Welcome back to Throwback Thursday! This is the place where we get to indulge in nostalgia and wax poetic about excellent metal of years past. Today, we revisit the beloved video game series Castlevania.
While not every installment of the series has been critically well received, the cult-like following of the vampiric side-scrolling platformer Symphony of the Night has helped keep the series fresh thanks to it's devout fanbase. Their love of the gameplay, art style, and soundtrack has cemented the game as an iconic staple in the hearts of new and old-school gamers alike. For TBT number 45, we find out, "What is a man?"
CASTLEVANIA'S SYMPHONY OF THE NIGHT
RELEASE DATE: March 1997
PUBLISHER: Konami, and now available on most major gaming platforms
What is it about Castlevania and metal that pairs so well together? Perhaps it's the combination of the imagery, characters, and music that all culminate to provide the dramatic atmosphere the game is known for. The climate portrays darkness, depth, and mood the likes of which could be found in a solid metal album. Laden with religious symbolism and hellish landscapes, the castle setting of Symphony of the Night is strewn with the night's greatest and most terrifying creatures. Horror survival at it's heart, SOTN (as fans call it) is beautifully crafted. It's addictingly fun controls and cheesy heavy-handed dialogue are enough to keep devotees coming back to it over and over again over 20 years after it's initial release.
What really sets the tone of the game is the soundtrack. Most of the game's score plays like a metal-kissed neoclassical album, sprinkled with the flavor of cheeky goth rock and melodic proginess. Each arrangement feels superior and dramatic, leading with thoughtful composition that delivers hard on drama. Check out the music from "The Prologue":
Tell me that prologue couldn't be found at the beginning of your new favorite power metal album.
"Dracula's Castle" is 100% a metal song. The tension, the build up, the interesting 'riffs', and the solo-y interludes scream with metaly-goodness:
The vision of track "Marble Gallery" reminds me of something Dream Theater could write. It's intricate and unexpected:
"Festival of Servants" comes complete with blast beats:
If you look up on YouTube metal covers of Castlevania songs, you'll find a bazillion dudes who've figured out some pretty clever ways to recreate their favorite music from the series. Amid all the videos of long-haired folks sitting in their rooms, I found this gem:
The video clearly displays the effort Spider1246 put into this, capped with my favorite part: the jabot (the lacy white neckerchief deal).
Castlevania (as a series) even inspired metal artists to make tribute songs. Check out "What A Horrible Night to Have A Curse" by The Black Dahlia Murder:
If you still don't think this game is metal, keep in mind that there is a boss who is entirely made up of corpses.
Love Castlevania but want an even more straight-forward bloody, pixely 2D platformer that's also pretty damn metal? Try Slain: Back From Hell.
If you've played Symphony of the Night one too many times, Slain is great for the post-game completion blues for those who've managed to unearth 200.6% of the Symphony of the Night castle map. Didn't know there was 200.6 percent? Get good, scrub.
"What is a man? A miserable little pile of secrets. But enough talk, HAVE AT YOU!" – and try out a classic game with a seriously metal flavor.