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Let's 100% Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow! Final Thoughts

Posted December 13th, 2018 at 11:50 PM by Rainbow Chara X
Updated January 24th, 2019 at 3:12 PM by Rainbow Chara X

I should experiment with more game types in the future.

Future Dan Says: And experiment he did.

Final Thoughts

(Rating scale: Excellent (84 – 100)
Average(50 -69)
Bad – also counts as B-Movie So Bad It’s Good in case I happen to enjoy it (35 – 49)
Awful (34 to 0))

Full Title: Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow

Originally published: May 6th, 2003, published by Konami for the Gameboy Advance (also released in a double pack that includes Harmony of Dissonance)

Type: Sidescrolling action RPG

Length: If you're going for just the story, about 7 hours. If you're going 100% completion, it'll take you at least 10 hours if the RNG loves you and drops a soul every so often.

Difficulty: It's fair. I consider this the most balanced of the Gameboy Advance Castlevanias.

Developers/Artists/Etc.: Koji Igarashi (Designer), Michiru Yamane (Composer), Ayami Kojima (Concept Artist), etc.

Overall Plot:
  • It's the year 2035. A foreign exchange student living in Japan goes to see the eclipse with his girlfriend, only to get trapped in the shadow of Dracula's castle. He has to save himself and his girlfriend, but discovers that he can absorb the souls of monsters. As he makes it to the castle's throne, he learns of a dark secret surrounding his powers...
Pros & Cons

· The twists and turns it does with the Castlevania formula make this a very interesting story. (Taking place in the future, Dracula being reincarnated into a good guy, etc.)

· The graphics are amazing for a handheld, and the concept art is absolutely gorgeous.

· Soma, while a cheeseball, was a good main character. He takes risks and his often funny dialogue lightens up the otherwise dark and foreboding atmosphere of the castle.

· Speaking of characters... while nobody in the cast was particularly developed, everybody was likable. Julius and Alucard are badasses, Graham is exceptionally hammy, and Yoko is nice. Mina is the best love interest character I've seen in a while, given how she and Soma actually act like friends and not just boyfriend and girlfriend.

· The music was good. There's not really a song in here I could call bad. Heart of Fire, Dracula's Fate and Dance Hall are my favorites.

· The difficulty was reasonably balanced. The only things I could call hard are Graham (in Boss Rush Mode) and Death, the former of which isn't even in the main game...

· The endings are very effective. The bad ending where you lose to Chaos and become Dracula is... very somber. I'm kind of a sucker for endings like those. The best ending where you destroy the castle and redeem Dracula's soul is on the other side of the spectrum - it ties up everything so nicely that it makes everything we do feel like it actually meant something.

· I enjoy shorter games over longer ones as long as they're higher quality, and Aria of Sorrow counts.

· The Soul System is amazing, to say the least. The fact that every monster has a unique ability for you to gain is very interesting, even if it was sort of rough on its first go with some lackluster souls. In Dawn of Sorrow, they improve on it by a large margin, but it's still perfectly fine here. Black Panther and Hippogryph are the best because of how much freedom they add to your mobility, much like the Space Jump and Speed Booster in Metroid.

· The monsters themselves are pretty well designed. Headhunter, Death and Balore are my favorites when it comes to the bosses, and Persephone, Valkyrie and Chronomage for regular enemies.

· The Chaos Ring is a neat little reward for 100%. I'd argue that it actually makes sense for what we were collecting, seeing as it allows us to use our new treasure trove of souls for free.

· I love it whenever games do Boss Rush Modes or Sound Tests. It gives me something to go back to on occasion.

· I like the little snippets of humor the game throws out from time to time, even if some of it is unintentional. It adds a certain charm to the experience."An always angry minion of hell. Not enough calcium in his diet" is probably the best example of this.

· By the end, with stuff like the Claimh Solais, all of the most broken souls like Valkyrie and Red Minotaur, Dracula's Tunic, the Chaos Ring... It really adds to the feeling of being invincible.

· I don't like how you have to grind for Flame Demon and Succubus's souls to get the best ending. I can tolerate the random drop thing when it's just to get a cool bullet/guardian soul, but when it's for plot? Doesn't work for me.

· Death is harder than he deserves to be. It's mostly due to how large the hitbox for his damn scythe was, as he was the only boss I had gotten a game over on (well, not on purpose).

· Despite how well-designed the final Chaos fight is, it hurts my eyes due to how... well, chaotic it is. They did a good job at creating something beyond human comprehension - if anything, too good.

· The game loves to recycle old enemies and bosses. I'm looking at you, Giant Skeleton.

· Grinding to gets souls can seriously get on my bad side sometimes due to how luck decides everything. For one, getting more levels than necessary is an issue because I don't want to accidentally overdo it. Secondly, killing the same enemy over and over gets boring. Even worse is if it's against a tough/annoying enemy like Final Guard, Sky Fish, Flesh Golem, etc.

Final Thoughts (90/100):

Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow is one of the best games for the Gameboy Advance, without a doubt. The platforming elements and difficulty are solid, the soul system adds a lot to the gameplay, and the story's pretty good for what it is.

However, it is kind of short and it has some things that keep it from being perfect. For example, stuff like the best ending and 100% soul completion are kind of tedious to do considering how much of it relies on soul drops being generous. The palette swaps of monsters are lazy, and not every soul is a winner.

Despite all of this, the game is a very pleasant experience - I occasionally pop it into my DS to listen to songs and do Julius mode.

Speaking of DS, I really should get to doing Dawn of Sorrow. It may not be entirely solid when compared to this game, but it has some elements that I feel it does even better than Aria. Anyway, that's all I have, guys. See you for the next game.
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