The Absolute Best Castlevania Just Turned 25
You’ll be forgiven for missing it (we did, at least initially), but Castlevania: Symphony of the Night celebrated its quarter-century anniversary at the weekend.
Akumajō Dracula X: Gekka no Yasōkyoku (the game’s Japanese title) launched on March 20th, 1997 in the Land of the Rising Sun. One of the most notable titles in the entire ‘Metroidvania’ genre, the game fused 2D action platforming with a sprawling, non-linear map and RPG elements – such as experience points, weapons, armour, and other gear.
Symphony of the Night was directed and produced by Toru Hagihara, with Koji ‘IGA’ Igarashi acting as one of the main programmers. Igarashi, of course, would later become the custodian of the entire franchise before parting ways with Konami and working on Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night, a spiritual successor to Symphony of the Night. During his tenure as the producer on the series, Igarashi would oversee the production of several games that attempted to ape the style of Symphony of the Night, including the superb Aria of Sorrow.
Aided by Michiru Yamane’s incredible soundtrack and Ayami Kojima’s sumptuous character designs, Symphony of the Night is considered by many to be the pinnacle of the entire Castlevania series. It achieved commercial success in North America (but not Europe, oddly), and was later ported to the Sega Saturn in Japan. It would be released digitally as a ‘PS1 Classic’ and was included as an unlockable extra on the PSP title Castlevania: The Dracula X Chronicles. Later still, it would be bundled alongside Dracula X: Rondo of Blood in the Castlevania Requiem double pack.
Castlevania has sadly fallen by the wayside as a video game franchise lately, but Netflix has managed to successfully adapt it into a line of rather good animated series.
Happy anniversary, Symphony of the Night! What are your thoughts on the game 25 years on? Is this an all-time classic, or maybe you’ve yet to play it? Let’s discuss in the comments section below.