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Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow

Video Game Reviews

Ratings are based on a five-point scale, in homage to the the late, great Next Generation Magazine.

Gameboy Advance

Rating: * * *
Castlevania - Aria of Sorrow - video game reviews
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February 28, 2005

I've been seriously tempted in recent days to merely copy and paste my write-up of Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance as a form of protest. After all, there are nearly half a dozen titles on the Gameboy Advance - three Castlevanias and two Metroids - that, for all intents and purposes, are the exact same game. They're all throwbacks to Super Metroid.

Maybe I shouldn't be griping, because these are all quality games, and the latest, titled Aria of Sorrow (what is it with all the corny names in this franchise?), is among the finest games to appear on the Nintendo portable. From a purely technical standpoint, it's a splendor, visually lush and luminous, with endless armies of zombies, monsters, and mythical mutants to dispatch. Everything looks great, sounds great, moves great, but shouldn't that be a given when you're dealing with leftovers?

Of the three Castlevanias on the Advance, I'd say this one was the best, although Harmony has something going for it in the nostalgia department. This year's model of Dracula's castle is the most tightly constructed, with a great variety of themes and envirnments. Again, when all you have to eat after the Holidays is turkey, you tend to become pretty skilled at gormet.

Doesn't it seem like all the clever ideas for videogames have come and gone? The entire industry has been reduced to recycling three or four titles over and over and over. I'm old enough to know that imitation and repetition have always been a part of games (try to imagine how many space shoot-em-ups and maze games followed on the heels of Space Invaders and Pac-Man), but it's never been as bad as it is now. As videogames have become bigger and more profitable, they've become more stale and lifeless.

It's gotta be the television. Practically everything associated with TV has all the life sucked out of it.

But I'm getting off on a tangent here. Aria of Sorrow is a very good game, and for the purpose of this little essay, that's what matters most. If you have a Gameboy, chances are you already bought a copy and spend a weekend playing it to death. Then, if you're anything like me, you lost interest as soon as you finished walking through the whole game.

Remember when Castlevania games were hard? Those early games on the NES were brutal; they'd beat teenagers like a gong and send them crying home to their mommies. But now it's all a cakewalk. For thirty clams, you should expect a longer shelf life than five or ten hours. Hell, I paid four bucks for a paperback copy of 1984, and I've been burrowing myself in it for the past eight years. Value, children. Value.

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