Character Spotlight – Sypha Belnades (Castlevania)

Hello and welcome to a new section within my blog. Well, I think back then I did one similar post for a Fire Emblem character. You can think of this as a spotlight post for characters outside Fire Emblem series. Maybe I’ll also integrate it to this more general Character Spotlight section.

bloodstained

Anyway, I’ve been playing Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon, and it’s GREAT. It’s a throwback to Castlevania 3: Dracula’s Curse, one of the best Castlevania titles there is, even amongst the NES version, given even better quality of life additions (quick switching time is one of them) and retaining its fun. But speaking of Castlevania…

(Don’t worry. I’ll give my piece on the current state of Konami one of these days)

cv3cover

No doubt that when you speak of Castlevania, the first thing that comes to mind is the Belmont clan, and also… Alucard, who also debuted in Castlevania 3: Dracula’s Curse. But you know who else debuted in that wonderful game?

This certain character named Sypha Belnades.

sypha
Can’t tell at first, I know.

Sypha Belnades is a hunter of the creature of the night. You found this wizard petrified by the Cyclops early in the game and then Sypha offered the power of magic for the player character, Trevor Belmont, to help you take down Dracula. In the NES days, characters could get away with having no personalities, but we’ll talk about personality later.

It’s probably of no surprise for these days, but back in the days, it was quite a surprise to realize that this wizard that packs powerful spells that helped you through your vampire hunting quest…

Well… you looked at the featured image, didn’t you?

syphaending
For starters, it’s a she.

Of course, by that time, I think people rightfully thought that the original female protagonist of gaming has always been Samus Aran, and I wouldn’t blame you guys for saying that she still is the original video game action babe. Hell, Sypha also took cues from Samus, she deliberately made herself look like a full on wizard, and only by clearing the game with her that you get to know her gender.

 

Anyway, as far as gameplay goes, Sypha is pretty much known as the ‘Glass Cannon Mage’. She has the lowest defense and yet by obtaining her spells, she can deal more raw damage to her enemies. Fire Book allows her to cast a flame tongue about as long as Trevor’s whip, only dealing more damage and slower fire rate. Ice Book lets out ice shards around her that freezes the enemy solid, in which she can use as an impromptu platform, or just shatter it in one hit. And Lightning Book shoots out three lightning orbs that homes to any enemies, when all three hits, the damage registered is already massive.

All in all, it’s really worth taking her into your team. Not to mention, even if her staff strike is weak, it also covers a rather upper arc, so it’ll help against those pesky birds if you don’t have an axe subweapon!

Sypha is an accomplished wizard that she is a master of the three main elements: Fire, Ice and Lightning. After the battle with Dracula, she found comfort in Trevor’s company and then they married, and thus she became the mother of the Belmont clan’s magical genes. Yeah, you saw all those Item Crashes the likes of Richter Belmont did? Wouldn’t be possible if it wasn’t for Sypha.

Afterwards, Sypha mostly never resurfaced into combat again. The best we could see of her was during the events of Symphony of the Night, where Dracula conjured a fake version of Sypha, along with Trevor and their other friend, Grant DaNasty, to face off against Alucard. But that’s not the real Sypha so never you mind about that one, despite the fact that it’s still a pretty sweet fanservice.

fakes

And a SWEET boss fight too, especially if you’ve played Dracula’s Curse beforehand! Enough that they were also brought back for Portrait of Ruin as bonus bosses, even if that game has no involvement of Alucard! … Wait, strategy, you said? Uh, I don’t think this is the place to speak about that. Moving on…

Up until this time, we do know that Sypha lacked some kind of personality. It was okay for the era of NES, but as time passed, more characters are required to have some sort of personality. All we had so far was that she’s helpful, offering her help to Trevor immediately after being saved, and that she has had a hard life… but that wasn’t quite forming a solid personality. Most people would look at the other Castlevania sorceresses for magical examples, and this includes her descendant Yoko Belnades and another one, Charlotte Aulin (And admittedly, some like Charlotte improved the magic variety from the foundation that Sypha built on, so that’s why she’s in the Top 10 Magic Casters… though who knows what the future will bring.)

But then surprise, she appears in Castlevania Judgment! Back then, as a Sypha fan… you bet I was so god damn hyped that one of my favored old school characters are going to get a modern reimagination and a personality!

judgmentsypha.jpg
…. And then I started wishing they didn’t even include her here.

See, Castlevania Judgment had… a lot of liberties in characterization. Sypha just got the short end of the stick: They took the ‘she had a hard life’ part and made her instead looking like a fanatical bigot that hunts down and antagonizes those with dark power without any reservations, even if they didn’t mean any harm. I mean, seriously, what? I mean, in no part in her she was this hypocritical of hunting down those with dark power and saying that merely having dark powers equals evil because those with dark powers made her past gloomy. So, how?? Oh is this supposed to be how Sypha had a hard life and then only started mellowing out once she got petrified and then saved by Trevor? This is not working out, Konami.

So I guess I should content myself with modern fans only seeing Sypha as a hypocritical bitch… somehow, having no personality seemed to be better than… this….

After Castlevania Judgment, Konami started on experimenting on a new timeline, that being the Lords of Shadow series.

cvlos.jpg
No, Sypha didn’t have a sex change here. But she’s insignificant enough in the story to not even appear in promotions (also this isn’t the game she appeared at in the timeline)

In the case of Sypha, I’m not sure which one is better, the Lords of Shadow version or the Judgment version. While I’m sure that the Lords of Shadow version is not a bitch… she’s just another woman. No magical power, only existing to marry Trevor, had a child in form of Simon, and then got killed by Dracula’s forces. Actually that was much closer to non-action girls that was prevalent in the NES era, those that only serve as a damsel in distress or got killed to motivate the hero. Which was usually against what Sypha was known for.

So between a bitch and a non-combatant… I dunno which is worse…

During the time Konami went along with Lords of Shadow, they actually have been releasing Pachinko machines based on Castlevania. They just didn’t get that ridiculously pervy until Erotic Violence, but of course I understand that gamers were still pissed even on that, and I don’t even plan on traveling to Japan to play these either. One of the titles involved a retelling of Dracula’s Curse. Sypha was featured and…

syphap1.jpgSHE WAS NOTHING LIKE IN JUDGMENT AND LORDS OF SHADOW!!

I mean, sure, her design seems to be on the direction of a more feminine version of her old Castlevania 3 self, that is, she doesn’t put on her hood almost all the time, and there were some exposed skins, but not as much. Her personality is made to be the kindly assistant, no signs of that questionable characterization in Judgment. She has always been helpful and kind, and cutscenes seems to also make her still magically adept.

Wow.

syphap2

I mean, for all things bad about Pachinko, actually Konami got one thing right in one of its titles: They actually got Sypha right. Gave her a ‘personality’ (even if it’s just a generic helpful lady) without betraying her principles! You know what, just call that Dracula’s Curse Pachinko a guilty pleasure of mine. It’s a pachinko, but it got the best version of Sypha when Konami was at helm!

(and watch as Konami screwed up everything else in the future…)

And eventually, in the dark times when some schmuck is just wearing the face of Konami… Netflix gave us the Castlevania cartoon, which is based on Dracula’s Curse. Of course Sypha is featured.

syphanetflix.jpg

She’s short haired, which is a choice of design that’s pretty OK, though I prefer long hair. However, as far characterization goes, I think they did pretty good, taking her less-than-nice Judgment self and trimming it down into merely a sharp tongue whenever the mood gets into her (“I could pee into a bucket and tell him it’s beer…”). And she still shows her self as an adept in magic gloriously. So all’s good. The show still has a Season 2 to come so we’ll get to see more of Sypha, but Netflix got her good.

syphap3.jpgAnd so, that’s about Sypha Belnades. One of the classic video game heroines (well, female sidekick) that has gone through ups and downs in how she was portrayed, but there’s no questioning in her talent in magic, and she has always been a defender of what is right.

I have much respects for the lady and she’s one of the classic characters that might as well become one of my favorites. I really had fun in using her in Castlevania 3 Dracula’s Curse. And honestly, when you consider the era she debuted, having a playable female character is a great thing, which she provided well. I don’t think she’ll beat Samus in that department, but she’s still one of my favorites.

This is ChrisX sign–

(Wait, Chris, aren’t you forgetting something about Sypha?)

Huh? What else did I miss?

(Well, there’s this Gandalf-like wizard in Captain N and he’s Sypha–)

ThisIsChrisXSigningOutBye!

One thought on “Character Spotlight – Sypha Belnades (Castlevania)

  1. Aaron June 18, 2018 / 9:40 am

    Nice job! I’ve always felt that Sypha should have had a larger role in the series. They did a really great job with her in the Netflix series though, and they even fit the whole “gender ambiguity” thing into the story.

    Like

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