Welcome to the 93rd issue of the GBAtemp Recommends Revival Project! This is a weekly feature where we talk about some of our past favourites. Some may be famous, others have been ignored when released against larger titles but all are a worth your time. Me thinks this one will have more comments than the others. Ah, Nintendo handhelds, keeping to 2D Castlevania series alive...well until Konami borked their great run with the 3DS game. Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow was the third and last game in the series to be released on the GBA and the first where the main story isn't about a member of the Belmont family. 1999, Dracula and the Belmont family get involved in this big ass battle and Dracula is defeated and locked away in a solar eclispe. Fast forward to the year 2035, Dracula's powers are now passed on to his reincarnation...a teenager named Soma Cruz...the guy you're playing. Soma is a transfer student who is in Japan, living near the Hakuba shrine. He visits the shrine with his longtime friend Mina during the solar eclipse (can we sense a "uh oh"?). While there, they are drawn to a mysterious castle, Dracula's castle and from then on he learns of his powers and what he must do to use Dracula's magical occult powers to defeat mean baddies who wish to take over Dracula's powers. Released only a mere eight months after the release of Harmony of Dissonance, AoS was actually developed at the same time. However, AoS is improved upon in every aspect...which is quite an achievement as that game was pretty damn fantastic. The sound especially is lightyears ahead of HoD, mainly due to critism when that game was released. The music is among the best in the series, there are ome forgettable tunes but when it goods...oh man it's good. The sound effects are also fantastic, clearer and suit the gothic them extremely well. Graphically, it's one of the best looking games on the GBA and a little better than HoD. There's so much going on, enemies sprite look fantastic, are nicely designed and varied and there are some really neat effects, especially with the larger sprites. Backgrounds are lovely and well detailed and not only that, also quite varied as you travel through the castle's courtyards, dungeons and gardens. However it's the gameplay that really put this forward. Sticking with the Metroidvania style template, this game is nearly up there with the likes of Symphony of the Night. As with those, there will be areas that you cannot get to such as ones that require you to jump higher, so you would need to go somewhere else, find something to so you can double jump and then come back...you know the drill with this. As with HoD you can find new armour, potions, accessories etc as well as buy them from this guy who pops up every now and again. Using this guy does make the game a little easier as you get so much cash during the game you can just stock up on what you need. There is now a system called "Tactal Soul". This allows you to collect the souls of enemies and use their powers...kinda like in Kirby. This element is handled extremely well and actually spurs you on to collect all the ones out there. There are four different soul types. Bullet offer replacement for Soma's sub weapons and also give you more magic points to use for other abilities. Guardian allows you to transform in other creatures and summoner familars to help you out...however these use magic points so you have to using them sparingly. Enchant gives Soma physical abilities such as being able to do double jumps or walk on water. Finally there is Ability, these simply just allow you to access areas you'd normally not be allowed to go in. The abilities however, can't all be used at the same time so you would need to use some tactics to decide when to use what and this keeps the gameplay fresh throughout. Know a friend with the game and a link cable? Well, you can trade souls together! Not something that is expected or needed but a nice addition. There are some downsides. The bosses. These are on a whole very easy to defeat, you just follow a simple pattern and you're done. However some of the later enemies are pretty mean and can get quite agressive, I've lost more lives to these than the bosses! Also there is a matter of the game length. Someone experienced in the series can probably finish this within six hours, maybe a little less and that will get you the the normal ending, which is a bit "meh" but it does allow you to play as a new character. However most people will want to 100% this so that'll add another couple of hours on top, so don't be afraid to spend time finding everything as that'll pan the game out. The story is ok, but then I'm not too keen on Japanese story telling, it did it's job and didn't get in the way. All and all this was a fantastic last entry on the GBA and one of the best in the series. The "Tactal Soul" gameplay element really pushes things forward and I'd love to see another adventure with Soma and Mina one day. Fans of Castlevania or the "Metroidvania" genre will find this an essential game to have played. If you want to submit a game, please let me know first and we'll discuss it. For a look at all the games we have covered, please visit our Wiki page for a complete list with links which is currently being updated right now.