"Your words are as empty as your soul! Mankind ill needs a savior such as you!"
There are many reasons why Castlevania: Symphony of the Night is regarded as a classic. The allure of secret passages and new equipment draws you into a haunted castle filled with odd creatures and dangerous traps. All of it beautifully designed, not to mention backed by an eclectic soundtrack to suit the castle's many moods. You delve into this adventure as the silver-haired Alucard, the sympathetic son of a notorious supernatural villain, with graceful moves and a cool demeanor befitting of a vampiric heartthrob. Each of these pieces neatly click together, forming what many consider to be one of the best video games ever made. Symphony of the Night is the rare game that seems to get everything right, because even when it stumbles in gloriously cheesy ways, our accumulated goodwill turns would-be mockery into celebration.
Konami, apparently, doesn't see things the same way. Its upcoming release of Symphony of the Night on PS4 (as part of the Castlevania Requiem collection) is based on the retooled PSP release that was buried within Castlevania: The Dracula X Chronicles. This version, while still excellent in most respects, tries to improve upon the original PlayStation release (which is also mostly intact on Xbox 360), but in the process eliminates one of the most memorable moments of the entire game.
I'm referring, of course, to the meme-ified exchange between Richter Belmont and Dracula during the prologue.
Richter: Die, monster! You don't belong in this world!
Dracula: It was not by my hand that I'm once again given flesh. I was called here by humans who wish to pay me tribute.
Richter: "Tribute"?! You steal men's souls, and make them your slaves!
Dracula: Perhaps the same could be said of all religions.
Richter: Your words are as empty as your soul! Mankind ill needs a savior such as you!
Dracula: What is a man? A miserable little pile of secrets! But enough talk! Have at you!
It's campy, over the top, and incredibly memorable. Who among us hasn't been tempted to rhetorically question the essence of humanity, fling a glass of wine across the room, and declare the answer we all know in our hearts to be true? Dracula may have sounded ridiculous, but let's be honest: he's not wrong.
The PSP version, and the upcoming PS4 port, use new voice actors and a new script, with Richter and Dracula's iconic lines rewritten to the following.
Richter: Dracula. Die now, and leave this world! You'll never belong here!
Dracula: Oh but this world invited me. Your own kind called me forth with praise and tribute.
Richter: Tribute? You're a thief. You steal men's souls, their freedom...
Dracula: Freedom is always sacrificed to faith, good hunter. Or are you truly here by choice?
Richter: All I'm here for is you. To hell with your heresy! You're nothing but a blight on mankind.
Dracula: Ha! Mankind. A cesspit of hatred and lies. Fight for them, then, and die for their sins!
In the age of Twitter, where the original discussion has been glorified and given a life of its own, the decision to base the re-release on the altered version of Symphony of the Night feels like an odd one. Granted, this is a small piece of a much bigger puzzle; the game is far from ruined. Its reputation, however, is definitely challenged.
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When polled, 1,780 respondents on Twitter weighed in on the matter: 33% don't care about the fact that the PSP version is being used, 26% feel that their excitement for the re-release is slightly diminished, and 41% of voters consider it to be a deal breaker.
For as much as I dislike the decision to use the PSP version of Symphony of the Night, I'm not going to pass up the chance to have a fresh copy on a modern console--assuming its emulation is technically sound. I may not, however, be able to shake the little voice in my head reminding me that it's not the definitive version of the game.
Where do you fall on the matter? Am I a crazed fan whose picked a frivolous hill to die on? Let us know in the comments below!