The Symphony of Dracula's Curse
Updated: Aug 2, 2019
It came and went: Castlevania season 2. After the VERY short but remarkably compelling Season 1 (of four episodes, mind you), we are blessed with the opportunity to get eight full episodes with season 2 and just like the first season, I binged watched the WHOLE thing in one sitting. What's the verdict? I loved it. It's not as action packed or fast paced as some people may think/want it to be but it has some emotional gripping moments that REALLY plays into the lore of Castlevania. But I am not here to do just another recap or review of season 2. A lot of people are already doing that. Instead, let me tell you the story of these characters and how they came to be with me.
The story all started with NES and this game. Well, it started with this game for me, the journey of exploring the halls of Dracula's Castle and vampire slaying, that is. I've had previous experience with side scrolling games before but this was my first treat to the Castlevania series and let me tell you, it was an experience. This was hard as nails for me back then and figuring out things on my own without any guide or anything like that was definitely rewarding. But what was really rewarding was meeting the OTHER playable characters that become the prominent figures in the Netflix series. This post is about going over some of my most memorable companions in my gaming life and a glimpse of their evolution through some (and more popular) appearances in the gaming world. Without further adieu.... here we go.
The Vampire Slayer
We have, of course, Trevor Belmont. The Belmont of this particular game and the one who became the face of the Belmonts for the Netflix series. It is nothing short of an understatement if I say that he has come a long way from his original looks. Needless to say when I first saw him I just kind of settled with how he looked. Trevor looked the part of the vampire slayer of those times (at least with what limited knowledge I had back then) and he was more than capable even if he was hard to control. Didn't think I was going to want an updated look that would stick in the form of the Netflix series' Trevor Belmont. Also, he didn't really have much to go with during the NES days so I like what we got with the Netflix version of Castlevania.
Simon may be the first Belmont for a lot of players, I can still proudly say that Trevor is now one of the more prominent faces of the Castlevania series thanks to Netflix and good for it. Sure he wasn't my favorite playable character in Dracula's Curse, but he is a Belmont. One does not know about Castlevania without hearing the name of the Belmont Clan; and Trevor Belmont is one of the best Belmonts in my opinion. It also helps that he has more depth in the Netflix series. A capable and very strong fighter with a piss-poor and abrasive attitude.
And Trevor went through some major changes in Castlevania Judgement. Not sure how I like that design. Just odd even for me.
In a very different spinoff of the Castlevania series, Pachislot Akumajo Dracula is a slot machine game that features the Castlevania III characters. All of them get a revised look that mirrors their original NES look (except Alucard, which we'll get to). I personally like this look for Trevor more than his Judgement look.
If there was a character in the NES days that made people question if said character was male or female the first one that comes to mind is Samus Aran. Well, Samus wasn't alone. Though not as popular as the Bounty Hunter, Sypha gave people things to debate about whether this magician was a guy or a girl. Konami did not make it any easier since she was regarded as a 'him' in the dialogue box when choosing to either have her join or hunt alone after freeing her from the Cyclops. But if this picture should have put an end to that debate a long time ago:
While it might be harder to see thanks to the sprites, it's still pretty clear that Sypha was intended to be female. Fun fact: I didn't even know Sypha was a playable character until a few gameplays later. I never took the swampy route and when I did I was introduced to a new and very useful character. Sure she needs spell books to be more useful, but once one acquires them, Sypha is a treat. She freezes water for crying out loud! I found myself intrigued with Sypha and was glad that I came across her during my introduction with the Castlevania series within Dracula's Curse.
Sypha's inclusion within the Netflix series shows us a side of her that is truly hard to come by with female characters. She's capable, outspoken, flirtatious, and incredibly attracting, but not in the way that she has to show off skin (and believe me, I have no problem with more skin!). I think it's the way the Voice Actress handled Sypha and the writing was just sublime. The way she casted her spells also shows that Sypha can control elements as well as project them and in the fight scenes given to us, she used her magic spells well. While she didn't overshadow Trevor or even Alucard, Sypha is one of the highlights of the series for me. Hoping to see where she will go with season 3 and future seasons of the series.
Another far cry and not as appealing redesign (For me, anyways) within the confines of Castlevania Judgement. It's just odd to say the least. Nothing else to really say.
In Pachislot, Sypha returns to a more familiar garb. Not completely covered with the blue robe, Sypha also decides to show a little more than usual. I honestly like this design.
The Most Agile Man of Waccalia
Grant Danasty was so damn agile that we don't even see him in the Netflix series! Putting all jokes aside, when I first found out that the hulking figure that I fought in the clock tower would turn out to be an ally, I was excited. What was even more of a treat was that he handled so much better than Trevor when it comes to moving around. Trevor was so stiff and there was no way to get out of a badly placed jump. While Grant was still stuck to the NES controls, he jumped higher, he was faster, and he could scale the walls like Spider-Man. It really made traversing through stages much easier. But of course when he started getting hit I figured out that he lacked even more durability than Trevor and in an era where being punished for not being able to mind your health points and know how enemies move about. Also, did I mention that switching to the other character does not mean that there are two life bars? One health bar for both characters at ALL times. So yeah, move quickly with Grant or get hit and die.
And just like everyone else, Grant gets this odd make over for Judgement. I can like Sypha's and forgive Trevor's but Grant just looks completely out of character from his original form. There might be a backstory as to why Grant looks like this, but if there isn't, if it's simply just his new look just cause, then I have to say that Grant never got the good end of the stick in appearance (both in form and lack of).
Although Grant was never really given that much justice or as much gaming time, at least I have the memory of meeting him for the first time. And hey, maybe he'll be about for season 3? We'll find out.
The Son of Dracula
If there was ever a character that grew out of his supporting role it would be Alucard. We all know that Alucard's most popular appearance was in Symphony of the Night, but he was also one of the playable characters for Castlevania 3. Sure he was severely different and wasn't as over powered compared to how he was in his solo game, but still, his roots came from a classic NES game that not a lot of people can say they were blessed for playing it. And sure, he wasn't as crafty as Sypha, as agile as Grant, or not even as strong as Trevor, but the damn guy shot fireballs at people and turned into a bat. If only it didn't cost hearts I would have flown the entire stage! But that would have made things too easy.
But beyond Dracula's Curse we get the game that truly catapulted Alucard's fame: Castlevania Symphony of the Night. This game truly gave us a glimpse of what the son of Dracula is capable of. He's not just some spell caster that can cause fireballs to come out of his cape; he's a swords man, a martial artist, a cunning shape shifter, and most of all, he has the coolest voice in an era where voice acting and dialogue can sometimes be cheesy and cringe worthy. But say what one will about Symphony of the Night--that game is responsible for countless of other Castlevanias that either continue the story and/or base their gameplay on Symphony of the Night's: RPG elements, nonlinear, and the introduction of a main character being solely a non-whipping Belmont character. Sure we have had other characters that aren't Belmonts in the past, but this game features Alucard, the SON of Dracula as the MAIN character. Yes, game changer.
It also features a battle against three zombies that took on the faces of three old friends. Also, Sypha is definitely confirmed as female in this game. What a nostalgic slap for me to have killed my three old allies in the name of Alucard's mother.
There are many other things that came from Symphony of the Night that I can talk about all night. But It's safe to say that Alucard and Symphony of the Night was definitely a hit.
Alucard was also not spared the makeover in Judgement, though his isn't as odd and it's actually something I can learn to like if it's the only look of Alucard I have known after the NES days. It actually fits Alucard even if there's too much going on. And Alucard did hold big swords throughout his journey in Symphony of the Night.
And yes, Alucard was also in the slot game with clothing that still harkens to his Symphony of the Night days. Fancy clothing and a sword seems to be Alucard's thing. Also, they can't let go of that beautiful long golden locks that he started sporting since his solo game.
Then there's the Lords of Shadow that I haven't mentioned just yet. Alucard in this game is both Trevor and Alucard. I didn't play the second installment of Lords of Shadow to get anywhere but I do know that this attempt to reboot the Castlevania genre seemed kind of convoluted and turned me away fast. Seems this Alucard was a version I forgot as quickly as I saw him.
Let me repeat myself and say that this wasn't meant to be a review or a recap of the season 2 Castlevania series. This was an after product of the Netflix series, a rekindling of my love for the characters that came from the first Castlevania game that I played when I was but a youngling. Now there are many other characters in Castlevania that I didn't talk about that I like...
I probably could have talked about Maria Renard, but again, let me pay my respect to the NES days when I was first introduced to the whip-wielding vampire slayers, the Belmonts. Along with the holy warriors of the night, we were introduced to the most Agile Man in Waccalia, the Speaker, and the ever so popular Son of Dracula. These characters have gone their separate routes at one point, brought together here and there, and then here we are now with the Netflix series where their dynamics, their chemistry, their traits from old and new with a modern spin of the good things are all taken into account. If I didn't say it before, I'll say it now: the Netflix series was amazing and I can't wait for season 3. Do yourself a favor and watch it for the sake of the legacy of Castlevania and/or for the sake of getting yourself (back) into the world of the never ending battle between the Belmonts and Dracula. There are some fantastic characters within Konami's dark universe; Trevor, Grant, Sypha, and Alucard are just some examples of that.
And probably to take advantage of the Castlevania craze, Requiem is apparently available now. Symphony of the Night with trophies and on PS4? I think I'm in.
Until Next Time!