Castlevania: Symphony of the Night (known in Japan as Akumajō Dracula X: Gekka no Yasōkyoku, translated as Devil's Castle Dracula X: Nocturne in the Moonlight) is a 2D action-adventure horror platformer developed by KCE Tokyo and published by Konami for the Sony PlayStation on October 2nd, 1997. The game is the thirteenth installment of the Castlevania franchise and is a direct sequel to Castlevania: Rondo of Blood for the PC Engine, taking a radically different approach to the traditional Castlevania platforming while introducing the dark, gothic, painting-like art style of character designer Ayami Kojima.
The game is known for being the epitome of the Metroidvania genre (alongside Super Metroid), which trades the level-by-level linearity of traditional platformers for free exploration of one large 2D world. (A concept previously only seen in the Castlevania franchise from Castlevania II: Simon's Quest) The game also introduces RPG elements to the series, as Alucard gains experience points from defeating enemies (and can level up), finds new weapons, and learns new spells.
Castlevania: Symphony of the Night begins in the year 1792 with the player as vampire hunter Richter Belmont, fighting Dracula in similar vein to the final stage of Castlevania: Rondo of Blood (adding a memorable dialog between them). Five years later, after Dracula's defeat, Richter mysteriously disappears and Dracula's castle reappears out of the mist. The player then begins the main quest as Dracula's dhampir son, Alucard, who awakens from his self-induced sleep (sometime after his involvement in Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse) to investigate. On the way, he encounters Maria Renard, Richter's sister-in-law and fellow vampire hunter who is also searching for the whereabouts of Richter.
Castlevania: Symphony of the Night is a non-linear, Metroidvania style sidescrolling action platformer game. Alucard, the main character, will navigate the many sectors of Dracula's castle with flexibility in his progression. The castle is maze like, with many hidden passages, deadly obstacles, and increasingly difficult enemies. The game incorporates the classic Castlevania platform gameplay, and mixes it with the exploration of titles like Super Metroid and Castlevania II: Simon's Quest. To progress, Alucard must gather powers, defeat bosses, and discover the secrets of Dracula's domain.
Combat in Castlevania is based on real-time combat, meaning that you can continuously dodge and attack without having to experience any breaks in combat. Alucard has a variety of weapons at his disposal, he can wield swords, axes, shields, wands, and items. Alucard has a nifty reversal-dash technique where he slides backwards to avoid any enemy attacks, this is one of Alucard's most useful tools to avoid being damaged. Equipment and items can be found from the castle, acquired through enemy droppings and bought from the strange Master Librarian residing in the library.
Symphony of the Night is the first Castlevania title to allow players to use other primary weapons besides whips, which was traditional in the series prior to the game. Alucard's repertoire, however, is mostly based on edged weapons, such as axes and swords. Other weapons, such as fist weapons and single use, expendable weapons, are available, though much less common. Symphony of the Night's alternate character, Richter and Maria have arsenals of their own. Richter plays like characters in the previous titles, wielding the legendary Vampire Killer, and utilizing classic sub-weapons. Maria uses energy based projectiles and kicks to do battle. Armor and accessories could also be equipped, granting the player bonuses to all of their characters stats. The Sega Saturn title expands on the items in the game, and has many bonus weapons and armor sets.
Players could also pick up other items, such as food, to help replenish health and hearts. Items such as the classic Castlevania haunch of meat will replenish health, while sweet treats like ice cream generally refill Alucard's hearts. Players must be wary, however, as not everything is good for the character's stomach. Poison mushrooms, rotten meat, and other unsavory goods will cause status effects, among other harmful effects. These items do not have effect upon contact, as in past Castlevania titles. Rather, they will be placed in the inventory, and must be equipped to one of Alucard's arms. Once equipped, pressing the button the food is assigned to will throw them out, and Alucard can use them.
Sub-weapons also make a return in Symphony of the Night, including old favorites like Holy Water and the Throwing axe. These sub-weapons consume hearts, which can be regenerated by picking up additional hearts, dropped by enemies, as well as lights sources once Alucard obtains the Cube of Zoe. Item crashes return from the previous game, which are special powered up versions of the equipped sub-weapon. Only Maria and Richter can perform item crashes. Each weapon has different effects depending on what character uses them. Along with sub-weapons, special creatures could be equipped as aids in combat. These creatures, called familiars, include fairies and demons. Familiars have a variety of different effects in combat, including healing, fighting, and defense. These familiars level up along with Alucard, becoming stronger with each level.
Symphony of the Night also introduces a magic system to the series. Players can collect various spells which can be used for combat and healing, and are performed by performing special button combinations. There are a number of attack spells, such as Hellfire, and other that heal, one such being Dark Metamorphosis, a spell that heals Alucard any time he spills blood. Alucard can gain more spells when he gathers incantation scrolls.
Castlevania: Symphony of the Night isn't like any of the previous Castlevania games. Even though there are still candles and hearts and sub-weapons, there are massive differences in gameplay. Among the biggest is the break from linear level format, similar to Castlevania II: Simon's Quest. While progress is still limited by items and abilities granted by defeating bosses and finding rooms, the player can more or less choose where they want to be (A number of tricks and glitches also allows them, with enough know how, to get into places they shouldn't be). In addition to being less level oriented, Symphony of the Night introduces an entire armory allowing Alucard to pick and choose anything from a standard sword to brass knuckles to sticks of dynamite. Previous Castlevania titles merely allowed for the whip and three upgrade system, never allowing alternate equips. Our hero is also equipped with a number of spells including, but not limited to, the classic vampire hellfire, the ability to summon attack spirits, and the devastating "soul steal". Upon finding certain relics, the player can choose to have a familiar follow them around imparting certain benefits. The fairy helps as a support character healing you when damaged, giving you antidotes when poisoned, etc. The bat, sword, ghost, and demon are all combat oriented and serve to deal additional damage. The active familiar will gain experience with every monster you kill, increasing that familiars skill in battle or in support.
Throughout the game, a variety of relics are hidden which can aid Alucard in an assortment of ways. Relics will allow him to jump higher, collect hearts and items from light sources, equip familiars, and open sealed doors, among other things. These can be turned on and off in the menu screen. Some of the more important relics will allow Alucard to transform himself into beasts, or mist. The first transformation is the wolf, who can run faster, and make long, running jumps. The wolf attacks with a short ranged bite. The second transformation is the bat, similar to Alucard's power in Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse, which can fly freely around the stages. Finally, the mist power will allow Alucard to float around, through grates and other obstacles impassable by other states of matter. When in these forms, Alucard's MP will slowly be drained. Each for becomes necessary to advance in the game, and obtain many hidden secrets.
Symphony of the Night was the second Castlevania game to feature RPG elements, the first being Castlevania II: Simon's Quest. Growth elements were reintroduced in Symphony of the Night. For each enemy whom the player downed, their character would receive a number of experience points. Once enough experience points are gathered, the character would level up, and receive a boost to the various stats. Alucard can also gather Life Max , Heart Max , which increase how much health and hearts Alucard can carry. These RPG elements have become a mainstay mechanic in the series since, as have many other elements of Symphony of the Night.
Richter Belmont Gameplay
In most versions of the game, it is possible for the player to take control of Richter Belmont, the vampire hunter. After satisfying certain conditions, the player can enter their name as "RICHTER" and they will be put in his shoes to explore Castlevania. Richter does not collect items, cannot equip anything, does not find relics, cannot use familiars, and does not level up. Playing as Richter is very much like previous games, with more limited character mobility. He does not have any MP, and his heart maximum capacity is 99. Heart Max items only replenish hearts. He can, however, increase his life maximum when he collects life max up items. His only primary weapon is the vampire killer, which cannot be powered up (save his whip item crash and increased power in the inverted castle). Richter wields the same sub-weapons as Alucard, but has the ability to perform and item crash that eats up a large number of hearts, and performs a strong attack.
- Dagger: The weakest of all sub-weapons, yet very fast, and costs a single heart.
- Axe: Alucard tosses a round axe into the air. A great weapon for taking out airborne foes.
- Holy Cross: Alucard will throw a spinning cross a short distance in the air before returning like a boomerang, damaging enemies on the way.
- Bibuti: Alucard will throw holy ashes onto the ground, which do damage to anything that touches them.
- Holy Water: The character throws a bottle of holy water on the ground, which will burst into blue flames, damaging anything that touches them.
- Watch: Freezes time. It has no effect on many enemies.
- Bible: A bible will come out, and rapidly spin around Alucard, acting as a sort of shield before flying off.
- Rebound Stone: Alucard throws a single diamond that will ricochet off of walls and damage enemies. Best used in tight spaces.
- Agunea: Shoots sacred lightning at enemies. It can be continuously used if the player holds down up and the attack button.
- Crucifix: The ultimate sub-weapon, attacks like Richter's cross item crash, bringing a large cross on screen to damage everything. Will eat up 100 hearts.
Castlevania: Symphony of the Night was ported to the Sega Saturn in 1998 exclusively in Japan. Since Castlevania: Symphony of the Night was designed to accommodate PlayStation's virtually non-existent 2D capabilities (most graphical elements that appear to be 2D are actually textures that were applied to front-facing 3D polygons), the Sega Saturn port resulted in some trade-offs, mainly slowdown instances, longer loading times, and modified graphical effects.
The port, however, includes more content than the original version. In addition to two exclusive areas (the Cursed Prison and the Underground Garden, each with their own inverted version) and various exclusive enemies and items, the version also includes a new playable character, Maria Renard, and a character select screen that allows you to play as Alucard, Richter, or Maria without any need for cheat codes.
Xbox Live Arcade
Castlevania: Symphony of the Night was ported to the Xbox 360 via Xbox Live Arcade by Backbone Entertainment and was released for 800 msp ($10) on March 21, 2007 in North America and July 25, 2007 in Japan. The game features achievements, leaderboards, background wallpapers for widescreen televisions, and a graphical filter that blurs the visuals for a finer image. It was the first XBLA game to exceed the original size restriction (50 megabytes) placed upon XBLA games. To save on space, all FMV cutscenes were removed (though re-added to the Japanese release). The ending music was later replaced in a patch with a song from Castlevania: Lament of Innocence.
A direct port of Castlevania: Symphony of the Night was included as a bonus unlockable in the 2007 game Castlevania: The Dracula X Chronicles for the PlayStation Portable. Maria Renard is included as a playable character, though she plays differently than the Sega Saturn version. She uses owls as her primary means of attack, with four animal friends as sub-weapons. The English versions of the game features new voice acting and a re-translated script. Similar to the Xbox Live Arcade version, the ending music from the original version was replaced with a new song.
A port of the game was being developed for Tiger Electronics handheld system the Game.Com. This port of the game was announced with a handful of screenshots shown, but with the console being discontinued the game was never able to be released.
Castlevania: Symphony of the Night has one of the most highly regarded soundtracks in video game history. Following up her soundtrack for Castlevania: Bloodlines, Michiru Yamane used the larger capacity of the CD-ROM to produce higher quality audio with a large variety of instruments. This lead to a greater variety of music styles throughout the game, including jazz, rock, baroque, classic, along with more atmospheric songs and even some vocals. Remixes of songs from previous Castlevania games were used as well, including "Dance of Illusions."
The soundtrack is available as an import only, called Akumajou Dracula X: Nocturne in the Moonlight Original Game Soundtrack. None of the extra tracks written for the Saturn version are available, as the soundtrack was released prior to that. Also the Master Librarian song is not on the CD as the track used the PlayStation's internal music chip.
Name: Akumajo Dracula ~Gekka no Nocturne~ Original Game Soundtrack
Total Length: 68:28
- "Metamorphosis" – 1:04
- "Prologue" – 1:27
- "Dance of Illusions" – 1:20
- "Moonlight Nocturne" – 1:45
- "Prayer" – 0:58
- "Dracula's Castle" – 1:53
- "Dance of Gold" – 1:53
- "Marble Gallery" – 1:24
- "Tower of Mist" – 2:47
- "Nocturne" – 2:20
- "Wood Carving Partita" – 2:44
- "Door of Holy Spirits" – 1:28
- "Festival of Servants" – 1:51
- "Land of Benediction" – 0:17
- "Requiem For the Gods" – 2:09
- "Crystal Teardrops" – 2:03
- "Abandoned Pit" – 2:14
- "Rainbow Cemetery" – 2:47
- "Silence" – 0:19
- "Lost Painting" – 1:41
- "Dance of Pales" – 2:31
- "Curse Zone" – 1:16
- "Enchanted Banquet" – 2:08
- "Wandering Ghosts" – 2:51
- "The Tragic Prince" – 4:04
- "The Door to the Abyss" – 1:47
- "Heavenly Doorway" – 1:51
- "Death Ballad" – 1:41
- "Blood Relations" – 1:34
- "Metamorphosis 2" – 0:37
- "Final Toccata" – 5:12
- "Black Banquet" – 2:54
- "Metamorphosis 3" – 0:48
- "I am the Wind" (Cynthia Harrell) – 4:37