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#538 Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow - Konami

Release Date: 2003

Original Platform: GBA

Played On: VisualBoyAdvance

Objective: Soma Cruz, with his dominion over the souls of demons, must prevent Graham Jones from becoming the reincarnation of Dracula.

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How it Works: Like the other Castlevania games since Symphony of the Night, Aria of Sorrow is an action-RPG that follows the open world format of Metroid. Soma's basic actions are normal attack, special attack, and jumping.

By defeating enemies you gain experience point, which go towards levels (and stat upgrades). Enemies also have a chance of dropping items and "souls." Each soul fits into a category (Bullet = special attack; Guardian = magic abilities; Enchant = status boosts; Ability = passive abilities) and the power of the soul is increased by collecting repeat copies of the same soul. Additionally, different weapons, armor, and accessories can be equipped to boost stats.

Thoughts: I'm assuming that this game was included in the book because it's the best of the GBA Castlevania games. I have to agree with that, as this game shies away from the punishing difficulty of Circle of the Moon and Harmony of Dissonance (although they're fun games too). The soul collecting system is the highlight of the game as it adds an amazing amount of variation in gameplay. It runs pretty smoothly on an emulator so I recommend trying this one out.

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