that refers to the Rondo of Blood, a Castlevania that almost no one played on its original hardware due to the fact that only magnates and Apple employees owned an MSX when the game was released. Richter Belmont defeats the lord of the vampires and, three years later, the threat of Dracula returns to haunt the forests of Wallachia.
Talking about the aspects of classic games is something I always do with a lot of difficulty: they are tons of nostalgia and strongly paved ideas that simply will not let you make an exempt judgment of the game in question. For that, I would have to try to play the game as if it were the first time, ignoring everything I know about it. But how to do this with a game that always seems to have been there?But how come, you fan of the series wonder? Does Dracula not only appear from one hundred to one hundred years? And why the hell is Richter sitting on a throne asserting himself the lord of the castle? Who is the silver-haired emo vampire with whom we started the game? And the whip? Why do not I have a whip as a weapon?
After that last paragraph, it was more than obvious why I did not give a note to this topic of the text, as is usual. So, to conclude, I can only give some opinions about the plot of the game itself. Firstly, I think this was the first Castlevania to have a greater number of lines of dialogue until then.
As this is a Supreme Review, do not be offended if you find spoilers permeating the entire post, so feel warned. Continuing, I find Richter’s motivation to be meaningless: he returns to Castle to revive his battle against Dracula, since he has prepared himself a lifetime for the confrontation but, after the victory, he kind of did not have what do.You want a suggestion, Richter? How about having sex and continuing the Belmont lineage?Seriously: a guy who has trained hard all his life to whip minotauros, vampires and other monsters must be with corpitcho in day, and what must not be lacking in the average age is periguete in order to give a key of legs in a rich in full physical form.In addition, it was a game in the series that really brought deep reflections about the characters and their motivations. Alucard is the perfect archetype of an immaculate hero, capable of killing even his own father if it is to bring peace and do justice. Richter, this one I confess was kind of dumb here, it’s in the game just to make the script work.
But, finally: Richter’s immature imbecility is what he has for today and we have to settle for the story that the screenwriter wanted to tell. Besides, it’s not bad at all: Alucard, for example, makes several inquiries about everything that appears and joins the pieces gradually until he realizes the real problem behind the early appearance of the castle. Seriously now: CARLETS, I KNOW THAT RICHTER SHASES TO BE UNDER SHAFT’S INFLUENCE. I’m not retarded, despite the impression that comments like the ones in the paragraph above might leave. But the point is that a Belmont has a strong bond of rivalry against the Cronqvists and their lineage (for those who did not do homework and are flying: Dracula’s lineage).It was not for him to be carried away by a low-class spell that would jeopardize all the motivation of being his ancestors.
And since I have spoken of Alucard, I will speak a little more of Alucard (huehuehue). He is one of the most charming and elegant protagonists ever made in a video game. His voice, even that of the original dubbing, passes the exact impression of a person who appears to be young but carries decades of regret and dissatisfaction about human wickedness and the mean way we do it all. I confess that the Symphony plot is not my favorite in the gaming industry, and there are serious doubts about the motivation of one or another character in the game, but if she (the story) is that way to serve as an excuse for us to play with one of the protagonists of all time, tell the people that I stay!
In addition to all this stage presence, Alucard brings a tragic, self-sacrificing past that has never been so well worked out during the Castlevania franchise. It is impossible not to admire the righteousness of the hero and sigh with his example of kindness and faith in the human race, despite their roots that could lead him down the exact opposite path (misanthropy, contempt, and wickedness against all those who have separated him from his beloved mother).The mastery of one of the most charismatic characters of all time is also overflowing in the magnificent animation of walking, attacks and other movements of the hero. I know, I’m advancing the Graphics topic, but I can not resist the temptation to praise the serene moves and super-hip movement that the character has in the game.
BLOOD, SWEAT AND FOG
There is no way to speak of visuals without contextualizing the time in which this Castlevania was released. The year was 1997. As much as companies like Rare and its amazing pre-textured pixel games were all gawking at the firewood that the 16-bit consoles still had to burn, there was no escape: the future of gaming was the third dimension.
Then you can argue that the death of the pixels and the 2D was a bit rushed, because it still could do a lot of beautiful game (Yoshi’s Island speaks for itself) with the hardware of the past generation. In part, I share that opinion. However, I think that the players of the 1990s had already suffered so much with fake 3D consoles (like the Sega CD) that they could not wait to get their heads into the polygons once and for all.
” But Shadow, you f**king ignorant, this demo has been proven false. The original demo only showed the head of a T-Rex and was not as stubborn as that fake there, which visibly brought a 3D image rendering above what the first Playstation was actually capable of generating . “For those who think that the direction of game creation has been forced, watch this technical demonstration that Sony used to convince several game developers to bet on their debut console, the Playstation. This is a fully real-time 3D animation showing a rex tyrannosaur made in polygons (try putting it in the perspective of a person who was watching the video in the year 1994).
Seriously you think that? So let’s do two direct comparisons of T-rex running in real-time on games that have actually been released to the device.
T-Rex from Lost World, 1997:
Were not you convinced? How about the T-Rex found at the Final Fantasy 8 game training center, just two years older than the above example?
So all this coaxing was to base my argument on the fact that, even though it was contrary to the coming of 3D at that time (believe me, the Polygon Man and the whole history of bad games in FMV left serious doubts in the minds of the players), Sony gave good reasons for the developers to bet on a new technology that would make Mario’s games seem like something of the past.
But what does all this have to do with the Castlevania Symphony of the Night, you ask me?It’s simple: even though it’s a game that nobody asked for in 2D and with “outdated” gameplay of sidescrolling, it was able to drop chins and a sense of regret by abandoning the “past” gaming perspective style reason for the quotes is that, thank god, 2D never stopped being part of our lives of players for real).
Symphony is a simply stunning game, to this day. As I advanced in the topic of history, one of the best examples of his visual mastery is the animation of the protagonist Alucard. Another example would be the fantastic effects found throughout the game, such as the transformation into fog, flashes of explosions and subtle illumination of use of items and spells.
About the Original Soundtrack, what about the second best work exuded by the divine mind of composer Michiru Yamani? Just to give you an idea that as the songs in this game are good, I just have to say that Konami never dared to try to remix it or change anything in its quality, even in the thousands of versions that this game has (PSP, PS3, PS4, Saturn …).But the fabulous work of the developers team is not just about the protagonists: already in the first screen of the game, that hall with a giant wolf, you are faced with enemies so well animated that in past games, they would be final bosses. And this goes for all the rest of the bestiary, especially in the inverted castle, with bosses that are so big they can not be seen completely on the same screen you are on.
I confess that although I love the themes of this game with passion, it is in second place as the best track because, despite the transcendental quality it has, many of its tracks only work in-game, that is: they are wonderful for listen while you’re playing, but they’re hardly songs you catch yourself hearing on the phone player while waiting for the bus to go to work.
And what does this say about the quality of Symphony OST, you ask? Absolutely NOTHING, I answer. If you’re reading this far, it’s because, at one level or another, you respect the nonsense I have to say about the game (even if it’s just out of curiosity to read what I’m going to say). However, my opinion is not absolute (just like 99% of the things you read on the internet, by the way).
Just to finish the topic and not to fall into redundancy, I consider the trail of this almost perfect game by the fact that his songs seem to be part of the whole that is SOTN.It looks like they’ve been compounded together with the visuals and elements of gameplay, being an integral part of the player’s experience with the game. As usual, I wanted to say that my favorite track is that of the cathedral, the one that plays when you go to pick up the Leap Stone. The name of the track is Heavenly Doorway, but it’s not the only song I recommend the reader to listen to. I also really like the track that plays in the library, the chapel, the ice area and the dungeon, among others.
A MISERABLE LITTLE PILE OF SECRETS
To talk about the system of this game is very easy, in case the player has already played some metroidvania before: you start with a super well equipped Alucard. So he takes a Death trail, loses not only his trinkets but his vampire skills and needs to explore two medium-sized castles to regain his cacarecos and be able to turn into fog, bat, and … um … dog? Wolf? Oh, I do not know what the hell that bit*h is!
About Alucard’s abilities, there’s a claim to make: they’re super cool yeah, and they’re being refined with exploring the castle. The wolf, for example, gets almost useless and ends … almost useless as well. Just kidding. What I mean is that evolution is reflected in its transformations as well, with upgrades improving its metamorphoses until a relentless gas cloud becomes a toxic wind capable of dealing damage and killing most of the weaker monsters.
Before I forget to detail one more flaw, the enemies of the game are very easy, serving only the XP bag or mere obstacles to be overcome as long as you do not catch the “infinite” mist and play the f**k in the most difficult to transpose.But the criticism that was almost forgotten is that these same transformations kind of lose their meaning once you reach the area that required your possession. The echo of the bat, for example, is totally useless after you pass the Spike Armor aisle. It would be cool if there were enemies or bosses who demanded the combination of skills in order to be defeated.
” But Shadow, you f**king coward chicken, you’re just saying this because you go to the backyard library, you kill the Schmoo until you get Crissaegrim and then you kill the general just by massacring the attack button . “Yes, in fact, some elements (such as gaining more HP and MP as levels rise) make the game very easy. But in this last move, to write the analysis, I faced the challenge of closing the two castles without Crissaegrim , and the impression of ease remained the same.
Except for the battle against Galamoth and Maria, who were registered live on the blog channel, I had no difficulty with any game boss. Of course, in part, this is due to the fact that, because it is a classic game, everyone knows the tricks of SOTN from back to front. But look at games like Resident Evil 4 (in professional mode) or Final Fantasy Tactics (without using Orlandu) and you’ll see that this does not stop these two games from remaining challenging even after being thrown from end to end, for years to come.They are examples of games that, even if classic, you will have your back kicked without penalty if you do not take your difficulties seriously.
About the possibilities of the system, they represent a veritable playground for the son of Dracula tap dance and sambar in the corpse of more than 130 different enemies scattered throughout the phases. Alucard can cast spells, equip almost every weapon (including secondary ones), defend himself with shields, launch attack items on monsters, and heal life, status, and MP with recovery items.
It is not an element that really makes much difference between this and other Castlevanias, but it is super cool to exploit them in their potentiality (like the familiar of the sword, which becomes super fast and even changes its appearance when you reach certain levels of evolution with it ). Too bad that such a feature would only be used again in Curse of Darkness, for PS2 (which, as everyone knows, is not my favorite Castlevania for several reasons).You can also call Relatives found in secret areas of the map to aid in your journey. Some are totally useless, like the second fairy or the skeleton head ghost that flies near you.Others, like the first fairy, serve to save you from death, reclaim your life and MP or even give pints on secret passages (the demon is used only twice, to press buttons on the wall, and then fall into oblivion).
On Richter, he has nowhere to run: he has several skills and punches to contextualize in Metroidvania format, but he’s just a big brand spanking (any damage rips almost half of his life bar). If you accept the challenge of finishing the inverted castle with him, I suggest separating a good supply of aspirin for the headaches that you will have.After finishing the game, the Richter Whipper and Mary Pombeter are unlocked (if you are playing the PSP version, Saturn or the “Requiem” collection on the consoles of the current generation). Maria is very cool to play because she already has a double jump and her skills vary according to the secondary weapon you have collected.
Just to finish this last topic of the text, which will fall into the ridiculousness of redundancy if I try to prolong it further, I can say that the game has a series of easter eggs, secrets and super cool details to those willing to spend a fine comb in each corner of the map and item description (Ring of Varda …). There are also some perquisites that make the game very cozy to play and replay, such as the possibility to change the color of the menu screen or a customizable mantle for Alucard. In the field of personal challenges in the TOC style, the system allows you, for example, to set goals such as closing the game only at the base of the punch or without using recovery items.There is no denying that the main star of this show is the vampire Alucard, and Richter only had the supporting role that does sh*t to validate the plot of the game.
SO, YOU MADE IT …
Castlevania Symphony of the Night is one of the biggest phenomena that the gaming industry has ever had the pleasure of witnessing. He came breaking down barriers, overturning false concepts and paving his place in the sun with the only thing that really matters for a work of art that is definitely his case: his own qualities, fruits of the purest talent and effort of his creators to make good games .
As I said during the text, it is a game so classic and rooted in the memory of the players that ends up generating in me a natural difficulty in explaining the reasons and why it is so unforgettable, with a replay factor practically infinite and deserving of all positions in lists of best games of all time made in several specialized vehicles world apart.
Unfortunately, as everyone may already be tired of knowing by now, Konami has found killing and burying any studios their capable of toasting us with wonders like the game covered in this text, playing the responsibility of keeping the style alive for teams like the studio Artplay, by Titio Iga. We have to hope that Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night lives up to expectations.Needless to say, despite having come close enough to repeat the feat with Aria of Sorrow level titles, the Iga Team never succeeded in creating another game that could enter into video game culture as was the case with Symphony of the Night.