Video Game Review: ‘Castlevania’ lives up to series

“Castlevania” is a veteran franchise in the gaming industry, having started in the same era as “Super Mario Bros.” and “The Legend of Zelda.”

Though not quite as popular as its Nintendo developed peers, the “Castlevania” games have, with a couple of exceptions, consistently played and sold well.

The new Nintendo DS game “Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow,” a direct sequel to the 2003 Game Boy Advance hit “Aria of Sorrow”, looks to keep the series’ legacy alive.

Most of the games in the series have retained the same basic concept: As the hero (in this case, a college student named Soma Cruz), the player must traverse through Dracula’s Castle. Along the way, classic monsters like Frankenstein, as well as original creations, attempt to block the player’s progression.

Along with the story, “Dawn” offers everything fans have come to expect from their “Vania” games. The graphics are filled with detail; the music is as hauntingly beautiful as ever and the game play is, of course, amazingly fun.

Since this is a direct sequel to “Aria,” many of that game’s unique traits have been retained, most notably, the soul capturing system. While battling creatures, occasionally Soma will collect an enemy soul, which can be used to give the player new abilities or increased statistics. This is a great reason to keep playing, even long after the game is beaten.

The collection aspect is actually a lot like Pokemon. The only difference is that cap?turing the soul of a bloodied zombie is infinitely cooler than catching Pikachu ever was.

Another reason to keep playing after beating the game is the unlockables.

The best of which is Boss Rush mode, which is a time trial to see how quickly the player can beat the game’s bosses, one after another.

This mode has been included in the last few “Castlevanias,” but it is really a standout inclusion this time around due to “Dawn’s” excellent boss battles.

The last time this series had bosses this fun was in the Playstation classic “Castlevania: Symphony of the Night,” a game that is widely believed to be one of the best games ever developed.

It would actually be safe to say that “Dawn of Sorrow” is the most memorable “Castlevania” since “Symphony.”

It is hard to find any faults with a game this good.

It’s not only one of the best games in the series, it’s one of the best reasons to own a DS.

Matthew Loriso can be reached at mloriso@ulv.edu.

Journalism operations manager at the University of La Verne. Production manager and business manager of the Campus Times.

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