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Old 03-22-2012, 04:14 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Castlevania: Symphony of the Night and the Twist of a Generation

Game anniversaries have the uncanny ability to make us feel debilitatingly old while simultaneously reminding us just how amazing the classics of our medium were and still are. This week marked the 15th anniversary of Castlevania: Symphony of the Night's PSX release in Japan. Accordingly, we here at 1UP want to celebrate the game's Quinceanera by sharing why it was so amazing in 1997, and why it continues it astound us with every passing year.

In a game packed tight with unforgettable battles, locations and moments, the one that stands out to me as being indicative of the game's overall quality is the reveal that occurs after what many assumed to be the end of the game. If you're anything like me, your first playthrough of SotN ended on a savagely somber tone. Not knowing what the hell the Holy Glasses were, I was forced to endure a melancholy finale that left Richter dead and Alucard still desperately far from the revenge he craved. As the credits rolled and a somber tune filled the air, I was left feeling confused and wanting more.



Time has not been kind to my memory, so I can't quite recall how I found out about the existence of the Holy Glasses. My time spent online was miniscule at best, so I must've heard first hand about the concept of there being more to SotN than I had already experienced. Little did I know just how much more the game had to offer beyond what I thought was the end. One of the great things about this reveal was how easily it could be missed. I have to imagine that a large group of players missed the Rings and the Holy Glasses their first time through, thus being forced to kill Richter and endure the bad ending.

For me, the revelation of the Inverted Castle is the proto-Shyamalan twist of video games. I honestly feel that a reveal of this caliber could not be kept secret in today's world of leaks and spoilers that get caught in an echo chamber and end up blasting out via headlines, message boards and Tweets. But back in 1997, the average gamer's range of communication was far shorter. Sure, some were tech-savvy enough to find a GeoCities neighborhood and communicate with other equally passionate fans, but that was a very select group of people. Most of us got our news from monthly magazines and uncles who worked at Nintendo, so the chances of something like this being spoiled were fairly miniscule.

It helps that the reveal is intertwined with one of the great moments in Castlevania history; reaching the location of the prologue and being forced to do battle with Richter was nothing short of epic. But once you donned the Holy Glasses, you realized that the former hero was under the spell of Shaft, and you now spotted the means of breaking this curse. Saving Richter after many of us had been forced to kill him was a great victory, but what came next proved to be the most impressive moment in a game filled with unforgettable beats. A short scene with fantastic music shows the sky opening up and a mirror image of the castle appearing high above your current location. It's at this point that we realize that our journey was far from over.

To reach what we thought was the climax of an amazing adventure, only to discover that we had just reached its midpoint was an amazing revelation. It's like making it to the bottom of a bottle of 25-year-old Macallan, only to find another completely full bottle hiding underneath it...alright, so the logistics there don't make a whole lot of sense, but you get what I mean. The best games leave us wanting more, and SotN managed to deliver just that. The rest of your journey through the Inverted Castle proved to far more challenging than what preceded it, and having the chance to revisit flipped versions of familiar areas on your search for the pieces of Vlad was an event that few would forget. Top it all off with the fact that wearing glasses was the catalyst for the second half of the adventure made it the perfect moment for a nearly-blind kid from Wisconsin. 15 years is a long time, and not all games are able to age gracefully. Some games considered to be revolutionary in the late '90s have proven to be unplayable today, but like all great classics, Castlevania: Symphony of the Night continues to stand the test of time.



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Old 03-22-2012, 05:23 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Re: Castlevania: Symphony of the Night and the Twist of a Generation

This brings up a great point. Secrets like this would not last long in todays internet connected world. You have to go out of your way to avoid spoilers. For example I had several parts of ME3 spoiled just by browsing the ME3 forum before release. People got it early and put big spoilers right in the title of their topics. They got reported and deleted of course but the damage was done for me and many others.
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Old 03-22-2012, 06:38 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Re: Castlevania: Symphony of the Night and the Twist of a Generation

I've had so many secrets in games spoiled by the internet, it's not funny. Hell, sometimes professional reviewers let these things slip in their reviews.
The fun in secrets in games is stumbling upon them by accident or finding them after hours and hours of searching for something more.
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Old 03-22-2012, 06:44 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Re: Castlevania: Symphony of the Night and the Twist of a Generation

Wasn't there some secretly destroyable wall in Arkham Asylum that no one reported for a couple of years? I know it's just that single occurrence that I can think of, but still, I think that really hard to find things are possible to pull off.
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Old 03-22-2012, 06:52 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Re: Castlevania: Symphony of the Night and the Twist of a Generation

Don't get me wrong I'm happy to to live in a time where I can look stuff up when I'm stuck. Back in the day if your friends didn't figure it out and Gamepro/Nintendo Power didn't print it you were stuck. Now I can just go to gamefaqs or post about it on a game specific forum. The Batman games are a good example, some of those puzzles were just ridiculous and I don't think anyone could figure them out without luck or guessing.
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Old 03-22-2012, 07:23 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Re: Castlevania: Symphony of the Night and the Twist of a Generation

Yeah, having the ability to look them up is nice, I just wish the secrets weren't posted everywhere without warning.
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Old 03-22-2012, 08:04 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Re: Castlevania: Symphony of the Night and the Twist of a Generation

Awesome. This article told me everything about the game without me having to buy it. And I was planning to get it someday.

._.
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Old 03-22-2012, 08:16 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Re: Castlevania: Symphony of the Night and the Twist of a Generation

Quote:
Awesome. This article told me everything about the game without me having to buy it. And I was planning to get it someday.

._. .
To be honest Seahawk, I could tell you that they rebuild the Deathstar and it'd be a spoiler to you. Still though, I'm actually surprised that I hadn't noticed the irony of the article until you pointed it out.

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Old 03-22-2012, 08:22 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Re: Castlevania: Symphony of the Night and the Twist of a Generation

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Originally Posted by drunkninja View Post
To be honest Seahawk, I could tell you that they rebuild the Deathstar and it'd be a spoiler to you.


Joke at my expense .
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Old 03-22-2012, 08:57 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Re: Castlevania: Symphony of the Night and the Twist of a Generation

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Joke at my expense . .
I don't mean to antagonize you, if the idea lurks in your subconscious.

Anyways, I've still yet to play through this game. I picked it up for my PSP but I never made it very far. I have to say that I like what I've seen, but the controls feel a bit lose for a series that I remember feeling so perfectly dead-locked tight.
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Old 03-22-2012, 09:03 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Re: Castlevania: Symphony of the Night and the Twist of a Generation

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Originally Posted by drunkninja View Post
...the controls feel a bit lose for a series that I remember feeling so perfectly dead-locked tight.
They work good for the game though, there are only a few places where you need any sort of precision. The loose controls keep the game flowing very well.
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Old 03-22-2012, 09:12 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Re: Castlevania: Symphony of the Night and the Twist of a Generation

I liked the looseness of the controls. It felt right, except it sometimes made using spells a bit more difficult than it needed to be.

Oh, DN, did you buy it off of PSN, or do you have it as part of Dracula X Chronicles. The one in Dracula X Chronicles is a kind of bad port.
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Old 03-23-2012, 03:07 AM   #13 (permalink)
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Re: Castlevania: Symphony of the Night and the Twist of a Generation

Quote:
They work good for the game though, there are only a few places where you need any sort of precision. The loose controls keep the game flowing very well. .
I suppose I have to agree that Alucard's adventure is of a more fast paced nature, I guess I just miss those stiff jump controls. It all ways feel good to hit an enemy with that timed whip. Feels sooooo goooood.

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Oh, DN, did you buy it off of PSN, or do you have it as part of Dracula X Chronicles.
PSN, as I already have Rondo of Blood for my Wii.
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Old 03-23-2012, 06:43 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Re: Castlevania: Symphony of the Night and the Twist of a Generation

Good. I also hated that they re-wrote the dialog for the ported version. It made me mad.

Quote:
It all ways feel good to hit an enemy with that timed whip. Feels sooooo goooood.
Yeah, I did miss that at first.
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Old 03-24-2012, 01:34 AM   #15 (permalink)
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Re: Castlevania: Symphony of the Night and the Twist of a Generation

So now that the game is completely spoiled for me, do you guys think I should still give it a go?

The retro shop sells it for 25$, I'm definitely not paying that much for the original PS version unless someone can convince me that it is indeed that awesome. I bet I can find it cheaper at a flea market.

What do you guys think?
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Old 03-24-2012, 01:37 AM   #16 (permalink)
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Re: Castlevania: Symphony of the Night and the Twist of a Generation

I'd say the PSN version is the best. Just because it's the same game as the PS version, but without the longish loading times.
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Old 03-24-2012, 02:08 AM   #17 (permalink)
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Re: Castlevania: Symphony of the Night and the Twist of a Generation

SotN is amazing Seahawk, you'd love it.
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Old 03-24-2012, 02:42 AM   #18 (permalink)
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Re: Castlevania: Symphony of the Night and the Twist of a Generation

I think it's one of the best games of that generation. I can understand why they'd charge 25 but if you can get it cheaper.
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Old 03-24-2012, 03:08 AM   #19 (permalink)
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Re: Castlevania: Symphony of the Night and the Twist of a Generation

For comparison, I got Metal Gear Solid for 12$ last summer. That was also a defining game for the time, and my gut instinct is not telling me that Symphony of the Night is so great to merit double the price of that.
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Old 03-24-2012, 03:50 AM   #20 (permalink)
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Re: Castlevania: Symphony of the Night and the Twist of a Generation

I think it does. It's a game that is usually seen as one of the best for most people who were around in that era. I'll let wikipedia explain it better-

Quote:
At the time of its release, Symphony of the Night received a great deal of critical acclaim, yet was inexplicably low-balled as a prospect for domestic release. In the time since, however, it has developed a large cult following, and copies of the original PlayStation version are considered collector's items. It is most notable for demonstrating the continued popularity of 2D games during the fifth generation of video game consoles (the 32-bit era, which saw rapid advancements in 3D gaming).[54]


During the game's release in 1997, the overwhelming trend in console video gaming was towards 3D graphics. Thanks to the powerful new hardware found in fifth generation consoles, well-established gaming franchises such as Mario and The Legend of Zelda received highly successful 3D face lifts, while 2D games began to fall out of favor with publishers as it was speculated that they would no longer sell.
Although it received limited funding for its North American production, and was initially not a major success from a financial perspective, Symphony of the Night eventually proved to be a massive critical and public success, and the game later went on to join other popular PlayStation titles as part of the "Greatest Hits" line of re-released best-selling PlayStation games.[54]


The gaming press often draws comparisons between the gameplay of Symphony of the Night (and its 2-D successors) with the popular Super Metroid,[55] which led to the coinage of the terms "Castleroid" and "Metroidvania" (portmanteaux of Castlevania and Metroid).[56]


In 1998, Symphony of the Night was awarded PlayStation Game of the Year by Electronic Gaming Monthly.[57] It was also ranked 4th place on EGM's 100 greatest games of all time, and the highest PS1 game on the list. It was also named Game of the Year by PSM in its list of the top ten games of 1997. It has made a number of "greatest game" lists, notably GameSpot's "The Greatest Games of All Time" list, being one of the first inductees.[55] It also placed 16th on IGN's "Top 100 Games of All Time"[58] and 24th in Game Informer's "Top 200 Video Games Ever".[59] GamePro listed the discovery of the inverted castle as the twenty-sixth greatest moment in gaming.[60] WeDoLists ranked Symphony of the Night as the second greatest soundtrack of all time for the video game genre.[61]

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Old 03-24-2012, 01:15 PM   #21 (permalink)
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Re: Castlevania: Symphony of the Night and the Twist of a Generation

I wrote a review of SotN, you should give it a read.
Castlevania: Symphony of the Night

It's absolutely amazing, you should get it.
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Old 03-24-2012, 02:29 PM   #22 (permalink)
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Re: Castlevania: Symphony of the Night and the Twist of a Generation

It's $9.99 on the PSN for those that have a PS3 or PSP
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Old 03-24-2012, 06:58 PM   #23 (permalink)
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Re: Castlevania: Symphony of the Night and the Twist of a Generation

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For comparison, I got Metal Gear Solid for 12$ last summer. That was also a defining game for the time, and my gut instinct is not telling me that Symphony of the Night is so great to merit double the price of that.
Symphony of the Night is definitely that great. You were undercharged for MGS.
Either way, you're looking at up to forty hours of gameplay without even finding everything. Depending on your play style, that is.
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Old 03-26-2012, 08:09 PM   #24 (permalink)
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Re: Castlevania: Symphony of the Night and the Twist of a Generation

I took the chance. I traded in some lame SNES and N64 games to drop the price a bit, so I was able to pay with a single 20$ bill. Fair enough.

It is a lot harder than I expected. Every Castlevania game released after this one (that is based off of SotN RPG style) is pitifully easy, I was not expecting to be killed by early enemies and bosses...

Drunkninja has probably been having a laugh at my poor performance since I livestreamed my first attempts at the game last night.

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  You have made a good purchase.
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Old 03-26-2012, 08:16 PM   #25 (permalink)
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Re: Castlevania: Symphony of the Night and the Twist of a Generation

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Originally Posted by Seahawk View Post
Drunkninja has probably been having a laugh at my poor performance since I livestreamed my first attempts at the game last night.
On that note, what I have to credit SoTN for is it's relative difficulty. Keeping in root with the older games, it has a lot of segments that need to be practiced in order to get through it. While it is possible to grind for EXP and such, it really does feel like an old school die-and-improve experience to try to play through each segment of the game with minimal back tracking.

The real difficulty is where it should be: the enemy placement. You really have to work to claim your right to advance through the castle.
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