If you read nothing else in this review, just know this: Castlevania: Symphony of the Night is one of the greatest games ever made, and it’s yours for 10 bucks. Now go buy it.
It was originally released on the PlayStation in 1997 and was the first of the “Metroidvania” games in the series, the one that set the stage for all of the handheld installments to follow. Rather than simply running left to right, whipping one undead baddie after another, Symphony charges you - as Dracula’s son Alucard - with exploring a gigantic castle, upgrading your gear and eventually gaining the strength to kill your father.
At first, Alucard is weak and lacking in overall strength and abilities. But as you press on, fending off rotting corpses and building-sized bug men, you'll discover all kinds of reasons to continue spelunking through Drac's enormous home. Swords, spears, brass knuckles... any melee weapon you can think of, Alucard can probably use it.
His vampiric powers enable him to morph into a bat, wolf or poisonous mist, plus learn a host of Street Fighter-style spells to cast (semi-circle on the d-pad for "Dark Metamorphosis" and such). This was the first Castlevania that you just could not stop playing because of all the choices you had over Alucard's progression. A beautiful, haunting soundtrack makes the gothic visuals all the more inviting too, so keep the sound up. Way up.
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