As one of the most anticipated games released on the XBox Live Arcade, Castlevania: Symphony of the Night would have had to be really screwed up in its XBox 360 port to not turn out well.
For those of you not familiar with the title, it is regarded not only as the best Castlevania game ever, but also the best 2D games for the Sony Playstation. (Read this review for more info) It’s gameplay was very deep and the beautiful 2D graphics pushed the Playstation to its limit.
This XBLA version is a very good port of the Playstation version with very similar controls and slightly smoothed-out graphics. Unfortunately, to meet the size restrictions of the XBLA at the time of devleopment, some of the sound and such were downsampled. However, as a whole, SOTN received high praise from the critics…
“The import into HD sadly hasn’t seen each sprite redrawn – instead the kind of waxing effect recognizable to those used to playing with emulators is (optionally) employed to smooth over the graphics. The screen defaults to a 4:3 aspect ratio with big artwork borders but, mercifully, the dimensions can be comfortably stretched to fit a widescreen TV and, once done, the game looks pretty enough.
Simmering the game down to sub-100MB has been tough and people who probably need to get more sunlight will notice slight downgrades such as dropped sound effects and clipping on the voice acting from the nuclear-powered compression the game’s clearly been subjected to. On the whole, the changes are near imperceptible and do nothing to lessen the experience.”
“In the graphics department, Symphony got very little treatment. We obviously weren’t expecting a full HD conversion for the game, but the included “enhanced” mode is a decent little bump that could be made without totally ripping apart decade-old assets. Some basic pixel-blending, shading, and contrast was added, giving the game a slightly more well-rounded and warm look, but that’s about it. Most players wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between the two, but hardcore gamers and longtime Symphony fans will be happy to get an enhanced – albeit slight – visual presentation. The only way to rock the 16:9 display, however, is to stretch the game in the settings menu; one area where the future PSP release of the game will be far superior, as the development team is actually diving back into the code of the game.”