The GoodAria of Sorrow is as close to Symphony of the Night as the Gameboy Advance games have ever come. Before you get the impression that Aria of Sorrow isn't quite as good as Symphony, or that all it attempts to do is recreate it, let me stop you. Aria of Sorrow rocks. The music rocks. The graphics rock. The inventory system? Yeah, it rocks too. Aria of Sorrow gets points in my book for one of the most rocking side scrollers made to date. Much like its often compared to predecessor, Symphony of the Night, Aria of Sorrow gives players the ability to level up, manage an inventory system, and even absorb the souls of their enemies to give them special magical powers. All of these elements, on their own, are solid. As solid even as a level up system or inventory system in a pure RPG. There are no "gimmicks" in Aria of Sorrow, only great features. Running around Dracula's castle is as enjoyable as running around anything ever was. The castle has the typical CastleVania environments - dangerous gardens, mysterious caves, mechanical clocktowers, they're all represented here. For a game that's played on a such a small screen, KCE Tokyo has done a great job of creating mood. As far as the actual game goes, hitting monsters with weapons has never been so fun. Each monster in Aria of Sorrow has a unique behavior, one that you'll have to learn to adapt to. As you gradually gain skills, you'll gradually be taught by the game to use them. The difficulty is just right. Aria of Sorrow remains challenging without falling into the CastleVania trap of being entirely too hard (CastleVania 1 comes to mind) or entirely too easy (Symphony of the Night, anyone?). With each weapon you obtain, you gain a different range, damage, trajectory, and so forth. I actually found myself strategizing which weapons to use where. The game does a good job of pitting the environment against, and for the player. Fighting enemies on steps isn't the same as fighting them on level ground. As you play the game, you're intuition will guide you through the environments, subconsciously keeping the game entertaining to you.
The BadI played it on a smaller GBA screen. This game is detailed enough to look decent on a larger screen, and if a person were to have a GameCube/GBA TV Adaptor they would probably have a better time playing the game.
The Bottom LineI can honestly say that it owns. By far the best CastleVania title to hit the GBA, heck, it's one of the best CastleVania titles to hit any platform. And that, friends, is saying quite a lot.