Review: Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow (~12 hours)

Finally, to close the Game Boy Advance Castlevania trilogy, we are given a game with swappable main weapons. Of course, you get just as massive a map and deep gameplay mechanics, but being limited to one main weapon in the past two games is the unspoken flaw in otherwise excellent titles. Swappable weapons in mind, let’s move on.

The game is set in 2035, and Dracula’s castle has been hidden inside of a solar eclipse. You are Soma Cruz, a student in Japan who is neither of the Belmont family or of Dracula’s blood, but you still look a bit like Alucard (from Symphony of the Night). Dracula was defeated in 1999, but the person who defeated him hid the castle in the eclipse. Though Dracula is no longer in the castle, when the eclipse occurred again, his power shone through. Soma is on the case.

You will notice that the graphics, as far as color scheme goes, are much more consistent than the previous game, Harmony of Dissonance. This is truly a Game Boy Advance game, and reused sprites are mostly not there. Sound too hits the mark, with pleasing music compared to HoD’s harsher tones. It is apparent very early, as an audio/visual production, this game will be enjoyable to the finish.

At the same time, something has changed. Sub-weapons are gone. Instead, you collect your opponent’s “souls”, which grant you a power similar to what your opponent can do. An example is shooting lightening, or walking under (and even on top of… hmm) water. Souls are given after an enemy is defeated, but it’s not a guarantee. You can be in a situation where you’re leaving and entering a room repeatedly, to make an enemy respawn because you’re trying to get it’s soul. This is the only downside to the new system, really.

In addition to losing sub-weapons, there are no longer Life Max Up’s, or MP Max Up’s. Stat progression is entirely through leveling up. When you find a secret room, the big find is usually armor or a new weapon. Sometimes, it’s a one-time use item like a potion. All told, Aria of Sorrow doesn’t do much to encourage grinding. You can still do it, but you’ll find you’re adequately leveled for the room you’re in most of the time.

As a throwback to Symphony of the Night, you can again turn into a bat, and there’s a high jump as well. The final boss is pretty easy. The alternate endings are less obvious, but they are in the game. Even there, the final boss is not too challenging. The game gets pretty heavy into story, deeper than the previous two. Put simply, production value is extremely high in Aria of Sorrow. This is the best of the three Game Boy Advance games, but I still recommend them all.

5/5

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