Even before Symphony of the Night gave Alucard one of the largest rosters of weaponry in gaming at the time, Castlevania was always well known for giving players plenty of tools to play around with. Sure, the core of the gameplay had always been whipping with the Vampire Killer, but sub-weapons play an important role in every single Classicvania (yes, even Super Castlevania IV.)
That said, any franchise bursting with weapons is bound to have more than a few duds spilling through. As important as sub-weapons have always been, they haven’t always been well designed, and Symphony of the Night itself introduced more than its fair share of horrible weapons for Alucard; some of the worst in the series, even.
A sub-weapon that could only exist courtesy of Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest, Garlic does as much damage as the leather whip and generally just sits there. That’s it. Simon can throw the Garlic, but it will do no damage whatsoever unless enemies walk over it. Most of the time, there’s no reason to use Garlic as the whip handles everything just fine.
The Garlic can, however, be used to cheese the fight with Dracula. Drop that bad boy on his pedestal, manipulate him into spawning close to the floor, and watch the damage rack up. Slowly. Oh so painfully slow...
Believe it or not, the Key actually has the potential to do incredible damage, but quite literally only if players are basically hugging enemies. The Key will not touch anything from long range, making it absolutely worthless. Don’t even bother with the Key unless it’s to save the maidens in Rondo, Richter and Maria better off using other sub-weapons.
Hilariously, the Key has the worst Item Crash in the game. Richter and Maria float into the air and then… drop down. Doing this over a pit is a guaranteed way of dying. Maria is a bit more floaty so it’s less dangerous, but there’s no way Richter can survive. Use the Key to save maidens, drop it otherwise.
8 Ricochet Rock
The Ricochet Rock is in a few games, but most will likely remember it from Symphony of the Night where it served as a visually appealing, but ultimately quite useless, sub-weapon. The worst part about the Ricochet Rock is the mere fact that it is inherently designed to have a miserable time hitting enemies.
Most areas in Castlevania are hallways, so the Ricochet Rock should theoretically make short work of enemies, but its crummy hit box, its pitiful damage, and its ability to just burst on ahead with no rhyme or reason makes it a complete and total waste of Hearts.
7 Stopwatch (For Experts)
The Stopwatch is an invaluable tool for any players who find themselves struggling with platforming sections. For Castlevania I and III, in particular, the Stopwatch can be the difference between giving up early and actually getting to see the credits. Of course, the Stopwatch is little more than that, ultimately a crutch for players who know what they’re doing.
Carrying the Stopwatch after getting good at Castlevania is a burden more than anything. It can eat up precious Hearts and generally isn’t that useful, mainly appearing before platforming sections that aren’t all that tricky should players just stop and think about how to proceed. It’s a crutch, ditch it.
Ever wondered what that weird salt in Symphony of the Night was? Hindu Vibhuti is an ash-like substance composed of the deceased, albeit not necessarily human. By throwing Vibhuti, its holy properties very slowly and very minimally damage enemies. Should they step over the Vibhuti. Sound familiar? It’s Garlic round 1.
Credit where credit is due, Vibhuti is a lot more creative of a weapon and nudges the series away from ie Euro-centric lore. Unfortunately, it’s not a fun sub-weapon by any stretch of the imagination. Killing Dracula with Garlic in Simon’s Quest is charming. Throwing Vhibuti around inside of an inverted castle, not so much .
5 Blunt Sword
Another cursed sword, the Blunt Sword (actually called the Namakura in Japan) lowers Alucard’s ATK by 5 in Symphony of the Night. Dawn of Sorrow gives it a +18 bonus, but it’s still an early weapon in a game where Soma is fine using just about anything (read: everything) else he finds in his path.
While the Blunt Sword can eventually become the Muramasa in Dawn of Sorrow, it, like the Tyrfing, is pointless in Symphony of the Night. Unlike the Tyrfing, however, its -5 ATK stat isn’t charming or funny. It’s just lame. A -30 drop in offense is memorable and can be used to make an easy game harder. The Blunt Sword just takes up space.
4 Red Rust
You really have to stop and wonder why Konami thought it was a good idea to have the Red Rust drop mere moments after Alucard gets his starting weapon. It has a -2 ATK penalty, is cursed, occasionally jams, and is painfully slow. It’s a weapon designed to ruin unsuspecting players’ lives.
It’s only real purpose is signaling to players that not every weapon in Symphony of the Night will be worth using. In fact, some will be actively detrimental, affecting the gameplay in profoundly negative ways. It’s an interesting concept, but it’s really no wonder future Metroidvanias stopped intentionally making horrible weapons.
A cursed sword from Norse Mythology, Tyrfing is said to curse whoever unsheathes it with its evil. Unlike with other weapons in Symphony of the Night, Tyrfing removes 30 ATK from Alucard’s total stats, a massive drop for a sword. Inexplicably, Tyrfing offers absolutely nothing to make up for its diminished attack.
Usually in games, developers will try to entice plays to use weaker weapons by hiding stronger abilities within. As far as the Tyrfing goes, it really is just that bad. There are no tricks or secrets here, it is legitimately just a terrible weapon. Sell it to the Master Librarian and move on.
2 The Entire DSS System
Circle of the Moon is a good game with a lot of good ideas, and the DSS system is pretty good. As an idea. The DSS system sees Nathan combining two cards together into a unique ability. With multiple cards to pair together, the system is filled with potential depth. Emphasis on “potential.”
In execution, the DSS system is a complete nightmare. Nathan’s cards are tied to enemies and the game does not let players know which enemies drop cards. Card drops are also rather low and RNG based, so the majority of players will reach the credits without ever collecting most of the cards in the game. The only way to make the most out of the DSS is to either grind or play Magician Mode.
1 Magic Seal
Igarashi had the right idea in mind when he decided to make a direct sequel to Aria of Sorrow. The setting, the Soul system, and Soma himself all beg to be revisited at least once. While Dawn of Sorrow is unquestionably a good game, and one of the absolute best early DS titles, it has one fatal flaw: the Magic Seal.
At the end of every boss fight, players have to manually draw a Magic Seal that gradually gets more complex as the game goes on. It is impossible to finish bosses off as Soma otherwise. The Maig Seal must be used at the end of every boss fight and it frankly just gets worse as the game goes on, almost ruining an otherwise great sequel.