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Castlevania: Symphony of the Night: How it created the Metroidvania and changed 2D gaming forever

Looking back, looking back at the release of Castlevania Dracula’s Symphony, Konami and Sony weren’t interested in supporting the PlayStation’s debut with too many ads, beyond the initial low sales. I understand. See how important and timely his arrival is for the future of the game. The KCET team seems to be the last hurray for a humble pixel art platformer, as the entire industry (and most of the gamers that accompany it) is obsessed with the appeal of 3D graphics and the new technological achievements that can be achieved. We will provide you with something. .. But by doing so, he was able to prove that there was room for creativity and innovation in game design, art direction, and level design.

The Symphony of Symphony, directed by Toru Hagihara, who conducted his predecessor Rondo of Blood and was joined by Assistant Director Koji Igarashi (who will continue to work at Castlevania for the next 13 years), is a fusion of the previous system and mechanism. bottom. From the Castlevania series with insights from the best and brightest games of the 2D era. One of the most important changes is as you level up, unlock different abilities, and move back and forth between different parts of the world to corrode the devil before tackling the next big challenge. It was to go through the castle non-linearly.

Castlevania Dracula's Scene: Symphony of the Night

Birth of Metroidvania

Of course, there are very simple words to describe this global design style. This is Metroidvania. We’re not a big fan of this portmanteau, but it’s undeniable that it has proven to be a useful shorthand for Super Metroid, especially this version of Castlevania-influenced game. Of course, the Symphony of the Night took part of the Super Metroid formula and mixed it with a traditional 2D action model, but the addition of a deeper character progression system and upgrades was something new. The introduction of the Reverse Fortress was also a big twist when releasing Richter Belmon instead of killing it, returning to the game to unlock new features, and collecting previously missed items. Castlevania has become a live gaming experience that forces fans to share theory and experiment with it.

Most of these features weren’t very new in their own right. As a result, the Symphony of the Night was criticized by some reviewers for its lack of innovation at the time of its release, but in retrospect it was a combination of all these mechanisms. A whole new gaming experience-that was the truly innovative spirit of the game. Similarly, 2D graphics may seem like a repeat of the past on the surface, but they offer little innovation compared to 3D rivals, but now you can look back 16 and It is a combination of 256 color palettes. Konami was able to draw some of the most detailed and striking character models in the history of the game, bringing the stunning world design to life.

Castlevania Dracula's Scene: Symphony of the Night

The added horsepower of the PlayStation and Sega Saturn may have enabled 3D-rendered graphics when the game was immediately ported to its system, but it also enabled incredible pixel density and versatility. I made it. The Symphony of the Night best illustrates this in the world’s design with the incredible richness and depth of Gothic architecture and upholstery. Dracula’s Castle is full of details and environmental elements that will draw you into the world. Pixelart actually improves 2D design. This is because 2D design can provide interactions and traps that you wouldn’t expect otherwise.

Switch to 3D games

So why are all these important? Well, the competition for 3D started so quickly that few developers wondered if they had completed their 2D design. And of course, the answer was no. Because the symphony of the night has proved too much by evolving and pointing in the direction of future improvement. Sony and Konami didn’t fully believe in the potential success of the game, so there was little promotion or copying of the release in North America, but eventually it spread from word-of-mouth to mouth, and the game then went into the cult. became. release. .. In doing so, he proved that the 2D experience has a future. There remains a wealth of game design styles for developers, and there is always a viewer for such games.

Castlevania: Night Symphony of the Night is a combined 16-bit and 32-bit generation, thus a combination of modern and classic video game design. At Super Metroid, he began to define the style of non-linear action exploration and platformer games now known as Metroidvania. By decorating and improving the patterns established in this release, we started the career of Koji Igarashi, who continues to play on the pitch. He brought in the wonderful art direction of Ayami Kojima, who was involved in the series until 2010, and he repeated the design of characters and the way of drawing wonderful illustrations many times. It showed us that we weren’t ready to leave the past-and thanks to this lesson, we continue to see great 2D pieces today.


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Castlevania: Symphony of the Night: How it created the Metroidvania and changed 2D gaming forever

Hindsight being what it is, we can look back now at the launch of Castlevania: Symphony of the Night and see beyond its initial poor sales figures, and the fact that neither Konami or Sony seemed interested in supporting its PlayStation release with much advertising, and see how important and timely its arrival was for the future of gaming. While the industry at large (and most gamers with it) was intoxicated by the allure of 3D graphics and the new technical feats that could be achieved, the KCET team wanted to offer what felt like one last hoorah to the humble pixel art platformer. But, in so doing, it managed to prove that there was still room for creativity and innovation in this field of game design, art direction, and level design.
Directed by Toru Hagihara, who had steered the previous release Rondo of Blood, and joined by assistant director Koji Igarashi (who would go on to work on Castlevania for the next 13 years), Symphony of the Night was a merging of previous systems and mechanics from the Castlevania series, along with ideas from the best and brightest titles of the departing 2D era. One of the most vital changes was the non-linear progression through the castle as you travelled back and forth through different sections of the world, unlocking different abilities and grinding through demons in an effort to level up before tackling the next big challenge.

The birth of Metroidvania
Of course, now we have a very simple, if not particularly elegant, word for describing this style of world design: Metroidvania. We’re actually not a massive fan of this portmanteau, although we can’t deny that it has proven to be a useful shorthand for games that have since been influenced by Super Metroid and this Castlevania release in particular. Symphony of the Night was, of course, itself taking some of the Super Metroid formula and mixing it with its traditional 2D action template, but the addition of deeper character progression systems and upgrades was something new. The introduction of the Inverted Castle, should you free rather than slay Richter Belmont, was also a massive twist, inviting repeat visits to the game to unlock new features and collect previously missed items. Castlevania became a living game experience that required fans to share their theories and experiment together.
In isolation, many of these features were not that new, which may be why Symphony of the Night was criticised for lacking innovation by some critics upon release, but looking back now, it was the sum total of all of these mechanics together that created a wholly new gaming experience – that was the true innovative spirit of the game. Similarly, while on the surface the 2D graphics might have seemed to be a retread of the past, offering little new compared to its 3D competitors, we can look back now and see that, with the mixture of 16-colour and 256-colour palettes, Konami was able to draw some of the most detailed and expressive characters models in gaming history, and bring life to some stunning world design.

The additional power of the PlayStation, and the Sega Saturn when the game was ported to that system shortly after, may have enabled 3D rendered graphics, but they also allowed for incredible pixel density and variety. Symphony of the Night expresses this best in its world design with the incredible richness and depth of its gothic architecture and interior decoration. Dracula’s castle is packed with details and environmental elements that draw you into the world. Its pixelart, 2D design actually enhances them, as they can play against your expectations, offering interactivity or traps where you might otherwise not expect to find them.
The shift towards 3D gaming
So why is all of that important? Well, because the race towards 3D had started so quickly that few developers were asking if they were done perfecting 2D design. And, of course, the answer was no, as Symphony of the Night proved by improving on so much and pointing in the direction of improvements to come. Sony and Konami didn’t believe much in the game’s chances of success, and so there was little advertising for the North American release, and not many copies made either, but word of mouth spread eventually and the game took on a cult following after release. In so doing, it proved that there was a future for 2D experiences; that it remained a rich style of game design for developers to experiment with, and that there would always be an audience for such games out there.
Castlevania: Symphony of the Night is the connective tissue that bridges the 16- and 32-bit generations, and by extension modern gaming, with classic video game design. Along with Super Metroid, it came to define a style of nonlinear action platforming and exploration games that we now call Metroidvania. It helped to launch the career of Koji Igarashi, who has continued to play in this field, embellishing and enhancing the template first established with this release. It brought us the incredible art direction of Ayami Kojima, who would work on the series until 2010 designing characters and painting its stunning artwork again and again. It showed us that the we weren’t ready to leave our past behind just yet – and thanks to that lesson, we continue to see incredible 2D work today.

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