Hello, video game fans. This is it. My long-anticipated review of the greatest Castlevania game by far and one of the best games of all time, Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. Released in October of 1997, this game was a total reinvention of the Castlevania series, moving the series to an RPG/adventure format. I and many others definitely greeted the change in a positive way.
The game takes place in 1797, five years after the events of Rondo of Blood, thus making this the first real story-based sequel in the CV series. We see the return of Richter Belmont in a recall of the final stage of Rondo, with Maria Renard present as well. Then something we were not expecting happens (that is if you were like me, and ignored the PSX and its crappy 3D games up to this point), it is revealed that the uber vamp, Alucard (read Adrian Fahrenheit Tepes) from Dracula's Curse, is not only in this game, but he is the main character! He has risen from what was supposed to be an eternal sleep and has come to Castlevania to put an end to Dracula and his cursed bloodline.
The graphics in this game set a new standard in 2D excellence, with plenty of fluid sprite animations and little charming details for the careful eye. There is little slowdown, which is remarkable considering the known fact that the Playstation had trouble with 2D games, considering them last generation and not a top priority. Alucard is also a very well designed character, with multiple spells that look neat and transformations that are seamless for the most part.
The game's score is also a revelation, not just for CV music, but game music. Many remark that they are amazed that pieces like "The Young Nobleman of Sadness" are from a game, impressed by their quality of composition. Michiru Yamane returns for a sophomore effort from Bloodlines and given the superior sound capabilities of the PSX (remember the SNES sound chip also came from Sony) her music greatly benefits. The score is one of the most varied in gaming history, with choir, electric guitar, violin, strings, and more. A true musical accomplisment.
Due to the mentioned redesign, Replay value is higher than traditional Castlevania games. There are extra modes where you play as Richter and his new enhanced abilities from the intro. Richter Mode requires a cleared game file. The only new game plus type addition is the uber Ring of Varda, best obtained with the 99 Luck code. In case you somehow found this game difficult, this Ring will allay all difficulty problems. There is also Axelord Armor, which is really just an afterthought, as you can't complete the game with it on. It is pretty dumb and seems mostly for fooling around.
Overall, no one element of SOTN makes it the best, it is really the best from a combination of factors, almost everything comes together sublimely to make a near perfect game and the best Castlevania game ever. Its legacy still endures, as it is the gameplay model currently used in new Castlevania games. Check this out retro fans, action fans, really any fan of video games will find something to like in this masterpiece!