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Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow

Score: 90%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: Konami
Developer: Konami
Media: Cartridge/1
Players: 1
Genre: Adventure

Graphics & Sound:

Simply put, the graphics in Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow are stunning. The trademark gothic images of the series are perfectly captured on the GBA, with huge stained glass windows, dark dungeons, elaborate monsters, and of course, plenty of explosions. These are some of the best 2D graphics to be seen on the GBA, and you can actually see them now because everything isn't so dark. Having a back-lit screen doesn't hurt, though.

The sound and music are equally as stunning as the graphics, and veterans of the series will recognize some familiar tunes. There is no lack of variety with the sound effects, but I don't think hearing those enemies go up in an eruption of flames could possibly get old.


Gameplay:

As I said earlier, dedicated players will find Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow familiar ground. The look, feel, and commencement of the game is extremely familiar to that of Symphony of the Night. This isn't bad, though, because it's just more of the same great gameplay.

You play a newcomer to the series, Soma, a man (it is a man, despite all the pictures you've seen) who is sucked into Dracula's castle during a lunar eclipse. As you try to find an escape, you discover many new things along the way, mostly about yourself and the nature of Dracula's spirit. You'll meet a few friends along the way, as well as foes. Ultimately, though, it's up to you to defeat Dracula and escape unharmed with your colleagues intact.

As a 2D side-scroller, you hack and slash your way through the labyrinth of Dracula's castle, meeting over 100 enemies along the way. The game takes on a few RPG elements here, as you can arm yourself with a number of different weapons, armor, and bonus items.

As you progress through the game, you'll gain experience and increase in your level. There are bosses, but Aria of Sorrow isn't separated into levels. Instead, you will gain talents that will allow you to reach certain areas of the castle, which will be inhabited with bigger and tougher enemies. You can always go back to previous areas, whether it is to gain more experience or to reach certain areas you couldn't reach before.


Difficulty:

The one big problem with Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow is that it is a little too easy. If you were really dedicated, you could bust through this game in a day. You'd feel horribly wasted afterwards, though, so take it easy. But don't expect to be playing it for a year. Uncovering 100 percent of the castle will be a little more difficult, but the hardcore player will find less resistance than usual.

Game Mechanics:

Though it is mostly comprised of intense side-scrolling action, Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow also has many RPG elements. Defeating enemies can yield money or items that you can equip to enhance your stats. There are 3 slots that can be outfitted with new items; your weapon, your armor, and an accessory that usually boosts specific stats.

Every enemy in the game also has a soul that you can obtain when you kill them. These souls are relatively hard to come by, and the level of your 'Luck' skill usually determines if you can get one after you defeat an enemy. These souls replace the extra items of older Castlevania games, so you won't be picking up and dropping knives and axes.

Despite being so similar to Symphony of the Night, Aria of Sorrow delivers a solid, fresh new gaming experience. Its home on the handheld is the perfect place for it to thrive, given what it delivers. Games like this are responsible for bringing 2D back into style, so if you own a GBA there is no reason not to buy Aria of Sorrow.


-Snow Chainz, GameVortex Communications
AKA Andrew Horwitz

Windows Gangland Nintendo GameBoy Advance Munch's Oddysee

 
Game Vortex :: PSIllustrated