A true classic when it launched on the generally anti-2-D PlayStation in 1997, this revolutionary game in the Castlevania franchise is the definition of a benchmark. It’s influence is still felt in recurring adventures on the Game Boy Advance and DS editions, and after 10 years, Symphony of the Night hasn’t lost an ounce of its appeal.
Beginning with the epic battle from the finale of another true classic Castlevania, Dracula X, Symphony transitions into the first game in the series to break a linear platform model. Players explore a massive castle loaded with regenerating enemies as Alucard, hacking away at various ghosts and undead monsters in their quest to level up.
The addictive nature is rarely matched by anything other than puzzle games. Finding new items, figuring out the best way to manage them, and heading out to battle with your latest finds brings that simple urge to continue on right behind it.
While the Sega Saturn port of the game, never released in the U.S., would offer the ability to play as a new character (Maria) and add various extras, it was plagued with slowdown and graphical issues. As such, this Xbox Live edition is the PlayStation version. It’s fully intact, including the soundtrack which bumps this up well past the old 50MB limit Microsoft originally restricted these games to.
This is a direct translation for better or worse. The only update is a rather sloppy “smooth” graphics feature that simply turns pixels into blobs. It’s a personal choice which is worse. There’s no widescreen support, requiring an ugly stretch or static art on the sides of the frame.
Spoiled by the DS versions, it’s hard not to have a map readily available. If there’s one update the Xbox Live conversion needed, it was an on-screen map in any form. For the sake of accuracy however, purists may have scoffed at such an inclusion.
Achievements are nicely spaced for both casual and hardcore players. Playing through the game should earn all of them, with the exception of playing through as Richter. It’s a game that will easily earn its highly acceptable 800 MS Point price tag if you’re going for the full array of 200 Gamerscore points.
As far as direct ports go, they rarely come any cleaner than this. Symphony was already one of the greatest games of the modern era, and mixed in with the Live Arcade, it still rules its post. This will be amongst the elite of titles available for download for quite some time to come.
Castlevania: Symphony of the Night is rated T (Teen) by the ESRB for Animated Blood and Gore, Animated Violence. This title is also available on: PS1, Sega Saturn.