It may be nearly 20 years old, but Castlevania: Symphony of the Night is still amazing

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Castlevania Symphony of the Night header

A couple of weeks ago, I began prepping for my trip to Paris. This included the usual stuff, like packing, getting my passports together, double checking flights and dates, and of course, making sure I had something to play during those long hours of transit. Unfortunately, I didn’t have anything new or worthwhile to dabble with on my Vita or 3DS, so I took to Twitter to get some recommendations.

And recommendations I got, for games such as Persona, Bravely Default, Danganronpa, and many more. One suggestion however, really caught my eye. It was from none other than our lovable, mean editor, Geoff. He suggested picking up Castlevania: Symphony of the Night for my Vita, at an unbelievable price of just R69 (it was on special).

The legacy of evil returns… As a descendent of Dracula, you must end the vampire bloodline and rid the world of this unspeakable terror. Uncover the mystery of Castlevania and an adventure as legendary as its name in this classic PSone® adventure.

Having heard so much about the title, and having seen it appear in countless top gaming lists, I decided that it would be the travel companion I needed. Besides, I think I owed it to myself as a gamer to play what many have labelled the best game of all time.

You know what? They’re not wrong. I’ve not yet finished it, but I can see why exactly people hold Castlevania: Symphony of the Night in such high regard. The combat, the items, the design, the music, and everything else – they’re all top notch. I’ve loving every aspect of this game, despite it being nearly 20 years old (it launched in Japan on March 20th, 1997).

I’ve stopped playing everything else in my library entirely as a matter of fact, even Overwatch. After pouring hour upon hour into Symphony of the Night on my flights, I now find myself sitting at my PC, looking not at my two large screens, but down at my Vita, playing relentlessly. I don’t think I’ll stop until I see those credits roll.

Which if you’ve played the game, you may (or may not) know can happen earlier than intended. I got to what I thought was the end of Symphony of the Night, only to realize that more awaited if I dug a little deeper, or searched a little harder for secrets. Imagine my glee when I reached what I thought was the end of an excellent game, only to have it dawn on me that I was only about halfway. There’s a moment when the plot gets turned on its head, and it’s amazing – this game is far longer and larger than I could have ever imagined!

If you’ve played Symphony of the Night, you know exactly which moment I’m talking about. I’ve only just started the second half of the game, and it has perfectly illustrated why its lauded for having some of the best design ever seen. I don’t even want to imagine the sort of play testing and such that had to happen in order to get everything working as intended.

Geoff tells me that each time I play Symphony of the Night, whether it be after another year or five, it’ll feel entirely different – like a whole new experience. I can now see why that’s the case. My first play through saw a plethora of unnecessary backtracking. I admit, in this day and age it was unbelievably hard to resist looking up solutions on how to proceed. I plodded Dracula’s castle relentlessly though, and each time I picked away at it, I found something new.

Next time I start the game afresh, I’ll spend less time roaming, and more time calculating the most effective routes through the labyrinth. Next time, I’ll be able to equip different gear, or focus on other aspects of the game, like which familiar I want to level up exclusively for example. I’m not even done, and yet here I am, eager to start the game afresh the moment I am. I think that says a lot about it, or at least, I hope it does.

Honestly, if you’ve not played Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, I’d strongly suggest you do*. I now I get why people love it so much. I even consider myself one of them, even though I haven’t even finished the game. The next time I see Koji Igarashi, he’s getting a hug for sure!

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to defeat Dracula. How long will it take me to get to him? I’m not sure. It depends on whether I feel like I’ve explored every nook and cranny of his blasted castle I suppose, which could take forever. I’m not complaining mind you – that’s a prospect that’s very, very exciting.

*You can grab it on any PlayStation console as a classic, and even on the Xbox One as a backward compatible Xbox 360 game. 

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Matthew Figueira

Defence of the Ancients? More like Defence of the cabbages! Have you seen my head? I look like a Merino Sheep on pole. NO SHANGE only SHAPPIES! :D

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