My Castlevania journey continues with Symphony of the Night! I bought it on the Xbox Arcade, and I bloody loved it. It takes more than a little inspiration from Super Metroid (one of my all-time favourite video games) and adds RPG mechanics and an array of weapons, shields and armour. As with Super Metroid, it’s a fantastic mix of atmosphere, music and gameplay that makes backtracking thrilling.
Without ‘levels,’ there’s a desire to keep on exploring. When do you stop? After you’ve acquired an item? After you’ve beaten a boss? Symphony of the Night is almost impossible to put down. It’s a classic fully deserving of the term “classic,” served by a soundtrack that keeps on giving. Yes, the “secret castle” may be a letdown, but you’ll never forget you first playthrough of Symphony of the Night
THIS is how you do a sequel. Expand the number of levels and playable characters, and give the player a branching path. Oh, you also make it INCREDIBLY difficult. I though the original was tough, but this…this is infuriatingly difficult at times. If I thought that battle with Dracula was tough in the original, than I had no idea what was coming up with III’s version of Dracula. It took me hours to defeat him!
Just like the original, the challenge is sometimes unfair, but never so unfair that it made me give up (although I did consider it at times…). There are moments where enemies appear from nowhere, knocking you to oblivion. It’s as tough as nails, but there’s always the possibility to surmount it. The longevity/repeatability is appreciated, as next time I pick it up I’ll take a different path (and experiment with other characters). It’s surely the finest “pure” Castlevania out there (I consider SotN and its ilk to be impure Castlevanias…)…but dare I play Castlevania II?
Sometimes, you’ve got to go back to the beginning. Thanks to the NES Classic, I did…and what a game to start the franchise! The gothic atmosphere fills the player with dread and uncertainty. You’re sucked in almost immediately…and the insurmountable challenge keeps calling you back. Yes, it’s unfair at times. Yes, the rigid controls constrain your ability to dodge and kill enemies. But there is always a small chance that you can succeed…
Unfortunately, there are only 6 levels, worth half an hour of gameplay if you played it from start to finish without dying (an impossible challenge?). It’s a damn shame that the game is so short. From playing its remake to playing the original, you can see the potential in those 6 levels. But that potential isn’t realized until Castlevania III…
It’s Halloween today, and what better film to watch than one of the original horror films? Yes, the vampire sub-genre has been done to death lately. Think of ‘Twilight’, ‘True Blood’, ‘The Vampire Diaries’, ‘Being Human’, etc. But ‘Nosferatu’ came a very long time before those modern examples. Because everybody loves vampires! The vampire emerges every so often in popular culture, preying on adolescent sexual nature, and the fear and fascination of giving up the body to a stranger. But, let’s be honest here, nothing in the recent vampire boom can hold a candle to ‘Nosferatu’! Continue reading →