Back in the 1980’s when two dimensional side-scrollers were the norm for action/adventure games. Castlevania or Akumajo Dracula as it was first known in Japan , was at the top of the most difficult, maniacally frustrating and showcasing unforgettable background music. Castlevania was the game that made you want to burn your NES and hit the glass screen of your tube television. Yet you kept coming back for more beatings from hunchbacks, skeleton armies and flying Medusa heads. It was one of the few games that was maybe even better to play at night with all the lights out in your room.
After several sequels on multiple generations of console gaming systems, some better than others, yet all seemed to be a solid reworking of the Castlevania concept finally a culmination of all the past success had been achieved as a crowning jewel to the story of the Belmont clan and Dracula. This episode follows Alucard the half-vampire son of Dracula.
In 1997 Konami released Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. This classic penultimate example of the side scrolling genre was a bit of a throwback since at that time game the market was flooded with sub-standard First Person Shooters. U.S gaming fans didn’t appreciate 2-D side scrollers as much as Japan.Therefore that era will always remind me of some classic RPG’s but very awful First Person 3-D games for the most of the latter half of the nineties. Symphony of the Night re-visited Castle Dracula and all the tradition of Castlevania’s legacy in what was one of the best games of that era on any system. One of the traditions of Castlevania has showcased superb music. Konami composer Kinuyo Yamashita a female composer who wrote a lot of the first music for Castlevania using traditional period music such as the genre of Baroque music in the style of J.S Bach and C.P.E Bach. As well as Romantic, Rococo and classical periods. But Symphony of the Night did review some of the old Castlevania’s classics like Bloody Tears and Wickedest Child though a few had a more Rock instrumentation.
Symphony of the Night added RPG elements to the franchise and solidified itself with the likes of Metroid for a very deep immersion in the game map. I mean in that the player truly feels they can get lost in the world constructed by the game. Dracula’s Castle is vast and has depth and a very highly detailed baroque or gothic atmosphere. there are multitudes of layers and expansive quality that can rival many of the best 3D environments even in today’s generation’s games. There are subterranean environments below the Castle as well as exteriors, brick sky-walks and even ethereal or seemingly dimension shifting areas.
The bosses of Symphony of the Night have so much detail some are quite repulsive. There is a giant rotting Corpse which is Beelzebub and a frightening room containing hundreds of corpses and souls that cluster in one sphere of tortured souls and attack.