Castlevania: Symphony of the Night
Castlevania: Symphony of the Night
Released n/a

Gameplay in Symphony of the Night adheres to the standard precepts of 2D platforming. The main protagonist in the game is Alucard, whose most basic moves are to attack with multiple weapons and jump. As he explores the castle, new abilities, such as the power to transform into a bat, become available.

Exploring the castle itself is an open-ended process, and perhaps the biggest departure gameplay-wise from past Castlevania titles (with the exception of Simon's Quest for the NES). In Symphony of the Night, the player is allowed to explore many of the castle's side areas (areas that do not lead directly to the game's end) and may at times have to backtrack through previously visited areas after new powers become available. RPG elements introduced into the game also encourage exploration since Alucard can increase his attributes. For example, certain weapons, items, and permanent power-ups can only be found in areas accessible through special abilities (such as double-jumping). These areas are scattered all over the castle, and are often impossible to reach when first encountered.

The nonlinearity of the game proved to be one of its most acclaimed aspects. The gaming press often draws comparisons between the gameplay of Symphony of the Night (and its 2-D successors) with the popular Super Metroid, which led to the coinage of the terms "Castleroid" and "Metroidvania" (portmanteaux of Castlevania and Metroid).

Control scheme

Symphony of the Night has a liberal control scheme compared to its predecessors in the Castlevania franchise. Aside from attacking, jumping, and basic movement, Alucard is inherently able to perform both a downward flying-kick and a back-dash. While the downward kick may never be discovered or employed by a player, the back-dash (activated by a single button press) is an easily employed method of evading enemy attacks. Because it is faster than Alucard's normal walking speed, a player may back-dash as a slightly faster method of travel through the flatter areas of the castle. Yet another use of the back-dash is attack cancelling, a technique common in fighting games: by activating the dash just after an attack lands Alucard's attack animation is interrupted, allowing the player to bypass the attack's recovery animation and instead perform another action. Evasive dash moves also appear in later Igarashi-produced Castlevania titles.

Symphony of the Night utilizes directional input combinations (another staple of many fighting games) as a means of performing special moves, also referred to as Magic Spells. Most of Alucard's magic is activated by performing directional input combinations followed by button presses — for example, to cast the spell "Hellfire", the player would press Up, Down, Down-forward, Forward Attack. The playable alternate characters Richter and Maria also utilize directional input combinations for their own special abilities.


While Castlevania's protagonists have traditionally used whips, Alucard's repertoire is mostly based on edged weapons - typically swords and knives. Knuckles and expendable items (such as neutron bombs or javelins) are less common finds. Richter uses the traditional Vampire Killer whip, while Maria uses energy projectiles and kicks in the Saturn version and owls in the PSP version. Neither of these alternate characters may change their main weapon.

As in previous Castlevania titles, all playable characters can use a variety of subweapons (alternate weapons that consume Hearts) found throughout the castle. These include traditional subweapons from earlier Castlevania games, such as axes, crosses, and holy water. An ability carried over from Chi no Rondo, known as an Item Crash, allows either Richter or Maria to perform a more powerful special move based on their currently equipped subweapon. Item Crashes typically have more spectacular effects than standard subweapon attacks and consume many more hearts. In another hold-over from Chi no Rondo, Symphony allows the player to retrieve a previously equipped subweapon if a new one is collected. This helps the player avoid losing a favored subweapon by accident. Some subweapons have different effects depending on which playable character is being used.

The Saturn version of the game contains some exclusive weapons and items, including Alucard's spear, and a wieldable axe.

During its localization, some of the game's weapons received names based on fantasy literature or mythology, such as the works by J. R. R. Tolkien and Michael Moorcock. These include "Fist of Tulkas" (named after Tulkas the Vala), "Crissaegrim" (the home of the Eagles of Thorondor), "Narsil" (named after the sword which cut the One Ring from the hand of Sauron in Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings epic), "Mourneblade" (named after and based on the sword Mournblade from Moorcock's Elric saga) and "The Sword of Dawn" (named after and based on the Sword of the Dawn from the Hawkmoon series).