Review by dreamcube
"The Castlevania legacy lives on!!!"
Ever since the Gameboy Advance came out,it has received great Castlevania games. People loved Circle of the Moon for it's cool graphics and sound that tried to mimic the Playstation classic,Symphony of the Night. Still,people didn't like the darkness and lack of a Belmont hero. Konami heard the fans and released Harmony of Dissonance,this time with new flashy graphics, a Belmont as the hero,and a remarkably similar feel to SotN. The fans loved it,but still complained that the magic system was shallow and the music wasn't up to standards.
Now Konami has released the next installment in the Castlevania lineage with Aria of Sorrow,and I can safely say that almost all the complaints from before have been dealt with,creating a game that is second only to SotN on pure quality.Now,on with the review!
Sadly,the story once again lacks a Belmont hero,but the new hero is just as good in some ways. The story revolves around a young man named Soma Cruz who is visiting an old Japanese shrine to see the first solar eclipse of the 21st century.But as he is walking up the stairs,he is magically sucked into the eclipse.........into Dracula's Castle:Castlevania! How did this happen? How will he get out? You will have to play it to find out! Although it's not the best story ever,it's definitely original,and provides a lot of twists and turns to keep you guessing.Trust me when I say that by the end you will definitely be shocked! All in all,a great job by the writers!
Man these are sweet! When Harmony of Dissonance came out,everyone was shocked at how closely it looked like Symphony of the Night.Well,those people are gonna have a heart attack when they see Aria of Sorrow! Everything in this game looks good,from the enemies to the backgrounds! In one area there is a dance floor with a ton of Dancing Ghosts dancing through the air,and it is really cool looking! The backgrounds all have alot of vibrant colors and animations,and are easy to see (a big problem in Circle of the Moon was that it was too dark). The enemies look nearly identical to their Symphony of the Night counterparts! Soma himself has excellent animations that flow smoothly. There is very rarely any slow down,which is a huge plus in a game with this much action! I'd say this game rivals SotN in terms of graphics! Awesome job with the graphics.Oh,and never fear,the bosses are just as big and menacing as ever!!!
This game is perfect in terms of control! All the actions react immediately as you use them,and there are no parts where it seems like you are fighting the controls. In true Castlevania fashion,it's got a difficulty that's just right,and you never get frustrated with it. The game itself is set up like an Adventure/RPG synthesis. You search through the castle,fighting the legions of the undead and looking for items to let you progress. As you gather more abilities,more of the castle will be open for exploration(and there's ALOT of castle). The battle system is classic Castlevania with a twist. You still use the standard jump,dash and slash,but now you aren't confined to a whip! Similar to SotN,you will gather different weapons and armor from around the castle and shops.The weapons range from swords to guns,and each one has different reach and speed,so there is a new element of strategy to what weapon is right for your situation! Finally,the magic has been refined to perfection in the form of the ''Soul System''. Instead of getting sub weapons and learning spells from spellbooks,you gain all your different magic from fallen enemies. You take an enemy's soul and you gain their powers! These can range from projectile weapons,to magic shields,to new powers like flight and being able to walk on water! Needless to say,the gameplay is sweet,and EXTREMELY fun!
A huge complaint with Harmony of Dissonance was that the music was boring and tinny,and in a way,sounded like an old NES game. This is definitely not a problem in AoS,as the music is almost as good as SotN! All the music in the game is very well done and fits the mood. I really liked the song for the intro area,because it gave you a sense of power and just enhanced the whole experience infinitely. The music in pretty much every area REALLY enhances the onscreen action and adds the polish to an already awesome package. The sound effects are equally impressive,with the enemies making unique sounds with their attacks. Soma announces alot of his attacks in clear japanese that sounds REALLY cool! One complaint I do have is that there are only a couple of classic Castlevania songs( I wanted Vampire Killer!) and some of the songs still sound a little tinny,but all around this is an exceptional job on music!
I guess replay kinda depends on the type of gamer you are. If you are hardcore,then there are quite a few secrets,a Boss Rush mode,and a second playable character! For the casual gamer,I think the game is good enough to warrant a second play through!
Rent or Buy?
If you are or ever were a Castlevania fan,I HIGHLY recommend this game! It is simply too fun to miss! It's one of the all around most solid games on the Gameboy Advance right now,and deserves a place in almost every gamer's collection. I suggest you run out and get this game now!!
Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 05/07/03, Updated 05/07/03
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