(This is based on a post I made on a video game message board some time ago, which I have since deleted. But I liked keeping the story for posterity, so I re-worked it a little bit and decided to add it here. Hope you enjoy!)
Let’s get the obvious stuff out of the way: Castlevania: Symphony of the Night (or Akumajo Dracula X: Nocturne in the Moonlight if you’re in Japan) is a masterpiece of a game. It came out at the peak of 2D pixel art, it has one of the greatest soundtracks in video game history (which I own on vinyl), it’s full of plenty of secrets and has multiple endings tha can keep you playing for years, it’s what put the “Vania” in the “MetroidVania” genre title, etc., etc., etc. But it also came out in 1997, so when I’m writing this in 2020, the world has known all of this stuff for 23 years. Great. Let’s move on.
When I first got Castlevania: Symphony of the Night on the original Sony Playstation, it was in 1999. I was a senior in high school, and had only been on America Online for approximately two years. And I spent most of that time in the old Wizard Press chatroom, talking about whatever weird 90s comics shenanigans that were happening. I definitely didn’t spend a lot of time looking at strategy guides or those old text-based walkthroughs that dominated late-90s Angelfire & Geocities sites, and wouldn’t find GameFAQs for another year or so. As such, I had to use whatever few tips I could find using my subscription to GamePro Magazine, which, in the case of SOTN, were basically none.
I eventually figured out how to fight Shaft and get to the Inverted Castle, and kept trudging along… until I reached Galamoth, a two-screen-tall behemoth of what appeared to be some kind of jackal-styracosaurus hybrid, who launched lightning attacks from a sceptre. And would kick you if you got too close to his feet. He destroyed me. A lot. Time after time.
Galamoth was seemingly imPOSSIBLE! I wasn’t sure if I didn’t have a high enough level, or if I needed a more powerful weapon, or what. Eventually I figured out his head was his weak spot, and started grinding.
I played every day after school, 5-10 tries a day. Each fight would last for what felt like an eternity, and several of those attempts were legitimately probably at least 10 minutes. It took almost TWO WEEKS before I was finally able to get my skills good enough to moon jump up, then double jump, dive kick his stupid face, double jump, dive kick, double jump, dive kick, and so forth, using the occasional Soul Steal spell to replenish health if I missed a button input. Try after try. Day after day. Over and over.
But eventually? I did it! I took down the canine dinosaur thing with the lightning sceptre!
…And then, a friend told me about the Resist Thunder potion, which renders all of his lightning attacks as completely inert, meaning I’d only have to watch out for his two very easily-telegraphed melee attacks. And then I found the Beryl Circlet, a piece of equipment that makes lightning attacks actually HEAL the player character, Alucard. Dammit.
Years later, I found out Galamoth was actually the final boss in Kid Dracula, a silly Castlevania spin-off game that didn’t make it to the US until it was released as part of the Castlevania Anniversary Collection in 2019. So his inclusion (and re-imagining from a cute dinosaur into a goliath of a beast) in Symphony was actually part of the nods to Castlevania history that the game was so good at.
But still! I did it! I beat Galamoth by jump-kicking him in the face basically infinity times.
So, hey, if you’re like me and you’ve beaten Castlevania: Symphony of the Night a bunch of times and feel like you need a good challenge? Try playing with all the equipment turned off, and use only punches and jump kicks. It’s a COMPLETELY different experience.
And good luck against Galamoth.