GBAtemp Recommends #93: Castlevania - Aria of Sorrow

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  1. Hadrian
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    Hadrian Better than Craigslist

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    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.
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    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.​
     
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  2. gamewizard

    gamewizard GBAtemp Regular

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    Huh might have to try it on my psp here soon. Lol a quick google search showed up a rom from GBAtemp's former days as a rom site.
     
  3. Hadrian
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    Hadrian Better than Craigslist

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    What do you mean "former"? We still have them, there is a link on the front page but you need to BELIEVE in it first to see it. :yay:

    BTW, the history page is now complete so you can see all 93 games that have featured (and there are 93, some are doubled) as well as the original GBAtemp Recommends back when we only did GBA games all with links to those pages.

    http://wiki.gbatemp.net/wiki/GBAtemp_Recommends#GBAtemp_Recommends_Revival
     
  4. Ryukouki

    Ryukouki See you later, guys.

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    Oh lord. This game... I've 100%'d it in six hours. :D Definitely a fan favorite, and probably one of my favorite GBA games. :)
     
  5. mudassirul

    mudassirul GBAtemp Fan

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    One of my favourites, hope they make a third one
     
  6. GreatCrippler

    GreatCrippler Greatness Fallen

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    Love this game. You said first one not about a Belmont? Wasn't "Circle of the Moon" About some guy named Nathan unrelated to the Belmonts who was trained by a guy who was something like a distant cousin? (Some details may be foggy from the top of my head, and laziness regarding Google.)
     
  7. Hadrian
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    Hadrian Better than Craigslist

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    The game features Morris and Hugh Baldwin who are decedents of the Belmont family.
     
  8. calmwaters

    calmwaters Cat's best friend

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    Never got around to a Castlevania game... I just hope the dungeons aren't like the ones in Zelda... ugh.
     
  9. Videomanman87

    Videomanman87 GBAtemp Regular

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    Never got around to this one. Will have to pick up a copy. Thanks for the review/video. :)
     
  10. Clydefrosch

    Clydefrosch GBAtemp Psycho!

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    what do you mean by that?
    the dungeons arent really comparable, considering they're completely different games
     
  11. tbgtbg

    tbgtbg Shaking the ring ropes up in the sky

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    Definitely one of my favorite Castlevanias, right up there with its direct sequel on the DS and SOTN.

    I actually own two copies, since I already had it on its own, then had to buy it again when reissued as part of the Castlevania Double Pack since I'd missed HoD and it was hard to find a legit copy of that on its own for a reasonable price. I'm not complaining though.

    Interestingly this is one of those games that can interact with a DS game if both are inserted into a DS/DSL. Only works with the solo copy, not Double Pack, but if you have AoS in when starting a game of DoS, you get a rare ring and there's a Mina doll in the shop.
     
  12. calmwaters

    calmwaters Cat's best friend

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    I don't like the dungeons in Zelda games; can't say I would be too fond of a different game if it had a similar layout.
     
  13. tbgtbg

    tbgtbg Shaking the ring ropes up in the sky

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    There is nothing even remotely similar to Zelda dungeons in these Castlevanias. Well, maybe some very vague similarity to Zelda 2, but only in a superficial way, and Zelda 2 itself is nothing at all like other Zeldas.
     
  14. Wanderman_Trigge

    Wanderman_Trigge Member

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    OMG, THISSSS...THIS IS AWSOME!!! i love this game and the sequel +c.o.t.m. +s.o.t.n. last of the GOOD (in my oppinion) 2D castlevania games and every now -n- then I'll go back and play this. COME ON NINY BRING IT BACK TO OLDSCHOOL plz... pretty please... with a skeleton on top? :sad:
     
  15. Hielkenator

    Hielkenator GBAtemp Psycho!

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    There are 3 on the GBA.....

    Also the DS games ( Not the 3ds games ) are awesome.
    Top notch action adventures in the spirit of Metroid and Simons Quest...
    Seems the op went Straight from GBA to 3ds...
     
  16. Ericthegreat

    Ericthegreat Not New Member

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    I think he means another sequel (part 3 to this game).

    They need to start pumping out more of these for 3ds.... I loved ecclesia, played most of these games (still never beat circle of the moons final boss....) then there hasnt been another of this style.
     
  17. Hielkenator

    Hielkenator GBAtemp Psycho!

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    Ah, I see.
    I've been a fan of CV from the nes days.
    Really liked the potential of Simon's Quest back then.

    Was blown away by the GBA and DS games.
    Allthough they can become somewhat repetitve.
    And you have to love the metroidvania style.

    It's nothing compared to the hardcaore platforming itteratons, in term of difficulty.
     
  18. Gore

    Gore GBAtemp Advanced Maniac

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    Yeah this game is tops. I might go back and play it again now.. it may be the most enjoyable game I played on GBA
     
  19. GHANMI

    GHANMI GBAtemp Advanced Fan

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    If anyone is a fan of this game, you can try those other GBA games by Konami, using the same engine:
    Shaman King Master of Spirits
    Shaman King Master of Spirits 2
    Gegege no Kitaro

    Also from Konami, Hunter x Hunter Kindan no Hihou (Forbidden Treasure) on the Gameboy Color, a reskin of GBC Castlevania (has lots of Japanese though, no kanji fortunately).

    I always wanted to hack Aria of Sorrow but I didn't find either the fonts or the text (found the Game Over screen though). Any tips?
    The DS one is easier to hack, but it's my least favorite one.
     
  20. Hadrian
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    Hadrian Better than Craigslist

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    Order of Ecclesia was considered instead but I recently played this a few months back so everything was fresh.

    Would be nice if Konami did more 2D ones, I would love something more in the style of Super Castlevania IV, the chain mechanics were never used again but a third Soma game would be nice.
     
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