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Dawn of Sorrow, the first game in the Castlevania Series to be released on the Nintendo DS. It's known to be one of the best DS games to be released, but is it worthy of taking the crown? I'll break down this review based on its Storyline, Gameplay and Extras.
The game is based a year after the Aria of Sorrow. Soma Cruz, the reincarnation of Dracula has recently been attacked by a cult leader named Celia, who fears a world without a Dark Lord. After the encounter, Soma desires to know more about that cult as he heads to their headquarters as he uses his powers to fend off any foe that gets in his way. The story is straight forward with the driven plot to save the world. Although, you have 3 different endings with two you're unable to met a specific conditions before you move forward.
The Gameplay with the Dawn of Sorrow is going through the similar side-scrolling action RPG adventure. But it has changed from the previous Castlevania games in terms of utilizing the Soul System at your disposal. The use of the Soul System comes from killing monster in order to gain their souls and use their abilities. The Bullet (Red) Souls are used as an offensive attack, the Guardian (Blue) are used for effects including transformations, etc but at the cost of your Mana Power, the Enchant (Yellow) Souls are passives, which allows you to increase your stats or use an ability without the cost of your Mana Power and the Ability (Grey) Souls allows you to perform abilities, for example double jumps, travels through water at normal speed, etc.
With the help of those souls, you're able to collect multiple of them in order upgrade your current weapon for a stronger one. The game also introduced the Magic Seal System that comes into play at the end of almost every boss battles. Used with you stylus, you trace through the pattern as indicated in order to successfully defeat your foe. Plus, you need to retrieve a specific Seal in order to progress further throughout the game. The gameplay has never ceased to amaze me with endless slaughter of ghouls and goblins, plus using their souls against them is the fun part as well.
When it comes to extras, I would first mention the music of Castlevania and it is STILL growing strong with our famous composer, Michiru Yamane. Thankfully, this includes classics such as Beginning, Bloody Tears and my favourite, Dance of Illusions. The graphics have met my expectation for a 2D game with 3D aspects within. There is a minimal amount of voice work using Japanese voice actors, which is not much of a problem. There are also extras modes you can play, such as Boss Rush, playing through almost every boss you encounter in the game in order to reach towards your goal. And in the Julius Mode, you play as Julius Belmont, Yoko Belnades and the famous, Alucard in a journey to defeat the dark lord.
This game has been crowned as one of the best and I for one cannot deny that right. Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow will never disappoint those who are fans of the franchise. And for those who are fans of adventures such as this, this is the game to buy.
If you only need one reason to buy a Nintendo DS, let it be this!
My first encounter with Castlevania came on the Nintendo Entertainment System, it was Castlevania 2: Simons Quest, quite possibly one of the hardest games's of all time, but so rewarding!
This is Konami's first Castlevania release on the DS, released back in September 2005, it sold averagely in the UK as do most great game's on the DS, over in Japan it was a huge success.
In a nutshell
A side scrolling RPG, you play as Soma a vampire hunter. The game is set over a large map with many area' to unlock and discover. It features many RPG elements such as levelling up characters and weapons. If you play it with care it ill last you a good 10-15 hours.
The game takes place in the fictional universe of the Castlevania series, where the vampire hunters of the Belmont clan wage an endless conflict against the immortal vampire Dracula. Dawn of Sorrow continues the storyline found in Aria of Sorrow, in which Dracula has been completely defeated, and his powers assumed by his reincarnation, Soma Cruz. With the help of his allies, Soma avoids becoming the new dark lord. A cult forms to bring forth a new dark lord by killing Soma. Soma and his allies move to ensure that a new dark lord is not created.
Dawn of Sorrow includes many features from the previous Castlevania games, a great combo of a side scrolling action game mixed with role playing elements. The game has great atmosphere, gloomy colours, and fantastic enemies, with a great soundtrack.
Aswell as having all the great features and benefits your used to with the Castlevania series, Dawn of Sorrow manages to incorporate some great additions, the first being "The Magic Seal", this requires you to the DS stylus to draw a pattern in order to defeat a level boss, this works really well, the first pattern you learn is simple and can be performed in a matter of 2 seconds, as you progress the patterns get harder and it take's a steady hand to deal the final blow to the level boss.
For the first time it features a cool anime character design to the front cover, it also has an anime style intro movie. It has multiplayer! - Two players go head to head to complete a pre rendered level as fast as they can.
What other's think?
Here's a quick list of my favourite and most trusted game review websites
And what score this masterpiece received!
ign.com - 9.3/10
gametrailers.com - 9.1/10
gamespot.com - 8.9/10
gmespy.com - 4.5/5
To it's credit the game was released for a second time in Japan mid 2006 and in America it was re-released as part of a Konami Classics range.
Who should by this?
- Any fan's of previous Castlevania outings
- Side scrolling action gamers'
- RPG gamers'
- Someone in need of inspiration for a classic DS game
Presentation - 9.5
I like the new anime feel to the genre, it has great backgrounds and well designed character sprites.
Graphics - 9.0
It is a step up of the GBA version, the 2D works very well on the DS, everything is smooth and clean, a great improvement.
Great sound effects and some fantastic use of the DS audio playing capabilities, play it with headphones on!
Nothing can be faulted, threes enough to keep new players happy and some great mild additions to keep hardcore fans more than pleased.
Lasting Appeal 9.0
The game has a few endings dependant on the paths you choose, you can also go back and play the game with new characters. The depth of the map you play on is awesome, levelling up and getting new weapons take time, time well spent.
Overall - 9.0/10
I can literally find no faults with this game. from the second it begins to the second it end you are totally entranced.
You play as some sort of heroic knight who happens to be a decendant of Dracula himself or something. As such he is the key component in ressurecting said fiend and therefore is lured into an old castle where he has to stop the evil fanatic at all costs.
It is a typical hack and slash platformer but theres just something about it that forces you to love it. It could be The new leveling up system to get stronger. it could be the tonnes of different weapons you can find, buy and use. I personally think its mainly the soul system. every one of the hundreds of monsters you fight has a soul to be obtained. each soul gives you a different abilty. new attacks, ways to get around the stage, defences or stat increases, e.t.c.
you spend hours upon hours trying to get them all.
and then the boss fights are really frustratingly hard. you have to figure out their moves in a second or your dead before you get a chance to land a hit.
the only annoying thing about the game if the huge map. you ALWAYS get lost. you have to figure out how to get from A to B and it just never works out as planned. even that though seems to add to the tense excitement of the game and while you might want to at some times smash it against a wall, you find you just cant quite throw it away.
If anyone knows the StarSoldier then they know I got to have my Castlevania fix. After a rather long wait there was finally another portable game but now the horror action series makes the jump from the Gameboy Advance to the slightly more powerful Nintendo Dual Screen (or DS). The question is can the first DS Castlevania be as good or even better then the critically past editions of this franchise or is the Rocky V or Blair Witch II of sequels?
Castlevania Dawn of Sorrow is a direct sequel to the critically acclaimed Aria of Sorrow and just like that awesome game you play the young but creepy dude with white hair Soma Cruz. The crazy thing was he was suppose to be the resurrection of the evil Count Dracula himself (sorry if I spoiled it for you) but after the events in the last game he was able to become a normal human again and living a normal life back in Japan. Although he was able to break free from becoming the new dark lord, a year later (2036 A.D.) Soma and his girlfriend Mina just got attacked by a evil cult member looking to kill him. Now Soma is risking everything to fight this evil cult before they can find another to raise Count Dracula again. Although Soma still wants nothing to do with the evil powers of Dracula, he's needs his unique soul gathering ability if he hopes to survive this new battle.
Although Soma may seem like a average young man that looks way too emo, he has the mysterious power to capture the souls of the monsters. All Soma has to do is kill a enemy and he may be able to earn that monster's special power but I say 'maybe' for a reason. Some of these Souls are harder to get than others and finding all the hundred plus Souls may take quite a while. There are three types of Souls in the game and Soma can use three coloured Souls at once if selected in a cool move by Konami. Another cool thing they did was include a innovative Doppelganger move where you can switch to another version of yourself with a completely different set of equipment with mere touch of a button.
Moving this series to the DS also gives the series a new lease on life. The two screens here lets you either have a constant view of the game's map or you can go to the item management menu all on the top screen while the action takes place on the bottom. This helps save a lot of time compared to the previous installments. Konami threw in other DS functionality like when you have to draw a special seal on the screen to capture a weaken boss monster or rubbing it to clear some ice. This sounds cool at first since it's a cheap way to feel like an Artist but if you don't draw this seal in time or you get it wrong on that annoying boss it will come back to life and hand you your back side.
Like the past three Castlevania games for the Gameboy Advance this is a 2D action/role playing game meaning you fight enemies while gaining experience points for each kill. Soma can also become stronger and more defensive by equipping weapons and armour to better his chances against the forces of evil just like in the famous CastleVania: Symphony of the Night for the Sony Playstation. That brings me to the game's controls here. The control system works well for the most part but I wish that Soma could dash a little faster, this would have helped to make the back tracking in this game less tedious. Despite some minor nip picking everything else about the controls were flawless, I will complain more about Sorrow's looks however.
Although this Castlevania takes place in the future, like the last game there is very little evidence that the game is actually in the year 2036. Where are the hoverboards from Back to the Future 2 for example? Anyway the game still has some nice animation and a huge list of great looking monsters just like Aria of Sorrow so its not all bad. This Castlevania even has a cool looking anime cinema in the opening demo which is something you usually don't see on a DS game. Sadly unlike Symphony of the Night the game doesn't have any spoken dialogue here but that also means there is no cheesy acting either I guess. The game still has a good list of midi soundtracks and sound effects to go with the stylist visuals.
Some of the touch screen features can be kind of annoying and the game overall doesn't look too different from it's prequel but that doesn't stop Dawn of Sorrow from being one kickass game. The game is not only long and challenging with a lot of items to find like guns and giant swords but without spoiling too much you can even play as different characters once the game is completed so the replay value is pretty good here. This addictive game isn't only one of the greatest action/role playing games for the DS but it is also one of the best games of 2005.
*Battery back up game
CASTLEVANIA DAWN OF SORROW overall rating: 97/100
Original release: October 4, 2005
For 1 player only
Rated (T) for Teen
This review is also on:
(Ryan Genno) 2007
In this game you play as Soma Cruz, at the start of the game you are attacked by Celia who leads a cult intent on bringing back Dracula, surviving the attack your mission is to find Celia and end her plans.
The action takes place in the enemies castle which you will explore collecting items to increase your strength and also defeating various monsters whose souls you will collect which will give you their powers. You will need these to be able to access certain parts of the castle and complete certain challenges.
This is a very entertaining platform game and it comes with a lot of replay value, it has just about the right level of challenge to it and is one of the best games I have played on the DS.
There are lots of different areas of the castle to explore both within and outside in the grounds and you will rely on the map to be able to navigate your course and all of the time you can come under attack at any time. The controls are pretty easy to master and you do get to use the touch screen function to break ice blocks and also draw magic symbols using the stylus or your finger to capture enemies.
Visually the game is great, the backgrounds are very detailed and look fantastic even on such a small screen and the characters are brilliantly animated as well.
The big plus with this game is the sheer scale of it all and it pays to take the time to explore every inch of the castle and surrounding grounds as you never know what you might find next. Definitely worth getting and it provides a good few hours of entertainment.
A revolutionary breed of Castlevania is in development for Nintendo's newest handheld console, The DS ('Dual Screen'). It is a follow-up to the hugely popular Aria of Sorrow and boasts the same director, immediately endearing it to fans of the series. However, Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow will appeal to anyone who owns a Nintendo DS, due to its innovative gameplay features. Existing fans will be happy to learn that Aria of Sorrow's main protagonist, Soma Cruz, is once again called to act. Events occur only a few years after those in Aria of Sorrow. Once again the timelessly compelling Shadow of Dracula spurs the story on, with Soma called to infiltrate an enemy HQ fashioned after Dracula's ancient castle complete with monstrous creatures! Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow takes full advantage of the Nintendo DS' dual screen and touch screen technology, in addition to its wireless connectivity. The dual screen combined with the touch screen function allows a new 'Magic Seal' system within the game whereby magic symbols drawn directly onto the lower screen unlock enchanted portals on the top screen. Another key gameplay feature in Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow is collecting the souls of enemies to gain powerful attacks and skills. By using the wireless connectivity of Nintendo DS, players can exchange and/or trade acquired souls with friends. Even without the enhanced features afforded by Nintendo DS, Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow would be noteworthy for its fabulous musical score, and ornate visual style complete with dazzling special effects. This is what fans of the series have learned to expect, while being a valuable attribute that attracts more newcomers with each new installment.