"I like swords!"

Best Castlevania for GBA yet. Although games like Circle of the Moon and Harmony of Dissonance were by no means bad, Aria of Sorrow blows them both out of the water with larger item lists, varied weapons, and an end-all be-all character customization system in which the player captures ''Tactical Souls'' from defeated foes. These souls can be used in a multitude of ways. Nearly every enemy in the game has a soul, and each soul is unique. Some are attack souls, which enable the use of attack spells, like the ability to throw spears at enemies, or to send a pillar of flame across the ground. There are ability souls, that help you slow down your descent or surround you with a protective barrier. Also, there are assist souls, that give you a semi-permanent effect (Until you remove the soul, basically), like increasing your stats or letting you walk on water. The last, and most important souls are the permanents, which grant you necessities such as a double jump, or a back dash.
Now all of these aspects are just fine, but it's obvious from the synopsis that the most important aspect of Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow is the fact that the main character, Soma Cruz, uses SWORDS. Sure, Soma can utilize spears and hammers and his bare fists, but he can also wield a long, sharp, bladed weapon, more commonly known as a SWORD. Gone are the days of being tied down to the whip by a boring Belmont; the player is free to frolic and slash things with his/her sword at will! Out of all the Castlevanias, Aria of Sorrow is definitely the most similar to Symphony of the Night, the PSX classic. The extensive amount of items and special abilities that one can gain throughout the course of the game display this perfectly, as does the return of swords.
Any gamer should have no problem getting into this Castlevania. It's easy to pick up and run with, and the expert gamer will have a fun time trying to pick up all the items and souls that are in the game.
The storyline is intriguing, as well, but most of us know that the storyline isn't what entirely drives a game like Castlevania. It's swords. Well, not swords, but fast-paced, involving game play that takes more than a Tetris freak to get into, but that is easy to adapt to. Definitely a good game.

Reviewer's Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

Originally Posted: 05/09/03, Updated 05/09/03

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