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    Soul Evaluation Guide by Combat Crustacean

    Version: 1.01 | Updated: 03/31/07 | Printable Version | Search Guide | Bookmark Guide

    ***CASTLEVANIA: ARIA OF SORROW***
    PSEUDO-COMPREHENSIVE MANUAL EVALUATING EACH 
    AND EVERY SOUL 
    IN THIS TITLE
    a.k.a. "Soul Evaluation Guide"
    
    Author: Drew Smith
    Version: 1.00
    Date: October 22, 2006
    email: lieutenant_leon_orcot@hotmail.com
    
    
    1) Table of Contents:
    
       1) Table of Contents (hi)
       2) Revision History
       3) Introduction
    
       --Soul Evaluations--
          4) Bullet Souls
          5) Guardian Souls
          6) Enchanted Souls
    
       7) Soul Setups (not complete...or started)
       8) Copyright Information
       9) Special Thanks
    
    
    2) Revision History
    
    1.00 (OCTOBER 22, 2006): Beginning of the guide.
    
    1.01 (MARCH 31, 2007): Quite a long pause, huh? Surprisingly, I
    do have a life. Regardless, several reader comments and view
    points were put into the guide. Some ratings have been changed
    accordingly. Also revised a couple of souls. 
    
    
    3) Introduction
    
    Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow is a highly successful RPG/platformer 
    and another superb entry in the Castlevania lineage. Brought to us 
    by Konami, the game is considered one of the finest in the series 
    for its immersive atmosphere and gameplay in the vein of the 
    widely-loved Symphony of the Night. 
    
    The game follows the trials of one Soma Cruz, a young man living 
    in the year 2035. When the first solar eclipse of the twenty-first 
    century comes around, Soma visits the nearby shrine with his 
    friend Mina to lay witness. However, Soma's senses suddenly fade 
    out, and he finds himself and the unconscious Mina in none other 
    than...Dracula's Castle. With Mina's life teetering in the balance, 
    Soma explores the castle in hopes to escape - and later to put a stop 
    to an evil that has cursed the world for far too long...
    
    But forget all that. What really sets Aria of Sorrow out from its 
    compatriots in the Castlevania license is the Soul System. See, 
    there are 110 foes within the game, and each one has a slim chance 
    of dropping its Soul. Once Soma acquires this Soul, he is free to 
    use that Soul's power whenever he wants. There are three types of 
    Souls:
    
    - Bullet Souls, used by pressing Up + B. These Souls generally act 
    as sub-weapons for Soma, and have an expansive amount of 
    utilities, from throwing mud to summoning cats;
    - Guardian Souls, used by holding the R button. While you hold 
    the R button, Guardian Souls assist Soma in many different ways;
    - Enchanted Souls. These Souls are passive, and help Soma in 
    more subtle ways, such as increasing stats.
    
    You may have one of each type of Soul equipped to Soma at a 
    time. Now, the issue is here that some of the Souls are simply 
    better than others, and getting a Soul from an enemy can take a 
    very long time. Why not see whether or not a Soul is simply worth 
    the effort you'll exert? Unless you're an obsessive completist, you 
    shouldn't even have a need for maybe half the Souls you come 
    across. 
    
    Please also note the following about this guide:
    
    - Opinions are rendered aesthetically. I test the Soul out in a few 
    situations and then pass judgment. If you have a difference of 
    opinion, please e-mail me (courteously) and I'd be happy to listen 
    to what you have to say.
    - The Souls are (mostly) organized in the order in which you'd find 
    them in the Bestiary. I got lazy on the Guardian Souls though, so 
    they're not sorted yet. Big deal.
    - If you are looking for a specific Soul, please use the Ctrl+F 
    function.
    
    So without further ado...
    
    
    
    
    4) Bullet Souls
    
    
    
    
    BAT
    Description: Attacks using supersonic waves.
    MP Cost: 5 MP
    
    Evaluation: Err...the only redeeming values I can think of for Bat 
    are that it comes out pretty quickly and it's really generous with 
    MP. The range makes it absolutely impossible to hit almost any 
    enemy, and the damage just stinks. I guess you can pop one or two 
    off before your foe wises up and beats the hell out of you, but 
    otherwise, I wouldn't use this past the first 5% of the game. (Get 
    Merman! Get Merman!)
    Verdict: 2
    
    
    SKELETON
    Description: Throws bones.
    MP Cost: 8 MP
    
    Evaluation: This Soul is good...for laughing at. I just love watching 
    femurs arc uselessly through the air only to fall several feet short 
    of their target. To use this right you simply have to jump around 
    like a madman, dancing around your opponent and lobbing a bone 
    and then getting away as quickly as possible. I don't know whether 
    I'd rather use this or Bat. This one's fairly stronger, a little more 
    expensive and about the same speed. Or you can just get Merman.
    Verdict: 2
    
    
    MERMAN
    Description: Fires a water pistol.
    MP Cost: 14 MP
    
    Evaluation: This is probably your best Soul for the first stretch of 
    the game. It's a little pricey, and the damage isn't as good as the 
    Skeleton's (lol), but it makes up for these with such novel factors 
    as 'ease of use' and 'range'. You can hit several enemies on a line 
    with this (though the range is not as long as it may appear), and 
    unlike the Bat or Skeleton it isn't a hazard to your health to make it 
    effective. It's also a little slow, but intersperse it with weapon 
    attacks. You'll probably get a bit of use out of this one.
    Verdict: 6
    
    
    AXE ARMOR
    Description: Throws axes at enemies.
    MP Cost: 22 MP
    
    Evaluation: Don't bother with anything that's more mobile than a 
    Zombie or Skeleton. Unless you're right next to your opponent, 
    you won't be landing any hits. Axe Armor works on the principle 
    that a dumb boomerang might, flying out on a straight line and 
    then retreading that line until it goes off-screen. Unfortunately, this 
    is a rather slow process and really only does appreciable damage 
    on enemies that are just standing around. It's even more 
    disappointing when you consider the hefty MP cost. It might be a 
    good asset against Creaking Skull, but after that I'd just retire it.
    Verdict: 3
    
    
    SKULL ARCHER
    Description: Fires enchanted arrows.
    MP Cost: 8
    
    Evaluation: You'll need to use this creatively to have it be anything 
    more than crap. The damage Skull Archer does is solid, but other 
    than that it is a Soul ridden with problems. Like Axe Armor, it is 
    very difficult to hit any enemy that has mobility more than "none", 
    especially since the arrows you're shooting are dinky. There's also 
    a three second launch time per bow, half of which Soma will spend 
    just standing there waiting to be hit. It's oddly difficult to find a 
    spot to run to after playing one. You can, however, get about three 
    on the field with some rapid taps of the B button, and in different 
    places if you like. With its low MP cost and good damage, this is a 
    considerable substitute for Axe Armor, but no more than that.
    Verdict: 4.5
    
    
    KILLER FISH
    Description: Attacks enemies underwater. Perishes when out of 
    water.
    MP Cost: 16 MP
    
    Evaluation: Eh, I could see it getting some use during the water-
    bound levels, but obviously it's complete crap anywhere else. Hot 
    damage, but you just don't get enough chances to use it. Across-
    the-screen range and the ability to pass through enemies, in 
    addition to that aforementioned hot damage, make this a great 
    Soul...but you won't see it in action very much. I guess try 
    switching if you think you'll be underwater for a while.
    Verdict: 4
    
    
    BLUE CROW
    Description: Attacks by flying crows at enemies.
    MP Cost: 10 MP
    
    Evaluation: Funkiest Bullet Soul ever. This is a little like Axe 
    Armor, but with less range and more "wtf". After you launch one, 
    it just kind of flies in this halfhearted circle back to your hand. 
    Once again, it's more MP-economical than its Axe counterpart, and 
    does vaguely more damage, but it's hard to land an attack with this 
    thing. Not many enemies ever appear in that radius of attack 
    anyway. Pass on this one.
    Verdict: 3
    
    
    ZOMBIE SOLDIER
    Description: Throws hand grenades.
    MP Cost: 14 MP
    
    Evaluation: These are awesome, but only against slow, landlocked 
    enemies. Nonthreatening MP cost, great damage, three on the field 
    at a time and a decent range of attack...but they take too long to 
    detonate. The grenades bounce along the ground for a bit and then 
    detonate. Yet another Bullet Soul scuttled by a lack of speed, and 
    this time it's made even worse because you can only get enemies 
    that have both feet on the ground. In Castlevania, that's kind of a 
    liability. Try them for a little while, but don't expect something so 
    good that you can substitute your weapon. 
    Verdict: 5
    
    
    GHOST
    Description: Summons a spirit that will fight evil.
    MP Cost: 16
    
    Evaluation: This is a surprisingly good early-game soul. The MP 
    cost is average, and the damage may seem unimpressive, but since 
    you're getting two homing light-balls at a time your opponent 
    won't be around too long. Considering the lack of mobility of 
    many of the Bullet Souls you get early game, the Ghost's awesome 
    range and tracking are godsends. Consider also that it can get two 
    completely separate and distanced targets at once, as well. 
    Downsides? Hm...it could come out a little faster, and there's a 
    slight delay before it zooms towards its target. Other than that, 
    make good use of Ghost.
    Verdict: 8
    
    
    SIREN
    Description: Song casts a spell upon enemies.
    MP Cost: 10
    
    Evaluation: It's kind of fun to spam the screen with musical notes, 
    and I kind of like the "schwom" sound they make when you let 
    them out. Other than that, this Soul is really nothing special. The 
    damage is lackluster and there are better Souls for your MP cost. 
    The notes are too slow and easily dodged or neutralized. Use 
    something else.
    Verdict: 2.5
    
    
    TINY DEVIL 
    Description: Creates a blade vortex around its foes.
    MP Cost: 18
    
    Evaluation: This is a little like Ghost, but not really. There's 
    tracking, but it's not as effective, and the damage from each of the 
    three blades doesn't usually stack. It does more damage than Ghost 
    and is probably more effective for multiple targets, but unlike 
    Ghost, it never stacks since the blades are on the exact same 
    wavelength. Ghost is better for single targets, but this move ain't 
    shabby either. 
    Verdict: 7.5
    
    
    DURGA
    Description: Throws katanas.
    MP Cost: 20
    
    Evaluation: Well now, this is a pretty straightforward Soul. One 
    Katana makes a beeline for the enemy. You can throw them out 
    pretty fast and they also travel through their targets, so you can nail 
    several baddies on a straight line. The damage is good and the MP 
    cost, while noticeable, is fairly generous. Durga isn't amazing, but 
    it could hold its own on the battlefield until you find a suitable 
    replacement.
    Verdict: 7
    
    
    ROCK ARMOR
    Description: Tosses boulders at enemies.
    MP Cost: 22
    
    Evaluation: I didn't like this when it was called Skeleton, and I'm 
    not a huge fan of it now. The damage is far better, and the range 
    and trajectory have improved a little bit, but it suffers a fairly 
    grievous disadvantage in that it can't travel through walls/ceilings. 
    You can also only get out two at a time. I can't see anyone making 
    effective use of Rock Armor; stow it.
    Verdict: 3.5
    
    
    WINGED SKELETON
    Description: Throws spears.
    MP Cost: 12
    
    Evaluation: The damage is total crap and the MP cost is a little 
    high considering it's the first soul you get in the game. You can get 
    them out very quickly and they travel through enemies, but since 
    the trajectory is a downward arc they'll probably hit the ground 
    before they can get more than one. Despite being a very weak Soul 
    with mediocre range, I'd still use this above Bat or Skeleton. 
    Verdict: 3.5
    
    
    STUDENT WITCH
    Description: Releases a lethal cat that runs full-speed at enemies.
    MP Cost: 20
    
    Evaluation: These guys are kind of like a miniature Lightning Doll, 
    only not nearly as good. The cats run all the way across the screen 
    through any targets. They do fantastic damage to larger, slower 
    enemies, and the sheer volume of evil kitties you can send out 
    will quickly slay any foe. You can run along in the direction of the 
    cats to prolong their usefulness, most likely clearing the screen of 
    any enemies that are on the ground. This all comes at a price - 
    getting too cat-happy will devour your MP. 20 a pop isn't cheap, 
    and you really need to get a lot out to cause the big hurt. Still, there 
    are a lot of creative uses for this Soul; don't discount it right away. 
    Try combining it with Black Panther, for instance.
    Verdict: 5.5
    
    
    ARACHNE
    Description: Ensnares enemies using a sticky web.
    MP Cost: 15
    
    Evaluation: Pretty solid damage, a decent range, quick delivery 
    speed and lenient MP cost make this all a very usable early-
    midgame Soul. It's a lot like Winged Skeleton in its speed and 
    range, only the MP curve is kinder and the damage isn't completely 
    atrocious. Not much more to say. It's an effective Soul, but not too 
    much fun to use (unless you really enjoy hitting enemies with 
    spider webs). You could make use of it.
    Verdict: 6.5
    
    
    FLEAMAN
    Description: Hops around madly.
    MP Cost: 15
    
    Evaluation: Even with three of these guys out at a time, it'll take 
    you FOREVER to kill anything that won't already go down in one 
    hit. They're just too arbitrary and random to do any sort of 
    substantial damage. Suddenly jumping for no reason and changing 
    directions upon hitting a wall make it very difficult to hit any 
    enemy, immobile or otherwise. The damage is a little unimpressive 
    for the MP cost, they disappear too quickly upon use, and since 
    you have to get three out for any chance of hitting the MP will 
    vanish too quickly. This is just an inefficient diversion. (I will 
    admit, though - they're pretty fun. :D)
    Verdict: 2
    
    
    EVIL BUTCHER
    Description: Throws sharpened butcher knives.
    MP Cost: 5
    
    Evaluation: This is exactly like the Durga Soul except for three 
    fundamental differences.
    1) Significantly less damage.
    2) Significantly lower MP cost.
    3) It can't travel through terrain, other projectiles, or more than one 
    enemy.
    Use Durga instead, if it's available. It's fast, of course, but you're 
    not going to be putting much hurt on your opponents. The MP 
    aren't that hard to come by and the difference in damage is too 
    glaring to warrant using this Soul. 
    Verdict: 4
    
    
    WAITER SKELETON
    Description: Slings hot curry at its foes.
    MP Cost: 30
    
    Evaluation: Like others of its ilk, the Waiter Skeleton will prove to 
    be very useful against slow-moving enemies. Though the damage 
    is low, this will hit a slow or immobile foe about five times before 
    vanishing away, dealing some surprising damage for a 30 MP 
    move. Unfortunately, it's next to useless in most other 
    circumstances. Personally, I think there are better moves for your 
    MP usage. This is just a little too steep to justify making constant 
    use of.
    
    REVISION 1.01: Thanks go out to Ulti, Beau Goodwin and Ryan Simons
    for this one. They've all informed me that the curry launched
    by Waiter Skeleton's Soul will actually lure enemies towards it.
    I can't believe I missed this before. Anyway, this really makes
    the Soul far more useful than I'd assumed at first glance, and
    certainly helps it to trounce Killer Doll. I still think it's a
    bit pricey on the MP, though.
    Verdict: 6 
    
    
    KILLER DOLL
    Description: Mesmerizes the enemy.
    MP Cost: 20
    
    Evaluation: No, just don't. This is a massive waste of 20 MP. For 
    one thing, most of the enemies that actually fall for this can be 
    dispatched quickly enough so that they're not that much of an 
    offensive threat, so why bother distracting them? Also, this doesn't 
    always work. Whatever monsters are on screen will probably 
    attack it once and then go right back to slaughtering your dumb 
    ass. Furthermore, it only lasts for about five seconds, and doesn't 
    even work on bosses. Stick to something with an actual use, please.
    Verdict: 0
    
    
    NEMESIS
    Description: Cloaking shield makes you invisible before enemies' 
    eyes.
    MP Cost: 60
    
    Evaluation: Ehh. This can be clever here and there, but like with 
    the Killer Doll, regular enemies are not enough of a danger to 
    justify constant usage. Not only that, but the MP cost is three times 
    as high for a move that lasts about the same amount of time (six or 
    seven seconds). Keep in mind that it doesn't protect you from 
    damage, and most enemies will still carry out their attack patterns 
    (i.e. Disc Armor swinging around his little blade). Eh, I dunno, if 
    you really feel that threatened by simple enemies use Kyoma 
    Demon instead. 
    Verdict: 3.5
    
    
    KYOMA DEMON
    Description: Temporary invincibility.
    MP Cost: 80
    
    Evaluation: Whoo, that's a pretty steep MP cost considering you 
    get this Soul fairly early in the game. Honestly, I wouldn't spend 
    much time on either this Soul or Nemesis, considering the foes that 
    they work against aren't often that big of a threat. They might come 
    in handy during certain concentrated stretches, but in any situation 
    Kyoma Demon is usually better. That 20 extra MP may start to add 
    up if you use the soul too often, and this doesn't last as long as 
    Nemesis (a little less than five seconds). Regardless, if you're 
    having trouble with a certain part, this may be the way to go.
    Verdict: 5.5
    
    
    CHRONOMAGE
    Description: Ability to stop time.
    MP Cost: 96
    
    Evaluation: This one gets style points, but personally I still think it 
    falls short of the Kyoma Demon. You can STILL take damage 
    while time is stopped (granted, you have to run into an enemy and 
    that's probably kind of difficult), and the lasting time is only about 
    five seconds. (There's a timer that indicates when you're about to 
    run out, which is a neat touch.) This is a good 'safety net' Soul, and 
    that 96 MP cost is less likely to be a problem since you get this 
    later in the game, but yeah check out Kyoma Demon instead.
    Verdict: 5
    
    
    VALKYRIE
    Description: Slashes enemies with its sword.
    MP Cost: 50 MP
    
    Evaluation: A superb Bullet Soul. Valkyrie hits hard, comes out 
    fast, has a great area of effect and is attained fairly early on. The 
    one big issue here is that of MP. You'll need to scrounge up every 
    Heart you can find to use the Valkyrie for prolonged periods of 
    time, since Bullet Souls tend to sap Soma's MP at a pretty quick 
    rate (especially during boss battles). Valkyrie is a good investment, 
    however. That kind of massive Holy damage will do you nothing 
    but good throughout a major portion of the game.
    Verdict: 9
    
    
    ALTAIR
    Description: Summons and hurls eagles.
    MP Cost: 22
    
    Evaluation: Using this Soul is kind of unwieldy, but that is its only 
    real disadvantage. The damage is solid, the MP cost isn't too severe 
    and you can telegraph three at a time. It's dangerous in that it 
    demands you to stand still to use it for a fairly noticeable amount 
    of time; still, Altair can rack up some big hits against unsuspecting 
    enemies. The speed could really be better, and you may have 
    trouble connecting with faster foes, but I'd give this Bullet Soul a 
    whirl if you're getting sick of Valkyrie.
    Verdict: 7
    
    
    COCKATRICE
    Description: Fires a beam of petrification.
    MP Cost: 24
    
    Evaluation: More like a "beam of stupid". I'd like to thank the 
    programmer who thought having a laser that essentially points 
    directly downwards would be a good idea. I mean, the components 
    of a good Soul are there - very good damage, conservative MP 
    cost, manageable speed, petrification of enemies that are weak 
    against Stone...and then there's the fact that you'll probably never 
    hit anything with it. You basically have to jump directly over your 
    enemy to make use of this, which is just begging for you to take 
    some damage. You'll also have to recalibrate it constantly against 
    any quicker-moving enemies. Try it if you're having trouble with 
    Armors or other petrifiable enemies, but don't let it see the light of 
    day under any other circumstance. 
    Verdict: 4
    
    
    WEREWOLF
    Description: Creates a fountain of magical fire.
    MP Cost: 28
    
    Evaluation: The big problem with this Soul is that you can't use it 
    in midair (or other places, such as collapsible bridges, but midair is 
    the big one). Personally, I find myself using Bullet Souls quite a bit 
    while jumping, and Werewolf excludes me from doing just that. 
    Other than that...the soul still isn't all that great. Just like Waiter 
    Skeleton, it does five hits to slower enemies and inflates its 
    mediocre damage, but it has an extremely limited range and also 
    travels a little. The fire burst basically happens right in front of 
    Soma, moves forward an inch and then dissipates. You have to do 
    some serious hit-and-run to make sure you don't take big damage 
    right after launching this. As a matter of fact...don't launch it at all. 
    Pick something that can do damage AND keep you safe.
    Verdict: 2
    
    
    DISC ARMOR 
    Description: Shreds enemies to bits with a spinning disc.
    MP Cost: 34
    
    Evaluation: This travels at the exact same trajectory as the Blue 
    Crow Soul does, only it seems to get a wee bit more range. The 
    damage is also quite impressive, even though the MP cost might 
    take a toll after repeated use. You can also land double hits on 
    enemies far more easily than you can with the Blue Crow, which 
    means even more damage still. This Soul isn't 100% reliable (you 
    might find it only getting off one hit, or you may get fooled by that 
    range) but it's a definite candidate for use. 
    Verdict: 7
    
    
    HARPY 
    Description: Shoots out razor-like feathers. 
    MP Cost: 25
    
    Evaluation: Not bad, really, but you should have found something 
    a little more hefty than this to smack enemies around with. Harpy 
    shoots feathers in front of and behind Soma for decent damage. 
    The slim hit margin and the inability to pass through enemies, 
    combined with the fact that that 'decent' damage will quickly grow 
    obsolete, means this Soul probably won't see much time in Soma's 
    hands. Try it out for a little bit, but don't get attached.
    Verdict: 4.5
    
    
    BOMBER ARMOR 
    Description: Astounding amount of destructive power. 
    MP Cost: 80
    
    Evaluation: The description certainly doesn't lie. Bomber Armor 
    does massive damage to any foe unfortunate enough to be standing 
    around when the blast goes off. These are a little like the Zombie 
    Soldier's grenades, except way more powerful and way more 
    pricey. 80 MP a pop is just a little too steep for my tastes. Try this 
    on bosses - don't get complacent using it during normal 
    exploration. As with Zombie Soldier, this is a little tricky to use 
    when you're trying to hit mobile enemies...but the results are 
    amazing! 
    Verdict: 6
    
    
    LIGHTNING DOLL
    Description: Discharges lightning from its fingertips.
    MP Cost: 46
    
    Evaluation: This is what you all have been waiting for. Lightning 
    Doll is in the running for one of the best Bullet Souls in the game. 
    Combined with its massive range and overall hit radius, superb 
    damage, and awesome priority/speed, this Soul will trump nearly 
    any enemy you encounter in Dracula's castle. You'll be 
    unstoppable. The catch? As you may have already seen, it's 46 MP 
    a go, which drains out surprisingly quickly considering how 
    effective (and fun) this is to use. If you're going to commit to 
    Lightning Doll, you've gotta make sure you pick up every stray 
    Heart - and if you can bear it, use this sparingly. This Soul is most 
    certainly worth the time it takes to pick up. 
    Verdict: 9.5
    
    
    UNE
    Description: Buries land mines throughout its turf.
    MP Cost: 20
    
    Evaluation: I was ready to write this off as irredeemable crap, but 
    it can be surprisingly effective. Sure, the range and speed are 
    nightmarish, but being able to spam five at a time is a power to be 
    reckoned with, especially considering that they can get up to three 
    hits a piece. (Probably not when they're all after the same target, 
    but even then.) Like others, you have to use this creatively in order 
    to get much functionality, and even then its utilities are very 
    limited at best.
    Verdict 4
    
    
    NEEDLES 
    Description: Tosses mines into the air that explode at fixed 
    intervals.
    MP Cost: 15
    
    Evaluation: This is a Soul with some potential. The damage isn't 
    too bad, and the explosion radius can strike several enemies at a 
    time. (Don't let the tiny-looking animation fool you - it has a 
    deceptively wide circumference.) You may even get double or 
    triple hits against beefier enemies. Once again, however, a lack of 
    range makes an otherwise-decent Soul difficult to use. The Needles 
    spurt directly in front of Soma, like a mid-air land mine, and wait 
    around for a few seconds for something to run into them. Though it 
    may seem like a good Soul to use against enemies who advance on 
    you, the Needles won't stop or stun them and you'll probably end 
    up taking damage unless you run around a whole lot. You can have 
    five Needles on screen at a time, but you have to be quick to lay 
    that many because they're only around for about three seconds 
    before they explode on their own. 
    Verdict: 5
    
    
    MAN-EATER
    Description: Shoots a Ripple Laser.
    MP Cost: 22
    
    Evaluation: As fun as shooting a bevy of multicolored rings can be, 
    this isn't really the most practical of Bullet Souls. It does good 
    damage for a cheap cost and can also get double hits, but it's WAY 
    too slow and can be intercepted by terrain, candelabras or other 
    projectiles. You will rarely find your mark with the Man-Eater 
    Soul unless your opponent is just kind of standing there, or if it has 
    a slower attack pattern (such as a Bomber Armor). But there just 
    aren't enough uses for this Soul to keep it around. 
    Verdict: 3
    
    
    FISH HEAD
    Description: Shoots fireballs. 
    MP Cost: 18
    
    Evaluation: This ain't too shabby! It's a little like the Man-Eater in 
    that it's a projectile that travels in a straight line and diffuses upon 
    contact with something, but has a big advantage: speed. The 
    fireballs come out fast and move faster, so that the issue of 
    connection isn't nearly such a big deal. The MP cost is very 
    generous and the damage is solid; Fish Head isn't the most exciting 
    of Souls, but it is a rather effective one. 
    Verdict: 7.5
    
    
    NIGHTMARE 
    Description: Summons nightmares to use as weapons. 
    MP Cost: 30
    
    Evaluation: Despite the ramifications of using a horse as a weapon 
    (hi PETA), Nightmare is a fantastic soul. The damage is 
    tremendous, the speed is great, the MP cost is decent (not cheap, 
    but at least manageable) and it also travels through enemies and 
    across the screen. It loses out to Lightning Doll just narrowly on 
    range and speed, but this is a fantastic Soul nonetheless. Pick it up!
    Verdict: 9
    
    
    SLIME
    Description: Hurls slimeballs at enemies. 
    MP Cost: 20
    
    Evaluation: This is one of the most fun Souls to use in the game - 
    and yet another very effective one, at that. The Slime balls arch out 
    at a downwards angle from Soma, bounce off the ground, and 
    continue to bounce around the room for another five seconds, 
    doing damage to anything in their path. They can also pass through 
    enemies, which means MASS CHAOS. Seriously, since you can 
    sling two of these at a time and their damage is quite good given 
    the MP cost, you can clear out a smaller room of enemies in no 
    time flat. What makes it more useful than the somewhat similar 
    Fleaman is that its pattern is predictable if you understand basic 
    physics...the Slime bounces off X wall and ends up going in Y 
    direction. Simple. You should be able to hit your opponents fairly 
    reliably. You'll have to be smart about Slime's usage - single foes 
    may be difficult to hit since the Soul is always moving, and the 
    initial angle can make it a little tricky to calibrate the Soul right. 
    Still, this Soul certainly has merit. 
    Verdict: 7.5
    
    
    DRYAD 
    Description: Grows stronger by stealing HP from its enemies. 
    MP Cost: 33
    
    Evaluation: Yet another awesome Soul! The Dryad may not seem 
    all that strong at first, but you need to fulfill one condition. Hit 
    your enemy with the bulb on the top of the head, and like magic a 
    Dryad will sprout from the top! Once it's there, it will proceed to 
    suck all of the HP out of the enemy, with 1/4 of the damage from 
    each hit returning to you as HP. There's no real way to go wrong 
    with this; it's a fat waste of MP if you don't hit your opponent in 
    the right spot, which is fairly common considering the tricky angle. 
    It also doesn't work on bosses. Those are fairly minor problems, 
    however; this Soul is gold. 
    Verdict: 9
    
    
    RIPPER
    Description: Stabs enemies with a blood-soaked knife.
    MP Cost: 35
    
    Evaluation: Same principle as Evil Butcher, and the damage may 
    seem like crap, but Ripper's neat because the knives you throw 
    actually stick into the enemies. With one hit, you automatically 
    score a 6 hit combo, and while that damage is accumulating you 
    can also hit the enemy with weapon attacks to add even more 
    hurtin'. This is most effective against high-HP enemies with low 
    defenses, obviously, but Ripper can make quick work of tankier 
    enemies. It's a big waste of MP against smaller foes, though, 
    especially since they're harder to hit. High defense enemies will 
    shrug off most of the damage from the knives.
    Verdict: 7
    
    
    WEREJAGUAR
    Description: Packs an extremely powerful straight punch.
    MP Cost: 40
    
    Evaluation: I guess the good Souls couldn't last forever. 
    Werejaguar DOES do very good damage, more than most Souls, 
    but suffers from a few inherent disadvantages. First off, the range 
    sucks. It's just a tiny little burst right in front of Soma. Secondly, 
    after using this, Soma will take a small step forward. If your enemy 
    survives one of these punches, it leaves Soma wide open to take a 
    nice big counterattack. Finally, the animation can be canceled if 
    you use it in midair and land before it comes out, which means 
    you'll be wasting your MP. Damage isn't everything - there are 
    better Souls to use than this that also do very high damage. 
    Verdict: 4.5
    
    
    UKOBACK
    Description: Sets fires in mid-air.
    MP Cost: 12
    
    Evaluation: Fun Soul for those pyros out there, but pretty lousy 
    under any other circumstance. This works under the same principle 
    as Needles - Soma sets it in mid-air and waits for an enemy to walk 
    into it. Ukoback doesn't have any of the advantages that helped 
    Needles to overcome its pitfalls, though, so it's essentially a 
    worthless Soul. It only gets one hit against enemies, has no 
    explosion radius, and doesn't explode after a certain period of time. 
    Its only advantage over Needles is a piddling 3 MP threshold. 
    Don't bother.
    Verdict: 1.5
    
    
    BIPHRON
    Description: Shoots out a series of exploding fireballs.
    MP Cost: 35
    
    Evaluation: Seriously, who translated these descriptions? They're 
    accurate maybe half of the time. Biphron actually works quite 
    similarly to the Werewolf Soul, only FAR better. Unlike 
    Werewolf, Biphron has range and speed. It still has the fairly grave 
    inability to be used in midair, but other than that, Biphron is 
    invariably powerful. Those fire jets don't do huge damage on their 
    own, but they can stack up to six times against big opponents for 
    some major hurtin'. The targets do need to be on the ground, or at 
    least very close to it, for the attack to have any effect. Biphron 
    even bounces off of walls instead of sputtering out. A very solid 
    Soul under most circumstances, except for areas where you'll be 
    jumping around a lot. 
    Verdict: 8
    
    
    MANDRAGORA
    Description: Kills enemies with scream.
    MP Cost: 110
    
    Evaluation: The MP cost is probably the first thing you'll notice 
    about Mandragora. It is obviously one of the priciest Bullet Souls 
    in the game (as well as one of the most difficult to get, by God). 
    However, the results are arguably worth the very steep cost. 
    Mandragora does tremendous damage within a decent radius to 
    any enemies unlucky enough to be nearby. One shot of 
    Mandragora will take out all but the hardiest of Dracula's minions. 
    This is a superb Soul if you find yourself in a bind, but the massive 
    MP cost means that you won't get the opportunity to sling it around 
    that often. Use sparingly for best results. 
    Verdict: 6.5
    
    
    WERETIGER
    Description: Packs an extremely powerful uppercut. 
    MP Cost: 40
    
    Evaluation: This is almost exactly the same as the Werejaguar's 
    Soul, but a little more powerful and a little less ranged. At any rate, 
    it's no good. Don't waste your time or MP.
    Verdict: 4.5
    
    
    KILLER MANTLE 
    Description: Ability to swap HP and MP of enemies.
    MP Cost: 19
    
    Evaluation: Since there's no way to tell how many MP a creature 
    has, this Soul requires a lot of trial and error. You can do away 
    with some of your foes extremely quickly with its help (most 
    notably the Iron Golem and Red Minotaur), but you have to be 
    careful because it can also end up giving some foes lots of extra hit 
    points. In technical terms, Killer Mantle is poorly ranged but 
    decently quick and quite powerful in its own single attacks. Give it 
    a whirl here and there, and keep in mind if you get any especially 
    desirable (or undesirable) effects. 
    Verdict: 6
    
    
    MUDMAN
    Description: Slings mud at enemies.
    MP Cost: 20
    
    Evaluation: Um...I kind of like the sound it makes when it hits an 
    enemy. The range is good too, and you can get them out pretty fast. 
    Other than that, there's not much more to this Soul that really 
    makes it worth using. It flies in a fairly generous open arc towards 
    your target and hits them for decent damage. Honestly, this is a 
    pretty dry Soul. No risk, minimal reward. This is useful for 
    widespread castle exploration, but don't bother against harder 
    enemies.
    Verdict: 5.5
    
    
    RED MINOTAUR
    Description: Swings an oversized axe.
    MP Cost: 150
    
    Evaluation: Here it is, folks. Highest MP cost in the game, which 
    naturally leads up to the highest damage. Now there's obviously 
    going to be uses for an attack with such massive base power, even 
    though the MP cost is steep. The range and radius of the move is 
    great - you can hit nearly everything on screen as long as it's not 
    too close to you. This has massive potential in certain 
    circumstances, but don't waste your time using it around the castle. 
    The damage is overkill at that point anyway.
    Verdict: 7.5
    
    
    BEAM SKELETON
    Description: Fires a deadly beam.
    MP Cost: 28
    
    Evaluation: High damage at a decent range with a very manageable 
    MP cost. Beam Skeleton comes out very slow, and can be difficult 
    to use against mid-air enemies. There's about a one and a half 
    second downtime before Soma releases the laser, which makes it 
    difficult for enemies who are always moving. It also makes Soma a 
    rather easy target. The attack does superb damage, however, 
    especially considering that it can land two hits. This is definitely a 
    usable Soul, but be cautious; you'll probably be taking some 
    knocks along with it.
    Verdict: 7
    
    
    SKULL MILLIONE 
    Description: Weakens its enemies with its poisoned claws.
    MP Cost: 25
    
    Evaluation: Skull Millione's speed is its greatest asset. You can 
    throw these around at about the same speed as a normal short 
    sword attack. That's also about the range of Skull Millione, but 
    because of the Soul's speed, this isn't normally a problem like it is 
    with slow, short-ranged Souls. The damage is good too. The 
    problem with this Soul is that it doesn't really offer any advantages 
    over a normal weapon that does more damage than it (range, multi-
    targeting, etc.) If your normal sword isn't cutting it (no pun 
    intended) give this a go. Otherwise, stick to your weapon or 
    another more versatile Bullet Soul. 
    Verdict: 6.5
    
    
    GIANT SKELETON
    Description: Throws giant skulls.
    MP Cost: 19
    
    Evaluation: How many times is Konami going to try and dress up 
    the Skeleton Soul and make it seem useful? The damage to MP 
    rate is quite nice, but other than that, this just suffers from all the 
    same quandaries as its equally crappy predecessor. It gets a little 
    more range since the projectile is bigger, but you can only have 
    one of these on screen at a time and they're abusively slow. NO 
    THANKS.
    Verdict: 3
    
    
    GLADIATOR
    Description: Throws wheels at enemies.
    MP Cost: 30
    
    Evaluation: I think Konami was starting to run out of ideas at this 
    point. Throwing wheels? Seriously? That said, it's not really a bad 
    Soul. Soma shoots out a wheel that rolls for a fairly long time, 
    slows down and then fades away. It can do high damage to big 
    enemies as it slows down, but don't expect any more than one or 
    two hits at normal speed. Roll one of these through a big long 
    hallway and watch how fun it can be! 
    Verdict: 6.5
    
    
    DEMON LORD
    Description: Unleashes a furious barrage of magic upon enemies. 
    MP Cost: 38
    
    Evaluation: Most of the end-game souls are good no matter how 
    you look at it; Demon Lord is no exception. Basically every 
    advantage afforded to a Soul can be found in this guy. It's a little 
    slow, but that doesn't really matter considering it goes through 
    anything (including enemies). If you get it, use it. Simple as that.
    Verdict: 9.5
    
    
    FLAME DEMON
    Description: Burns enemies to a crisp with its ultra-hot flames.
    MP Cost: 44
    
    Evaluation: It's not quite as reliable as the Demon Lord Soul, but 
    still very powerful nonetheless. It shoots anywhere from 2 to 5 
    fireballs in a spray pattern. The range is wider than that of Demon 
    Lord, though the damage is a little less (even though up to three of 
    those fireballs can stack on larger opponents). This is a very 
    powerful Soul, not to mention one that's required to attain a certain 
    ending.
    Verdict: 9
    
    
    LEGION
    Description: Fires an array of lasers.
    MP Cost: 66
    
    Evaluation: Great damage, good range, stacks twice, high MP cost. 
    The Legion Soul is missable if you don't know the trick to getting 
    it, but otherwise you have no reason not to pick this Soul up. One 
    of the strongest Bullet Souls in the game, with no real liabilities 
    other than the long startup time and the steep MP cost. 
    
    REVISION 1.01: To actually get this Soul, you need to destroy all
    of Legion's outer parts before finally defeating the core. Thanks
    to Ben Sillence for reminding me to put this in.
    Verdict: 9
    
    
    BALORE
    Description: Packs a deadly punch. 
    MP Cost: 120
    
    Evaluation: This is basically a souped-up version of the crappy 
    Weretiger and 
    Werejaguar Souls. The range is massively improved, but there are 
    still issues. First off, there's that really annoying cancellation that 
    happens if you use it in midair and get interrupted somehow. At 
    120 MP a pop, you definitely don't want that to be happening. 
    Also, if you don't manage to kill the enemy for some bizarre 
    reason, they get a free hit. 
    Other than that, the damage is splendid and the possibilities are 
    much wider than the Souls that precede this one. 
    Verdict: 8
    
    
    
    
    5) Guardian Souls
    
    
    
    
    FLYING ARMOR
    Description: Falling speed slows down and jump distance 
    increases.
    MP Cost: 5 MP/sec
    
    Evaluation: Yeah, no point to using this except for utility's sake. 
    This has no noticeable effect on your battle performance, unless 
    you like striking enemies down from the air while floating gently. 
    Or something.
    Verdict: - 
    
    
    GIANT BAT
    Description: Transforming into a bat gives you the ability to fly. 
    MP Cost: 30 MP/sec
    
    Evaluation: Again, this is a utility soul. I don't see why you'd use 
    something that took 30 MP a second willingly that can't even 
    attack, anyway.
    Verdict: -
    
    
    BLACK PANTHER
    Description: Generates shock waves while you dash. 
    MP Cost: 2 MP/sec
    
    Evaluation: This is kind of fun to throw around, but its uses are 
    rather conditional. By pressing Forward and the L button, you dash 
    forward with a electric forcefield around you, doing damage to 
    anything you pass through. Naturally, this is only good on long 
    screens where you can jump around and be free, since you're 
    moving in a beeline the entire time. You CAN jump, but it's still a 
    little tricky to hit a target. The problem is that you are not 
    completely invulnerable while doing this and taking damage will 
    pull you out of your little jaunt. You can pass through most 
    enemies, but if Soma's sprite crosses theirs for too long then he'll 
    get hit. The damage Black Panther does is negligible at best, and 
    you're going to have to practice so you don't take a beating while 
    using it, but the real value of the soul is an accelerated movement 
    rate, dodging and being able to easily take out enemies with low 
    HP. 
    Verdict: 8
    
    
    BUER
    Description: Creates a revolving wall of flame.
    MP Cost: 5 MP/sec
    
    Evaluation: Two balls of fire will revolve around you Gradius-
    style in a rather feeble attempt to protect you from harm and 
    whatever baddies may accost you. These move so slowly that they 
    will probably fail at their job, not to mention the rather 
    unimpressive damage. And finally, the MP cost is decidedly steep 
    for what is basically an early-game soul, so I can't see much 
    redeeming value in this. It can do some damage to slower, bigger 
    opponents, but doesn't really have the clout to be very usable. 
    Verdict: 3
    
    
    WITCH 
    Description: Repels bullets with shield.
    MP Cost: 3 MP/sec
    
    Evaluation: The shield that Soma puts up is kind of small, but 
    other than that this isn't a bad ability. All projectiles are reflected 
    back at their launcher at a rather unusual angle -- if it hits them or 
    another enemy, they will take damage. (I'm not sure how the 
    damage is tabulated; most likely through the original attacker's 
    attack power and the enemy's defense.) If you practice whipping it 
    out at just the right time so as to be economical with your MP, and 
    how to angle it just so it'll hit it's original shooter, then you could 
    have a pretty good power on your hands. 
    Verdict: 7
    
    
    GIANT GHOST
    Description: Provides a protective barrier.
    MP Cost: 5 MP/sec
    
    Evaluation: This is only different from the Witch's power on two 
    levels: it costs a little more MP to use, and it protects your back as 
    well. Unless you have a mortal fear of getting hit in the back with 
    projectiles, I would just stick with the Witch's power. This is 
    available a little earlier, which is both a blessing and a curse, 
    considering your MP will be lower when you're fighting Giant 
    Ghosts vs. Witches. 
    Verdict: 6
    
    
    FINAL GUARD 
    Description: Guards against enemy attacks. 
    MP Cost: 60 MP/sec 
    
    Evaluation: While Soma's shield is up with this attack, you can 
    take absolutely no damage, be it from a projectile or another 
    source. Doesn't sound like a bad deal, right? The big problem is 
    that, at 60 MP a second, you're not gonna have it up for very long. 
    Furthermore, you must remain completely immobile while you 
    maintain this, which means you can't use it in the air or while 
    attacking. I guess if you need temporary invulnerability against an 
    attack you can't avoid (like something a boss might throw out), this 
    is a good route to take. Otherwise, I can't condone such a steep MP 
    cost for an inflexible move. 
    Verdict: 5
    
    
    GREAT ARMOR 
    Description: STR is increased by 120%. 
    MP Cost: 60 MP/sec
    
    Evaluation: I have a nitpicky typographical error first -- the move 
    doesn't increase your Strength BY 120%, but TO 120%. Thus, 
    you'll get a 20% increase in power. If it was an 120% increase, you 
    might be able to justify the exorbitant MP cost. You might be able 
    to rack up a respectable amount of extra damage if you're using a 
    fast weapon, but otherwise I wouldn't recommend using this soul at 
    all. There are better Guardian Souls, Bullet Souls that can use your 
    MP much better, and using this means your magic will be down 
    the toilet before you know it. 
    Verdict: 4
    
    
    CATOBLEPAS 
    Description: Breathes a petrifying cloud into the air.
    MP Cost: 15 MP/sec
    
    Evaluation: Catoblepas does rather unastonishing damage, but its 
    real value is in the ability to petrify some enemies that are 
    normally rather hard to kill. All of the Armor-type enemies are 
    vulnerable, as are Golems. When an enemy is petrified, they 
    cannot attack you, and they take double the damage from any 
    attacks. I wouldn't deign myself to using it throughout a majority 
    of the castle, unfortunately, because it's short-ranged and the move 
    is not damage-economical for its MP cost (which is not too severe, 
    thankfully). 
    Verdict: 5.5
    
    
    BONE PILLAR
    Description: Radiates flame.
    MP Cost: 30 MP/sec
    
    Evaluation: Your MP will be siphoning out surprisingly quickly 
    for damage that is good, but not overwhelming. It has the same 
    short range as Catoblepas, but does about twice the damage 
    (without the petrification aspect naturally). You COULD make 
    something out of this, if you're good at magic management. 
    Otherwise, I'd use it from time to time just for a little variety. It's 
    not a bad move, just a little demanding. 
    Verdict: 6 
    
    
    CAGNAZZO 
    Description: Punches enemies. (Konami sure knows how to write a 
    colorful description)
    MP Cost: 5 MP/sec
    
    Evaluation: The cost is right and the damage is good since 
    Cagnazzo punches at a fairly rapid rate, AND you can stack it on 
    to your weapon attacks for added carnage. The problem is with this 
    soul's range. Seriously, Cagnazzo sprouts out of your head and 
    starts punching at a downward 45 degree angle with his wimpy 
    little girl arms. You aren't going to be hitting anything with him 
    unless you are seriously in your enemy's face or using a combat 
    knife. In my opinion, this is a fundamental issue that makes the 
    soul almost worthless, if it wasn't for all its other advantages. It's 
    lenient on your MP and the attacks come out fast, so you could use 
    it for a while. And there's a certain inherent comedy value when a 
    big red thing comes out of your skull, yells "ORA ORA ORA!!" 
    and starts punching things.
    Verdict: 5
    
    
    BIG GOLEM
    Description: Punches enemies. (Imagine that!)
    MP Cost: 5 MP/sec
    
    Evaluation: Unlike his partner in enemy-punching crime, the Big 
    Golem has even more distinct disadvantages that make it generally 
    unusable. The same low MP cost is still there, and the damage is 
    greater than ever, but the thing is that the move is impossible to 
    make practical. For one, Big Golem actually comes out of your 
    back, and instead of automatically punching will only attack in 
    response to one of Soma's attacks. So basically Big Golem can 
    only hit things that Soma is facing away from. That's a problem.  
    Furthermore, his attacks come out far more slowly than 
    Cagnazzo's, and even though they do considerably more damage 
    and don't have the range of a piss stream, you're probably not 
    going to be hitting much with them. 
    Verdict: 4
    
    
    SHADOW KNIGHT 
    Description: His shadow fights beside him.
    MP Cost: 5 MP/sec
    
    Evaluation: This is basically a combination of the Cagnazzo and 
    the Big Golem souls, only with most of the negative aspects 
    removed. Like Big Golem, Shadow Knight will only trigger when 
    Soma himself attacks. However, its attacks come out notably faster 
    than the former soul's, and though it doesn't do as much damage it 
    still chalks up anyway. Its range is longer than Cagnazzo's and 
    shorter than Big Golem's, and it actually manages to face forward. 
    And look! We still have that same generous MP cost. Of the four 
    'punching enemy' souls, Shadow Knight is my pick. I think there 
    are still better Guardian souls though. 
    Verdict: 7.5
    
    
    CREAKING SKULL 
    Description: Supports a battle from behind.
    MP Cost: 5 MP/sec
    
    Evaluation: What's kind of cool about this soul is that it always 
    faces the same direction (whichever way Soma had his back turned 
    when you called it out) no matter which direction you're facing. It 
    makes hitting your target a lot more flexible...at least, it would, if 
    Creaking Skull wasn't the slowest of the four 'punching enemy' 
    souls. The damage is the highest of the four, but the move comes 
    out so slow that Soma can probably kill the enemy before it 
    actually gets the attack in anyway. Also, it's prone to miss your 
    target if you're moving around a lot (and that's a problem in any 
    Castlevania game since you're trying not to get hit). Regardless, 
    the added support can help against harder foes, and since you can 
    manipulate it to go both forward AND backward it's still better 
    than Big Golem. 
    Verdict: 5.5
    
    
    MEDUSA HEAD 
    Description: Ability to stop in mid-air.
    MP Cost: 10 MP/sec
    
    Evaluation: You will probably have no use for this soul except for 
    fighting certain bosses such as Balore or the Big Golem. There 
    aren't many tactical advantages to being able to float immobile in 
    the air, especially considering it will generally just make you an 
    easier target. This does have great potential during boss fights 
    where the time calls, but you're never going to use this otherwise. 
    Verdict: 2
    
    
    PERSEPHONE
    Description: Absorb enemies' HP with a magical item. 
    MP Cost: 15 MP/sec
    
    Evaluation: I'm trying not to be biased towards this move, because 
    I'm secretly obsessed with it. Seriously, there's something so dorky 
    and fun about being able to suck out your foe's life with an evil 
    vacuum cleaner. I use this move far more than I should. Geeky 
    fetishism aside, this really isn't that bad of a soul. The lack of range 
    is what hurts it the most; the attack's radius is a small oval about 
    two inches high and one inch long. Furthermore, the damage is 
    rather middling, but those extra HP it brings you add up pretty 
    quickly and the attacks rack up. This soul takes practice to use 
    well, well enough to the point where you don't end up hurting 
    yourself more than the life you gain back. Vacuum cleaner of 
    death! 
    Verdict: 6
    
    
    ALURA UNE 
    Description: Restores health.
    MP Cost: 60 MP/sec
    
    Evaluation: The MP cost is steep, but generally this is a 
    surprisingly good soul. You'll be getting back about 40 HP a 
    second -- if you think 40 HP for 60 MP is a good exchange rate, go 
    for it. Hearts are a lot easier to come by than health in this game 
    anyway, not without using your items at least. Generally, I just try 
    to hold out for save statues, but that's just me. If you're really 
    hurting at one point or another, you could just switch this soul in 
    really quickly and give yourself an emergency intervention, but 
    Alura Une is also good enough to warrant an endgame spot in your 
    soul roster. Give it a try. 
    Verdict: 8
    
    
    CURLY
    Description: Transforms into a demon that rushes at enemies. 
    MP Cost: 30 MP/sec
    
    Evaluation: I honestly don't like any of the transformation souls. 
    You can only use them in big passages with long floors, and 
    though they do good damage they also take a huge chunk out of 
    your MP. You can also get damaged out of the transformation 
    phase, rendering the attack useless and still wasting anywhere from 
    30 to 60 MP. Furthermore, they basically make an uncontrollable 
    beeline, and I hate not having any control of my attacks. Curly is 
    only different from Devil and Manticore because her attacks are 
    the fastest and weakest of them, so she will get in the most hits. I 
    wouldn't use her or any of the other Souls, though. 
    Verdict: 3
    
    
    DEVIL
    Description: Transforms into a demon that rushes at enemies. 
    MP Cost: 30 MP/sec
    
    Evaluation: See Curly. Devil is the middle-of-the-road soul as far 
    as attack strength and speed go. If you really had to pick one, go 
    with this one, I guess. 
    Verdict: 4
    
    
    MANTICORE
    Description: Transforms into a magical beast that rushes at 
    enemies. 
    MP Cost: 30 MP/sec
    
    Evaluation: See Curly. Manticore does the most damage to 
    enemies in its path, but it also has less of a chance of getting 
    multiple hits. Whatever, it still sucks. 
    Verdict: 3
    
    
    SKY FISH
    Description: While praying, both STR and LCK increase for a 
    moment. 
    MP Cost: 60 MP/sec
    
    Evaluation: At first, I prayed only for the minimum amount of time 
    and was ready to pass Sky Fish off as a completely useless soul. 
    Worse yet, you need to pray in a relatively safe place because you 
    can get knocked out of it. However, I made an important discovery 
    that the game neglects to tell you: the longer you maintain the 
    prayer, the more Strength and Luck you will gain. The game 
    doesn't show you the numbers, so there's no way to really tell how 
    much your stats go up, but I poured about 300 MP into the move 
    and got my Strength up to about 250%. Naturally, enemies 
    dropped their items far more often as well. That was, granted, 
    almost my entire magic bar, but the increase in strength can really 
    help out for the five seconds that you get it. Another neat 
    advantage is that if you DO get knocked out of the prayer, you still 
    get the benefits that leave off at however much you prayed. And 
    since it's variable, you can strike whatever balance between 
    Strength and MP that you need. This is not a bad investment at all. 
    Verdict: 7
    
    
    IMP
    Description: Summons "Imp", the familiar.
    MP Cost: 3 MP/sec
    
    Evaluation: Yeah, at 3 MP per second I didn't think that this would 
    do much. I was right. Imp's damage is shaky and it almost never 
    attacks its foe. Most of the time, it'll just fly around uselessly, 
    sucking up your MP and neglecting to do anything of value. There 
    is really no reason to use this at all, unless you are a huge stinge 
    with your MP.
    Verdict: 1.5
    
    
    ALASTOR
    Description: Summons "Alastor", the familiar.
    MP Cost: 3 MP/sec
    
    Evaluation: Far, far more useful than Imp, and at the same MP cost 
    as well! Alastor attacks more frequently, has a wider range, and 
    does at least four times as much damage. The Familiar souls are 
    still a little unreliable for my tastes, but you could do worse than 
    this. 
    Verdict: 6.5
    
    
    DEATH
    Description: Attacks enemies using sickles.
    MP Cost: 10 MP/sec
    
    Evaluation: It does pretty middle-of-the-road damage for a 
    Guardian Soul, but it is MP-economical and the scythes come out 
    pretty quickly. They also track! This Soul certainly offers up a lot 
    of bang for your buck. One of the more useful offensive Guardian 
    Souls.
    Verdict: 8
    
    
    
    
    6) Enchanted Souls
    
    
    
    
    ZOMBIE
    Description: Becomes stronger when poisoned.
    
    Evaluation: Eh, not really a fan. The power increase is decent, but 
    you're not gonna get to hang onto it for very long. It isn't really 
    worth it to cling onto your Zombie soul waiting for the right 
    opportunity to get poisoned, or to shuffle into your menu to equip 
    the soul just to unequip it again a few seconds later. I mean, if 
    you've got NOTHING better to use...which I doubt...then go for it.
    Verdict: 3
    
    
    PEEPING EYE
    Description: Identifies breakable walls.
    
    Evaluation: Aria of Sorrow is not really breakable-wall-happy like 
    some other games in the Castlevania series, so for all the effort it 
    takes to get this soul it doesn't pay off. 
    (Yes, it takes forever for those damn Peeping Eyes to give it to 
    you. Argh.) The rewards behind a breakable wall are always nice, 
    but ultimately not mandatory. And besides, most of the breakable 
    walls are pretty obviously placed anyway. If you're really that 
    stuck then use a guide.
    Verdict: 3
    
    
    WHITE DRAGON/QUEZALCOATL/GORGON/DEAD 
    CRUSADER
    Description: CON is increased by 4/8/12/16.
    
    Evaluation: The thing about Constitution and Defense is that you 
    can increase them a lot more flexibly than you can Strength. With 
    your attack power, there may be one certain sort of weapon that 
    you'd rather use and it isn't as strong as another type of weapon; no 
    problem, put a Golem on! With Armor, and thus Defense and 
    Constitution, this problem doesn't really exist. Your best choice of 
    armor is almost always evident throughout the game. Defense isn't 
    usually as big of a worry factor as offense in Aria of Sorrow, and 
    though it obviously helps I still value the Strength souls more than 
    these. These souls suffer from the Headhunter quandary as well. 
    Verdict: 6.5
    
    
    SKELETON KNIGHT/MINOTAUR/GOLEM/TRITON
    Description: STR is increased by 4/8/12/16.
    
    Evaluation: In my opinion, the Strength increasing souls are 
    probably the most useful out of the static stat increasers. The 
    increase in the overall numbers, especially towards the higher end, 
    is always the most apparent. If you're dead-set on using a faster, 
    weaker weapon, then strapping on one of these puppies can help to 
    offset the lowered damage quite a bit. These obviously become 
    very outdated once you get your Headhunter up to speed (or if you 
    have a Lubicant and not so many HP), but they're useful substitutes 
    in the meantime. Extra damage doesn't hurt, right?
    Verdict: 7.5
    
    
    ECTOPLASM
    Description: Immunity to curses. 
    
    Evaluation: This is only a little less dumb than Poison Worm 
    because there's no Zombie-like substitute to fill in for it. However, 
    it's still dumb. Buy a lot of Uncurse Potions and this shouldn't even 
    be a problem.
    Verdict: 2
    
    
    GHOST DANCER/GREMLIN
    Description: LCK is increased by 4/8. 
    
    Evaluation: What bugs me about these souls is I have no way of 
    telling if they're actually that effective. I mean, I don't know if the 
    enemies are more likely to drop items or not. 
    Then again, even after I used these souls my foes weren't exactly 
    like "BLAAAH I'M DYING HERE TAKE MY CRAP". Luck is 
    kind of a shady stat in that regard, and the lack of tangibility makes 
    Luck-increasing souls rather useless in my opinion. I'd rather 
    augment something that I can see in numbers, personally. If you 
    really think you need the help getting more souls or items, be my 
    guest - but don't expect a revolutionary increase. 
    Verdict: 4
    
    
    UNDINE
    Description: Walk on water surfaces.
    
    Evaluation: Well, the move is just a utility that you need to 
    advance farther in the game. It doesn't really serve any combat 
    purposes, so it isn't really possible to evaluate. There's no real 
    tactical advantages to being able to stand on the water, anyway.
    Verdict: -
    
    
    SKULA
    Description: Allows you to walk while underwater.
    
    Evaluation: Like Undine, this is basically a necessity for 
    completing the game. Also like Undine, this won't really turn the 
    tides (ho ho I made a pun) of any battle. 
    Verdict: -
    
    
    ZOMBIE OFFICER
    Description: Jumping while taking damage restores health.
    
    Evaluation: 
    REVISION 1.01: Big freaking thanks to Erik Randolph for figuring 
    this one out for me! He writes:
    
    "What Zombie Officer really does, it allows you to recover from 
    getting hit in the air by hitting the jump button.
    Instead of flying back, you'll fall straight down, and if you 
    haven't double-jumped already, you can jump in the air.  Its best 
    use as far as I see it is those Medusa Head areas where they 
    tend to knock you all over the place, that'll let you have more 
    control over where you go.  Especially nice if you're going to fly 
    into a set of spikes or something."
    
    Still, as it goes, I don't think this is a particularly useful
    Soul either way.
    Verdict: 2.5
    
    
    WOODEN GOLEM
    Description: MP recovery rate is increased.
    
    Evaluation: This will approximately double the rate at which your 
    MP regenerate, from a little slower than 1 MP/2 seconds to a little 
    slower than 1 MP/second. This isn't a bad deal at all, in my 
    opinion. It can help out in times of gripping battle when you find 
    your magic points draining out fairly quickly, or if you're having 
    trouble accumulating the hearts you need to keep your MP in 
    check. This is still not exactly a game-breaking ability, sadly.
    Verdict: 7
    
    
    TSUCHINOKO
    Description: Allows you to buy goods at cheaper prices.
    
    Evaluation: Tsuchinoko will contribute a 20% discount at 
    Hammer's shop. This is nice if you need to do a big shopping spree 
    before facing a boss or something, but I rarely suffered any money 
    woes throughout the game. If you're going after the Soul Eater 
    ring, this can also help out quite a bit by knocking a cool 60000 off 
    its 300000 Gold price tag. This soul takes an awful long time to get 
    because the enemy is so elusive, so I'd only recommend sitting it 
    out if you REALLY think you'll need it. If you do manage to pick 
    it up, it can't do you anything but good -- equip it, do your 
    shopping and then take it off. 
    Verdict: 6
    
    
    RED CROW/LILITH/BAEL/STOLAS
    Description: INT is increased by 4/8/12/16.
    
    Evaluation: As with the previous two sets of souls, these are just 
    kind of thrown out the window once/if Headhunter's statistical 
    increases exceed 16, especially since Headhunter covers all the 
    stats. (Then again, that would take collecting 256 souls throughout 
    the game. Good luck!) Intelligence is probably the least useful of 
    the stats to upgrade, since all it affects are the Guardian Souls. To 
    me, it seems a little silly to use one soul merely to complement the 
    other, especially since Guardian Souls aren't really a reliable 
    source of damage compared to Bullet Souls or your normal attack. 
    You could still do worse than throwing on a Stolas, but I'm not 
    really sold on these.
    Verdict: 5
    
    
    DEAD WARRIOR
    Description: Deflect normal attacks by pressing Up + B.
    
    Evaluation: This is a bad translation. What the move really allows 
    you to do is interrupt a regular attack with your equipped Bullet 
    Soul. That said, it really isn't that useful unless you're using 
    Hammers, which are awful in the first place. I guess it could get 
    you out of a few pinches, but I have yet to see a really useful 
    strategic purpose for it.
    Verdict: 2
    
    
    GIANT WORM
    Description: When motionless, HP are gradually restored.
    
    Evaluation: You get 5 of your HP back every two seconds, which 
    isn't really a bad deal. Still, if you're impatient or it's not really safe 
    to stand in one place for too long, I'd just stick with the Succubus 
    soul. Hell, I'd stick with the Succubus soul anyway. This is an okay 
    alternative, but if you're missing a lot of HP then you're gonna be 
    doing an awful lot of tedious standing around.
    Verdict: 6
    
    
    POISON WORM
    Description: Immunity to poison.
    
    Evaluation: Okay seriously, you may as well just use Zombie. 
    Getting more power out of poison is a lot better than just not 
    getting poisoned. And why the hell can't you just use an 
    Antivenom anyway? Dumb.
    Verdict: 1 
    
    
    ARC DEMON
    Description: Restores MP as damage is inflicted upon him.
    
    Evaluation: This is actually really neat. Since you're getting back 2 
    MP for every one point of damage you take, you're going to be 
    expanding your magic pool very quickly. Let's face it: no one can 
    get away from taking damage in a Castlevania game. This could be 
    even more helpful during bosses where you run out of MP with no 
    hearts/items in sight to replenish it and you wanna get a liiiitle 
    more use out of that Lightning Doll. I don't encourage intentionally 
    taking damage just to get your MP back, because that could easily 
    go awry, but Arc Demon will add a lot more oomph to your 
    performance on the battlefield.
    Verdict: 9
    
    
    FLESH GOLEM
    Description: Enjoys eating the oddest things.
    
    Evaluation: Since the description is a little vague, the Flesh 
    Golem's soul actually enables you to...wait for it!...eat Rotten Meat 
    and Spoiled Milk without suffering any damage. OOH. Honestly, 
    your enemies will drop maybe two of each throughout the entire 
    game; the effort it takes to put the soul on just to eat the item and 
    then take it back off isn't worth the reward. Don't bother. (If you're 
    REALLY wondering about the denominations, 
    Rotten Meat restores 200 HP and Spoiled Milk restores all of them. 
    I guess if you're hurting for healing supplies, which is rarely a 
    problem in this game, you could use this and make do with the 
    crap that you normally can't.)
    Verdict: 1
    
    
    GARGOYLE
    Description: Immunity to petrification. 
    
    Evaluation: See Ectoplasm, except that being petrified is so 
    insignificant that I can't imagine wasting an Enchanted Soul space 
    for the sake of keeping it away. If you can mash the buttons fast, 
    you'll never be petrified for longer than three seconds. Super 
    dumb.
    Verdict: 1
    
    
    SUCCUBUS
    Description: Absorb enemies' HP when an ordinary attack is 
    delivered.
    
    Evaluation: Well, considering all of the 'ordinary attacks' you'll be 
    'delivering' throughout this game, Succubus is definitely a useful 
    soul to occupy this slot. 5 HP per hit may not seem like a lot, but 
    when you consider that a lot of enemies take more than one hit to 
    down you'll be gaining your life back pretty fast. Furthermore, the 
    game also counts attacks against candelabras and other terrain 
    items as "hits", which sweetens the deal even more. If you're 
    having trouble keeping those HP up, then you definitely owe it to 
    yourself to try out this soul.
    Verdict: 9
    
    
    MIMIC
    Description: Increases money as damage is incurred.
    
    Evaluation: 5 Gold for every point of damage incurred is actually 
    not a bad deal. I could see this being abused fairly easily: hanging 
    out near a save statue, going out and taking a big chunk of damage 
    from a nearby enemy, then going back to heal. Rinse, lather, 
    repeat. You have all the money you could possibly ask for! The 
    quandary that Mimic shares with Tsuchinoko, however, is that 
    there is rarely a DIRE need for money throughout the game. You 
    are generally well-provided for as long as you take the time to pick 
    up all the money bags and knock out the candleholders here and 
    there. Unlike Tsuchinoko, however, you have to be a little more 
    active with Mimic to get use out of it; still, that extra change racks 
    up pretty quickly.
    
    REVISION 1.01: A big thanks to Ben Sillence for this trick! When
    you fall on spikes while the Mimic Soul is equipped, you get 1000
    Gold. There's a spot in the Clock Tower where there's a Save Point
    right next to a spike bed, so you can impale yourself to your heart's
    content and then go refresh your life when you're getting low! Great
    source of Gold.
    Verdict: 7
    
    
    ERINYS
    Description: Increases experience points by 120%.
    
    Evaluation: Extra levels definitely don't hurt. The description is 
    really kind of self-explanatory -- if you want more experience, then 
    just slap this on and watch the points pile up. Level-ups come 
    around rather slowly in Aria of Sorrow, so this is actually a pretty 
    good idea in the long run. The problem is that if you end up taking 
    this off after using it for most of the game, then the game's natural 
    experience curve will probably eat Soma alive and end up 
    averaging out his growth rate anyway. You could go through the 
    game without this, but it would certainly help if you employed it 
    from time to time. (Erinys does not change the value of the 
    Sherman Ring. Shame, eh?)
    Verdict: 8
    
    
    LUBICANT
    Description: Gains strength as it loses HP.
    
    Evaluation: I'm not entirely sure as to how the increments work for 
    this ability. Your Strength, Intelligence and Constitution are the 
    only affected stats, with the latter being far less affected than the 
    other. However, your numbers get alarmingly high if you let your 
    HP drop low enough -- I used the soul at 54/692 HP, and I was 
    getting 60 extra points of Strength and Intelligence. The thing that 
    sucks about the soul is that for it to really have a profound effect, 
    you're going to have to wander around at low life, which means 
    Soma could get nixed in a matter of unsuspecting seconds. The 
    soul also contributes no stats at full life, so a friendly trip to the 
    local save statue will basically render Lubicant useless. Use this 
    one with caution. Plus, the name sounds like Lubricant, which is 
    kind of creepy. 
    Verdict: 6.5
    
    
    BASILISK
    Description: Defensive strength increases and offensive strength 
    decreases.
    
    Evaluation: You know, I'm not an avid supporter of losing 50% of 
    your Attack Power just for a 25% defensive bonus. Sure, you need 
    to be able to soak up the damage in Castlevania, but you have to 
    dish it out too -- and the exchange rate just isn't worth it here. I 
    can't really see much practical application for this soul, unless you 
    just intend to blast through the game with Guardian Souls as your 
    main source of offense only. And that would be a really dumb idea.
    Verdict: 2 
    
    
    IRON GOLEM
    Description: Withstand a lot of damage without flinching.
    
    Evaluation: This is a neat, unique little soul. There are really better 
    Enchanted Souls out there for you to be using, but this one has 
    some covert advantages to it as well. Basically, it means that Soma 
    won't do his reflexive 'damaged' animation after taking a hit from 
    an enemy. It sounds useless, but it means that you can retaliate a 
    few moments sooner, which can be helpful. It's even better if you 
    take damage in the air; your jump will not be interrupted as it 
    usually is. This is also really nice to use in conjunction with Black 
    Panther for uninterrupted dashing fun!
    Verdict: 6
    
    
    HEADHUNTER
    Description: Collects souls to increase strength.
     
    Evaluation: Headhunter increases each of your stats, except Luck, 
    by 1 for every 16 souls you collect. These statistical increases 
    across the board will be helpful, but not monumentally so -- the 
    fact is, since it upgrades in power throughout the game at a rather 
    gradual rate, you aren't going to be seeing any gigantic upgrades. If 
    you take the time to intentionally hunt down the same enemy over 
    and over until you've collected like 200 Bat Souls, then 
    Headhunter will obviously serve you very well. The game caps this 
    Soul's statistical boosts at 33, so don't bother collecting any more 
    once you've hit that ceiling. Still, you don't have to have this 
    equipped to cash in on the bonuses that the souls will confer, so I'd 
    just recommend letting this sit around for about 80% of the game 
    and then equipping it towards the end when it peaks in power. That 
    lack of early-game utility is kind of what hurts Headhunter the 
    most, but it's still a strong soul, no argument. 
    Verdict: 8.5
    
    
    
    
    7) Soul Setups
    
    
    
    Sorry, it doesn't exist yet. ;[
    
    
    
    8) Copyright Information
    
    
    
    This may be not be reproduced under any circumstances except for 
    personal, private use. It may not be placed on any web site or 
    otherwise distributed publicly without advance written permission. 
    Use of this guide on any other web site or as a part of any public 
    display is strictly prohibited, and a violation of copyright. Freak.
    
    Copyright 2006 Drew Smith. 
    
    
    
    9) Special Thanks
    
    
    - Thanks to Schlave's awesome guide for the references to a Soul's 
    Power. Though I tested the power of each Soul on my own, it was 
    quite useful for cross-referencing the damage of certain Souls to 
    one another. It's a great guide, too. 
    
    - Konami, for making such an awesome game.
    
    - Me, for thanking a developer in an entirely cliched way.
    
    - My friends and family - the people who make this life worth 
    living!