October 1997 Issue

It's a Good Day to Be a Vampire

Even though it features an archaic 2D appearance which most developers have abandoned after the 16-bit era, Konami's Castlevania: Symphony of the Night is by all means one of the most compelling and intriguing releases of the year. The gameplay closely mimics the standard formula of Nintendo's immensely popular Metroid series, and the graphics and visual effects are a step up from the other Castlevania releases.

The entire quest takes place within the massive structure of Castlevania, and instead of being broken up into levels, you will now have complete freedom to explore this enormous non-linear world. This game doesn't really like to take your hand and lead you to the next objective. All of the exploration is up to you. Throughout gameplay you will encounter areas that are out of reach, sealed rooms, and secret caverns. To get past these you will first need to find an item or switch. Some items act as keys that will unlock a series of sealed doors, others (like the morphing orb power-ups) will enable you to transform into a wolf, bat, or mist. With these powers you will be able to travel to areas you've never seen before.

This action/adventure is jam-packed with multiple weapon and armor upgrades, useful (and useless) items, interesting power-ups, and special moves galore. Surrounding the fast-paced gameplay, which often makes you backtrack to move forward, are basic RPG elements. Along with obtaining new weapons and materials, you will also need to kill enemies to gain experience, which will help you boost your defense, health, strength, attack power, and constitution. You will also run into a hermit running an item and weapon shop. You'll need to collect gold before you can purchase a valuable item from him.

Castlevania: Symphony of the Night is a complex game that demands the player to push his dexterity and combat skills to the limit. There are certain spells which require fighting game-like movements to perform, and other special moves that require combinations of materials. Even after you beat the game your adventure is still far from over. Similar to Zelda for the NES, Symphony of the Night features a hidden quest which flips the game map upside down and adds new enemies, bosses, items, and weapons to this already enormous quest.

Andy, The Game Hombre

Concept: 9.75
Graphics: 9
Sound: 9.5
Playability: 9.5
Entertainment: 9.5
"There are two huge reasons why I love this game. The first is, I love any game that rips off Metroid (my favorite game of all-time). The second, and most important, is that any game where you can chop some dude in half and watch his blood squirt for about ten seconds is awesome. Then Konami throws in very addicting gameplay (I know I can beat this boss, I know I can), levels that are filled with awesome gothic-styled graphics (that Marilyn Manson freak would love this game), and spooky voice-overs (cheesy, yet sophisticated), and I think I've died and gone to gaming heaven. If you think you're good enough, and you can stomach the carnage, try Castlevania. This game rocks! A must for Metroid fans!"

Reiner, The Raging Gamer

Concept: 9.25
Graphics: 9.25
Sound: 9
Playability: 9.5
Entertainment: 9.5
"This is easily the best Castlevania title yet, and everything in the game, ranging from the often moody soundtrack to the spectacular hand animation and overlaying special effects are truly remarkable. The basic gameplay structure is almost identical to Nintendo's Metroid series, and all the action closely resembles the other Castlevania adventures. RPG and adventure fans will surely take a liking to this game's complexity that features experience gaining, non-linear gameplay, and item and weapon acquiring. The Metroids have always been among my favorite games of all-time, and now this Castlevania ranks up there with them. It's an outstanding quest to say the least."

Jon, the Greedy Gamer

Concept: 9.5
Graphics: 9.75
Sound: 9.75
Playability: 9.75
Entertainment: 10
"Were it not for Michelangelo, were it not for Tchaikovsky, were it not for Symphony of the Night, we would be a lowly species indeed. This Castlevania proves that there is a higher purpose to video games. It proves that code can be an artist's canvas. Is shows that we, as a gaming audience, can bear witness to the same display of talent and inspiration found in a renaissance master painting. Aside from the vast size and scope of this game, its fluid control is second to none. The incremental changes to jumping, along with the lack of any `visible' loading time, make Symphony seem like a growing and evolving creature, alive with the beauty of intelligent creation."

The Bottom Line: 9.5

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