Iíve been playing Castlevania: Symphony of the Night for the first time on XBLA for about a week now. I havenít reached the inverted castle yet because Iím trying to explore the entire castle before I go after Richter but Iím enjoying myself. The week previously, I was playing Super Metroid on the Wii, for the first time as well, and although Iím not done with either title, Iíve spent a considerable about of time with both (6-8 hours) to give my impressions as well as some comparisons to both.
Castlevania: Symphony of the Night is a fun game. Addicting even. One attribute I can definitely say is a plus for SotN is the RPG elements. Not even in Metroid, thereís something thatís tactilely satisfying when you see numbers pop up above enemies. Leveling up and equipping new weapons and armor is gratifying in how it shows you how youíre improving. Furthermore, the game has you accomplish a lot in a small amount of time. Iíve clocked in about six hours in the game and Iíve fought so many bosses, collected so many items and explored basically the entire castle.
One problem I have with the game is how it teaches you how to play. 90% into the game and I barely found out what these familiars do. Whatís more is Iím still not sure exactly why theyíre useful. I happened to just stumble onto things in SotN with next to no help from the game itself. The graphics is something I also donít care for. Especially when compared to Metroid, the sprites look bland and undetailed. Alucard especially looks uninspired. Also, why did they constantly give him this shadow effect. Itís gimmickly and, after the first couple of minutes, gets old very quickly. The bosses and bigger characters look better but not by much. Finally, the game feels long. Like I said, I played about six hours but it felt like ten hours. Itís monotonous at times, despite you feeling like youíre accomplishing a lot. Also, goddamn is the beginning of the game punishing. You better level yourself a bit before you get to the first boss.
Super Metroid on the other hand, feels better paced. When you are walking and jumping around, shooting enemies and finding secret passages, enemies die sooner thanks to you being able to attack more than once at one enemy, as you can shoot rather than slash, as well as the environments feeling more wide open. Graphics are very well done and sprites are big and detailed. Samus looks real good and her animations are smooth. The mechanics are better explained too and except for the wall jump technique, I always knew how to control Samus.
The only real complaint I have with Super Metroid is itís really easy to get lost. I got lost in SotN too but only to complete the game 100%. In Metroid, there were parts I had no idea where to go that I hadnít been already. Because of this, after eight hours of playing, I didnít accomplish as much as I had in SotN in less time, meaning lulls in gameplay. There are also a couple of places that you can get stuck. Thereís this one section of the game where if you run across it after getting this ramming power-up, youíll fall through the floor and you need another power-up that you may not have yet to get out.
One last gripe that actually is for both games: the controls. The default button layout in Super Metroid is just strange. I always have to change the configuration. Also, if Nintendo ever does a remix of the game on a newer console, map the different upgrades to the extra buttons because switching between the different missiles and upgrades is not intuitive at all. SotNís button layout is fine but with all these buttons, why am I still pressing up and an attack button to throw items? Also, the two weapons idea is nice but is never well utilized. Being able to use two weapons in tandem wouldíve been appreciated. Finally, the back dash. I never use it. I tried to but itís pointless. I wouldíve taken out the back dash and put in a weapons button in a heartbeat because I never, ever push Y.
For the time being, Iím focusing on playing SotN. Iím not playing Metroid right now just because I ordered a component cable for my Wii and I want to wait until I get that until I play it again. For now, I still like Super Metroid more than Castlevania: Symphony of the Night but to its credit, itís holding my interest. Both games are great and I havenít been this captivated by a game or games in a while. Oh and next time SotN is ported, they better do a better job presentation wise. This shit is bare bones. Also, include the cutscenes and the extra content from the Saturn version.