There are lots of great video games over all consoles and platforms, spanning five decades. Few, however, are actual masterpieces. Castlevania: Symphony of the Night is one of those rare masterpieces.
I can’t say a bad thing about this game. I love it wholeheartedly and playing it in 2018 made me weep for myself, as I haven’t replayed through it enough over the years. This experience though, has assured me that it is something I’ll have to play through over a weekend every couple of years. Man, I really enjoyed stepping back into this for the first time in over ten years. It also made me feel the sense of excitement and awe that I had for it when I first bought it and took it home in 1997.
I have always been a fan of the original three Castlevania games and this takes the best elements of the original trilogy of titles, mixes them together and pushes away all the negative parts.
While most people don’t like Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest, I always adored that game and how ambitious it was for the time. That ambition and it’s RPG like style mostly just upset people that wanted it to be more like its predecessor. But Symphony of the Night borrows the RPG elements, throws them in here and presents it all as something closer to Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse, which was a much better version of the style of the original game.
Like Simon’s Quest, you have to round up pieces of Dracula’s body in order to fight him. And also like Simon’s Quest, you have the freedom to go where you please and obtaining certain items unlocks access to new areas.
The thing is, and most Americans in 1997 didn’t know this, but Symphony of the Night is actually a direct sequel to Castlevania: Rondo of Blood, which didn’t come out in the States until later and was then renamed Dracula X. I’ve never played Rondo of Blood but now I want to after revisiting this. Rumor has it, that a version of it is being released for PlayStation 4 soon.
Anyway, apart from this tapping hard into Simon’s Quest, I also love how many firggin’ boss fights you get in this game. There are bosses everywhere in the castle. It’s like you can’t go ten minutes without encountering another boss to fight. What’s also great though, is that the classic bosses return, as well. You get to fight the Grim Reaper, Frankenstein’s monster, the Mummy and Medusa. You even get the annoying hunchbacks, the pain in the ass gillmen and the mindless zombies, as well as so many other regular enemies that every section of this game is new and fresh.
Castlevania: Symphony of the Night is absolute perfection in an artistic and interactive medium where such feats are incredibly hard to achieve. Kudos to Konami, as this is one of the best games the studio ever produced and my favorite in the great Castlevania series.
Pairs well with: The original Castlevania trilogy for NES, Super Castlevania IV for SNES, the Gameboy Castlevania games and Castlevania: Rondo of Blood (also known as Dracula X).
Racing games have been around since almost the beginning. They have come in several forms over every generation of gaming. Here I am ranking the best ever. In some cases, I am just listing a series as a whole, as some of these have spanned generations and been consistently good over that time.
1. Gran Turismo series
2. Forza Motorsport series
3. Need for Speed series
4. Forza Horizon series
5. F-Zero series
6. F1 series
7. Tourist Trophy
8. Super Mario Kart series
9. Road Rash series
10. WipEout series
11. Out Run
12. Rad Racer
13. Hang On
14. Midnight Club series
15. Pole Position
16. Dirt series
17. Crazy Taxi
18. Blur series
19. Virtua Racing
20. Ridge Racer series
21. Burnout series
22. Project Gotham series
23. Final Lap
24. RC Pro Am
25. MotorStorm series
*Written in 2011.
For the record, I am only selecting one title per series, otherwise there’d be a lot of dominance from a few franchises. And chances are, I forgot something while in my drunken stupor.
1. The Legend of Zelda (NES)
2. Final Fantasy VII (PS1)
3. Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater (PS2)
4. Red Dead Redemption (PS3)
5. Uncharted 3 (PS3)
6. Mario 64 (N64)
7. Metroid (NES)
8. Fallout 3 (PS3)
9. Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic (XBOX)
10. Twisted Metal 2 (PS1)
11. Castlevania: Symphony of the Night (PS1)
12. Goldeneye (N64)
13. Bioshock 2 (PS3)
14. Rygar (NES)
15. Spider-Man Vs. The Kingpin (GEN)
16. Killing Time (3DO)
17. Kingdom Hearts II (PS2)
18. Batman: Arkham City (PS3)
19. Silent Hill 2: Shattered Dreams (XBOX)
20. Double Dragon (NES)
21. Megaman 10 (PSN)
22. Just Cause 2 (PS3)
23. Dragon Warrior (NES)
24. Gun (XBOX)
25. Wolfenstein (PS3)
*I played the PlayStation version. The game is also available on Windows and Sega Dreamcast.
Man, this game is almost twenty years-old but boy did it feel pretty sweet playing it again. In fact, in 1999, this was probably my favorite game. Although, I was still playing through the first Metal Gear Solid and Tenchu: Stealth Assassins on an almost monthly basis. What set this apart from those great games however, was just how massive this game felt in scope. It felt like the most epic video game since I played the first Zelda, as a kid about twelve years prior.
The world in this game is huge and meant to be explored. There is a sequence that you are supposed to play the game in but truthfully, you can skip around if you want and it makes this one of the first games ever to have that sort of freedom. There are several kingdoms to save throughout the game and every one of them is pretty simple to get to and explore. Sure, some are much more challenging and for the true gaming experience and to properly follow the story, they should be done in a specific sequence (similar to a MegaMan game) but the freedom does exist.
The graphics for the time were great. It is blocky and primitive looking today but despite that, it is still a beautiful game to look at and not hard on the eyes at all.
The really cool thing about this game is not just the great story but the entire mythos. Certain things were established in this games predecessor Legacy of Kain: Blood Omen. However, this game expands on that greatly. It takes vampires and presents them in a cool new way. They have evolved and become world-ruling super beings. As the main character Raziel evolves further than his master Kain, he is punished for it and destroyed. He awakens centuries later to see the horrid results of further evolution by his vampiric brethren.
Each vampire brother is a boss in the game and each has evolved in an unusual way that makes each kingdom, each vampire army and each boss a refreshingly new experience. There is nothing repetitive about this game and it has some of the best boss battles in video game history. This, along with Metal Gear Solid, were standard-bearers on the PlayStation One platform for what boss battles could and should be.
I feel like this game and this series has been somewhat forgotten over the years but it is a classic and is still fun almost two decades later.