Review by buruburu1

Reviewed: 04/30/10

Shortness mars an otherwise great game.

Graphics (27/30, judged by era)- Improving the engine originally used for Circle of the Moon, this game serves up more diverse environments, nice contrast (compared to Circle of the Moon) and interesting enemies with decent animation, including lots of large enemies well animated using mode 7 effects. Small nitpicks here and there like your character’s walk-sequence making him look like he’s sliding forward while moving detract a bit, but overall, this is a great looking game.

Sound- FX/Voice (5/10) Really an unusually quiet game. There are parts where there is no music and where the game is basically silent.

Sound- Music (7/10) By and large the soundtrack is the classic style of music you associate with this series. Even a bit more variety would have gone far in raising the music score. Stereo music would have helped too.

Game play- Length/Replay (7/15) The game as I clocked it was about 10 hours. It was a great ride the entire way through with no padding but felt like it ended with you wanting more. Upon completion there were other things to do that could easily extend the game but none felt compelling enough to try.

Game play- Story (2/5) Dracula has come back and it’s up to you to kill him. Yay. One particular plot point discovered along the way was interesting, but the rest was worse than usual with a castle hidden in an eclipse, and a “salesman” who happened to get stuck up there too. Overall, a step down from Circle of the Moon.

Game play- Game Design (28/30)-From its original roots on the NES, this series has picked up a lot of tips from the "Metroid" game design. If you’ve played any of the games in that series since the Super Nintendo version, you’ve played a science fiction parallel to this game. Aria does a good job of presenting you with a large castle you want to explore and explore fully. It's immediately apparent that some areas will be inaccessible until you get a power-up, and upon getting it you are suddenly thinking back to all the areas you’ve seen where it can be used. Fighting is basic but fun, and the soul capture system which replaces the card system of Circle of the Moon is more interesting, more useful, and easier to use. Couple this with a difficulty about what you might expect but without the Moon's stupid-hard final boss and you get a better balanced game that takes pre-existing design and refines it.

**Final Thoughts: If you pick this up as part of the Harmony/Aria 2-pack, the score for Aria should be considered much higher since the game length score would improve due to being a cheaper buy.

Rating:   4.0 - Great

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

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