Review by Ofisil

Reviewed: 01/04/10

Third time's not a charm

Castlevania: Aria Of Sorrow is an Action\Platform developed by Konami. Let me start by saying that this game is very good, possibly the best in the GBA Castlevania series, so why the negative review title? Quite simply, left alone this game is great and all but after 2 extremely similar games it is a bit hard to enjoy it so much. However I didn’t take that into consideration when giving a score to this game, I just mentioned that because some people might want something different.

Story: 7/10
Presentation: 6/10

Finally! A good plot in a Castlevania game. Most people don’t actually play these kind of games for the plot but it was getting extremely boring for me to handle… the typical “Dracula is alive again. Some Belmont must kill him” thing over and over! Still Aria Of Sorrow is an Action game and not an RPG or Adventure but the plot is good. You are Soma Cruz and you are heading in a certain Japanese temple to see the 2035 solar eclipse when something happens until you and your female friend end up in a strange castle. An undead creature attacks you and you kill it and by doing so you gain it’s soul, therefore its powers, leaving you quite puzzled. From there on you must try to find a way out and solve the mystery of this strange castle. You’ll meet some very interesting characters that add a bit of mystery and the various plot twists will keep you interested until the very end of the game.

Gameplay: 7.5/10
Replay Value: 6/10

Aria of Sorrow is the third GBA Castlevania game and to tell you the truth nothing has really changed. You run around killing stuff with your weapon or special powers, search a large castle in order to find weapons and power-ups or some special items that will help you in delving further into the castle and kill the various bosses until you meet the big guy of the house! Controls are once again excellent and searching around the castle is still very fun. However as I’ve mentioned before the main weakness of the game is that it is very similar to the previous titles.

Like in every GBA Castlevania title, there is a new type of special powers used. The first game had 2 sets of 10 cards that you could combine and the typical Castlevania items like, axes, crosses and bottles, while the second one had magic books that you would combine with these classic items, items that are absent in Aria Of Sorrow. In this game you steal the Souls of your foes and use their special powers. This, while great and all, has some flaws. First of all in order to steal a Soul you must kill a certain enemy many times until you do so and since that relies in luck it gets very boring and irritating like for example when you steal a tough enemy’s soul in one kill and haven’t got the soul of a simple one after killing it 100+ times! Another problem is the fact that most of the Souls have useless powers so you’ll end up using only some of them.

Aria Of Sorrow is probably the shortest and easiest GBA Castlevania game. It only takes 5-8 hours to finish it and the castle isn’t packed with secrets like in Circle Of The Moon. There are 3 different endings, which are all easy to get you’ll probably need a guide to find out how. Anyway enough mumbling, Aria Of Sorrow is a great game despite these few flaws.

Graphics: 9/10
Design: 7.8/10

This title is the best looking among the 3 GBA titles. The first thing that will fascinate you is the extremely smooth animation of your character and then the level design. The areas are the typical dungeons, the clock tower, sewers, magic gardens and so on like in all Castlevania games but they look so much better because of the wonderful graphic quality and the very well designed background that add a great feeling of depth and create the right atmosphere for each area. Along with your character all sprites have very good design, from the simple zombies that spawn from the ground or the skeletons that when killed break into pieces to the larger foes that fill half or more of the screen and are sometimes quite intimidating.

Sound: 7.5/10
Music: 5/10

The sound effects are very good like in Harmony Of Dissonance if not better but the music in once again very boring. Not bad or something but generally Castlevania games have good music and this one just doesn’t.

-The best GBA Castlevania along with Circle Of The Moon
-Very good graphics
-Finally! A good plot

-More of the same
-Many of the special powers are useless
-Very easy
-Boring music

Also Play:
Castlevania 2, 3 (NES)
Castlevania: Circle Of The Moon (GBA)
Castlevania: Harmony Of Dissonance (GBA)
Castlevania: Bloodlines (Mega Drive)
Castlevania: Symphony Of The Night (Playstation)
Super Castlevania (SNES)

Overall: 7/10

Aria Of Sorrow is a must for all the fans of the Castlevania series. However I’ll say it once more… while very fun and all, Castlevania extremely similar to the previous GBA games so if you are expecting something new and innovative look elsewhere…

Rating:   3.5 - Good

Product Release: Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow (US, 05/06/03)

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