EditorialsPast & RetroPlayStation

Death and the Floating Catacombs

Today I will be taking another look at Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, though a much later part of the game than before. Last time we covered an early boss, but now I’m covering two areas and the bosses inside them. Before that, though, there is a tiny bit more plot to cover.

Since the Doopelganger battle, Alucard has discovered someone else trying to stop Dracula, a girl named Maria who has magical powers. He later finds Richter Belmont, but rather than stopping Dracula, the former vampire hunter seems to be acting as the lord of the castle himself, even summoning monsters to slay Alucard. Maria refuses to believe that her friend would do such a thing, but later realizes Alucard is right, and gives him the Holy Glasses. When Alucard arrives at the throne room, Richter is there.

He says that he plans to resurrect Dracula because, as a Belmont, it is his duty to stop Dracula, and he has already done so. His time in the limelight is over. But if he can bring him back perpetually, he can slay him again and again. Of course, that implies he could actually beat him an endless number of times, and that Richter isn’t simply being manipulated in some way to do these things. And if you use the Holy Glasses, you’ll see that he is indeed, by a magical orb floating over him.

Using the Holy Rod would be preferable here, as it won’t harm Richter but will hurt the orb- if he dies, you get the bad ending of the game. Breaking the orb frees Richter from its control, and it reveals itself to be Shaft, a dark priest that serves Dracula, even though he has been reduced to a spirit. It seems whatever plan he had for Richter was completed regardless, and he vanishes to a second, upside down copy of the castle that appears above the real one. Alucard tells Richter and Maria to leave, and heads in.

The Inverted Castle is the second half of the game, really, and with all new enemies where old ones were, and while a lot of things are similar, such as item placements, traversing the place is much more dangerous. For one thing, all drops are now climbs, and the enemies make good use of that a lot of the time to hurt you. There are new bosses in the same place as old ones, some necessary to face, others less so. In particular, five of them are bosses from the original Castlevania- the giant bat, Medusa, Frankenstein, a mummy, and Death himself.

Each of these bosses will leave behind a piece of Dracula, such as the “Tooth of Vlad”, a reference to Castlevania 2 where Simon Belmont had to gather Dracula’s pieces to end a curse on his life. Each piece, aside from being plot important, also increases one of your stats by 10. Very likely the last of these you’ll find is the one I’m focusing on more today, the Eye of Vlad.

This one is held by Death, who is residing in the very top of the Inverted Castle. The area is simply referred to as “Cave” and is actually very small. The first room is a large vertical shaft, filled with copies of Gaibon. He is one half of the first boss of the game, where you face both him and Slogra. Since it’s just the one, I can talk about him in a little more detail- he is a muscular bat-like demon that flies around the shaft and shoots small fireballs down at you from his mouth. In the first confrontation, he picked up Slogra when injured to airlift the other monster on top of you, but he has no such option here.

In either fight, once he takes enough damage he turns red and starts shooting much bigger fireballs. In the first battle he might land and fire out a stream of fireballs directly at you, but in this vertical area he cannot, and instead will just fire bigger ones. No matter the size, they can be blocked with a shield, and he can be easily beaten now since you will be much stronger.

On the top of the area is a save point, and in the middle is a large upside down wolf-like entrance into another room. In the normal castle this leads into Cerberus, but now Death resides there. Entering takes you to a small hallway where two copies of Slogra are waiting. This enemy fights at close range with a spear, but once he takes a lot of damage he will lose the spear and simply lunge at you. Slogra did a lot more damage than Gaibon even if he had shorter range, but here he isn’t nearly as much of a threat, and could be taken out in three hits or so, especially since he flinches back when struck.

Moving onto the boss room, Death is waiting. As before, he stops to chat with Alucard, once again demanding that he stop trying to prevent Dracula’s return. Alucard refuses, of course, and Death resigns himself to fight. Fighting Death, much like Dracula, always has a familiar feel to it. Ever since the first game he acts in certain ways that have no changed. For Death, he floats around while magic flying scythes appear and fling themselves at you.

Death occasionally throws in an attack of his own, in this case very slow moving magic orbs that home in on you. Thanks to the scythes, they are actually difficult to avoid and the odds are very likely that something will hit you eventually. He also can summon two red scythes that hover around him, potentially keeping you at bay, and he can make them fly in your direction for an attack with a hand gesture.

After taking enough damage, he will assume a second form, though what the form actually is differs in every game, again very much like Dracula. In this case, he turns into a more monstrous form with scythes for hands. The battle actually becomes much less hectic at this point, since the flying scythes stop appearing, but Death will attack much more frequently, slashing at you and throwing his scythes at you in a boomerang-like fashion.

Defeating him will earn you the Eye of Vlad, which increases your luck by 10. You also gain access to the rest of the Cave. There is a warp point if you go up and left from there, but going right will take you to the Alucard Sword, the weapon you had from the start of the game. Even now, it is likely better than most of your weapons.

Beyond the Cave is the Floating Catacombs. Like the regular Catacombs in the normal castle, you do not have to go here at all to complete the game. But know if you do that it will not be an easy experience. The first room is totally empty, and going up and to the right will reveal both a save point and, a little further on, a Magic Missile item. Going left takes you to the rest of the area proper.

The first enemy you will see are the Salome, witches on brooms. They primarily fight by floating about and firing small balls of energy at you, but they can also summon cats that run along the ground and bouncing skulls. They are difficult to deal with because they block any frontal attack with magic barriers, and are very quick to turn around if you get behind them. They also turn into cats and run off on defeat, which can still harm you on contact. Honestly I think the best policy for these enemies is to run past them- they’re very annoying to fight, and often aren’t physically in your way, so they are better off ignored.

After that first room, you will be in a large room with a lot of bats. Here you can go left or right from the upper level of the room. Right goes on to most of the area, but there are some goodies to the left too. Since right is where the boss is, I’ll mostly be covering that route, but the same enemies are on both.

The next room on the right side is filled with Blood Skeletons- these enemies are unkillable, and simply reanimate after being struck down. Various colors of them are all over the Floating Catacombs, with the normal red regenerating the slowest, then green, and finally the white ones, only found at the end of the left path, which recover so quickly that they spring up almost as soon as they are struck down.

After the first room with Blood Skeletons you will see the Frozen Half. These enemy is much less durable than the Salome, and have no way to stop your attacks, so I highly suggest you kill them as soon as you see them. What they lack in health and defense they more than make up for in attack. As the name implies, they are ice mages of some sort, and their basic attack is to throw a ball of ice at you, which freezes you on impact. They also has a floating ice crystal that spins around them, which will hurt and freeze you to touch. If you leave them alone for too long, however, they will charge up energy for a much worse trick. If you hear them say “Maximum Power!” I suggest you leave the room entirely if possible. This will make it rain huge chunks of ice from the ceiling that are nearly unavoidable and last for several seconds.

It’s also worth noting that some parts of the normal Catacombs are over lava, but in this reversed version it instead is snowing and it looks like water above, likely due to the Frozen Half enemies floating around. After you see that, you’re almost to the end. After you leave that room, drop down and go left. This will lead to the only other save point in the area, and you’ll need it. Going further left will get you a diamond. Next, go back right, and after a small room with hearts, you will find the toughest boss in the game.

Galamoth is a very large creature that quickly proved to be my bane. His weak spot is apparently his head, which has zero defense, but given he’s so tall his upper body isn’t even visible when he is standing up, hitting his head is a tall order, no pun intended. Luckily hitting him anywhere else will still do damage. In any case, most of his attacks involve the giant scepter in his hands.

First, he can simply smash you with it- this does as much as coming into contact with him does, so it shouldn’t be too much of an issue. Second, if you get too close to him he will try to kick you, and will do so with enough force to send Alucard flying across the room. If you’re behind him, him pulling his leg back will have the same effect. This does a lot more damage than his scepter, but neither are anywhere near as bad as his magic attacks.

First, he can fire out black orbs at you. These actually don’t travel all that far, and given how big the room is you can avoid it simply by staying out of range. Another attack is to fire out giant blasts of lightning across the room- these do travel all the way across, but thankfully this move will only hit you if you are high enough in the air. It won’t hurt you on the ground at all.

However, his final move is much more dangerous, and has the opposite issue- it will hit you if you are on the ground and in front of him. He raises his scepter over the area in front of him, and lightning rains down. This will actually hit Alucard repeatedly as long as he is in range, much like the Frozen Half’s ultimate attack, constantly shocking him and adding up to absurd amounts of damage, since he will get hit again before he can move at all.

This one move in particular can and did kill me in a matter of seconds, but it can be dodged by staying airborne over the scepter itself in bat form, allowing you to hit him with fireballs, or by simply donning the Beryl Circlet, which lets you absorb electrical attacks rather than be harmed by them. His orb attacks deal out dark damage instead, and his physical attacks will still hurt you, but this will save you a lot of trouble, and let you hurt him while he is using that lightning attack, stopping him from simply kicking you away.

Galamoth has an absurd amount of health, so much so that the bestiary that shows enemy stats in the game will not reveal it to you, implying it simply cannot be quantified. Of course, he can be killed, but it will take a very long time. While each of his moves has a clear way to avoid it, the issue is doing so while also running up to him to attack, which makes escaping their range much harder. As I said, I highly recommend the Beryl Circlet for this, but there is another trick that will beat him, and really probably any enemy, in a matter of seconds.

First, you need the Shield Rod, and the Alucard Shield. The Shield Rod can use spells for various effects depending on the shield you are holding. The Alucard Shield in particular makes Alucard entirely invincible as long as he holds up the shield and as long as he has MP, while also hurting any enemy he is in contact with, doing 255 damage per second of contact, while also healing him. Effectively, contact drains the life out of the enemy, and even Galamoth quickly crumbled under this effect, allowing me to get the treasure he guarded- the Gas Cloud item, which lets you damage enemies you come into contact with in gas form, itself making the game a lot easier.

And that wraps up this especially annoying yet rewarding bonus area of the game. I hope you enjoyed, everyone, and I will see you next time.

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Kaosukage

My name is Andrew Robinson, though I prefer to go by Annie. I am a retro game writer, and my blog can be found here: https://myriadpostings.wordpress.com/

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