Posted by: seanmalstrom | October 3, 2014

Email: Former Castlevania producer reveals Symphony of the Night was based on Zelda and not Metroid

Master Malstrom,
You may have heard that Koji Igarashi, the producer for most Castlevania games following his breakout title Symphony of the Night, has followed in Inafune’s footsteps and left Konami to try and create an indie studio early this year. But that’s not what I wanted to tell you.
In recent interviews conducted with IGA, including a GDC talk which he gave on the retrospective of heading the development for Castlevania titles, he revealed the following:
In Japan there were lots of games traded into game shops the day they came out,” he said, before adding that he wanted to make the value of games closer to that of films, which lasted about the same amount of time, but cost about a sixth as much.
He then looked at Zelda for inspiration, as that game had a lot of exploration and backtracking that would increase the play time. Iga decided to add experience points and a light RPG system to incentivise retreading the same territory many times.
<…> He further noted that there was no internal codename for this sort of genre at the time and the studio simply called it a “2D exploration action game.”
Source. Emphases mine.
Experience points and a “light RPG system” on a sidescrolling action game? Sounds like not merely any Zelda. Heck it sounds like Zelda 2, the “black sheep” of the series.
Here is another excerpt where he talks about making more “2D exploration action games” with his planned company:
“In my heart, I really wanted to create a Legend of Zelda style game. But I suppose that when you turn Zelda into a 2D platformer, yes, it resembles Metroid.” When I mentioned the connection most likely stems from the fact that Symphony of the Night uses a map that looks remarkably similar to Super Metroid’s, he laughed. “I thought it was because of the game’s super jump, which is very similar to Super Metroid’s.” 
Source. Emphases mine.
Think about it. The inspiration for one of the greatest entries in the series was created when someone saw a business-related problem, thought outside of the box and employed a simple design methodology used by a game series whose modern entries no longer apply said methodology!
I really don’t think we would have gotten a masterpiece like SotN, largely regarded as the mainstream breakout title (or a “cop-out” in the eyes of hardcore Classicvania fans, depending on who you’re talking to) for the Castlevania series, if he had based it on newer Zeldas. And if that were the case then what of Metroid?
Nintendo really needs to get its act together. If they continue circling their wagons in defense then I’m calling the end of an empire.
This is an excellent email! You uncovered the ludology origins of one of the classic games. You have done more in one email than most game journalists have done in their entire careers.
Someone at NOA (who I know have an unfortunate person monitoring this site) needs to give this email to Aonuma or Miyamoto. What they think is Zelda is not Zelda. I do agree that Symphony of Night feels closer to a Zelda experience. The other handheld Castlevania games (GBA and DS) are also in demand and have a good resale price.
Aria of Sorrow (GBA) is going for $43. The Double Pack is going for $67. Think of it. $70 for a GBA game!
The DS Castlevanias aren’t going for as much. Around $20 to $25. It’s still holding its value. I expect it to only go up though.
Symphony of Night is currently selling for $51. The game has retained its value.


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