Castlevania Advance Collection reminds us why Aria of Sorrow is great

I adore Castlevania: Symphony of the Night time. It outlined the Metroidvania genre, and no other Castlevania game has ever topped its huge scope. And nevertheless, when men and women request me for my preferred sport in the series, I don’t position to a symphony — I issue to an aria.

Each and every of the three Video game Boy Progress Castlevania games were inspired by the exploration-very first gameplay of Symphony of the Night time, to varying degrees of achievement. Of those people first two games, 2001’s Circle of the Moon handily bests 2002’s Harmony of Dissonance, but neither could maintain a whippable candle to the PlayStation inspiration that came just before. They are pleasurable, even nowadays, but they are not game titles I generally relish returning to. In hindsight, it turns out they were being preambles to the major clearly show.

Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow, introduced in 2003, has observed a rebirth just this week as portion of the Castlevania Advance Assortment (which includes all a few GBA online games, along with Dracula X, which we’ll just dismiss for the sake of sanity, and due to the fact it’s not incredibly excellent).

Aria of Sorrow is noteworthy for a selection of factors, not the very least of which is that it’s the to start with Castlevania video game to be established in the upcoming. In the year 2035, a teen in a sick white duster finds himself with supernatural powers. Does the game being in the potential transform a lot of anything? Not seriously. Dracula does not employ robots or get worried about his follower count, but the setting does enable for an occasional moment of futuristic hilarity to seep into an usually previous-timey setting (read through: laser gun).

As a attainable reincarnation of Dracula, protagonist Soma Cruz can suck up the powers of the many enemies he fights. For instance, killing a bone-throwing skeleton might grant him the electricity to throw bones himself. This so-referred to as tactical soul system is a important ingredient, as every of the game’s dozens of enemies carries some recreation-altering electricity to give Soma an edge. It is listed here that Aria of Sorrow actually begins to set itself apart from the pack, introducing a aspect that I sorely miss out on when I go back and enjoy Symphony of the Evening.

Symphony of the Night time depends on a modest grouping of valuable weapon sorts and capabilities. Alucard can shell out 90% of that experience kitted with varying longswords and a throwing ax, and be properly great. Meanwhile, the tactical soul technique in Aria of Sorrow encourages constant adjustments and experimentation. You may stumble upon a new enemy and speculate what their soul could quite possibly offer. Some may possibly be uncomplicated stat boosts, even though other people offer new mobility enhancements. Confident, you could hit stuff with your sword … or you could shoot goddamn lights out of your fingers. It is completely up to you. It presents significantly a lot more player option than Castlevania at any time experienced prior to.

Zombie soldier giving you the hand grenade power in Aria of sorrow

Of course, this zombie presents you the power to throw hand grenades.
Picture: Konami via Polygon

Hell, even if you just desired to stick to weapons, Aria’s arsenal is far extra diverse than Symphony of the Night’s, from axes to hammers to spears and true guns. You can actually shoot Loss of life in the deal with with a laser gun in this match.

Another edge that Aria of Sorrow features about the other two GBA installments: It can essentially stand toe to toe with the visuals of Symphony of the Night. Though it might not have the same amount of element as the PlayStation sport (the GBA was constrained to 240×160 pixels, in contrast to the PlayStation’s 256×240, and lacked some of the extravagant 3D consequences), Aria squeezes every little bit out of people pixels. Just as an example, I could look at Soma Cruz’s walking animation all day extended and 2 times on Sunday. That coat swoop, that Saturday Evening Fever swagger — what much more could you want?

I could create for ages about the areas in which Aria of Sorrow possibly competes with or bests the efforts of Symphony of the Night. But I won’t preserve you. If you’ve hardly ever played this sport and you depend yourself a enthusiast of Metroidvanias, it is definitely well worth considering grabbing the Castlevania Advance Assortment, just for this activity by itself. (And hey, the other games in there are also pretty excellent … due to the fact I’m still ignoring Dracula X.)

The selection includes some nifty features like sketches from the growth group and the unique box art from numerous areas. You can even play these games with rapid will save and rewinds if you’re as well intimidated to locate yourself a conserve home. But typically, it’s just an justification for me to enjoy Aria of Sorrow on a giant Tv, and bask in the glow of that strut once again.