Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow – the last game in the GBA “Metroidvania” trilogy – inserts a metal pole in the spokes of the established Castlevania cannon, taking place three decades in the future and focusing on swords and blunt weaponry instead of the immortal Vampire Killer whip. Like 1994’s Castlevania: Bloodlines and several other key games in the franchise, Aria takes a decidedly different path than its whip crazy comrades and provides yet another excellent action-adventure romp though Dracula’s horrible home.
If you’ve been taking my advice, you’re already whipping your way through Circle of the Moon and Harmony of Dissonance. Good for you, but know that your greatest transportable triumphs await you in the final CV title for the GameBoy Advance.
As I mentioned before, the biggest shock to fans of previous Castlevania titles is that the main character does not wield the Vampire Killer whip. This time around – just like Symphony – the player can equip many different types of weaponry, ranging from small daggers and a mammoth sword that takes up half the screen to a thoroughly un-Castlevania pistol. Castlevania purists will be glad to hear that when one finishes Aria of Sorrow, he or she is given the chance to play through again as the whip-weilding Julius Belmont, or they can start the game over with all the weapons and items acquired in the previous file.
|My bones, your bones, OH CRAP bones!|
Aria of Sorrow’s plot borders on clever and is the best of the GBA trilogy. There are multiple endings to this game, similar to Harmony of Dissonance. The only problem is that they are obtained in seemingly random ways, just like Silent Hill 2. I suggest looking online for the methods.
The graphics are even better than Harmony, with super detailed backgrounds and big, scary monsters. However, your character remains small in comparison with everything else. Oh well; I guess you can’t have it all. Also, Konami has learned not to mess with a good thing, as evidenced by the familiar controls. The only change is that the R button does special attacks and the L button activates special abilities. And much to the distain of old-schoolers, the soundtrack has returned to the high quality music found in Circle of the Moon, though most of the tracks aren’t very memorable. In addition, the sound effects are a slightly better than the previous titles.
There’s doubt about it: Aria of Sorrow is the best of the GBA Castlevania trilogy and it stands up to the test of time. While we’re waiting for Lords of Shadow to blow our minds and the Nintendo 3DS to bite what’s left of our brains with a fantastic new Castlevania title, do yourself a favor and take a gander at the GBA Castlevania legacy. Remember: Whether you do it on an NES, GBA or a PS3, beating the heck out of Dracula simply never gets old.