Do you like the Metroidvania genre? Which one do you like to play? Have you play Aliens: Infestation?
Aliens Infestation is the DS game, right? I thought that was a great game until I killed the Alien Queen at the end of the first level after she murdered my entire squad. That seemed like the kind of scene that would come at the end of the game - partially because that was of course the climax of Aliens - but much to my surprise, after that harrowing battle, the game dropped me in to a new map and told me to keep going.
“Maybe some other time,” I told Aliens Infestation. In five months, that time has not yet come. That’s not to say I am down on the game, of course - everything up to that part seemed alright enough, but I feel like I am done with it. I killed the Queen. In the Alien Mythos as I know it, that is the final encounter. Reconciling that there’s more to do after killing her seems… weird.
I like good Metroidvania games. I am not inherently in love with the genre so much that I will play anything that is defined as a “Metroidvania”, because I have played a few really boring games in that genre (Castlevania games, at that) that I know it can go pretty rotten.
That being said, I think Castlevania: Symphony of the Night is my favorite “Metroidvania”. I feel like I am past the point where I can appreciate Super Metroid for what it is - all I see is the praise everybody else gives it. I’ve mentioned this before, but it’s like when you meet a celebrity - celebrities are just regular people, but sometimes you get a little star struck. You don’t see David Duchovony the guy with a wife and kid, you see Fox Mulder and Hank Moody, and for you, that’s like being in the presence of royalty. That’s kind of what it’s like when I play Super Metroid - it has transcended just being a video game and is now royalty. I can’t look past that.
But with Symphony of the Night, well, growing up as a kid my only experience with Castlevania was CV3 for the NES. My brother’s best friend gave me his copy of the game because he hated it - it was too hard for him. It was too hard for me, too. I could clear the first stage easy enough but getting up the clock tower or taking on the Forest was usually where my limits were and I’d get a game over. So growing up, I viewed Castlevania as this thing everybody else liked but I never could penetrate.
A friend on AIM one day came to me just gushing about SOTN. This had to be sometime around 2000 or 2001, so the game was still new-ish but not like, brand new. He just wouldn’t stop going on about how incredible it was and how I needed to buy it because holy wow GOTY forever. I was like, “Man I dunno, I have CV3 and I kind of hate it because of how hard it is.”
A few months passed, and I gathered up a dozen games I didn’t want anymore with the intent on trading them to get a brand new, full-priced game. I can’t specifically remember what games I gathered up, but it was like, Casper: The Movie, Tekken 1, Die Hard Trilogy and World Series Baseball 98. It was seriously like five or six games total, and I took them down to my local GAME FORCE expecting to walk out of there a rich man with a pocket full of cash. They didn’t want the Saturn games (they had a display case full that weren’t selling, most of them crappy sports games), but the handful of PS1 games I brought in netted me like $10. I remember being sort of crushed that I had given them so many games for so little money, but while browsing what I could get I spied a copy of Symphony of the Night. I had to add in money I already had to get it, though, because it was still new enough and in high enough demand that it was $20 or even $25.
Symphony of the Night changed my entire perspective. I went from kind of hating Castlevania 3 to basically loving the entire Castlevania franchise up to that point. I gained a new appreciation for the Belmont clan thanks to Symphony of the Night, and even though I literally just played the game to 100% last year, I’ve been fighting off the itch to play it again these last couple of weeks. Every time I play the game or look up information about it, I find out something new. It’s great. One of my top ten favorite games of all time.
Shame there’s never been a good sequel, though Aria of Sorrow comes real close to matching how awesome SOTN was.