Monday, December 31, 2007

A rebound from annoyance: Castlevania: Symphony of the Night (Live Arcade) review

Okay, I was playing through Assassin's Creed when I got irritated. I will tell you the reason why I stopped playing when I write the review of Assassin's Creed. So, I decided to check out a game that is on the Xbox Live Arcade; Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. Castlevania: SotN is the 13th installment of the Castlevania series. The series begins with the ending of Dracula X and then starts with Alucard, the child of Dracula going through Dracula's castle to kill him. Along the while, Alucard will meet a woman, Maria, who is trying to find Richter. Richter was the main character of Dracula X. Along the way, you will fight through hundreds of different monsters and hundreds of rooms. Here is my review:

Graphics – The graphics on Castlevania: SotN are pretty good. Even though SotN is originally for the Sega Saturn and the Playstation, Konami has made improvements and it is now available in High Definition. Everything in this game is just flat out beautiful. The castle, inverted and normal, the enemies, your characters are all done with meticulous detail. The spells that you can perform light up the screen with the brilliant light. The only complaint that I have with the graphics, and it is a small one, is with the map. You use the LT button to bring up the map and when you do, you get a small map that covers the entire screen. This is not a big problem, but there is 1890 rooms in this game. Now, if you want to get the achievement for 200.6%, this really hampers because you can barely see the damn thing. I will give this a grade. I was thinking that I shouldn't because I would be comparing Playstation oranges to 360 apples, but this is definitely deserved.

Grade - A

Controls – The controls of SotN is very good as well. You can use the directional pad or the left analog stick to move, the A button to jump, the B and X are used as each hand. You can carry a sword in the left hand and a shield in the right or have two weapons, the Y button is for a back dash (totally worthless). The RB changes you into a mist (when you pick up the Form of Mist), the LB changes you into a bat (when you pick up the Soul of Bat), the RT changes you into a wolf (when you pick up the Soul of Wolf), and the Lt button brings up the map. The controls are very precise. On some Live Arcade games, it seems like there is a pause between pressing a button and it actually happening on the screen. Not with this one. The best way that I can describe it to you is that you won't feel anything. The controls are perfect.

Grade – A+

Sound – This is another strong part of the game. Michiru Yamane was the composer for this game. Many people believe that this soundtrack is the best soundtrack in all time, not just in the Castlevania universe. The music sets up the story line very well. A mix of the classic gothic style with metal styles makes this a brilliant soundtrack. All of the subtile noises are great. The death noises from monsters, as well as swords striking in the air are done with great care. What doesn't make this perfect is the voice acting. Even though the voice are used sparingly, they are poorly acted out. I felt like I was listening to a grade school production. But, if you can stand maybe 5 minutes of shitty voices, then it is all worth it.

Grade – A-

Challenge – This game gives you a very good challenge. It took me about 10 game hours to get through this game. Of course I used a strategy guide from, but who cares. There are some weapons that you can used to make this game just too damn easy, but what is the total fun in that. Every boss battle has his or her own weak spot which you exploit to great lengths (like equipping a Thunder Circlet when battling a boss that shoots out lightning). If you are able to level up your characters early on in the game, then most of the challenge will be on how quickly you can beat it. The real challenge comes when you are almost done with the game and you want to find every one of the 1890 rooms in the game. I will say this: CONSULT A MAP. It is almost impossible to figure out what room you forgot to get without one. Every boss is easy to defeat and you should really just rely on the Fairy familiar for your healing.

Grade – B

Extras – There are very few extras in the game. There are four different endings to the game. When you complete the game, you can try to beat the game using Richter (which is down right impossible). For the Saturn owners, you can play as Maria as well. Sadly, that is about it.

Grade – C

Achievements – Since this is an Xbox Live Arcade, there are 200 achievement points that you can get:
-Defeat 10 consecutive enemies using standard weapons without getting hit. (5 pts.)(you can get this easily in the first room you encounter with the zombies)
-Defeat 10 consecutive enemies using magic without getting hit (5 pts)(I waited until I could transform into mist for a stretch and was able to attack enemies while in mist form and it was easy)
-Defeat 10 consecutive enemies using special weapons without getting hit (10 pts.)(just get the dagger in the first room and hit 10 zombies with it and it's yours)
-Obtain the Bat, Wolf, and Mist transformations (10 pts)(you really need to find these pieces to complete the game, but there not that hard to find)
-Collect all five familiars in the game (10 pts)(all of these familiars are valuable to help you out, so find them)
-Defeat Gaibon and Slogra (10 pts)(it's the first boss of the game...I used the axe special weapon and went after them quickly)
-Defeat Dracula in the Bloodlines stage without getting hit (10 pts)(This was real difficult until I found out that grabbing the Holy Water in Dracula's lair and pressing the Y button releases a devastating attack and can take out Drac and the demon in just three direct hits)
-Unlock/Cast all eight of Alucard's spells (15 pts)(You can purchase 4 from the librarian, but others you must find on your own. Hint: the sword familiar, the Bat form, and the Wolf form have spells specific to them)
-Unlock the inverted castle (20 pts)(This happens when you beat Shaft at Dracula's lair)
-Collect a bank of $100,000 (25 pts)(You can get this two different ways. Every diamond that you find nets you $20,000. You can also equip the Jewel Sword and enemies will drop jewels instead of items. Just sell all of your jewels at one time to pass the $100,000 mark and buy a bunch of shit)
-Explore 200.6% of the game (35 pts)(Like I said earlier in the game: CONSULT A MAP)
-Finish the game, including the inverted castle, as Richter (45 pts)(Almost impossible. He has devastating attacks, but little health and cannot fly. If only there was a way to...)

Overall, Castlevania: SotN is a brilliant example of what game companies can do to make the Xbox Live Arcade a much better enjoyment for all. You can find Castlevania: SotN on Sega Saturn (good luck finding one), Playstation (no longer worth the high price), Xbox Live Arcade for 800 points (great value), and the PSN for $9.99. Get this game.

Overall – A-

Phil-N Rob'd moment of the game: Having to go through the entire map just to find the ONE FUCKING ROOM that you missed. Achievements can be such a bitch!

We have a new feature for Phil-N Rob'd, were now on You Tube (sort of). Just type in “Phil-N Rob'd” to watch ending to several games (including the four for Castlevania: SotN) for free. There is also a video showing you how to get 1000 achievement points in 2 minutes. Also, don't forget to watch us on every Sunday at 4:30 Eastern. Peace bitches.


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