Nocturne in the Moonlight (1998)
So yeah, Symphony of the Night is the best game ever. But what if they made it BETTER? That's what Konami Nagoya of Japan tried when they ported the legendary title over to the Saturn, which was only released in Japan. Unfortunately, their failings pretty much cancel out the benefits - the end result is still the same classic game we know and love, just not quite to the level that it should've been.
Let's start off on the additions. You can now choose to play as Richter, Alucard or Maria right from the get-go. Yeah, Maria. Her game is pretty similar to Richter's - there's no storyline, just find the best route to get the end of the game, and pick up life power-ups along the way. While her primary attacks are martial arts-style kicks (how dull) she can shoot bolts of magic from her hand, and has a number of magical spells involving her animal friends, who are now also grown up. She also has a triple jump to make navigation a bit easier. While the addition of Maria is certainly fun, it's nothing huge - I grew pretty bored of it not far into the game.
As for other improvements - there are now two whole new areas, the Cursed Prison and the Underground Garden. The Cursed Prison is in the middle of the castle and links together the Marble Gallery and Underwater Caverns. Unfortunately, this area is very small and lacks anything of real interest. The Underground Garden is out of the way, at the castle entrance, that has lots of goofy enemies and a few new items, but again, nothing of huge interest.
Other than there, there are few enhancements here and there. At the end of the first castle, Alucard gets a pair of running boots that makes exploration of the second castle much easier. Richter now wears his updated uniform when you fight him (and can be played as using a code.) The Fairy familiar will now sing a song if you meet the right requirements. THere's also some new music, included some remixed songs from old Castlevania games - they'll all very good, except for the big band arrangement of Beginning from Castlevania 3 (WHY???!)
Unfortunately, there are a bit of problems with the port. While the Playstation version did have a bit of slowdown, it's even more rampant here. Suddenly a game that was so smooth before becomes a bit jerkier. It's not horrible, but it does take a bit of getting used to. Also, many of the graphical effects had to be altered or downgraded - again, nothing horrible, but they're noticeable if you've played a lot of the Playstation version.
And the final question you're probably asking: is it worth it to buy the Saturn version? Well, given that it IS a slightly upgraded version of the best game ever, I'd have to say it's worth picking up just to see some of the niftier enhancements (and hear the Japanese voice acting, if you've been weened on the English one.) Still, if you don't have the spare cash or don't own a Saturn, you're not missing out on anything huge by skipping this.
Nocturne in the Moonlight Artwork