The Bottom Line
- Great gameplay
- Great soundtrack
- Graphics are jaggy, but acceptable
- It is almost too big and intimidating
- Gameplay constantly rewards you with new items and areas to explore.
- Great soundtrack.
- Well worth the 800 points ($10 cost. You'll pay a heck of a lot more than that for the PSone or Saturn version on eBay.
- Old graphics + widescreen HDTV don't look terribly good. "Enhanced" graphics mode doesn't do much.
- The game is huge and somewhat intimidating, and since you can find many items out of order, guides aren't always helpful.
Guide Review - Castlevania: Symphony of the NIght (XBLA)
The gameplay in Symphony of the Night is in the "Metroidvania" style where you have a huge map to explore but some things are out of reach at first. You explore every nook and cranny as far as you can, and then eventually find an item that lets you turn into mist, or double jump, or open locked doors so you can continue your exploration. This style of gameplay works very well here because it lets you explore at your own pace and wherever you want, and you constantly find new weapons and health upgrades and other items to use. All the while, you are killing enemies and earning experience points that increase your level and make you more powerful. Even if you are wandering around lost in SOTN, you are still always accomplishing something, so it is very satisfying on many different levels.
As far as graphics and sound, SOTN has held up fairly well. The sprites are pretty jaggy and pixely looking, but the backgrounds are sharp and generally nice to look at. The sound is really where the game shines, though. Sound effects for all of the different weapons and enemies are all spot-on. And the soundtrack is a surprising mix of pretty much every type of music, with each area of the map getting it's own theme, and they all sound really good. The only aspect of the sound that isn't great is the voice acting, but at this point the goofy dialog and flat voice acting is part of the game's charm.
All in all, Castlevania: Symphony of the Night is a solid 2D action/platformer/adventure game that has held up very well over the years. The younger crowd might not be as impressed with it, but hardcore gamers owe it to themselves to play it.