VC Weekly 336

Welcome to VC Weekly, N-Europe’s guide to the wonderful world of Nintendo’s download service. Written by Sam C Gittins

This is another example of how a series which originated on home consoles can truly flourish on a hand-held and even come full-circle. Anyway enough from me and on with the game!
Available for download this week we have...     

Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow

Price: GB £6.29, EU €6.99
Publisher: Konami
Developer: Konami
Released: 2003
System: GBA
One of the finest portable Castlevania games to date, a title which I used to own back in the day yet have only recently bought again due to its steady price increase over the years, now the trio of GBA titles is complete on the Wii U Virtual Console following the release of Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow which clearly shows that Konami have held back the greatest game until now; indeed it seems this is one of the few things the company has done right recently following recent revelations. Back to twelve years ago, or rather the year 2035 in game, you play as a brand new non-Belmont protagonist named Soma Cruz who is a teenage exchange student who happens to be studying in Japan during this now not too distant year; during a solar eclipse Soma along with his friend Mina visit a shrine where a peculiar event takes place as the pair are transported to a strange castle which as you might have guessed is the original residence of Dracula, so you journey deep into the castle as its dark past is revealed as is the age old prophecy and much more along the way.

To talk much more about the plot would be to ruin some of its complexity but rest assured that it is nothing short of brilliant, taking the story-telling of the series to another plain entirely in ways which you might not expect, it's certainly a tale which long-term fans of the series will appreciate. Thankfully the gameplay is familiar with several refinements making it a more enjoyable experience, the controls feel precise to a point where it almost feels completely fair, there are a few frustrating parts but they're barely worthy of note in comparison to other Castlevania titles of old; Soma has a variety of different weapons too being that he has no whip instead you get to use an Axe, Hammer, Sword plus other obtainable weapons all with different effects on the gameplay which might take a little bit of getting used to but it makes for a more refreshing experience when it comes to combat.


You can gain new abilities plus other enhancements from the Tactical Soul system, where Soma will absorb enemy souls which then become skills you can equip which include a multitude of magic spells, sub-weapons and much more besides which can be fun to experiment with adding plenty of variety to things. Every time you use one of these ebilities you'll consume magic points so they are used sparingly while you can get some special abilities tied to Enchant Souls allowing you to explore extra hidden areas, these don't consume your precious magic points probably as they seem to be necessary if you want to find everything in the game.

Reaching new levels of visual excellence Aria of Sorrow doesn't need to rely on artifical effects to make up for the original limitations of the GBA hardware, it's a good thing too as now via the modern technology of today all of the glorious detail shines through be it on the back-lit brilliance of the gamepad or on a HDTV of substantial size; this is Castlevania preserved for the new generation in addition to being a treat for those who have been longing to replay it. Even the audio seems to have had a significant bump in quality from the previous titles, with an excellent soundtrack fitting in very well at all times in addition to some rather glorious sound effects.


Perfect for fans of the Castlevania series or even newcomers trying it out for perhaps the first time, Aria of Sorrow is a perfect introduction to the much loved franchise as it contains all the hallmarks of a shining example within the platforming genre whilst retaining all of those important elements which helps it remain true to its bloodline such as RPG lite elements and a bestiary to fill. A solid adventure for its entirety which promises to provide the player with a satisfying experience, plus the addition of Miiverse integration should mean that the memory of the series is kept alive until the next time Dracula is revived, for when that time will come again is uncertain.

Verdict : A classic Castlevania which makes for a modern-day masterpiece.  
That's it for another installment of VC Weekly which will return again soon. So until then, enjoy the rest of the week and Game On!

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