Review by Jxt

Reviewed: 03/23/00 | Updated: 03/23/00

Go! Go! Akumajyo Dracula!

A quick poll of a lot of the so-called 'hardcore' gamers that I know shows that, although tastes differ, there is one defining article that seems to say 'THIS is a Gamer's game'. CastleVania. Whether it be the first (My own particular favourite), either of the SNES games, or the newer games, it seems that at least one CastleVania game has a fair place in every real gamer's heart.

CastleVania: Symphony of the Night on the PlayStation should have been a runaway success. It was a vast, beautiful game, with graphic detail and a soundtrack that engrossed the player like no other game. Unfortunately, the game did not do too well, despite the legions of CastleVania fans who gave the game the highest praise, due to it's distinct 'old-skool' nature.

Another sad victim of circumstance, in similar ways was the Sega Saturn, so it seems oddly appropriate that Konami should aspire to improve the aforementioned game on this console. Although it's popularity (Or lack of it) coupled with the Saturn's rapid fall from grace meant that the game was a Japan-only release, many Saturn owners were vying for this title in a big way. Indeed, I had to have a piece of it myself, so how does it fare?

To begin with, the game has it all. On paper, it is such a leap forward from the PlayStation version. Following the titles, you are presented with three selectable characters, comprising of Alucard, previously hidden (Bar the intro) Richter Belmont, and finally playable, the sultry Maria. There are more options, also, such as the sound test. And there are new items, areas and even familiars. Great! The favourite game of many a gamer has been expanded upon, and all is great. Where's the catch?

The catch is that, although it has it's fair share of abilities, the Saturn was never cut out to handle PlayStation games quite as well as the PlayStation. This is apparent from the very start of the game, as Alucard, as slowdown on the introduction is very noticable, mainly on any diagonal surface, and when there are multiple sprites on screen. The sprites themselves seem badly scaled up from the PlayStation version (This version although higher resolution, looks worse in light of this) and transparency effects have been replaced with the usual pixel-mesh, for the most part. Plus, the new areas don't really fit, like more of an afterthought than anything else. This means a beautiful game is now not so beautiful.

The beautiful sound has mostly made it intact, although again, the new areas are suspect. The music here is awful, and not really of the standard set by the rest of the audio setting. This is made up for in part by a rendition of the CastleVania 2 'Bloody Tears' theme when playing as the new characters.

It doesn't look good, and sounds okay. How does it play? Well, it's pretty much the same, with Alucard, with the addition of new items, etc. but many of these seem like they were carelessly taped on in a matter of minutes. One of the new familiars is just an old one, save for a different colour. The new addition of playing as Maria is welcome, but seems just like playing as Richter, with spells. And Richter himself is no different from himself on the PlayStation version, that is, just a souped-up Simon Belmont.

I have not had much good praise of this game, so to summarise, I'll say, yes it's great, as only to be expected from the CastleVania franchise. But between this and the PlayStation version, this is the inferior of the two, and really only reccomended to true fans, or those wanting to expand their import Saturn collection, as it is quite a worthy addition.

Rating:   3.5 - Good

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