October is Castlevania Month!

October is Halloween month, with everything that that entails: searching for or making the perfect costume, enjoying scary TV shows and movies, eating candy and Halloween-inspired dishes, and, of course, playing Halloween-y video games like Resident Evil, Dark Souls, or Castlevania.

This month I am going to attempt a marathon of the Metroidvania-style Castlevania games: Symphony of the Night (SotN), Harmony of Dissonance (HoD), Circle of the Moon (CotM), Aria of Sorrow (AoS), Dawn of Sorrow (DoS), Portrait of Ruin (PoR), and Order of Ecclesia (OoE). Prior to this October, I had only beaten DoS, PoR, CotM, and OoE. I have played the others, but haven’t beaten them. As I beat them, I’ll update this post with my thoughts. All of these games are at least nine years old so I won’t be avoiding spoilers.

Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow

I started with AoS using a Game Boy Advance emulator called Visual Boy Advance with an Xbox 360 controller. I’ve played its sequel, DoS, on the Nintendo DS many times, but I never owned an AoS GBA cartridge so I haven’t beaten it even once. I beat it today (2018/10/5) with the help of Gameshark codes to speed things up. The codes I used were “max gold” and “all items” to purchase a ring to double the rate of soul drops and acquire 99 of each restorable so I didn’t have to be too careful in avoiding enemy attacks. I also used the “all accessories” code near the end to get the Chaos Ring (which gives you infinite magic points).

I’m very familiar with AoS’s sequel and I prefer the sequel’s gameplay much more; it’s definitely more refined the second time around. Still, it was very fun to play. Having played DoS I knew the gist of AoS’s story, but it’s better to actually experience it. The music and graphics are decent considering it’s a GBA game. I wasn’t terribly impressed with the variety of weapons; I used the Whip Sword for most of the beginning, then the Ascalon until I found the Claimh Solais. Later games definitely improve on the weapons.

But the point of AoS isn’t the weapons, it’s the souls. Soma Cruz, the protagonist, has the ability to absorb the souls of monsters and use their powers. My favorite souls to use were Flame Demon, Giant Bat, and Succubus because I felt like Dracula. I could turn into a bat and fly around while shooting fireballs! Now that’s something you can’t do in the sequel. And with the Chaos Ring equipped, I could stay in bat form and shoot fireballs for as long as I wanted.

Overall, a great game, but not my favorite. Though, who knows which Castlevania game will be my favorite in 2018? I’ll have to play them all to find out!

Written on October 5, 2018
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