Castlevania: Symphony of the Night
"What do you here?"-Maria

Story: After the defeat of Count Dracula by Richter Belmont, the Castle of Dracula was never supposed to reappear until the next 100 years. However, Castle Dracula has appeared 4 years after the incident. Alucard, Dracula's son has decided to right this so that he can return to his eternal sleep and prevent his bloodline from wreaking any more havoc.


.....<absolute silence>.....

Huh? Sorry about that. I was busy looking at the wonderful Alucard who bears an uncanny resemblance to Sephiroth. Any Sephiroth fan should notice that. The long silverish hair, the black costume, the cape. It's Sephiroth I tell you!

Anyhow, back to the point.

It's a platform game. It's no ordinary platform game. It's a platform RPG. A new concept, methinks. At first when you play Alucard, you get this fancy equipment which makes you think 'Wow, I could go right to the ending with this! Bring the last boss on!'.

Then you lose it all 5 screens later.

Welcome to Castle Dracula. Unarmed, unequipped, a 75-80 HP weakling and generally powerless. That's when the fun starts. You jump around, you kill enemies like you normally would in a platform game (and see little numbers flying from their heads after a little while), you cast magic, search for treasure and so on. It's just like an RPG!

Controls are very smooth and follows your orders. At least when you jump left and suddenly press the right button, Alucard does the same. I've seen worse. This game does not support the analog pad, though I wonder why would a game like this would need it in the first place.

You equip yourself with stuff and you get stronger, etc. etc. etc. I think we've all heard that before. Interesting note is that Alucard's cloak changes colour whenever he wears a new cloak.

Graphics are sharp, detailed and simple. You jump from one place to another, no fuss. Tiny details like clouds in the sky and a bird flying to lay its eggs are included. The background scrolls and changes dimensions as you move. For example, a chapel seen at the far left corner would be different from seeing it from the far right or the centre, right? The difference is shown here, and all in one CD!

The best would be the music. A game should always have good music. Castlevania has good music. Classical-type music. I like it as it fits the atmosphere of a *castle*. I delibrately killed all the enemies in one area and just left Alucard alone for a few minutes just to listen to the music looping itself over and over again.

However, Castlevania has a minor setbacks. Big setbacks.

Keep in mind that Castle Dracula is *huge*. *Humongous*. It spans several screens for one area. Suddenly, at one point in the game you are forced to backtrack because the game says so. And you backtrack. And you lose your way. And if you're like me, you're going to mutter bits of colourful language when you're backtracking to the *beginning* after, what, 30 screens? You're lucky if you can remember where to go. Luckily, the game designers had enough common sense to make a few shortcuts here and there to make it easier for you. You open up the barrier from the other side, voila, you can now skip all the 30 screens of regenerated enemies.

And the other nitpick:


I'm sorry, I just had to capitalize that. The voice acting ranges from 'okay' to 'I want to scream and scream and scream and set the script on fire'. Alucard's a little too deep and nothing sounds natural. I now understand what some people said about Castlevania's acting. It's really, really unnatural.

"I. Will. Not." Oh please, come on now...

But it's not *all* bad, thank goodness. Most of the voices suit the characters nicely (save Alucard, IMHO), like the librarian. Did I mention how I liked the librarian music?

Chances are the only game from Konami which has good voice acting will be Metal Gear Solid.

Overall, it's an engrossing experience in 2D. To heck with Castlevania 64, it's time to go back to basics. For a while, anyway.

Verdict: B+
+ Alucard.
+ The RPG factor.
+ The platform game.
+ Interesting story.
+ Alucard.
+ Uncluttered screens.
+ Exploring the castle is fun.
+ Music.
+ Graphics.
+ Did I mention Alucard? ^^
- Getting lost in the castle.
- Dying easily if not careful.

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