Castlevania: Symphony of the Night is the game that, along with Super Metroid, birthed one of the most popular indie game genres: the Metroidvania. Out of it, we’ve seen countless games with huge followings, including Hollow Knight, Dead Cells, Blasphemous, and the Ori series. And while the Dark Souls series carved its own niche with its tough-as-nails combat, it has a lot to thank Castlevania: Symphony of the Night for when it comes to exploration. Even though these games are excellent in their own right, Symphony of the Night warrants a mandatory playthrough, as it delicately balances progression through backtracking to just the right amount, rewarding those who find its secrets, and has some of the series’ most iconic boss battles.
And yet, despite many games of this classic series being available on Steam, including other Castlevania sequels made for the Game Boy Advance, Symphony of the Night is not officially playable on PC. It’s not without its ports, however.
While the original PlayStation version cemented the game into history with unrivaled gameplay and cheesy voice acting, a Japanese-exclusive Sega Saturn port added new areas and characters, sadly sacrificing quality. Since then, Symphony of the Night was directly ported to the Xbox 360, with an updated version on the PSP as part of the Castlevania Dracula X collection, which also featured as part of the vastly overpriced Castlevania Requiem compilation for PlayStation 4.
So why the heck am I talking about it now? The simple truth is that Symphony of the Night just became relevant once again, thanks to Netflix. Castlevania: Nocturne is the sequel to the Castlevania animated series, and in its first few moments, which you can watch here, we’re introduced to two key characters in Symphony of the Night. Since the story focuses on Richter Belmont, the hero of the previous canonical game Rondo of Blood, it’s unsurprising that he takes center stage. Count Olrox, however, was only a random boss in Symphony of the Night. His fight is, sadly, rather anti-climatic, but it’s nice to see the show’s creators acknowledge the character, at least. If this Netflix show is as seemingly successful as the first, it would be silly not to give Symphony of the Night a Steam release.
Now, the cynic in me would imagine that if Konami was to port Symphony of the Night to PC, it would be the Castlevania Requiem version. This would not be a popular choice as it was a barebones port of Castlevania Dracula X, which was rather divisive itself because of its reworked dialogue and inferior version of Maria (a vampire huntress and distant relative of Richter Belmont) compared to the Saturn version. In addition to these reasons, I also think it would be a missed opportunity. If Konami wants to put in the extra effort to enhance this classic for the modern age, it would have to compete with Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night: a spiritual successor made by a team led by former Castlevania producer Koji Igarashi. Since that game’s release, it has added many options, including new characters and an official randomizer.
My ideal Symphony of the Night ‘remake’ would include multiple maps. The classic PlayStation game should be the only one available at the start, but imagine if we could explore the Saturn areas or perhaps have new bosses to fight based on ones from other Castlevania games. We could also see the return of the utterly broken Saturn version of Maria, complete with game-breaking spells and incredible movement techniques, as opposed to the PSP Maria, who just had a menagerie with her at all times. It’s entirely possible that Castlevania Nocturne would introduce new characters that become fan favorites, and Konami could add them to the playable roster.
If this is too much, though, the very least it can do is acknowledge the rising popularity of randomizers. I’ve been watching several of Dr4gonBlitz’s Symphony of the Night randomizer tournament runs on YouTube (here is one of the later races), where every run tasks players to find key relics to reach the final fight against Dracula. However, the best ones are the races that give players preset rules. One popular randomizer category is Lycanthrope, which gives the main protagonist, Alucard, all the Wolf relics from the start, making for intense, high-speed sprints to the finish. If randomizers were supported, we’d need bug fixing for potential soft locks, but it’s important not to tinker with glitches that bypass annoying puzzles such as instant wooden bridge skip in the Underground Caverns (it involves herding a Skeleton Ape to go all Donkey Kong with a flaming barrel).
It may sound like I’m asking for a lot for what would likely just be a rushed port, but Symphony of the Night is my second favorite game of all time. To this day, I go back to it once a year, reminding myself of just how perfect the PlayStation 1 classic was. Castlevania Nocturne may mean it’s only a matter of time until I can finally play one of my go-to comfort games on Steam. I just hope Konami gives it the respect it deserves as the father of Metroidvanias.