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Electronic Gaming Monthly : Pocket : Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow
Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow (GBA)
Also On: n/a
Publisher: Konami
Developer: Konami TYO
Genre(s): n/a
ESRB Rating: n/a
Release Date: 5/5/2003 (USA)
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THE GOOD: Versatile soul-stealing system

THE BAD: Wish it were even longer

BEST BOSS: Robo-Dracula (just kidding)

Score:9.5 (out of 10)

Three wonderful Castlevania GBA games in as many do they do it? Deal with the devil? A legion of undead coders slaving away at night, perhaps? All I know is that Aria of Sorrow is the best GBA title to date—it perfectly blends the exploration-based gameplay of Castlevania: Symphony of the Night (PS1) with a refreshing story (set in 2035 and packed with cool twists) and a fiendishly addictive new Pokémon-like power-up system. Well, you don't gotta catch 'em all, but 110 of the game's foes drop unique ability-bestowing orbs, or "souls," you can equip (or trade with friends via link cable). Snatching these souls to customize your abilities makes this romp through Drac's abode feel distinctly different and more rewarding than the previous GBA 'Vanias, Circle of the Moon and Harmony of Dissonance.

Beyond this excellent soul system, Aria still outclasses its forerunners—the eerily beautiful graphics look great, the equipment you pick up is creative (you can wield everything from handguns to swords made of lightning), and the music's a big improvement over HOD's janky tunes. Also, expect a sizable challenge this time around, as the regular enemies pack quite a punch and some of the bosses are hellishly nasty.

Don't listen when John "the Hater" knocks Aria for its length—he's dead wrong. Getting the true ending took me just as long as achieving 200 percent in HOD, and there's plenty of incentive to replay. Trust me. Buy this game.

Score:9 (out of 10)

For all the fuss over this being the first Castlevania game set in the future, you'd think Aria of Sorrow would have a few more guns, gadgets, and giant robots to fool around with. Aside from finding a handgun fairly late in the game, I can't remember anything that really took advantage of the futuristic setting, which is disappointing. Still, Aria's gameplay is top-notch, and for the seven or so hours it lasts, you'll have a hard time putting down your GBA. My only gripe is that it ends too soon. There's plenty of stuff to keep you busy (two different ways to replay the game, a Boss Rush mode, over 100 enemy souls to collect, etc.), but the main quest this time around is a bit short.

Score:9.5 (out of 10)

Aria of Sorrow? More like Ode to Joy—I haven't been this glued to my GBA since Metroid Fusion. Another Castlevania in the same mold as the last two handheld adventures would have been welcome enough, but Konami really ups the ante in Aria with sharper graphics, great tunes, and the best animation I've ever seen on Nintendo's little system. Everything from the boss fights to the spacing between save and warp points is calibrated for a challenging (but never too difficult) experience. And the soul system? Brilliant. It adds meaning to combat and variety to gameplay, making this Castlevania that much more addictive. As far as length, though I'd always want more of a game this good, I agree with Shane: The quest, including soul collecting, is a fair size for a GBA adventure.

All Reviews from Ziff Davis Publications SCORE
Electronic Gaming Monthly
GBA Castlevania lightning strikes thrice

scale: 1 - 10
Game Now
Play this game or you'll get whipped

scale A - F
GMR Magazine
Take your coat off, stay awhile

scale: 1 - 10
DETAILED INFO for Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow
Release Date: 5/5/2003 (USA)

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