Reviewed: June 25, 2010
Released: July 22, 2010
App Store Price: $4.99
Castlevania Puzzle: Encore of the Night is a pretty good name, but I think I may have come up with a better one: ĎCastlevania: Symphony of the Night, Except Instead of the Fighting Monsters With Swords, You Are Fighting Monsters With Puzzle Solving.í|
Itís probably a few too many letters to fit up on the iTunes store, but it certainly would have given a better picture of what this game is exactly. Itís Castlevania Symphony of the Night, except the combat is based off of competitive puzzle solving. Even the castle exploration, item collection, and RPG elements make it over to this translation of the PS One classic. Itís an idea that seems pretty strange at first, but I am extremely happy with the direction Konami decided to take with this game.
The first thing to admire about the game, before even getting to the play mechanics, is how much it feels like Symphony of the Night. Most of the elements of the original are copy pasted here. The music is exactly the same. No remixes, no re-recordings, just the exact same brilliant Symphony of the Night tunes. Opening the game for the first time opens the flood gates of nostalgia almost immediately as the music begins to starts up. There is an option to select music from your iPod to listen to, but unless you have the Symphony of the Night soundtrack on there, you would be stupid to manipulate the soundtrack, and I would hate you for it.
If there is any complaint to be had about the sound, it is that during combat, the music loop will will shutter when it begins to repeat itself. The music just kind of stops, and then starts back up. It strangely gives the impression that the fight is over, but then the music will start right up from the beginning. An odd phenomenon, but miles and miles from being a deal breaker.
Alucard and a couple of other characters have been redrawn for their iPhone debut, but most of the enemies you encounter have not. This means that they look pretty bad, and standing next to an HD version of Alucard as his cape flaps in the castle wind, certainly doesnít help their cause.
So the music is awesome, the important characters look good, but how does this game work?
The easiest way to describe Castlevania Puzzle is a combination of Puzzle Quest, Super Puzzle Fighter and of course Castlevania Symphony of the Night. You play as Alucard making your way through Draculaís castle, another element that has been pulled from Symphony. The castle layout appears to be exactly the same. As you point and click Alucard through the rooms, random enemies will pop up and you will fight them puzzle style. Match three or more colored blocks and create combos to fill up your enemies competing puzzle solving screen. The more blocks they have, and the less you have, the more likely you are to win. Itís simple and very satisfying, and works pretty well with the touch screen.
As you puzzle-battle your way through the castle, Alucard will level up, find better equipment and weapons, and also unlock special spells that award you different attributes during battle. You will hit moments of frustration and accidental block drops, but control frustration is a part of every iPhone game, and comparatively, this game works great.
I can comfortably say that Castlevania Puzzle: Encore of the Night is one of the best games to come to the iPhone, and far and away the best use of a recognizable gaming licence on the mobile platform. Konami has every legal right to port Symphony of the Night to the iPhone, and they could have done that, but it would have been terrible. Imagine trying to pull off some the intricate platforming, or difficult boss battles with a virtual controller, or worse yet -- tilt controls. I shudder at the thought.
What Konami decided to do instead is take a genre that excels on the iPhone, and couple it with a game gamers know and love. Itís a brilliant move, and one that I applaud. I do want to point out here that the game doesnít get a pass on nostalgia alone. If you havenít played Symphony of the Night, there is still a great game waiting for you here. They could have applied any licence, even an original one to this game template, and we would have had a totally worthy iPhone game on our hands. Symphony of the Night just makes it that much more awesome. All the rewarding exploration and RPG elements of the original, with a combat system that works perfectly for the platform it is being presented on. You canít go wrong for five bucks. This is one of my favorite iPhone games to date, and itís very likely that it could be yours too.