Review by master chris x3

"Best GBA Game... Ever"

Story - 10/10

After the Symphony of the Night clones, it's great to have a refreshing story.

1999 - The end of the 20th Century. Dracula has been awakened yet again, but for the last time. The Vampire Killers heroically trap Castlevania inside a huge solar eclipse, and destroy Dracula's spirit forever... or so they thought....

2035 - Graham Jones, a mysterious man dressed in a slick gray outfit prophecises Dracula's return from a solar eclipse similar to the one that originally trapped Castlevania. Stranger yet, he was born the same year the solar eclipse happened.

The first solar eclipse of the 21st Century draws near...
Soma Cruz, a foreign exchange student visits Japan, and gets together with Mina Hakuba, a friend of the family. Together, they head to her parent's shrine at the top of some huge steps to watch the eclipse.

The walk seems unusually long today, and when they finally reach the top, they black out. When they wake up, they seem to be in Castlevania itself. Out of nowhere, a monster begins to attack Mina. Defending her, Soma kills it, and finds the soul of the monster drawn into him. On the steps of the Castle stands a man who calls himself Genya Arikado. Who is he? How did he get here? And why does he seem to recognize your ability for devouring souls? The plot all comes together magnificently in the end, with lots of crazy plot twists.

You'll meet strange characters such as J, Hammer, Graham Jones, and Yoko Belnades, who is obviously a descendant of Castlevania III's Sypha Belnades.

Graphics - 10/10

And you thought Harmony of Dissonance looked good. These are the smoothest graphics you'll find on GBA. Backgrounds are detailed and beautifully animated, as are the character sprites. No detail is spared, nothing is too dark to see, and you'll think you're playing a PlayStation game.

Text dialogue is easy to read, and is accompanied by some awesome character portraits drawn by the talented Ayami Kojima.

Sound - 9/10

A big - no, wait - HUGE improvement over last year's not-so-hot Harmony of Dissonance. Dissonance indeed. Aria of Sorrow fixes that with excellent tunes that are almost up to par with the stellar Circle of the Moon. The music in this game is done by Michiru Yamane, composer of Symphony of the Night. Keep the sound up on your GBA, or better yet, grab a pair of headphones for a quality soundtrack worthy of the Castlevania legacy.

Gameplay - 10/10

It's fast. It's fun. It's challenging. It's Castlevania. RPG elements blend perfectly with sidescrolling action to create a genre-bending Action/Sidescroller/RPG of coolness.

Of course, the biggest new change would be the magic system, or rather, the Soul System. 110 of the enemies can drop their souls. Grab them, and you'll possess an ability the monster you felled had. Gone now are the subweapons of the old, though you'll find souls with the same effect.

Some souls let you walk on water, fall slower, summon monsters, or give you weapons. Like the previous 'Vania games, double jumps and dashes can be procured as well, but these are in the form of - you guessed it - souls.

Replay/ Extras - 10/10

After you beat the game (which has 2 awesome endings), you can play Boss Rush mode, which lets you fight all the bosses over again, there are 3 other modes to play as with Soma, and you can play as J. Don't forget trying to get a full map and collecting all the souls. This baby will keep you busy for a while.

Overall - 10/10

Circle of the Moon was the best GBA game, until May 7th. Not only doesAria of Sorrow exceed Circle in almost every way, but it tops even the PlayStation cult classic Symphony of the Night as the best Castlevania title to date, as well as one of the greatest games of all time. If you must have only one GBA game, this is it.

Reviewer's Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

Originally Posted: 05/12/03, Updated 05/12/03

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