<img src=“http://www.rpgclassics.com/staff/tenchimaru/td.gif”> Well, I finally finished all modes of Aria of Sorrow, so here is the little review I always do about a game I just finished no matter how overdone it is. Whee.
So yeah, graphics. I have to say, Konami did an excellent job on the graphics of Aria of Sorrow. Sharp, rather detailed, not as dark as COTM and not as god-awfully ugly and light as HOM. The weapons are also very detailed, each weapon has a unique animation/sprite (although some look a lot alike), and they’re just neat. I mean, it’s just cool to use a laser cannon and see it materialise and everything.
Muzak. I have to say, the music isn’t really good. The only tracks I really like are Hammer’s Theme, Heart of Fire, Premonition, Purification and You’re not Alone. But there’s a secret sound test mode to unlock, so that makes it all good.
The story is a nice twist on the standard issue “dracula is ressurected <em>again</em>, go kill him” thing. It’s still not breath-takingly awesome, but it’s a nice twist.
Now, the gameplay. This is one of he Castlevania games with RPG elements, namely exp, items, equipment etc. Of course, there’s plenty of action in there as well. The only thing that I dislike is that it’s very easy/tempting to level up, which pretty much ruins the game. I restarted after playing for 9 hours getting souls, and I got back to my old location in about 1.5 hours o_O
It sports a rather cool magic system, namely, the soul system. Basically, every enemy you encounter has a unique soul, which have various effects. Increased strength, summoning an oversized axe, turn you into something big and ugly… You can equip 3 souls at a time, one of each type (attack souls, support souls and summon souls). Then there’s a special class of soul, which you can turn off and on at will (once you get them). These are the ability souls, and give you the ability to double-jump, perform flying kicks, slide on your butt, etc. All in all, a pretty cool system. If it wasn’t for the fact that a lot of souls suck and are useless. From the 110 souls, you’ll probably end up only really using 10 or so souls, not counting the ones you need to unlock a new area or something. Also, the drop rate for souls is pretty low, so you’ll end up gaining too much levels when soulhunting. There’s a piece of equipment that increases the drop rating of souls, but it’s friggin’ expensive.
Which leads me to the next point. Drop rates of pretty much anything are WAY too low. A lot of enemies drop pretty good equipment, but the drop rates are so low that you’ll just zoom past them and not care about the equipment. Which is a shame, since it pretty much makes over half of all equipment useless.
There is, of course, a Hard Mode and a New Game + mode when you finish the game. And the obligatory other character, known as J (well, that’s all I’ll tell you at least :P). Neither modes add much new stuff to the game. Playing as J is fun, since he doesn’t have souls, exp, and uses a whip, but there is a complete absence of any plot at all. That’s a real shame, since it would have been easy to put in a few small cutscenes, but they didn’t even change the intro or ending. It’s also very small, beat it on Normal and Hard in a total of 3 hours. A missed opportunity, in my opinion. There’s also a Boss Rush mode, which unlocks a few cool special weapons. A nice addition.
So yeah. All in all, it’s a pretty short game, but fun. I have to say that SoTN beats it, but AoS isn’t very far behind. A tip for everyone looking for a nice action filled RPG for the GBA.