CASTLEVANIA: ARIA OF SORROW
Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow is quite easily the best game for GBA next to Metroid Fusion. The graphics are superb and the gameplay is excellent. The premise is the same as ever, running through Dracula’s castle fighting monsters and bosses, gaining ability and weapons as you proceed. But unlike previous versions, Aria of Sorrow takes place in the year 2035, and Dracula’s Castle exists in an eclipse, (which makes no sense but it doesn’t really matter in the long run). The story is that someone in Dracula’s castle is destined to inherit his soul. Environments are familiar to anyone who’s played the series. Lots of hallways, basements, towers, dungeons and rooftops, and all with the staple jumping platforms that dive you crazy should you fall. The castle is huge, and you’ll spend a lot of time wondering how to get across that big gap, or under that low wall, only to discover you have to come back later after you’ve acquired a new ability-which is the best part of Aria of Sorrow. Every time you kill a monster, you have the potential to inherit its soul (e.g. its abilities). So if you kill a knife throwing skeleton for example, you can throw knives. Each ability has its ups and downs, some being strong yet slow, some fast but weak, and all use your magic meter which you must replenish by slashing those ever present candles. You’ll gain XP the more you kill, and weapons and attire can be found to help raise your level. (Oh the rapture when you see the “LEVEL UP” appear.) It’s up to you to experiment with which combination of weapons and souls will best defeat your enemy, and this results in great replay value. Anyone looking for pure enjoyment with a bit of smarts should have go with Aria of Sorrow.