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[NDS] Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow

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If you got a Nintendo DS and love Castlevania...GET THIS GAME RIGHT NOW! Basically you're getting 2 games for the price of one, I'll explain in a bit.


The main game takes place one year after Aria of Sorrow. Soma finds out that a cult is trying to create a new Lord of Darkness since Soma failed to become him. The game makes a little use of the touch screen, reserving it for all the action. You eventually get a couple souls that allow you to use the touch screen for various things, but the majority of it's use will be drawing seals to destory bosses. If you fail to seal the boss, they regain some energy and the fight resumes, albeit a little harder since now you're frustruated. The seals get more and more complex, starting with a simple 2-stroke "V" to a 10-stroke thing similar to a hexogram. Most of the stuff you need to progress is gotten from the bossses and there are quite a few of them.


All in all if you're familiar with Symphony of the Night, Dawn of Sorrow is right up your alley. Soma eventually gets all the powers of Dracula by donimating souls and plays much like Alucard did. The one difference Soma can use a wider variety of weapons and the best ones are made by having Yoko fuse souls to existing ones.


There are 3 endings. A Worst, a Bad, and the Good one. Both of the Worst and Bad ones involve Soma becoming the Dark Lord. (I'm working on the good one, but Death's a bitch.) The "Bad End" grants you a special mode...but after saving you can start again from that point and go for thr "Good End".


From "Bad End" you immediately unlock JULIUS MODE! This is OLD SCHOOL Castlevania! This really isn't a MODE but an entire game within Dawn of Sorrow. This involves Julius Belmont going into the castle to defeat Soma who has become the Lord of Darkness (the lead in being Soma's "Bad End"). Along the way you team up with Alucard (who is Genya Arikado's real identity) and Yoko Belnades (Decendant of Sypha)...see where this is going? :) Sadly there's no replacement for Grant otherwise this would be a perfect recreation of Castlevania 3: Dracula's Curse. (Which supposedly came out 15 years before Dawn of Sorrow) Hell even the town music is replaced by "The Beginning", the music from Block 1 of Castlevania 3!


Basically you follow the same path as in the Soma adventure but now with a Belmont instead. Unlike his ancestors, Julius starts with the Axe, Cross Boomerang, and Holy Water items. The Cross item crash has become a normal sub-weapon. Just like Dracula's Curse, you can switch between Julius, Yoko, and Alucard. Yoko has her ice, fire, and lightning spells. Alucard has his two 'attacks', hellfire (the triple fireball) and bat-form. I haven't explored much of the game yet in Julius Mode, but needless to say I'm giddy as a schoolgirl.


Neat Tidbit: One of the later bosses transforms into a Moai Head and shoots ring lasers from it's mouth. A nod to the other Konami mainstay, Gradius.



Graphics: 3/5

Not on par with Symphony of the Night, but better than the past GBA games. I expect better from thr NDS in the future Castlevania titles. A lot of the game's scenery is repetitive, but my favorite areas are The Silenced Ruins and The Abyss. Especially The Abyss which has a pretty creepy section to it.


Gameplay: 4/5

A lot of the useful souls are given to you so that's a bonus, but some of the BEST ones come so late in the game as to not really be useful. Collection is not required but there are a few to hunt down and work for, like Flame Demon (get Merman to make it easier) and Mothman (you need Rycuda to get him to appear).


Sound: 4/5

A lot of monster voices are done by the same people and tend to sound alike, and I'm not just refering to palette swaps. The music is nice but considering the capabilites of the NDS it could have been better.


Fun Factor: 4/5

Soma's quest kind of drags on once you get past Dario/Agnui. Where this game really shines is in Julius Mode where you get old school Castlevania action.


Controls: 3/5

I was disappointed with the use of the stylus. They needed to either make better use of it or lost it completely. It was basically only used in a few extremely rare places and against the bosses. It took away from the gameplay by slowing things down for you to draw crap. As for the buttons, they wook well with their default layout.


The Verdict:

Some people will cringe at the prospect of more collecting crap in a Castlevania game, but I assure you it's not that bad. Soma plays like Alucard from SOTN which is nice. What makes this game REALLY worth getting is Julius Mode. Ah, memories of Castlevania 3... <3

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I distinctly remember replying to this thread, but it's gone...


I give it 8/10. It would've gotten the other 2 points if it had more depth (like SotN), was more of a challenge (other than the bosses), and had some more interesting puzzles.

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