Around 2 months ago I revisited an old favorite of mine, Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. The 2D sidescrolling Castlevania RPG that made the term "Metroidvania" come to fruition. Different from the older 2D sidescrolling Castlevania titles, SotN (Symphony of the Night) has you running about Dracula's castle but instead of just going a straight path till you reach the dark lord, there is a ample amount of back tracking to previous areas. Usually areas you couldn't reach until you gained a certain ability. Similar to the 2D Metroid games.
Since SotN, Konami has spawned multiple Castlevania titles using the same formula and were released on handhelds such as the GBA and the Nintendo DS. Now I played most of those Castlevania games and I did enjoy some of them but they all don't have the same charm that SotN has that keeps me coming back.
I'm not sure what exactly it is SotN has that makes me love it more compared to others sure as Circle of the Moon, Aria / Dawn of Sorrow or Order of Ecclesia but there's just something in it that gives it more appeal. SotN isn't a new game and is widely considered a classic now but its a game that,in my opinion, has aged well and can still be played by today's gaming audience without a problem. The music in this game is superb and has seem many covers on multiple instruments these past years. Another thing that I think SotN does better than the newer 2D Castlevania's is level design. The castle in SotN just feels more fun to explore compared to the newer titles. And *spoiler alert* the first time I gained access to the inverted castle, I obviously got the worst ending in my first playthrough, I was in awe. The words "there's another castle?!" came out of my mouth.
"My sword is bigger than yours"
Another thing I'd like to point out that makes SotN just feel different is Alucard's bizzare backdash ability. In that game, you don't walk. You SLIDE! Hammering the triangle button to let Alucard backdash became second nature in the game that walking normally just felt... wrong. Now walking / running isn't a bad thing, its the most basic way to navigate in the game and I sure as hell did a lot of double tapping of the forward button with Nathan Graves from Circle of the Moon. I haven't encountered a Castlevania game with Alucard's form of navigatiion since. I do remember that Juste Belmont from Harmony of Dissonance had the ability to dash forward when you pressed I think it was the R button, but it didn't feel the same.
Now this may just be a ramble post on how much I love SotN but I felt that it was just something I had to share especially after hearing this beautiful rendition of one of my favorite songs from the game.
If you want to prove me wrong and think that the other 2D Catlevania games post SotN is better or just want to experience its greatness. Castlevania: Symphony of the Night is available on XBLA, it is also unlockable in the PSP remake of Rondo of Blood titled Castlevania: Dracula X Chronicles. It was also released on the original Playstation as well as the Sega Saturn, maybe find it in a used game store or ebay if you still have those systems. Its a great game and I encourage all of you to try it.