Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, The Experience

[SPOILERS FOR THE NETFLIX CASTLEVANIA SERIES. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.]

Castlevania is one of those video game series that is not only iconic, but also near and dear to my heart. No, I haven’t played all of them, but I’ve played a decent chunk of the titles, mostly of the handheld variety. If you’re not familiar, most of the games revolve around a family called the Belmonts who are really awesome at fighting Dracula, (and the supernatural in general), but mostly Dracula. Dracula’s castle rises every hundred years or so (theoretically), and it’s up to a Belmont to run all around the place in order to put him back to sleep again.

Oh come on! I just destroyed it! It’s been like five minutes! My shoes are in tatters! And you ate the local cobbler!

Netflix recently released a 4 episode (with more coming) series based on the Castlevania games, with most of the action revolving around Trevor Belmont, one of the more famous family members. The moment I saw Trevor was involved, I had a feeling my favorite character would be showing up, being a one time (yeah, let’s go with that phrasing) nerd of Castlevania lore. When the series opened with this character’s mother throwing Dracula some attitude, and I knew it was a matter of time. Sure enough, come episode 4, I wasn’t disappointed.

This character?

Can anyone else rock silver hair and 18th century get-up like this? No.

Alucard, Dracula’s son. Half human, half vampire, all around awesome, and the star of my favorite Castlevania game, Symphony of the Night, which came out for the PS1 20 years ago. (I’ll give you a minute to process that. Screaming, crying and shouting “Where did the time go?!” at random people or pets is totally permissible.)

Alucard (Dracula spelled backwards), whose real name is Adrian Tepes, is not so big on his father’s evil doings and has stepped in to put a stop to it several times, but Symphony of the Night is his starring role. After watching the Netflix series, much like the mouse with the cookie, I had the itch to play the game again. The experience went something like this:

1. Be a Belmont

Ignore my terrible voice acting and just do it.

You start as Richter, because even though it’s Alucard’s game, you still need a Belmont in it. He defeats Dracula, as Belmont’s do, but then disappears. Whatever happened to him? It’s up to Alucard to find out!

2. Watch helplessly as Death steals your stuff. 

Wallet inspector.

As the son of Dracula, you come prepared with some pretty awesome gear, almost all of it named after you. Too bad two seconds into your hostile castle takeover, Death shows up to rob you blind. Good thing this castle is littered with awesome gear. We’ll meet again, buddy, and we’ll see whose undead face is still grinning then.

3. Explore the castle, often backwards.

Here’s the full map! Well, sort of. And there’s plenty of money bags, food and other random (and pretty useless) items scattered throughout. Alucard has a pretty nifty backslide he can show off if you spam the triangle button. He can’t run forward. Like, at all. Vampires, what can you do?

4. Fight yourself

Now I can use the carpool lane!

Alucard fights a variety of interesting and occasionally disgusting bosses over the course of this game: an evil orb made of possessed corpses, a giant corpse being devoured by flies, a giant bat, you get the idea. A couple times he has to fight himself. They can’t agree on who looks better in the cape.

5. Become a wolf

What do you call a lost wolf? A where-wolf!

Vampires can turn into wolves? Is that a thing? Aren’t Vampires and werewolves mortal enemies? Whatevs, now we can use our power to sort of jump to things. Watch out, randomly placed vases!

6. Run repeatedly into this girl

That’s Maria Renard, Richter’s sister-in-law, and she’s kind of wondering where he is. She’s pretty helpful when you randomly run into each other, plus she doesn’t seem to be looting the place like you are.

7. Don’t let water hurt you

There go my synchronized swimming dreams!

Vampires and water really don’t mix, so if you touch water before acquiring a special item, you feel pain. Alucard probably smells terrible.

8. Become mist

Yeah, there’s no keeping this guy out of anywhere.

If you’re not that impressed with a wolf, surely you’ll be more intrigued by Alucard’s ability to turn himself into straight up gas. There’s even a power-up for it that basically turns you into floating acid. Don’t breathe him in!

9. You die, but not really.

I mean you’re a vampire and this is a video game. You can’t really die. Start it over again! And maybe level up some more.

10. Become a bat

Who’s the real Batman now?

Ah, now this for a vampire makes sense. Let us fly everywhere and get the power-up that lets us shoot fire at things. How can we be any cooler?

11. Find friends

I don’t mean actual friends, you’re a loner vampire after all. I mean familiars, like a fairy, bat, skull, sword and goblin that you can exploit to serve you. I watched the goblin straight up stab an enemy in the crotch. He was from the streets.

12. Fill in all the gaps on the map

Remember that crazy looking map I posted above? It’s gotta be all blue with neat white lines around all the edges. Don’t forget the secret rooms!

13. Relive your mother’s death

Remember that time your mom got burned at the stake for daring to use science? Yeah, not only did that suck for you (no pun intended) but that really sent dad off the deep end. It’s not your real mom, though, just a succubus being a giant bitch. Wouldn’t his mom call him Adrian? Who even started calling him Alucard?

14. Don’t beat it without your 3-D glasses that spot evil

Sorry, but the princess is in another castle.

If you get to Dracula’s throne room and beat the crap out of Richter without equipping the holy glasses, you don’t see the evil possessing him and end up with the game’s bad ending. A Belmont would never be evil!

15. Destroy the spiked hallway with gusto

Just make sure you have your special armor equipped first, otherwise it’s a quick trip to coffin town. Grab that ring and have a quick chat with Maria and you’re well on your way to freeing Richter!

16. Save Richter

Now he can go back to pretending to be a character from Street Fighter.

With the help of your snazzy glasses, you free Richter from the evil priest Shaft, who was trying to use our Belmont friend to revive Dracula. But uh-oh! In a shocking plot twist, Dracula’s in another castle! God, where’s that video game character support group when you need it?

17. Watch your world get turned upside down. Literally.

Oh what a feelin’! I’m dancin’ on the ceilin’!

Proceed to the inverted castle where the enemies are tougher, the random items are better and the ceiling is now the floor. Just another day in vampire life.

18. Fight yourself again

BECAUSE I STILL LOOK BETTER IN IT THAN YOU DO, JERK!

19. Find pieces of your father’s body

I guess when you’re undead, this isn’t that important.

The only way you’re finding Dracula is if you gather his heart, nail, ring, rib and eye. Because how can it be a fair fight if he thinks you’re missing half your face?

20. Acquire a useful sword

Why slash something one time, when you can slash it like twenty times? Totally worth repeatedly murdering schmoos for an hour before one finally gives up this beauty. Suck it, everything!

21. Create a bat army

When you’re a bat you’re a bat all the way from your first fireball to your last dyin’ day.

If you level up your bat familiar enough you form a posse every time you turn into one. Who will mess with you now? Just don’t fall in love with any of them. That only ends badly.

22. Buy a custom cloak and turn it purple

Got any bat porn?

I mean, you don’t have to turn it purple, but why not? It’s the color of royalty. Sure it’s not even the best cape in the game and costs thirty grand, but it’s customizable! So who cares?

23. Fight Death

I’m a vampire! Do I even have a soul?

‘Cause fuck that guy. He straight up robbed you.

24. Slowly get your shit back

Always a vampire’s biggest problem: what to wear.

So not only did he take your shit, but he scattered it all around the castle. That’s straight up malicious.

25. Defeat the whack job trying to bring your father back

No theme song for you!

But oh no! You’re too late!!!!!!!!

26. Give Dracula the business

I mean not when you looked like this. Gross.

Seal him up for a real hundred years this time. Bye, dad! Sorry it had to come to this. Maybe stop being evil and we can have a picnic.

27. Watch the castle dissolve and resolve to seal yourself away again

Crap, where am I going to live now? I didn’t think this through…

With Dracula safely gone until a new generation of Belmonts have to put up with his crap, it’s good-bye humans…for now…

28. Listen to the worst song ever

Even crap soft rock songs from the 80’s are like, dude, stop. My ears are bleeding.

29. Depression

Isn’t that what everybody feels when they beat a game they love? Or is it just me?

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L.J.

Lauren likes to write, which is why she has this website. She also enjoys genealogy, video games, Broadway musicals, things of the 90's and singing. She lives in New York with her husband and daughter.
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