Note: this article contains minor spoilers for Castlevania: Symphony of the Night.
“What’s a man? A bunch of damn secrets.”
These words, uttered by Dracula Vlad epeș in his inaugural exchange with Richter Belmont in Castlevania: Symphony of the Nighthas become completely synonymous with Castlevania Franchising. Referenced and parodied by many other games in the 25 years since – perhaps most recently by Drinkbox Studio’s Guacamelee! 2 – it’s a phrase that has been derided and revered to an equal degree. Yet despite how iconic such a simple phrase has become, it pales in comparison to the impact and legacy that Symphony of the Night itself has left in the gaming arena.
Hot: Castlevania: Symphony of the Night is the greatest ‘Metroidvania’ ever created. Yes, that includes things like Hollow Knight, Metroid Dreadand Dead cells. It’s even ahead Super Metroid – sorrybut it is true. [Hmm, we’ll discuss this on Monday – Ed.]
Released in 1997 for the PlayStation and directed by Toru Hagihara, it is a direct sequel to Castlevania: Rondo of Blood (although you might not have known this at the time, as Rondo of Blood was a Japanese exclusive for 15 years or so), opens as Rondo of Blood ends with Richter Belmont’s final confrontation with Dracula. Reviews at the time called it “spectacular” (Next Generation Magazine) and “easily one of the best games ever released” (GameSpot).
We’ve seen a lot of homage in recent years, but the Symphony of the Night still stands above them all.
Immediately after the introduction segment with Richter, you will be placed in the shoes of the main protagonist of the game, Alucard, and it is here that Symphony of the Night sets itself apart from previous Castlevania entries according to Dramatic style, skip the linear levels for a dazzling experience, the link castle complete with many parts and countless secrets. Although we have seen a lot Featured Metroidvania game since its release, Symphony of the Night remains the genre’s finest example; a perfect mix of exploration and combat that has yet to be at its best, even by its successors.
Looking at Symphony of the Night today, you’d be forgiven for thinking it’s a more realistic yet completely modern build on a ‘classic’ 2D platformer. We’ve seen a lot of homage in recent years – both good and bad – but at 25, the Symphony of the Night still stands above them all. Beautifully detailed environments; deadly, yet enchanting enemies and boss characters; Alucard’s movement for a short time leaves a trail of energy. It all comes together to create one of the greatest video games of all time, a prime example of the continued value of 2D gaming in the age of the photorealist 3D sandbox.
Dracula’s castle itself is still a Marvel game design and was the key to Symphony of the Night’s becoming a true pioneer of the genre. It’s a beautifully intricate maze that amazes you from every angle. But when you get to the middle of the game, you really begin to appreciate its ingenuity; just when you think you’ve beaten the game, Symphony of the Night delivers one of the best tricks in video game history by literally Flip the castle on top of it.
As you navigate the ‘reverse castle’, the sheer amount of effort required to create it begins to come home; not only does it need to function as a fully explorable environment with interconnected segments, but every room, every corridor, and every spire must also work upside down. It’s an unbelievable feat in game design.
So, what brings, Konami? When are you going to port such a masterpiece to the Switch?
As it stands, Symphony of the Night is playable on both PlayStation 4/5 and Xbox One/S/X via Castlevania Requiem and Xbox Live Arcade respective release. You can also play it on PS3, PSP and PS Vita via the ‘PSOne Classic’ re-release and even on Android and iOS thanks to a recent port of Chronicles of Dracula X version. Just be aware that some versions of the game contain remastered dialogue and voiceovers, which are said to be inferior to the original.
So, if you want to play Symphony of the Night (and in case it’s unclear, we really recommend), there are many options available to you. But we argue that – like many people, much game – maybe it will be the best Compatible with Switch. 2D pixel art looks great on Switch (especially if you already have beautiful OLED display) and coupled with the console’s ability to switch between TV and Handheld modes of the same name, we think Symphony of the Night will be a significant hit on Nintendo’s platform with new audiences. At the age of 25, there is a whole generation of gamers who will miss this classic game and there is no more convenient system to play it.
Konami is no stranger to consoles either: it has released two extensive Castlevania collections over the past few years with Castlevania Commemorative Collection and Castlevania Advance Collection, the latter wouldn’t even exist if it weren’t for the success of Symphony of the Night. Indeed, beyond the obvious lack of great DS Castlevania games Dawn of Sorrow, Ruin’s portraitand Order of Ecclesia (We want those too, please!), you could argue that Symphony of the Night is the last piece missing from Konami’s 2D Castlevania era. Without a doubt, it is also the most influential game in the entire series and one of the most important games released in the last 30 years.
So if anyone at Konami is reading this… You know what to do.
“But enough said… It’s your fault!”