Castlevania Puzzle: Encore of the Night
There is no simpler way to put it: Castlevania Puzzle: Encore of the Night is a very odd game. A creative retelling of the original Symphony of the Night, Puzzle tasks Alucard with exploring through Dracula's castle to find, and destroy, the various evils that lurk within the darkened halls. To do this, Alucard has to venture from room to room, playing puzzle battles to defeat said enemies and clear out more of the castle.
Unlike the original Symphony, Puzzle is a action-puzzle game. While the explorational elements of Symphony still exist (Alucard still has to find items that unlock new portions of the castle, as while collecting equipment and spells and leveling up), Alucard doesn't directly fight enemies. Instead, like in games such as Super Puzzle Fighter or Puyo Puyo, the "battles" take place in a side-by-side puzzle screen. To win a battle, Alucard (via the player) has to clear blocks in combos of three-or-more, doing more damage tot he enemy before the enemy can kill him.
It all sounds strange and complicated, and it honestly is. Alucard has to clear the blocks out, but the blocks don't directly hurt the enemy -- they can, however, cause unmovable blocks to fall on the enemy's screen (and vice versa with your screen). There's a "round timer" that countsdown during the battle, and when the timer resets, the characters attack each other, dealing out damage based upon their RPG stats in combination with however many blocks are on each side. Items and spells can be used as well, dropping new blocks into the playing field, and giving Alucard new atatcks to throw at the enemies.
As he explores, more of the map will become available. The map looks a lot like the map screen in the classic game, featuring blue blocks with white borders to represent unexplored rooms. As Alucard journeys, those blue blocks will be replaced by the level artwork from Symphony, showing the very pretty castle layouts. Alucard will find boss rooms, where epic battle will occur, and safe rooms, which he'll heal up and be able to purchase additional equipment.
Note, the safe rooms are similar in function to the save rooms from the original game. That said, each room Alucard progresses through will also auto-save your data. While the safe rooms heal you, death will not cause you to re-fight through any areas you've managed to explore.
In addition to Alucard, there are other unlockable characters that you can (supposedly) play as. The staff at the Inverted Dungeon have read rumors of not just Richter Belmont and Maria Renard being unlockable, but many of the bosses (including Dracula), and even the Master Librarian. Once more information is available (i.e., we find someone with an iPad and liberate it from them for a spell), we will update this page with additional information.
It's hard to say if Castlevania Puzzle was a successful experiment. There aren't any hard sales numbers currently available for the game, and there are no current rumors about a "sequel" to the format. For now, Castlevania Puzzle is an interesting one-off, side-note to the series.