Review by mechhybrid
"Konami does it again"
Half the reason why I had initially bought a GBA was for Circle of the Moon, I had no idea that the tradition of SotN Castlevania games would continue like they have. With the release of each one it seems like they can only get better and better, Aria of Sorrow proves that in every way. Whether you're collecting souls, searching for rare items, or trying to beat the game through for the first time, there's always room for more.
The game's story itself strays from the norm of most Castlevania game and takes a big step forward, in more ways than one. The game takes place in the not too distant future, the year is 2035 and you play a character who in all honesty is just as cool as Alucard from SotN. You eventually get yourself inside of Dracula's Castle and must find your way out and smite evil as you move forward. Enough about the plot, the best part about the game is of course the gameplay we have grown to love.
The game plays like any other GBA incarnation of Castlevania, with the exception of a few slightly different moves, you get your standard abilities, backdash, double jump, etc. The biggest noticeable change in the way you play the game is that there are no sub weapons, nor are the hearts used for them. Instead they have been replaced with a very ingenious Soul collecting system. Soma has the ability to absorb the souls of your foes and use them as he pleases, making for a very effective battle system. There are more than 100 souls that you can absorb and use, which makes for hour of searching for them all. Some people say it's repetitive and a cheap way to extend gameplay, that all depends, if you were one of those people who spent hours trying to collect rare items in SotN then the Soul System will be a favorite, not too mention there are plenty of rare items and weapons to keep you busy for hours after the game is finished. A big complaint amongst most people is that the game is ''too short'' but once you take the time to complete the game in it's entirety, then you will realize just how much time has been put into it, yes it only takes about 3-4 hours to complete the normal story mode, but the soul collecting and item searches only add to the replay value. Unlike most of the GBA Castlevania games, AoS offers a very useful boss rush mode, where you can earn special items that can only be obtained by completing the boss rush mode in a certain amount of time. All in all the game will keep you coming back for more even after you complete the wonderful story.
One of the best things about the game is the weaponry you get through out your adventure, you get to use swords and other various weapons to abolish your enemies. The weapons are mostly swords and daggers, but anyone who played SotN will be very accustomed to the weapons in this game. I feel that have a huge selection of weapons only adds to the appeal of AoS.
The game looks just as good as any of it's other counter parts, but the only real way to describe it is to take the design of CotM and add more light to it, but not too much and it isn't overly saturated in color like Harmony of Dissonance. For the most part the rooms look familiar and don't stick out too much, the ones that do however are the ones that have very nice animations in the background, there's nothing like fighting a demon in a tower with clouds flying by you.
All around Aria of Sorrow is a solid game that delivers once again a great gaming experience to the fans of the series, and it is a great game for anyone who has never played a Castlevania game. Definitely a must have for any GBA owner, you owe it to yourself to at least give it a try, but I don't need to convince fans of the series otherwise.
Reviewer's Rating: 5.0 - Flawless
Originally Posted: 05/19/03, Updated 05/19/03
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