You can reach the end fairly soon (5 hours or so). But to then see the proper ending, factor in a couple more. This unlocks boss rush mode and a new version of the game which features radically different gameplay (fans of earlier, pre-Symphony of Night, Castlevania will be in their element). And if you want to get 100% of the souls and call yourself a true player, you're looking another five hours or so.
Unlike many other games which have a similar short length but emphasise play beyond the first ending, Aria of Sorrow continues to be compelling and enjoyable right up until you get that 100%. It's not a chore; I've easily sunk 25+ hours into the game and the various modes, and all of them were a joy.
Strongly recommended; one of the GBA's gems.
...but the basics first. Combat is swift, with responsive controls for the agile protagonist. It's not too far behind Metroid Fusion, in fact. Jumping, hacking, and stabbing your way through the platforms of the castle is sleek and satisfying. Level design is tidy, much like Circle of the Moon, and secrets can be stumbled upon. So far, so familiar.
But it's the customisation and personalisation of the game that impresses. You can attack the enemies with a variety of weapons, with strengths, speeds, and ranges, many of which can be bought, many of which can be found by cunning players, lying around the castle.
The magic system also inspires a personal approach to the game- each foe carries a unique soul, which they will drop when they die (if you're lucky). These fit into three classes, and one of each may be equipped at any given time; either a sub-weapon, similar to those in the older Castlevanias, a time-based effect (such as a shield), or a latent change in your character (such as invulnerability to petrification).
Like the card system in Circle of the Moon, it gives a personal touch to how you approach combat. With 110 different souls to play around with, on top of the various weapons, it's quite hard to get bored, and it also adds a catch 'em all appeal that keeps you coming back for more up to, and beyond, the game's ultimate ending- which sadly comes a bit too soon.
Throw in graphics every bit as good as those in Harmony of Dissonance, music somewhere between the two previous Castlevanias, and a slew of bonuses for clearing the game, and you have an absolute must-buy.
Wholeheartedly reccomended, in spite of the shortness of the game.
The game revolves around Soma Cruz (What no Belmonts?) who ends up being transported into Dracula's castle during an eclipse with his friend Mina. Playing as Soma you must try to escape from the castle with Mina whilst meeting various other characters on the way. It is a platform game that uses a huge mapping system to link areas together so you can walk around the castle at will.
Konami have made many changes in the game to create a new and fresh gaming experience. For a start the main character doesn't use a whip as a default weapon. There are various swords, axes and maces that can be collected and each have their own strengths, weaknesses and special powers. Also the magic system has been upgraded. When monsters are killed you can collect their souls which allows you to use their attacks and skills during the game. With over 100 monsters this adds to the lastability of the game if you want to collect every soul. The graphics have been improved especially since the colours used are bright so it is easier to play in low light areas. The majority of monsters are also new creations that have not been seen before in a Castlevania adventure and they fit in with the style of the game perfectly. Especially some of the bosses which are just huge and very detailed. The music and sound effects are also of a high quality and help to enhance the atmoshpere of the game.
The only problems that I have with the game is that the structure of the game itself has not changed from the previous adventures. It is still essentially just a platform game and the castle layout and map system is still the same as the last three games.Read more ›