Monday, October 24, 2005

Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow

Genre: Sidescroller / Action-RPG
Platform: Nintendo DS
2005 Konami. Screenshots and images courtesy of

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Cover Description:
Reach Out And Touch The Magic... A year has passed since Soma Cruz discovered the evil of Dracula hidden inside of his body. Now, a mysterious cult wants to release the power of the lord of darkness. As Soma, you must do everything in your power to stop them before it's too late.

Another must have DS title. >>> by Demoncaller777

Dawn of Sorrow is my first Castlevania experience, and let me say, if every Castlevania game is as good as this one, then I may just get heavily invested in this series. This is a game that is worthy of buying a DS for (if you're a Castlevania fan) and if you're a DS owner, it's a game you've probably been anxious for since before the DS was released.

Gameplay: DoS is very easy to pick up and play. The controls will take seconds to master, and new controls are added as you progress through the game and acquire new souls. Souls are gathered from defeated enemies (although some enemies’ souls are outrageously hard to get, like a 2% chance, no joke) and are used by various means, ranging from bullet types (press Up+Y) to being constantly on. DoS is done action-RPG style, meaning you level up and can choose your equipment. You can upgrade your weapons and some of your souls, making it possible to have a different play style for every gamer. You'll find yourself spending hours upgrading weapons and leveling up, yet you'll never feel bored. However, soul-gathering, as stated before, can be one of the most tedious things ever experienced. A 2% chance of getting a soul that you need for upgrading a weapon is a little mean. They should have given a +10% chance for every soul, but I digress. The touch feature is used only for really two things: drawing seals, and removing ice blocks (once you get Balore's Soul). Seals are a very cool effect, and if you can't master them you'll never win, because the boss you're facing will constantly regain life until you can seal off the dark power being fed to them. It's a very cool and well thought out idea. The game's very generous about seal drawing, also. You can rush a seal and as long as you hit the points right; you don't have to draw straight lines or anything like that, so you don't have to be a master artist or anything like that.

Story and Plot: Being as I never played Aria of Sorrow (the prequel to this title) and was not fully aware of all the story elements, I never felt truly left out of the story. You won't need to play Aria to enjoy this one, although I'm sure it must be an added pleasure to have some past knowledge. The story is pretty linear, excluding a few twists and turns along the way, and basically consists of Soma trying to stop this organization whose goal is to revive an absolute evil so that God can be an absolute good...which doesn't make too much sense, but hey, this game is a little too much fun for me to worry about details like that.

Visuals: This game is a 2D platformer, but there are a few 3D effects scattered about (mostly in backgrounds). The effects for each soul are cool and colorful, but a few areas in the castle are pretty dark. This shouldn't really be a problem, seeing as your DS is backlit. There is a bunch of cool effects in DoS, like your image trailing behind you while you run.

Characters: This game has some interesting and well fleshed out characters. The main character Soma Cruz is just a teenager, and is very mature in his actions, but still can lose it if ticked off enough. A few other characters have some cool stories, but they're not all particularly interesting.

Sounds: The music is catchy, there are a few scenes with sound bites of voice acting, and everything else just feels right. There are unique sounds for most of the 100+ enemies you'll face throughout the game, and a unique song for all of the 7 or so areas all inside one castle. If I could find the soundtrack somewhere, I'd probably buy it.

Replay Value: Replay value is very high for this title. At the beginning, you are only given Story Mode and Versus Mode (yup, versus mode). Once you beat the game (which has 3 possible endings) you are given Hard Mode, New Game Plus (which can be started in hard mode), Julius Mode and Boss Rush. Boss Rush is very addicting if you can't seem to get it under 5 minutes for that Rocket Propelled Grenade. Julius mode is basically what would happen if you got the bad ending and Julius Belmonte (With the help of Yoko and Alucard) had to go in and take some names. Hard mode is seriously hard, and will take you down a notch if you go in with the wrong attitude. With so many reasons to play this game, really, if you have a DS, you have no excuse not to play it.

DIFFICULTY: Moderate - Difficult
RATINGS: Gameplay 8; Battle N/A; Story 8; Visuals 7; Characters 6; Sounds 8; Replay Value 8

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