The Ninjabot

Castlevania Aria of Sorrow: An eShop Must Have

Posted on November 4, 2014 at 3:28 pm by Victor Chaves

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To finish Octobervania, we have the last Game Boy Advance Castlevania game, Aria of Sorrow. If you’ve been keeping up with my reviews you’ll have noticed that I haven’t been too hot on the GBA Castlevania titles, Circle of the Moon was only an average title, and Harmony of Dissonance got a little better but by no means a must-play. That changes here though, as Aria of Sorrow is not only the best of the three GBA Castlevania titles but it’s overall one of the best games ever!

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As Soma, a 17 year-old in a coat that is quite pimpin’, you do the same old thing of running around Dracula’s castle of exploring and fighting enemies and bosses. What separates this from the previous two is an extremely satisfying souls system where you collect said souls from enemies. Each soul is usable in its own unique way, with some souls providing simple buffs to stats or letting you shoot triple laser beams or turning into a demon and charging through mobs like a bull in Spain.

What this feature brings is a great variance, something that allows the player to cater to however they wish to play. You’ll find yourself a lot of time once you’ve gathered several souls trying combinations out on bosses and tough enemies, maximizing your battle potential. Nothing brought me more joy than getting a new soul, as it always meant the game got that much more interesting. The game essentially became a brain that got more and more wrinkles every time a new soul was achieved, and by the end you’ll realize how smart Aria of Sorrow actually is.

 

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The castle is very easy to maneuver in, with several portals for teleporting and save points are plenty. That isn’t to say the game is easy, as several bosses are actually quite difficult. Several times you may find yourself needing to grind a little bit, but gratefully grinding also leads to more soul and equipment drops which thankfully means the game always has at least three ways of getting you stronger.

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Some of the Best Enemies & Bosses

The enemies and bosses are a real treat. Several times there are foes that are hidden or even require solving a puzzle in order to kill and collect their souls; some create interesting illusions like the succubus who acts like another character to trick you, and a monster that pretends to be a sack of money. Probably my favorite part is when the game fakes you out into thinking you’ll fight a giant bat as a boss (a staple boss character since the first game), then a giant hand slams the bat out of the air and a new boss appears. It’s the first Castlevania since Symphony of the Night where I felt a lot of characterization was made in the enemies, and therefore made them way more memorable.

It’s a bit silly to mention story in a Castlevania game, but unlike ninety percent of the others, Aria of Sorrow makes genuine effort in telling an engaging story. Interactions with characters actually matter in the story, with each of them explaining a different side of a mystery that Soma is a part of. I also appreciate that the ending is more than just a couple of lines of dialogue then credits, but actually adds more to the game in what is absolutely the most satisfying of the three GBA stories.

 

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Final Thoughts

The artistic value of the visuals and the music is good, but not really anything to bring up. I mention this as Harmony of Dissonance seemed to revel in its visual brilliance, but from my experience, the gameplay that Aria of Sorrow provides is beyond anything tried in most action games. Which is what makes me like Aria of Sorrow more than almost any other Castlevania, the gameplay does such a magnificent job of keeping you enthralled that you’ll spend hours upon hours gathering every single soul, finding all the hidden rooms, and getting every item drop because fighting in and of itself feels absolutely perfect! You can genuinely tell how much effort was put into this game compared to the others, and that much effort only makes me want to reciprocate by playing more. Play, beat, complete!

Presentation: 8

Gameplay: 9

Replay: 10

LEGACY SCORE: 9

Geek Legacy’s review scores are on a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the highest possible score.

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