Continuing on the vampire theme and more specifically the Castlevania theme I’m reviewing the iOS port of Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. If you haven’t’ read the reviews of Castlevania Season 1 & 2 or Castlevania Season 3 you really should.
Castlevania: Symphony of the Night was released for the PlayStation in 1997. It is the 10th game in the Castlevania series, there are over 35 games based in the Castlevania universe! It’s hard to believe so many games have come from one great concept back in 1986.
Not only is Castlevania one of Konami’s highest rated franchises it is also one if it’s bestselling franchises.
Castlevania: The Early Years
Back in 1986 Castlevania introduced the world to the vampire hunter Simon Belmont. Simon, armed with his Indiana Jones inspired whip, ran through Dracula’s castle, Castlevania, fighting bats, skeletons, ghouls and all kinds of monsters trying to reach the final stage and kill Dracula.
I would guess everyone who owned a Nintendo in 1986 had a copy of Castlevania. I never owned a Nintendo System, I know, so sad. Anything I played on Nintendo was on my friend Doug’s Nintendo. We spent countless hours playing Nintendo on weekends and holiday breaks.
During the Christmas break of 1986 Castlevania was one of the games we played non-stop. The gameplay mixed with the vampire lore hooked me right away and it’s been one of my favorite games ever since.
Castlevania: Symphony of the Night
Castlevania was quickly followed by Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest in 1987 and Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse in 1989, which is the basis for the animated series. Throughout the 1990’s there were a few other sequels of varying success. But in 1997 Castlevania: Symphony of the Night was released and it upended the Casltevania universe.
In Symphony of the Night you no longer played a Belmont out to kill Dracula, you played Alucard, Dracula’s son, fighting your way through Dracula’s castle. Symphony of the Night re-introduced the non-linear game style and a role-playing aspect, both of which were first tried in Castlevania II. It did keep the side scrolling gameplay we are all familiar with.
The non-linear part of the game opened Dracula’s Castle up for full exploration. You weren’t limited to running left or right until the stage was complete. There are areas locked until you collect certain items or gain new abilities. The role playing portion gave Alucard hit points and magic points, used for health and magic attacks.
The voice acting is decent in the original version, but the music is fantastic! Symphony of the Night was a hit back in 1997. It was named “Game of the Year” and “Best Sequel” by Electronic Gaming Monthly. They magazine said Symphony of the Night “is not only the best 2-D game on the PlayStation, it’s one of the best, period.”
How does the new iOS port hold up? Is it worth the price?
Castlevania: Symphony of the Night iOS
Symphony of the Night was the last “new” Castlevania game I played. When it was released in 1997 I played the game all the time, it was one of my favorites on the PlayStation. Earlier this year, in March, Konami released an iOS port for the game at a price of $2.99. (There is an Android version as well)The release was timed with the the release of Casltevania Season 3 on Netflix.
I wasn’t the first in line to buy it but after the reviews started rolling in, I thought I’d give it a shot. And I’m glad I did!
The iOS port is one of the best ports of a video game I’ve played. All the elements of the original game are included. The graphics hold true to the 1997 release and are superb on an iPhone 11 and on an iPad mini. The music is still fantastic, even when listening to it on the paltry iPhone speakers.
The most recent incarnation of Symphony of the Night was on the PS4 in 2018 and includes a few more features than the 1997 version. One of which is playing the game as Richter Belmont or Maria. In a nice touch Konami added the feature to the iOS app. On the opening screen you can type in Richter or Maria’s name to play as one of them instead of Alucard. I still prefer playing as Alucard.
There’s a nice ‘continue’ feature in the game so when you die, you can continue where you left off instead of starting back at the last save point. The continue feature works OK. I found on some ‘continues’ it placed the character in spots that were impossible to get out of and I just died again and again and again.
The on screen controls are decent, the D-pad is on the left side of the screen with the action buttons on the right. The Jump and attack buttons are on the same side making jumping attacks a little hard at first.
Unlike other iOS games, you can’t move the controls around the screen, they are locked in place. It would be nice to move the controls, but it’s a minor annoyance. If you have an iOS compatible controller you can use it to play the game. I don’t have one, but it sounds like a good idea.
The biggest complaint I have is the lack of any cloud saves. It would be nice to save the game on my iPhone and load the same game when I pick up the iPad. Maybe Konami will add that in a future update. Which brings me to my next complaint. Konami hasn’t updated the game in 6 months! It’s little nit-picky but iOS 14 released in September, an update for the new iOS would be nice.
Besides those minor issues, Symphony of the Night is a solid game on iOS and a great introduction to the Castlevania universe. At $2.99 it’s a steal, it could easily be priced at $10 and still be worth it. Do yourself a favor this Halloween season, grab a handful of candy, buy Castlevania: Symphony of the Night and see if you can conquer Dracula’s castle.
Have you played the original version or the iOS version? Which Castlevania game is your favorite? Let us know in the comments below.