Castlevania: Symphony of the Night Review

Quite possibly the best 2D action side scroller ever.

Since its US debut in 1987 on the NES, Konami's Castlevania series has gone on to become one of the most popular franchises in video-game history, with releases on nearly every major platform (including the Super NES, Genesis, and GameBoy). The latest installment - Castlevania: Symphony of the Night for the PlayStation - is quite possibly the best 2D action side scroller ever.

Symphony takes place four years after Dracula X, a PC Engine title in Japan that never saw a US release. Unlike most previous Castlevania games, Symphony features a main character who isn't one of the whip-cracking Belmonts. Stranger still, it turns out that our hero, Adrian Fahrenheit (aka Alucard), is actually a son of Dracula. Your task is to explore Dracula's castle (rumored to only appear once a century) and find out why Richter Belmont, the hero of the first game (and descendant of the original Castlevania hero, Simon), has mysteriously vanished. Oh, and you've also got to kill quite a few monsters along the way….

Since the main character doesn't carry a whip, gameplay has obviously changed quite a bit from past Castlevanias. Now you can use several different weapons and items, each of which is kept in an RPG-like inventory subscreen. But Symphony mimics an RPG in more ways than one. Experience is gained from killing enemies; attributes are raised whenever Alucard levels-up, which is good incentive not to pass up enemies when trying to get from one area to the next; special skills are learned by performing different control-pad movements that subsequently save to a move list in the subscreen; and you can find and use numerous magic items during your quest. Even with the new trappings, though, the basics of the game are true to previous installments - break candles, collect hearts and money (which you can now actually spend in a shop), and fight ghoulish enemies.

Perhaps the most important new feature added to Castlevania is its map system. Extremely similar to the one in Super Metroid, the map (which can be viewed at any time by pressing the Select button) opens up room by room as you travel through the castle. You can buy an extended map that shows you some of the areas you have yet to visit, but as you might imagine, it's limited and doesn't show you any of the castle's hidden portions. Even if it did, it wouldn't much matter; like any good adventure game, many areas can't be accessed until later in the journey. Specifically, you can't visit certain places until you've found the three souls that Alucard can transform into - Wolf, Bat, and Mist, each of which can be used at any time for a small amount of magic power.

Needless to say, the graphics and musical score are great, which is what you'd expect from Konami. The anime-style look of Dracula X has been replaced with a more Roman approach that adds a surprising amount of depth to the game's wonderful atmosphere. Each area comes to life with vividly animated enemies, gorgeous backgrounds with multiple levels of parallax scrolling, and stellar special effects (particularly of note are the lighting and fog effects used in certain levels). The voice acting is also good, and the storyline is awesome.

Castlevania: Symphony of the Night is easily one of the best games ever released and a true testament to the fact that 2D gaming is not dead by any stretch of the imagination. The game is very large and will keep you entertained for a long time.

The Good
N/A
The Bad
8.9
Great
About GameSpot's Reviews
Other Platform Reviews for Castlevania: Symphony of the Night

About the Author

Discussion

14 comments
zantetsuken1983
zantetsuken1983

 its my first time playing this game and im a few hours in and honestly its simply amazing.i have played several castlevania games before but this is easily the most fun and challenging 2d side scroller i have played and im just a few hours in, the gameplay and the damn music is just stuck in my brain. man this may sound silly but i wish there was a 2d side scrolling castlevania for the ps3/ps4 thats just as good and challenging with the same amazing music.  I have played CASTLEVANIA LOD BUT DIDNT ENJOY IT THAT MUCH. This is one of those games that u play and u just wish it will never end. solid game.

Ripper_TV
Ripper_TV

The Good: Not Applicable??? 

maestro900
maestro900

Greatest game of all time in my opinion

GSJones1994
GSJones1994

This game is Konami's answer to Super Metroid and even though this isn't as good as SM, it's still the best Castlevania.

saosebastiao
saosebastiao

Well it seemed that in 1997, where 3D was the biz and 2D was not (mainstream thinking back then), giving a 2D game a very good rating was almost forbidden (not even Alundra got a 9.0).

Well 15 years later, those 2D games still look good, and as for the 3D ones...yickes!

Which remindes me... Konami, just make a new 2D Castlevania with (real) HD graphics. Just look at Blazblue. I don't want another Devil May Cry clone.

NoName98
NoName98

I have this on my jailbroken Iphone now. Win!

SANSHORYU
SANSHORYU

This game is great, no doubt. And it's fantastic that this 15 year old article is still getting comments. :)

HD_audio_CoYotE
HD_audio_CoYotE

SOMETIMES

I wonder if developers just don't hear or don't wanna hear fan-resonance.

it's been 15 years and this game is still (occasionally) THE HOLY GRAIL IN THE CASTLEVANIA SERIES !!!!

seriously, with the hardware-power now-a-days:

WICH CASTLEVANIA-FAN WANT ANOTHER G.o.W.-CLONE ??!!!!!!

WHY NOT USE THAT FOR GAMES LIKE THIS ???!!

I DON'T GET IT.

and if you turn to the NDS you get castlevanias with weird side-storys

that play always in the castle. always.

AT LEAST: THANKS KONAMI FOR THE REBIRTH ON WII  !!

cheers

 

Greyslay
Greyslay

Easily one of the best games ever made. So addicting and Alucard is such a badass mofo.

IHEARTDOGS
IHEARTDOGS

I just re purchased this game for probably the 10th time (it was free for ps plus users) and I think its funny how they say its the greatest 2d sidescroller ever... and gave it an 8.9 LOL 

 

Even in 1997 gamespot was tough LOLOLOL  some things never change i guess !! They couldnt even give it a 90?!?!?!

etryus
etryus

I love this game. I still play it from time to time.

Castlevania: Symphony of the Night More Info

Follow
  • First Released
    • PlayStation
    • Saturn
    • Xbox 360
    Quite possibly the best 2D action side scroller ever.
    9.2
    Average User RatingOut of 7291 User Ratings
    Please Sign In to rate Castlevania: Symphony of the Night
    Developed by:
    Konami, Digital Eclipse
    Published by:
    Konami, SCEA
    Genres:
    2D, Action, Platformer
    Content is generally suitable for ages 13 and up. May contain violence, suggestive themes, crude humor, minimal blood, simulated gambling and/or infrequent use of strong language.
    Teen
    All Platforms
    Animated Blood and Gore, Animated Violence