Castlevania – Aria of Sorrow (GBA) Review

Aria of Sorrow is the 3rd Castlevania game released for the GBA. Another Metroidvania style game, this one takes place in the future 2035, where Dracula and Castlevania were trapped forever in a solar eclipse in the aftermath of the Demon War of 1999 where the current Belmont, Julius, as a hero of. Soma Cruz finds himself trapped in Castlevania with his childhood friend and discovers he can absorb the souls and abilities of enemies in the castle. Aided by Genya Arikado, Soma discovers the truth behind his abilities and meets others trapped in the castle and one trying to revive Dracula himself. Aria has an amazing soundtrack and graphics and plays like the previous titles, and has a Pokemon aspect to it with collecting souls to gain different defensive and offensive abilities. Finishing the game unlocks Julius mode (who is a total badass!!), a boss rush, and a hard mode.

SO HOW IS IT? You could also call this game Pokemonvania with the soul collecting aspect to reach 100% completion. But this game is my favorite of the GBA titles. love the plot and so much speculation as if Konami did make a game involving the Demon War of 1999! The castle this time around is lots of fun to explore, the graphics and music are top notch and there character portraits look amazing. Playing this in Julius mode after game completion is really fun and you can see how badass and op Julius really is! Different endings require the player to perform different actions at some key events, or wear certain items during boss fights, like SOTN and Harmony of Dissonance.

GRAPHICS AND SOUND: The graphics in Aria are beautiful and bright! backgrounds are lovely and quite detailed and the character portraits during dialogue look great. Bosses and enemies range from your height to quite large like previous games. You can see some of the detail on Soma’s coat too. All of the demon soul’s abilities each have their own look and feel.

Aria has my favorite soundtrack of the GBA Castlevanias! You’ll want to turn this up or blast it on youtube sometime. The music for the entrance of the castle is my favorite track along with “Heart of Fire” for Julius. Music and sound effects are great too!

PLAY CONTROL: Soma is easy to control with his weapons and using soul abilities. Option screen lets you use consumables and switch between 3 different types of souls you obtain. Certain souls you only get from boss fights, and they don’t transfer over to a hard mode game. You’ll get relics like in the previous games to give you different abilities to navigate the castle and some souls can be used to fly, jump higher and more.

CHALLENGE: The challenge in this one is about the same as most Castlevanias, not as rough as Circle of the Moon, but not feeling dumbed down like Harmony. A lot of the challenge, if you’re into it, is collecting all of the souls from the monsters you face. There is ONE that you have to damage a boss in a specific spot in to get it’s soul (which is what happened in my own game). Hammer is your merchant here and he’ll update his wares as you progress and he’s a part of the story too, not just a random merchant character plopped in there. Souls and items drop at a decent pace, and again you can up your luck stats to get more to drop. Some areas take a bit of thinking how to progress through them and fill out your map there and you’ll have to backtrack for gear sometimes. The fight near the end with Julius is intense and amazing at the same time, especially if you look at what’s going on in the background at the same time he does his item crash!

The hard mode will let you keep your souls except for ones collected from bosses, and restart you at level 1, but there’s some new gear you can obtain. Playing Julius mode is great and you can see why he’s a badass too, and like other Metroidvanias, he doesn’t collect items and refills his health from boss fights and save points. See how far you can get in the boss mode too!


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