Konami’s Castlevania series of games has long been a crown jewel of the platformer genre of video games. The first title in the series, Akumajo Dracula (lit. Demon Castle Dracula) was ported to the NES and localised in North America as Castlevania. In the intervening years, the series has been the site of numerous innovative and genre-defining advances. As a result, Castlevania games have become known as much for their Gothic Horror setting and J-rock soundtracks as for their farsighted approach to the genre as a whole.
As a result of its genre-pushing development, the Castlevania series occasionally stumbled along the way. Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest attempted to incorporate an open world and RPG-style elements with indifferent success, and Castlevania 64 was a clubfooted attempt to unite the series with advancements in 3D game design. These games were failures not of vision but of realisation, and the principles they advanced were eventually brought successfully to fans in later titles. In 1997, the promise of Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest was at last realised in the Koji Igarashi-directed Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, a game which was an immediate critical success in Japan. Despite the limited funding afforded its Western release, Symphony of the Night nevertheless garnered numerous awards. Even today, it routinely features in “Top Ten Games of All Time” lists.
As with all Castlevania games (and, as is typical of early platformer games), the plot set-up is relatively formulaic. The supernatural castle of Dracula, Castlevania, reappears approximately once every one hundred years. It is at this time that the descendants of the Belmont family must take up the holy whip of their ancestors and, armed with such vampire-slaying implements as they devise, travel deep into Castlevania to defeat Dracula and the minions who serve him. The first Castlevania titles all chart the experiences of the Belmonts–Simon, Trevor, and Richter–in their effort to defeat Count Dracula.
Castlevania: Symphony of the Night is a direct sequel to Castlevania: Rondo of Blood, which centred on Richter Belmont’s quest to stop the dark priest Shaft’s efforts to resurrect Dracula in 1792–and to save girls whom Shaft intended to sacrifice, including Richter’s girlfriend, Annette, and a little girl named Maria Renard. Five years after Richter’s successful defeat of Shaft and Dracula, Castlevania inexplicably reappears. Determined to uncover the mystery of Castlevania’s sudden manifestation, Richter enters into the castle; he does not return.
Now a teenager, Maria Renard also makes her way into Castlevania in search of the man to whom she owes her life. Without the presence of a Belmont to put an end to the evil taking place in Castlevania, Dracula’s son, Adrian (commonly known as Alucard), rises from the supernatural slumber which he had imposed upon himself after aiding Trevor Belmont in 1476. Alucard proceeds to his father’s demonic castle, there to uncover the mystery of Castlevania, and the fate of Richter Belmont.
Use the comment thread below to discuss your approach to the game, challenges you have faced, tactics you are employing, and what you are getting out of your playthrough. Do you feel that the presentation of Castlevania: Symphony of the Night has held up since its original release in 1997? Are there aspects of the game that you would change, or that you would hold up as an example for modern game developers to emulate? How have your experience with other platformers, adventure games, and IGAvania-style titles released after Castlevania: Symphony of the Night changed your impressions of the game? Tell us all about it and join in our discussion below!
The aim in this playthrough is to complete the entirety of the game in two weeks. In the first week, the goal is to complete the first half of the game (up to accessing the inverted castle). In the second week, the goal is to complete the second half of the game (after accessing to the inverted castle). Feel free to join in, even if you are behind on the playthrough. Anyone and everyone is invited to participate, regardless of speed of play or familiarity with the series. Tell your friends!
Without further adieu, it is our very great pleasure to invite you now to join the The Starlight Megaphone staff members, guests, and readers as we once again traverse the halls of the haunted castle, seeking to end Dracula’s reign once and for all in Nocturne in the Moonlight: A Castlevania: Symphony of the Night Playthrough!