Castlevania: Symphony of the Night (Dracula X: Nocturne in the Moonlight in Japan) is a PlayStation game released in 1997 (and later re-released in Japan, with extra content, on the Sega Saturn). Symphony of the Night is widely regarded as one of the highpoints of the Castlevania series: it's responsible for the other half of "Metroidvania", it's the earliest known entry in the series to avert an Excuse Plot (well, first released outside of Japan), and contains a number of oft-repeated lines about the nature of mankind.The game begins with Richter Belmont banishing Dracula in 1792. Four years later, Richter disappears — and a year afterward, in 1797, he summons Castlevania in an attempt to resurrect the Dark Lord. Richter's dire actions cause Alucard, Dracula's half-vampire son, to awaken from his three hundred year slumber and enter Castlevania to figure out what's going on. During his exploration of Dracula's castle, Alucard is joined in his quest to find Richter by Maria Renard, Richter's sister-in-law, who is trying to find out what happened to him.Since Metroid was on hiatus at the time, Symphony introduced a generation of new gamers to an innovative gameplay style: Alucard was free to wander to any point on the map, but had to find specific relics to explore new areas, most of which were guarded by bosses (which forced players to level up to increase Alucard's stats). Alucard could also find equipment to change his attacks or cast spells. Anyone who's played any Castlevania game after this one will likely find this formula familiar — but back in 1997, this was a Killer App for the PlayStation (whether Sony liked it or not).Symphony of the Night saw two major Updated Rereleases:
The Sega Saturn version (released only in Japan) added a number of exclusive areas, new music, and two new bosses — but it's widely considered inferior to the original (thanks to horrible load times and downgraded graphics).
Castlevania: The Dracula X ChroniclesincludedSymphony to round out the Rondo saga with additions from the Saturn and Japanese PS1 versions (including Maria as a Secret Character-although her moveset wasn't as close to her Rondo self in the Saturn version-and the ability to have the Fairy sing to you in the Library), but a number of fans didn't like the new voice acting and updated script. (Luckily, the original version can be downloaded from Xbox LIVE Arcade and PlayStation Network.)
What is a trope? A miserable little pile of secrets! But enough descriptions, have some examples!
Alas, Poor Villain: Dracula's defeat in the ending of the game pretty much reeks of this. When Alucard basically defeats Dracula, he expresses shock, and upon learning the reason for his defeat, he seems to have an epiphany about the cost of his soul (quoting the book of Matthew), and then asks Alucard what Lisa's (Dracula's second wife and Alucard's mother) last words were, and upon learning them, develops regret that his attempts at avenging her ended up meaning that he didn't fulfill her last wish.
All Your Powers Combined: The animation for the Alucard Shield's special move shows all the shields joining forces, even if you don't have them.
Alucard: His given name is Adrian, but he took the alias Alucard to express that he opposes Dracula, his father.
American Kirby Is Hardcore: The American cover uses a simple picture of the castle, probably because the publishers thought that the image of the Bishonen Alucard that appears on the Japanese and European covers would be a turn off to macho American gamers.
Anachronism Stew: A lot of the food items are stuff that didn't exist in 1797. And Dracula quotes from Anti-Memoirs, a book by Andre Malraux ("What is a man? A miserable little pile of secrets.") that wasn't published until 1967.
And I Must Scream: The fate of the Succubus upon Alucard killing her. "Death in the dream world will set your soul wandering for eternity, demon."
Anti-Grinding: The experience you gain depends on the result of [Enemy's Level] minus [Your Level]. Therefore, grinding against the same types of enemies for extended periods of time will yield diminishing returns, forcing you to seek out stronger enemies. However, this can make grinding ridiculously easy, depending on the order you go through certain areas.
Attractive Bent Species: If the Bat familliar is active, a cartoon heart flies out of it and it starts to follow Alucard upon turning himself into one: at higher levels, more bats will join in and they all shoot out a fireball whenever Alucard does in bat form. When Alucard turns back into human form, a prominent "?" appears over the head of each bat.
Award Bait Song: "I Am The Wind", which was excised from the PSP remake and the Xbox Live Arcade version (in a later update) due to copyright reasons. They ended up replaced with a new track by Michiru Yamane herself (Mournful Symphony/Nocturne) and the ending song from Castlevania: Lament of Innocence (Admiration of the Clan), respectively.
Awesome Yet Practical: the Crissaegrim, once you take the time to get it. It's actually a complete game breaker for the remainder of the journey, especially if you dual-wield a pair of them. Also, the Sword Brothers spell. When the game originally came out, many thought it was Awesome, but Impractical because the Sword Familiar can't do the spell until it hits level 90. Nowadays, everyone knows better; while the Sword Familiar needs to be that leveled up to do the spell on its own, you can do it yourself with a button press sequence as long as you have the Sword Familiar and at least 30MP lying around.
All of the four endings, two of which are particularly depressing. The two bad ones have the legendary Richter killed off tragically, without letting Alucard be able to see the true mastermind behind all the madness. The other two endings, which are good ones, have Alucard break the curse from Richter successfully, thus saving his life, and they also have Alucard confront the true mastermind, Shaft, as well as Dracula. However, even after preventing the disaster from further poisoning the rest of Europe, Alucard chooses to seal himself again, knowing his blood is cursed with darkness. The Golden Ending is retconned into a Happy Ending by other games, though there are hints in the original that Maria might be able to keep Alucard up at night, she chases after him rather shamelessly.
Blown Across the Room: Some attacks will cause intense knockback to Alucard, especially if his defense is too low. This is required to skip the cutscene in which Death steals Alucard's equipment. Knockback strength based on the % of your maximum health lost per attack. The skip glitch works because Luck-Mode Alucard has a tiny amount of hp, and the enemy used deals enough damage to wipe out all but a 1-4 hp, which results in a MASSIVE knockback (If done in the opposite direction, it'll carry you all the way back out to the castle gate).
Boisterous Bruiser: The Sword familiar, believe it or not. SLICE! And The Demon Familiar. DIE!
Bonus Boss: Galamoth, who is so powerful that in the bestiary, the game doesn't show his HP.
Boss in Mook Clothing: Some of the armors until you level up enough. And Cthulhu when you first encounter it at Marble Gallery, depending on your level.
Demoted to Extra: The Peeping Eye is one of the few enemies from Rondo who does not appear during the game as a fightable enemy, but it sometimes appears as a icon in the File Select screen. However, it does appear in the background, watching you as you trek through the hallway between the Marble Gallery and Outer Wall.
Also, the Behemoth which chased Richter in Castlevania X is now laying dead in the background in the coliseum.
Diabolus ex Machina: In Rondo of Blood, Richter killed Shaft twice - once in his human form, and once as a ghost. And yet, five years later he's alive and well, and easily takes control of a Belmont (which raises the question of why he didn't do so the first time), something not even Dracula seemed capable of doing! All because they wanted to have Alucard as the hero of the game. Then again, he may still be a ghost. If you look closely during the dialogue before you fight him, you can see that he's translucent.
Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: Yup, and he gave me a Bat Pentagram! FUN FACT: The "Cthulhu" monster was supposed to be the tentacle-faced thing in the inverted castle, but his name got switched around with the demon in the Marble Gallery, which was supposed to be called "Malachi."
Difficulty Spike: The Inverted Castle has one when you first get there, which sticks for most of it. New enemies suddenly do significantly more damage and are more annoying placed, as well as the level design being a bit against you at times.
The combat knife, which is basically one of those modern, vicious looking knives like the kind you can get at pretty much any weapon shop (At least in the US). At the cost of slightly shorter range, it has an attack power of almost twice what you would probably have at that point in the game, and you can attack with it much more rapidly than with most of the other weapons. It stays a viable weapon well into the inverted castle.
Also the jewel knuckles, which you can pick up early in the game with the aid of a hidden elevator.
The Holy Sword is also really good, because of its decent power and more importantly the holy elemental which so many enemies are owned by.
Many people overlook the Holy Rod. It is found fairly early in the first castle, does Holy-Type damage that most monsters in the evil castle are weak to, but it also does blunt damage that most skeletons are weak against. Only a handful of enemies are strong against blunt. Also, the rod itself has a small area of effect around the rod tip itself, especially if you do a turn attack, which makes sure that you will almost always hit your target, which is a lot more forgiving than most swords tend to be. It is a very nice weapon until/unless you get the Sword of Dawn, Terminus Est, Crissaegrim, or perhaps Alucard's sword back. Not to mention, Richter is immune to it, and it is very easy to hit Shaft's sphere with it, so you don't have to worry about accidentally killing Richter, or wounding him, causing him to Turn Red.
The Shield Rod/Iron Shield combo is one of the most powerful in the game. It summons a pair of swords that go forth in a straight line and destroy just about anything in the first castle, even bosses, in one shot. The Shield Rod is available early on, and the Iron Shield can be bought from the librarian for an easty to obtain amount of cash.
Dual Boss: Three of them. Slogra and Gaibon from Super Castlevania IV team up early, and Werewolf and Minotaur from Rondo of Blood try it again later. And then there's the Dracula's Curse impersonators, which up the ante into a TRIO Boss.
Dummied Out: In the PS1 version, a glitch allows you to drop into a normally-inaccessible area that in the Saturn port serves as the entrance to a Saturn-exclusive area. There's even a save point down there. And Richter once had a taunt, a low kick, and a spinning kick that was eventually broughtback.
Dying as Yourself: The Werewolf boss in the Colloseum, and the mook version in the Reverce Colloseum both revert to a more human form before fading when defeated.
Easter Egg: Try returning to the room where Death stole Alucard's equipment right after you enter the first room of the Alchemy Laboratory. You will meet Slogra and Gaibon. There are many other little secrets as well.
Eldritch Abomination: Alucard specifically says the castle is a creature of chaos and may take many forms. There's also some of the bosses, like Granfaloon (Legion).
Eldritch Location: The inverted castle which turns the laws of physics on it's head. There's a reason why all the outdoor levels have ceilings to walk on.
Empty Room Psych: It is a disapointment to find that the Lesser Demon and the Succubus have no counterparts in the Inverted Castle.
Escape Rope: The Library Card warps Alucard back to the Master Librarian's room even if he's just struck the final hit on Dracula, which is actually needed for the game to record you've visited the final boss room and fought it.(though you can actually use a card as soon as the Shaft fight starts)
The Muramasa becomes stronger as Alucard absorbs blood from his enemies. It takes a lot of time, but its attack power can reach the 999 value.
The Sword Familiar levels up as Alucard kills enemies. At level 50, it will change form and lets Alucard wield it. On level 70, it changes its attack pattern, and at 90-99, it starts glowing and is able to do the Sword Brothers spell on its own.
While not a weapon, the Walk Armor's defense power increases as you explore more map regions. It eventually becomes more powerful than any other armor.
Fake Ultimate Mook: Wargs look menacing, but die in a single hit just like other early-game enemies.
Foreshadowing: Way before you reach the core area of the castle, you might notice that some things in certain rooms' backgrounds are clearly upside-down... Also, the Cat-Eye Circlet. It gives you a huge HP recharge...if you get hit by a cat, of which there are none to be found in the castle...
Frothy Mugs of Water: In the Royal Chapel you can go to the Confession Room and sit at a chair, and at one time a blue-robed ghostly figure will hear your confession and give you... sparkling grape juice! Grape juice in a confession booth? That may have been the result of the drink being modified from wine in the Japanese version. Hmmm... Does This Remind You of Anything?? Also, the Green Tea was originally sake, and the Barley Tea was beer.
Game-Breaking Bug: By using the Sword Brothers spell in a save room to enable them to open the menu mid-save and rapidly change their equipment around, the player is able to completely screw up the game's save file. Depending on your timing, you might end up screwing up your map and end up with random squares explored and unexplored, respawning items you find lying around and thus being able to collect them twice, or just corrupt your save.
In the Dracula X Chronicles version of the opening, Dracula refers to Richter as "Belmont, son of Belmont".
He has another line in Castlevania The Adventure Rebirth: "As ever, the ally of worthless humans." This implies that he really doesn't care which Belmont it is; they're all interchangeable to him, making his Dracula X Chronicles line make a bit more sense.
I Hate You, Vampire Dad: A literal vampire dad. The reason Alucard changed his name from Adrian was to spite his father.
In-Universe Game Clock: The game clock in the menu and the Marble Gallery is actually a 24-hour clock; the game starts at midnight and continues from there. Relevant in that the status buffs of the Moonstone and Sunstone are affected by the time on the clock. In the Saturn version, the current time is instead taken from its system clock, since it has one while the PS1 doesn't.
The Crissaegrim. This obscene weapon makes pretty much everything else in the game obsolete, due to:
Being able to attack while moving.
Doing 4 slashes in quick succession.
High damage output.
Sweeps a large arc in front of you, unlike other swords which only execute a narrow and miss-prone "stabbing" attack.
Being able to attack as fast as you can press the button, with little lag.
Once you get it, you can pretty much button mash through most enemies. Especially if you equip two.
The Shield Rod (or Mablung Sword). Use it and a shield at the same time and you will gain various buffs. With the Alucard Shield, you can shield bash enemies for a ludicrous amount of damage while healing yourself and turning invincible. You can literally walk through any boss if his weakpoint is exposed.
The Muramasa starts off weak, but becomes more powerful every time you hit an enemy and draw blood with it equipped. Through grinding, it can become obscenely powerful.
Alucard's namesake sword is a 'weaker' infinity plus one weapon, but has a fast attack speed, is relatively easy to find, and has a special attack that lets you teleport behind an enemy and strike twice rapidly while invulnerable before moving back to your previous position.
The Badelaire ges stronger the more time you play, one attack point per hour. Leave the game running overnight a couple times and when the clock maxes out at 99 hours, you'll have a very strong sword with high single hit power with very little effort involved.
Many overlook it, but the Dainslef sword has a rather high attack power. However, inputting down, down-forward and forward before attacking gives an even stronger blow...and its attack strength is doubled with Dark Metamorphosis active. Get ready to see some huge numbers!
Sweet Jesus, the Sword Familiar. It's one of the strongest familiars at any rate, but at level 50, you can wield it with its attack power equal to its level, making it deadly at level 99. At level 75, it gets a new, more accurate attack animation.
The Ring of Varda, a very powerful stat-boosting ring that won't drop unless your memory card has a completed save on it.
Another item available only on a 'cleared' file is the Duplicator, an accessory which slightly drains your stats but lets you use items without losing them. Combining it with a Power of Sire will result in you just casually strolling around the castle, killing everything without lifting a finger by using a painting to summon a hologram of Vlad the Impaler shooting exploding stars from his eyes.
Richter's item crashes, particularly Thousand Daggers and Hydro Storm, can take out bosses with no effort at all - also qualify as a disk one nuke.
Informed Equipment: Played straight with most equipment that isn't a weapon or shield (which appear when you use them), but averted with capes, which actually change the color of the cape on Alucard's sprite, and the Secret Boots, which make his sprite a bit taller.
Invisible to Normals: The flavor text for the Bitterfly enemy states that they are only visible to magicians.
Joke Character: One of the armors Alucard can equip turns him into a Axe Armor from Rondo. Sadly, he can't jump in this form and thus can't explore much. Oddly, he can't even throw his axe as you'd expect. What's amusing about it is his idle animation, in which he raises the axe and shouts "Hah! Hah! Hah! Ho!".
Joke Item: The Alucart equipment, not to be confused with the Alucard equipment. Even the shield has the "honor" of being the only shield in the game to have absolutely no effect when equipped with the Shield Rod. A complete set of Alucart equipment does have a use, though: it dramatically increases your LCK. It's still not enough to make it qualify as a Lethal Joke Item, though. There's also Tyrfing, a cursed sword that passes through enemies and does no damage due to reducing your attack to 0 unless you equip enough stat-boosting items and level up enough to compensate for it, and the Saturn version has Sain Irishitajiki, a useless, goofy picture of Alucard, which the game (for some reason) treats as a medicine.
Alucart shield special is likely to be a nod to the Key Item Crash in Vampire Kiss/Rondo of Blood, which hilariously made the character act as if they were going to use a powerful Item Crash, only to drop back down to the ground with a "?" text balloon on their head.
Kamehame Hadoken: The Fist Of Tulkas, a rare drop weapon in the Reverse Library, has two special moves, one a flurry of blows that is activated by a fighting game type combo. The other is a blue fireball that is utilized the same way as entering a Hadoken.
Alucard gets a Luck boost when he wears all Alucart equipment at once — this effect is often used to up the chances of obtaining the rarely-dropped Crissaegrim. Also, the "effect" of the Alucart Shield is a nod to the Key Subweapon from Rondo, which was the strongest, yet almost useless subweapon from that game.
The Cat's-Eye Circlet, which protects you from... cat damage. Even so, it comes in surprisingly handy in one of the game's hardest areas.
The Red Rust, a two-handed sword which deals less damage than the first shortsword you pick up at the same time that randomly causes Alucard to freeze in place when he tries to swing it but which can be invaluable against both Doppelganger bosses since it curses them on hit, basically making them helpless and unable to attack.
Using the Alucart equipment while playing in Luck Mode (gives 99 Luck but sets all other stats to 1 or 0, with 35 HP and 5 MP - far below usual starting stats) will allow him to attack extremely fast and do crit damage high enough to kill many bosses in a few hits.
Level In Reverse: The Inverted Castle, naturally. In both direction travelled, and the flipped geometry.
Long Song, Short Scene: The most notable example is Prologue, only played during the intro stage, which has no enemies aside from Dracula and consists of a walk up a staircase and down a hallway, and when you fight Dracula, his own theme plays. Another example could be The Door to the Abyss, arguably the most scary song in the soundtrack, which only plays in the centre of the castle which again, features no enemies except for Shaft and Dracula in the inverted castle version (and Maria, on Sega Saturn's first castle) and is extremely short.
Lost Forever: The bestiary entry for the Mudman, if you kill the Lesser Demon (boss) without waiting for him to summon a Mudman; and Richter's entry, if you save him without hitting him at least once.
Magikarp Power: Familiars are, at first, completely useless and watch idly as you get smacked around by monsters. However, if you suffer them long enough, they will eventually level up and become able to kill most enemies before you can (this is especially true of the Sword familiar which you can even wield as a weapon once its level gets high enough).
The Man Behind the Man: Richter struts around the castle and makes himself look like the Big Bad until it's revealed that he's being mind controlled by Shaft. Who is, of course, Dracula's puppet.
Metal Slime: The Dodo Bird, who will run away as soon as he sees Alucard. He drops the Runesword and the Heart Broach.
Metroidvania: The first Castlevania game in this genre, if we don't count the much-less-well-received Simon's Quest.
Mind Screw: In the Reverse Catacombs, instead of lava there is molten ice. Not water, molten ice.
Mirror Boss: you fight two doppleganger-type bosses, which use your subweapons and abilities.
Morphic Resonance: When Alucard transforms (except to mist), he still keeps a number of features, including a sword tied at his waist. The bat form goes one step further, and keeps the color of the currently equipped cloak as the color of its wings. The former becomes increasingly odd if you're completing a "naked" challenge run, where equipping things like swords are not allowed...
Nostalgia Level: The Clock Tower and Castle Keep areas are pretty much the same as they were in Rondo of Blood, with new graphics and some new rooms.
Out-of-Character Alert: Someone Alucard thinks is his mother appears to be executed and attempts to trick him into committing murder against some humans via his mom's supposed final wish. Alucard remembers the event of Lisa's death far too well for him to fall for it, realizing that was something she would never tell him to do, and immediately deduces that "Lisa" was an imposter.
Post-End Game Content: The Duplicator Item and various cheats become available in a new game if you have a Clear or Replay save.
Retcon: In Symphony's prologue, Richter and Dracula's conversation occurs before their battle, unlike in Rondo where it happened after Dracula is defeated. The Dracula X Chronicles remake maintains this while adding new post-battle dialogue.
Retraux: In the prologue, the HUD looks like Rondo of Blood's. It also appears when you play as Richter or Maria.
Secret Character: Richter (and Maria in the PSP version) can be unlocked after beating the game at least once with enough percentage of the map completed, and then starting a new game. In the Saturn version, they are playable from the start.
Schmuck Bait: Putting the game disc in a cd player will play a hidden track that starts with Alucard warning the listener that "cut number one contains computer data, so please do not play it" and notes that he doubts you'll listen to him anyways. CD players at the time of the game's release were already smart enough to skip the data track, so it was safe to take the bait. The joke is that back when CD players weren't smart enough, there was often a REAL audio warning at the start of track 1 explaining not to try to play it back.
The morphing Black Panthers are a reference to Lodem from Babel II. More people probably remember its cameo in Giant Robo. The actual panther sprite is ripped directly from this old Konami game, which featured a cyborg panther that moved at high speeds.
Trevor Belmont is remembered in NES graphic form, and later as an imitation boss along with Sypha and Grant, the other two partners you could meet besides Alucard in Castlevania III.
Galamoth was originally a boss in Kid Dracula.
The sword Mourneblade, which heals Alucard everytime he strikes something with it, is a reference to Mournblade, the sister-sword to Elric's runesword Stormbringer, in Michael Moorcock's Elric saga. Stormbringer, as well as Mournblade, stole their victim's souls, strengthening their wielders in the process.
The Sword of the Dawn, a hidden sword with a special ability to summon minions that attack Alucard's foes, is also a reference to Michael Moorcock's work. His character Hawkmoon wielded The Sword of Dawn, a weapon that summoned warriors to aid Hawkmoon.
The monster Cthulhu is obviously a shout out to H.P Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos
The Shield Rod can create the Shield powerups from Gradius.
The Bat Familiar, when leveled up enough, can summon more bats when you take bat form. These bats move much like Options.
Space-Filling Path: Zigzagging corridors, long vertical shafts... generally a case of size for the sake of size.
Special Attack: Several weapons have alternate attacks, either activated with back-forward-attack or down-down/forward-forward attack, such as the Shield Rod's powers and the Fist of Tulkas' special moves. Sometimes they're simply more powerful, other times they have interesting or useful side effects.
Speed Run: It's quite possible to finish Richter mode in less than ten minutes. After the game is beaten once with Alucard, a Time Attack section appears in his menu, allowing the player to see how long it took them to reach the final save room and clear the game.
Spell My Name with an S: the game can't quite decide between American 's' and British 'c' spellings in some areas, leading to the spelling "Reverce" in some cases.
Spikes Of Doom: But with the Spike Breaker armor, you can render them harmless by destroying any spikes you touch. This is necessary to complete the entire game. With some glitches, it is possible to skip the spike breaker entirely.
Start X to Stop X: This is essentially Shaft's plan all along. Being tired of Vampire Hunters continuously hunting Dracula, he figured the best way to stop them is to mind control the strongest one ever, IE Richter, and use his own Holy power against other hunters, therby making sure Dracula would never be defeated again.
Super Drowning Skills: Alucard, being half-vampire and all, until he obtains the Holy Symbol. After which, in a series' first, the player character can freely explore water without sustaining any damage. Note that in this particular game water doesn't kill you outright, even if you don't have the symbol - you will take a lot of damage but it's still possible to jump out. One of the lesser used tropes of vampire weaknesses is their inability to cross running water under their own power, which this weakness is a reference to, though the Holy Symbol being a snorkel is a fun sight gag.
A Taste of Power: At the beginning of the game, you have a ridiculously powerful suit of armor and a sword that makes short work of every enemy. However, when you run into Death, he uses his magic to make all of it go away...unless you deliberately glitch the cutscene to keep your equipment (which is possible on some platforms). This is almost universally considered a Good Bad Bug by the player community.
Teleporters and Transporters: Five of them in each castle. You can 'port to the second on finding the first (per castle), but the rest can only be accessed after you've reached them normally. There is one more in Sega Saturn version, at additional area.
Do not hate the humans. If you cannot live with them, at least do them no harm. For theirs is already a hard lot.
Trick Boss: In one room in the Underground Caverns, you fight a single snake-like creature. It goes down rather easily. In the next couple of rooms, you realise it is just one of several, all attached to Scylla, the actual boss.
Unique Enemy: Absolutely loads. Often more than one of them appear, just that they only ever appear in a single room in the entire game. There's the dodo that runs when you go into the room, the discus lord that only appears in a single room in the Catacombs, the giant blue hammer enemy (his kin appear again, he doesn't), the mudmen only appearing in the Lesser Demon boss fight, the Alura Une, the slimes (particularly the giant one), Yorick... you get the point. Some enemies appear to be this, but then later in the game they become more numerous as you become stronger to deal with them (notably the demon who is accidentally called "Cthulu"). According to Yahtzee, the philosophy behind the enemy designs seems to be, "Every time you palette swap, A BABY DIES".