Game: Castlevania: Symphony of the Night
Released: Konami, March 20, 1997
System: Sony Playstation
Game started: June 24, 2011
Amount completed: Acquired Double-Jump.
Symphony of the Night was the first game I bought for the PS1, which happened to be the first system I ever bought with my own hard-earned money. SOTN also happens to be my favorite game ever. Period. Nothing else comes close. Now, I do not consider this to be the best game of all time. A lot of people don’t make such a distinction between “favorite” and “best.” I do, and you should.
Moving on, it was interesting to watch Laura play this game, as she had hardly played Castlevania before on any system. So when the time came to run Richter up the fateful stairs to fight Dracula, Laura did not hit any of the candles to get the hearts so many collected before her*. I told her to be sure to hit the candles, as they contain items, and then I realized: it makes no sense for a candle to hold items. A treasure chest holds new weapons and armor (duh), a box could be broken and reveal a mushroom (it has a question mark, something must be in it), hell, an oil drum could even hold a turkey dinner (oh so delicious and full of health), but it makes no sense why a thin, little candle would contain a bag of gold! So why would Laura even want to hit these little light bearing bastards?
I thought about this for a few days, and tried to remember why I first hit the candles back on the NES as I made my little baby steps towards the Castle of Vania. And I genuinely cannot remember someone or some manual telling me to hit candles to get items. After some research (reading old instruction booklets), I found that it wasn’t until the Castlevania Adventure on Game Boy that the manual instructs the player to, “be sure to light the candles with the tip of your whip.” I asked several of my friends why they felt the need to destroy lanterns, and no one could remember being told to do so, they just saw a candle and thought, “Hmm, I had better hit that light, I bet there is a battle axe inside of it.”
Symphony of the Night only adds to the confusion with the sudden lack of items dropping from wayward candles once Alucard appears. It is only after you get the Cube of Zoe that, “causes items to materialize,” when candles start to bear their hearts to the player. What if you never got the Cube, or if you decided to turn it off? What a strange Castlevania that would be, a bunch of candles hanging about, not dropping items. They wouldn’t be useful at all, just miserable little piles of secrets.**
*Why the hell do the hearts refill your items, but not your health? It never really made sense to me.
Quite simply put, I am really bad at old games. I grew up playing Nintendo games but that doesn’t make me good at them. I played Castlevania 64 for about an hour until it got too challenging (or I got bored). That has been the extent of my Castlevania career. So Chip offered to help me through it, since I pretty much suck at old games. Having someone to walk you through and tell you what bad guys to avoid, and where all the super-secret-crazy-powerful weapons are hiding is pretty convenient. It’s also particularly nice when that person is willing to fight the harder bosses. If that person is also willing to endure your temper tantrums and pat you on the head and promise you better abilities to come, this is also good.
But really this game was fun and challenging in that way that makes you want to keep playing. Thumbs up.