Review by stncldrwg
"The closest GBA effort to SOTN"
Since the Game Boy Advance has been released, Konami has provided the system with many great games. It has fed the system well with its second biggest franchise, the Castlevania series. Konami has now released the 3rd Castlevania GBA game out here in the US. This game being Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow.
Like the previous 2 GBA Castlevania games, Aria of Sorrow uses the Symphony of the Night (SOTN) style of gameplay, which has its origins in Nintendo's Metroid series. This, of course, is a brilliant decision on Konami's part, because the best games in the series have used this gameplay system. This game, like the other GBA Castlevania's, improves this system with more innovated ideas.
Gameplay: 8/10: The actual gameplay in this game has not really changed much from the last few Castlevania games. You walk with the D-pad, and the A and B buttons jump and attack. Konami has added a new element to the gameplay in this installment by adding in the Soul system. This system allows you to collect souls of defeated enemies to use as attacks. There are over 100 of these abilities that can be use. This gives the game much replay value, as you can spend a lot of time collecting souls to try out new combinations of attacks. Each of these attacks consume magic (MP). Konami has changed the role of the hearts collected in each candle broken open. Instead of giving you more melee attacks with the usual daggers or Holy Water, hearts in Aria of Sorrow restore your MP. In my opinion, this does make the game a bit easier. I am sure that many gamers familiar with the Castlevania games will be disappointed to not see the melee weapons appear, but people who can get over that will find a deep gameplay with the new Soul system.
Graphics: 7/10: The only real problem with Aria of Sorrow is the graphics. While the graphics in the game are done beautifully like any other Castlevania game, this game has the ultimate problem that plagued another GBA Castlevania, Circle of the Moon: it is very hard to see the action with the GBA screen. Now, if you have the GBA SP, this, of course, will not be a problem, since it has a backlit screen. However, if you have an original GBA, it will be nearly impossible to see what is going on unless you are playing under direct sunlight. If you are able to see the screen, however, you will find the same amazing graphics found on every other Castlevania game.
Sound: 10/10: One thing that plagued the last Castlevania game, Harmony of Dissonance, was the horrid soundtrack that was used. The soundtrack in that game sound worse than the Castlevania soundtracks from the NES days. Fortunately for us, Konami changed that in this game. Thy added any amazing symphonic with metal soundtrack. It is easily compared to the amazing soundtrack on SOTN. Konami has definitely listened to the complaints and fixed this major problem. The rest of the sounds are well done. Each slash from Soma's sword sounds great and each special attack sounds beautifully done. Konami also added some speech to add to the effect, which was a nice twist added on.
Overall: 9/10: In my opinion, this is the best Castlevania to come out on the GBA to date. A well-composed soundtrack along with a new gameplay system really make this an amazing Video Game experience. While there may be some problems seeing the action, if you can, you won't be disappointed.
Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 05/10/03, Updated 05/10/03
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