Of Open-World Maps & 3D - Late 90s to 00s
After the PC-Engine and Sega Megadrive entry, Konami started development on a Nintendo 64 reinvention of the series. On the side, the company greenlit a sequel to Dracula X for the PlayStation that took the non-linear “Metroid” elements from Castlevania II and improved them tenfold. The latter project was considered a small footnote by the company, as more resources were poured into the N64 open-world Castlevania project since 3D graphics technology was at its prime.
But life had a funny way of turning things around. The N64 highlight, simply dubbed Castlevania, was a mixed bag. It had its good moments, but it left a sour impression on gamers and fans thanks to horrendous controls, platforming, camera angles and puzzles.
The “B-Lister” known as Castlevania: Symphony of The Night was regarded as the quintessential entry. Most fans remembered and loved its well-planned castle layout, smooth controls, and RPG-leveling feel. It also boasts the most memorable soundtrack the series ever had, thanks to composer Michiru Yamane. It’s not a stretch to declare SOTN a video gaming masterpiece that also gave birth to a new word in the gaming lexicon: Metroidvania.
More after the break...
Konami wasn’t going to give up on 3D. They created an improved version of the N64 title with Castlevania: Legacy of Darkness. The less said about it, the better.
The closest it got to nailing it was Castlevania: Lament of Innocence for the PlayStation 2. It borrowed the action stylings of Capcom’s Devil May Cry series while adding in Metroidvania non-linear bits from SOTN. This was followed by Castlevania: Curse of Darkness which retained that same style while adding in minions for you to summon and recruit. Both games were major improvements from Konami’s N64 experiments.
On the handheld side, Konami was creating a number of Castlevania titles emulating the design of Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. While none of the Gameboy Advance games matched the masterpiece’s level of quality, the games were still play-worthy in their own right.
From Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow’s soul-collecting system to Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin’s tag-team gameplay, the developers were putting in a new spin on things to placate fans of SOTN who want their Metroidvania fix.