Out of nowhere, Konami decided to remind everyone that they used to make video games by releasing Castlevania: Symphony of the Night for iOS this week. Widely celebrated as one of the greatest games of the 32-bit era, Symphony of the Night basically solidified the gameplay formula for “Metroidvania”-style games.
Because this release came as a surprise, I haven’t had the chance to put the time in for a full-on review, but here are some things you should know about this mobile version of Symphony of the Night.
Castlevania die-hards all have their own favorite version of Symphony of the Night, so it’s probably best to mention at the top that the iOS release is a port of the PSP version of the game.
For most folks, this probably won’t mean a whole lot, but it’s still worth mentioning. Notable things about the PSP version are a new translation of the dialogue (i.e. no more “What is a man?”), two familiars that didn’t make it into the original US release, and some other, minor gameplay changes.
No updated visuals
At this point, Symphony of the Night is almost old enough to rent a car, and you can definitely tell this game’s age just by looking at it. This is most apparent in the game’s cutscenes which are super blurry.
During gameplay though, the pixelated look holds up well and looks sharp on high resolution screens. If you’re used to the muddier look of games, the crisp sprites might take a little getting used to.
How checkpointing works
If you die in this version of Symphony of the Night, you still hit the game’s iconic Game Over screen, but hitting continue back at the main menu doesn’t load your last save. Instead, it resumes your progress right in the last room you were in when you died.
Do not take this as permission to not use save points though. I learned the hard way that if you leave the game and have to boot it back up, the only progress it retains is your save data. It seems the checkpointing only works while you’re in the midst of a play session and not between them.
Controls could be better
Ignore this point if you want to play Symphony of the Night with a controller. Playing the game as it was designed to be played works as well as expected. The problems with controls only crop up when trying to play using the touch screen.
Symphony of the Night on iOS uses virtual buttons that have odd placements and no way to adjust them in the slightest. These controls don’t make the game unplayable by any stretch, but touch control customization has been standard for tons of mobile titles for a good long while now, so it’s disappointing that there are literally no options to try and make this game a little easier to play without a controller.
No cloud save
If you were planning to split your time in Syphony of the Night between your phone and tablet, think again. There is no built-in ability to sync your game progress using iCloud or any other service.
This isn’t super surprising, as this port seems to have only included the bare essentials, but still a bit of a bummer.