Friday, December 28, 2018

Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow for GBA (2003)

Original ad featured in the June 2003 issue of EGM (167).
Press to view or download image at higher resolution.

Vampire Hunter A+

A beautiful game with superb publicity material.

Aria of Sorrow stands alongside Castlevania: Circle of the Moon and Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance as a fantastic trio of classic 2-D games. Aria was the last of the three, but all of them are uniformly excellent. And really difficult.

All Metroid-Vania type games for Nintendo's Game Boy Advance had a second life when the company released its GBA Player for the GameCube. It was not perfect, but made playing these games a more satisfying experience. If fact, it made playing the original Circle of the Moon a completely different experience because the game was so dark and the screen of Nintendo's first release of the GBA so poor that you could barely see anything happening around you.

All of these game were of course compatible with the portable Nintendo DS, which also saw the release of fantastic 2-D Castlevania games in Dawn of Sorrow, Portrait of Ruin and Order of Eclessia. Serious gamers consider Nintendo's DS Lite and a cadre of the six games Castlevania games mentioned above the absolute pinnacle of gaming, since the series had a very tough tough time  porting to 3-D on the PS2 and PS3 around the same period as these portable masterpieces were being sold.

Aria received a much deserved Game of the Month award from EGM in June of 2003. Today, you can find a cool GBA double-pack with this game and the lesser (but still very solid) Harmony of Dissonance.

Leave it to Konami to produce the finest video game artwork in the business. The publicity you see above has at least six layers of depth and stands alongside Symphony of the Night as the most aesthetic Castlevania promo piece ever. You have the obligatory castle in the far background and four intriguing characters in the foreground. 

The most notable is of course the hero, clad in complete white with a vampire on his shoulder, as well as other bats just behind him (in Aria you have the ability to absorb your enemies characteristics, not unlike what Konami would do in Curse of Darkness for the PS2 a couple of years later). Screen shots are tiny, but definitely what you'd expect from the series. The font is just right for this kind of game, enhancing the illusion for the possible buyer.

Ad copy

In the malevolent dusk of a solar eclipse, Dracula's evil becomes imprisoned in shadow.

The prophecies of old foretell of its return, with the destined dawn of a future alignment.

Upon its release from the embrace of time, darkness stirs and shifts to resurrect the master.

Born into a soul of innocent blood, Dracula rages in wrath to consume the light.

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