Game: "Castlevania: Dawn Of Sorrow"
System: Nintendo DS
Published by: Konami
Review: Ah, the Castlevania series on the Game Boy Advance and Nintendo DS. These are a far cry of the NES Castlevania games of old, with features such as save points, equipment (including weapons) and experience points. This style was premiered with the game Symphony of the Night, on the Sony Playstation and Sega Saturn. Fortunately, these deviations from the original formula are good for the game, as they add fresh flavor, while retaining the classic Castlevania experience.
The controls on this game are smooth for the most part, although there is one important part thatís not always cooperative. This uncooperative part is the drawing of magic seals, which is performed using the touch screen. You have to draw one when you reduce every boss to zero health (the seals will become more complex later on), or else the boss will regenerate part of his health and start fighting again. On some of the later seals, at least on an original DS, the screen may fail to register one of the points on the seal, which can be frustrating, although you ought to be able to get it within a couple tries.
Every particular weapon type has its own arc, which you cannot direct, although you can duck to hit low enemies. This will render a lot of weapons, particularly the short melee weapons, slightly impotent against fast-moving or flying enemies, but choosing your weapons is part of the strategy. Alternate forms of attack include activating the weapon special of your weapon type, which costs magic points, and using souls.
Every monster you slay has a chance to release its soul, which you then suck in. If itís your first soul of a particular monster, you may now equip it. Souls are divided into 4 rough categories. There is the red, or bullet, soul which provides you with an attack. These take the place of sub-weapons in previous Castlevania games, although there are many more bullet souls than there were sub-weapons. The blue, or guardian, souls provide you with an activated passive effect that drains your magic, such as rotating fire. Yellow, or enchant, souls provide you with a passive bonus, such as increased strength. Grey souls, the rarest, provide you with such important things as the double jump, and are automatically equipped when acquired. In addition, for some types of souls, the more you get, the stronger it becomes.
As far as difficulty is concerned in this game, I wonít lie, itís not that hard. Thanks to your ability to level up, and how powerful some of the souls are, you ought to be able to complete this game just fine. Itís a little harder in you do the alternate character part, unlocked after beating the game (And I add that there is an alternate final boss in this route as well, as an added bonus). Also, if you truly want the entire story, you will need to play Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow on the Game Boy Advance, although that is not needed to enjoy this game.
Personally, if you like the Castlevania series, or have played other games similar to what I have described, I would certainly give this game, and its cousins, a look. Iím not going to say if itís the best or the worse of the GBA/DS Castlevanias, because thatís up to each person to decide for themselves.
(Scored on a 0.5 - 5 pickles rating: 0.5 being the worst and 5 being the best)
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