Symphony of the Night is such a fine game, its excellence carried it to new platforms both recently and in 1998, as with the Saturn Port. Released in 1998 for the Sega Saturn only in Japan, these game is not as well known as the other versions due to Saturn's limited market share and the fact that this version will not appear on a search for SOTN, due to its JPN Name, Akumajou Dracula X: Gekka no Yasoukyoku being used. Due to this, I was not aware of this game until around 2003, when I rekindled my interest in the import Saturn market.
A domestic release would not have benefited the Saturn in the US much, as by mid-98, the PSX was clearly the dominant console, and the Saturn was about to be discontinued, much to my friend Adrian's chagrin. One has to wonder if the iron hand of Stolar would have even allowed it. It is an RPG after all.
When it comes to graphics, it must be said that this game is misunderstood. Considering the Saturn's pedigree as a superior 2D machine to the Playstation, this port should have turned out to be superior in every way graphically. The problem came from outscoring the porting to a 2nd party of Konami, KCE Nagoya, of Castlevania Legends fame. Because of their limited resources and a 1998 release, they did not have the time to use the Saturn 2D capabilities to their fullest to create a brilliant and new SOTN.
There were some improvements of note: slowdown from the PSX has been eliminated, such as the sword familiar with mist, and while new slowdown exists unfortunately, this is been overstated by PSX fanboys. Other improvements come from the new areas exclusive to this version, all matter of odd creatures that are distinctly Japanese, you'll see what I'm talking about.
There is also the washed out look of the graphics and a lack of transparencies in the mist transformation and underground waterfall. Saturn fans are only left to ponder what more time could have bought to this version.
Music wise, gamers get the same quality score from the PSX, with fanservice in the form of classic tunes like Vampire Killer. These tunes play in the new areas, both inverted and regular. These remixes are among the best Castlevania has seen. The Haunted Prison is a Symphony in itself, with a haunted harpsichord/organ melody. Prison is probably the creepiest piece of music Yamane has ever composed. Check out the video reviews to hear some of these new remixes. There is also some new music for the newly playable Maria during her end boss battle.
Replay value is about the same for the PSX version, but I believe most will definitely want to try the game as Maria, due to her unique abilities that make her easily the strongest character.
Some of the other Saturn exclusives are a new costume for Richter Mode, lots of new items and weapons, two new familiars, and one new boss. The oddest change, but welcome, is a third hand to equip food, as it must be dropped before eating it. Ok. Definitely worth the buck for a Castlevania completist.
Overall, the Saturn version is definitely worth checking if you have the means to play it. The easier way is to buy an Action Replay Plus 4M Ram Cart from any import store. It is the total package for importing on the Saturn. The new areas are unique and fun to play through, making an already excellent game better where it counts. It has everything the Playstation version has, so unless you don't have a Saturn (go get one!) there is no reason not to play this game!