Do you never get enough of Castlevania? Well never fear the next installment has arrived. It begins as a new plot to resurrect the Lord of Darkness drags Soma Cruz back to fight the forces of darkness, both evil monsters and the darkness within. Dawn of Sorrow takes place one year after Aria of Sorrow. Many of the characters return along with a new cast of villains. Celia, a shadow priestess; Dario, who can manipulate fire; and Dmitrii, who can copy magical powers he sees.Dawn of Sorrows continues to stay true to its 2D roots. The graphics are clear, crisp and beautiful. Each of the areas has its own look and feel, the rooms range from a snowy town, to the mechanical clock tower, to the evil abyss. The enemies vary in size and look, and many return from previous Castlevania games such as the various armored knights and their deadly weapons. The bosses also range in size from small to huge and incorporate some 3D aspects. The soul powers, when used, have a wide variety of looks and they are not forgotten when it comes to graphics. It also includes the animated video shown at E3.
Castlevania’s history of great music continues in Dawn of Sorrows. Many of the classic songs return and fit each of the areas they are played in, not a single tune seems out of place. There are loads of different sound effects from metal clangs, giant bells ringing when they are jumped on, to explosions, and many more. Each sounds great and are not out of place. There are also voice effects, many are grunts and one liners in Japanese, but still add to the game.
The classic 2D game play returns, with a few minor 3D elements throughout the game. The castle of Dawn of Sorrows is huge, possibly the largest in the 2D one to date and certainly larger then the Gameboy Advance Castlevania games. The leveling system from the Gameboy Advance games returns, and the Soul system from Aria of Sorrows also returns with some upgrades. There are 4 types of souls you can use: Bullet, grants attacks; Guardian, grants magical abilities; Enchant, that enhances various stats; and Ability, which grants special abilities that don’t use MP and are always active. There is also a new weapons upgrade system which allows you to bind souls to your weapons to grant more powerful ones.
Dawn of Sorrows makes use of all the DS controls including the touch screen, in fact the entire game plays out on the touch screen, with the top screen reserved for map and status info. With the exception of the touch screen controls, the game plays much like the Gameboy Advance Castlevania games, which is a good thing. The touch screen is used for a multiple functions, interacting with menus, used for puzzles, controlling familiars, and the drawing of magic seals after beating a boss. These functions add to the game and make it better then if it was just a Gameboy Advance game.
Dawn of Sorrows does have some multiplayer options, such as the soul trade, which allows you to trade the souls you collect throughout the game with others. There is also a VS mode that sets players against an area made by each other with the Enemy set mode. As with the other DS games, these multiplayer modes are wireless.
Dawn of Sorrows has a great replay value. Besides finding all the secrets and collecting all the souls, there is the New Game+ mode which lets you start over with most of the items and souls you collected. The Hard mode also is unlocked when the game is first beaten. And of course what Castlevania game would be complete without a Belmont? The Julius Mode is also unlocked when the game is beaten and lets you play through the game as Julius Belmont.
From great graphics and sound to the classic 2D game play and the upgraded soul system, there is nothing about this game not to love. There is nothing negative to say about Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrows. There is plenty of extras and replay value, and a VS mode that didn’t have to be put in, but was added to enhance the game play experience. The story is great and written well and the effort the staff put in is apparent from the size of the castle to the variety of monsters and bosses. This is surely the best handheld Castlevania game to date and improves on Aria of Sorrow’s minor faults.
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