In the year 2035, Soma Cruz is a seemingly Ordinary High-School Student (Transfer Student in the English version) who gets transported to Dracula's Castle (AKA Castlevania), thought to have been sealed permanently during the battle of 1999, during an eclipse, along with fellow student Mina Hakuba. Also at the scene is government agent Genya Arikado (he's Alucard), who suggests that Soma venture further into the castle to discover the secret of its reappearance. Soma contains the Power of Dominance, which allows him to take the souls of his enemies and conform them to his will. It is revealed later that a mad cultist named Graham Jones is behind everything and believes himself to be the reincarnation of Dracula. Obviously he has to be stopped.After defeating Graham, we learn that it is not him, but Soma who is the reincarnation of Dracula after his final death in 1999. Soma later meets with a mysterious man named J, who is actually the man who defeated Drac in 1999, Julius Belmont, who had contracted Laser-Guided Amnesia. After a Get A Hold Of Yourself Man scuffle, Soma goes to defeat the embodiment of Chaos and saying to Julius that if he becomes Dracula, he wants Julius to be the one to kill him.
The Anti-God: Chaos fits the bill, as well. It's literally the very source of Dracula's immense power, and can choose other Dark Lords if necessary. Helps that it's a full-blown Eldritch Abomination, too.
Arbitrary Skepticism: Soma is perfectly OK with thinking he's been teleported from Japan to Europe to Dracula's castle, but tell him he is merely inside an eclipse? You're insane!
At least Europe is a place and not an astronomical event.
Art Shift: The character portraits of the first game were drawn in a gothic style pictured above (the typical Ayami Kojima style fans are used to since Castlevania: Symphony of the Night). The second game went for a more animesque style.
Which resulted in a bit of a Broken Base, with some members of the Fan Dumb slamming Dawn (and later Ruin) solely due to the art style.
Artifact Title: Dawn does not take place in Dracula's Castle/Castlevania. The cult's base is said to be a replica of Castlevania, but again (see top), that makes no sense at all.
Ars Goetia: Used as enemies. Their souls roughly match up to the abilities they are said to grant.
Avenging the Villain: Subverted. When Soma kills Dmitrii, Dario at first appears to be pissed because his comrade died, appearing to set up the trope. But he quickly reveals that he just wanted to beat Dmitrii himself.
Awesome, yet Impractical: Guns. Despite how awesome it is to bust a cap in evil's ass, even the strongest gun pails in comparison to even most of the mid-game weapons.
Awesome yet Practical: The Amalaric Sniper soul in Dawn, which fires a single powerful arrow forward that can hit most targets and upgrades quickly, all for a pittance of mana.
Background Boss: Aria has a lot of these: Death's first phase, Balore, Graham's second phase, Chaos, as well as the background mook, the Kyoma Demon. Dawn has the Puppet Master.
It's been a year. He probably just bought a new coat.
Bag of Spilling: Justified in Dawn - since Soma didn't have any reason to use Power of Dominance for long time, all souls were released. He still can slide and backdash right at the beginning, while in Aria that was done with Gravekeeper and Skeleton Blaze souls, respectively.
The Giant Bat appears in Aria, only to be crushed by Balore. You get the Giant Bat soul anyway in the room after the boss room.
Just as it seems in Dawn that you're gonna fight Dimitri again, his power of dominance that he copied from Soma didn't quite work out, and the fusion of all the shit he's absorbed breaks out to become the real final boss. A bit of a Giant Space Flea from Nowhere, that.
Balance Between Good and Evil: Both Arikado and the cultists in Dawn appear to believe that the universe requires a supreme evil being (whether Dracula, Soma, or someone else) to balance out God. The cult tries to force the issue, while Arikado and Soma come to the conclusion that the universe will balance things out eventually.
Ballistic Bone: Deconstructed with skeletons absent-"mind"edly throwing away their own heads along with bones.
Bishounen Line: Soma is the chronologically latest of Dracula, and by far the bishiest.
Blessed with Suck/Cursed with Awesome: Soma is Dracula. This gives him many important abilities, but also means that a bunch of people attempt to either turn him into Dracula proper or eliminate and replace him.
"Blind Idiot" Translation: At one point you'll find a Satan's Ring to use. But in Japan it was called the "Dark Lord's Ring", so considering the context it actually is the Dracula's Ring we've been colecting since Castlevania II Simons Quest. The names of some enemies are misspelled too. "Curly" should be Kali, "Skull Millione" should be Scarmiglione and so on.
In Dawn of Sorrow, jump kicking damage is based on air time rather than distance. Guess what Medusa head lets you do with the kick.
The Axe Armor soul is your garden variety Castlevania overhead throwing axe. And as usual, it's one of the most useful weapons in the game.
The Headhunter boss's soul in Aria is a passive soul that gives Soma multiple stat multipliers based on how many souls he's collected. Unless you're actively avoiding killing monsters as much as possible...
Giant Ghost soul in Aria creates a barrier that protects you against projectiles. Pretty much ANY projectile. Can make Death's first form fall down easily!
Killer Mantle disposes of any Golem (except Big Golem) in ONE HIT. Makes it easier to grind for Flesh Golem and regular Golem souls, and later for Iron Golem.
Boss Rush: Present in both games as an unlockable mode.
Captain Ersatz: Zephyr in Dawn is basically a palette swap of Dio Brando from Jo Jos Bizarre Adventure, with the same abilities and everything. You even fight him outside of the clock tower, much like the final battle between Dio and Jotaro.
Chaos Architecture: Somehow Dawn of Sorrow completely ignores this, taking place in an "exact replica" of Dracula's castle, completely ignoring its stats as a creature of chaos. The need to have this plot point is unclear, as the story behind the castle (except possibly what is under it, and even that may be a creation of the cult) has no meaning at all.
The Chosen One: Soma, though as the chosen villain instead of hero (but luckily for him, he is able to resist).
Soma's NPC allies all have a counterpart in Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse. Genyo is Alucard, Yoko is a descendant of Sypha, Julius is a descendant of Trevor and Hammer shares many physical and personality traits with Grant. None the least of which is his crush on Yoko, a Belnades witch.
Color-Coded Characters: We have Hammer wearing green, Yoko's first outfit contains pink, Julius is in brown, and Grahamwears white (standard for the evil religious zealot). Soma wears white and blue on top of a black shirt, possibly a nod to his dual nature (or I'm thinking too hard at this point). Arikado subverts the trope by being a good guy who wears black but is not an antihero.
There are two kinds of Medusa Head, one which turns you into stone and one which doesn't. The former is colored with lighter colors than the latter, which has been in the series since Castlevania: Rondo of Blood.
Collision Damage: With Julius as the only exception in Aria, and Dario and Dimitri in Dawn.
The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard: Dmitrii can absorb certain Guardian souls, some of which, when you use them, force you to stand still. However, when he uses them, he can walk around all that he pleases.
Jumps into Hoist by His Own Petard once you know how to work this ability. He can only use ONE of each soul that you hit him with. So if you give him something that he can't use to its full potential (like Yorick), then he goes from cheating... to pushover.
Damn You, Muscle Memory: Those who play Aria followed by Dawn may find it confusing when the "jump" button becomes the "special attack" button.
Unless you've been playing SNES games all your life, then this trope has suddenly been played in your favor. (In fact, SNES games using B for jump and Y for attack is likely the reason it is that way in Dawn and all DS Castlevanias, ironically an attempt at averting this trope).
The game lets you change out the controls... too bad you can only do it for Soma mode (Julius Mode is stuck with the defaults, as he can't access the menu and thus the options).
Dark Is Not Evil: Despite his background, personality, and black suit, Arikado is your most helpful ally. Even when he unseals his powers in one ending of the second game, he still acts the same instead of losing his mind, a common side effect to such actions. It's probably no accident that the Big Bad in the first game wears white. Soma himself, despite having dark powers, isn't inherently evil.
In fact Yoko explicitly invokes this trope to Soma when she explains the nature of his powers.
Degraded Boss: All the early bosses in Aria, like Creaking Skull, Manticore, or Great Armor, later become regular enemies.
Demonic Possession: Soma ends up unknowingly sharing his body with Dmitrii's spirit and, when Arikkado reveals that the "Mina" that Celia murdered was actually a doppelganger to trick him into going evil, Dmitrii then leaves his host after he finished copying his abilities, painfully, it should be noted as well. It is also implied in the very bad ending (the one where Dario is killed without killing Aguni).
Disc One Nuke: The Nightmare and Mandragora souls in Aria and Dawn respectively. Possible to acquire early, powerful for the entire game, for a reasonable MP cost too.
The very first enemies in Aria, zombies, will occasionally drop the Baselard, a short knife. As revealed in the LP of the game by Roahm Mythril, the Baselard very quickly proves to outclass almost all of the weapons you find in the early game. For such a small, fast weapon, it does a surprising amount of damage.
Do Not Run with a Gun: If you're running, you stop when you use a weapon or a Bullet soul. However, if you jump and attack in midair, you can continue moving forward while attacking at the same time. A few weapons are exceptional in that you can continue running as you use them.
Subverted with a combination of a few select Bullet souls (like Killer Clown) and the backdash or front dash (Werewolf) ability. The Front dash cancels the animation of the bullet soul and allows you to instantly use it again while simultaneously retreating/charging at them. While this CAN be devastating and capable of clearing rooms, it eats through your MP like crazy and it really is not recommended until you get the Chaos Ring. However, the ability to set up 9 Amalaric Snipers at once is awe inspiring.
The Valmanway doesn't require you to be still to attack, as Soma doesn't actually animate as the weapon is so fast. It doesn't even get a special attack because you simply don't need one.
Double Jump: But of course. Soma does a flip in Dawn on his second jump, though.
Dummied Out: Originally there was a bestiary entry for Chaos, but it was removed, being unavailable outside of the hacking. It showed that Chaos has 9999 HP, is No. 113, resists dark, its description is "The root of all chaotic things." and it uses an otherwise unused picture of Chaos.
Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors: A rather low-key version. Enemies and certain armor items do have elemental strengths and weaknesses, but most of the time you can get by just fine without paying attention to them.
Enemy Of My Enemy: A few rooms after meeting Graham at the entrance of the Clock Tower, Yoko uses this saying and teases that Soma doesn't want to be her comrade when he objects slightly...
Flunky Boss: Aria has Legion, the corpses of whose shell can drop out and attack on their own. Dawn has the Puppet Master (creates floating doll enemies), Abaddon (directs the movements of a colossal swarm of insects), and Menace (spawns flying... mouth... things).
Gainaxing: The Valkyrie soul in Aria of Sorrow summons a giant naked woman to take a sword swing and jiggles appropriately.
Giant Space Flea from Nowhere: Chaos in Aria. It has no backstory, no explanation, no lines, its just...there. The most we get is that defeating it somehow prevents Dracula's power from consuming Soma.
Alucard was a playable character in that game. Julius and Yoko are descendants of Trevor and Sypha respectively.
Gender Bender: The Curly soul in Aria and the Valkyrie soul in Dawn will briefly turn Soma into the respective female enemy.
Getting Crap Past the Radar: In Aria, a Succubus and a Lilith appear to have been taking a bath together in one room, and the Lilith is hidden underwater at first. In both games, quite a few of the humanoid or partially humanoid enemies have sprites that make it obvious that they're completely naked. The sprites are actually anatomically correct in many cases, but it's fairly subtle due to the GBA and DS's resolution. This is also true of some of the background art. Also, see Improbably Female Cast.
One of the bedrooms in Dawn is filled with female enemies, some on the bed within the room.
Glass Cannon: On a New Game+ on Hard mode in Aria, your character will likely be this, especially in the beginning. You start with all your items and almost all souls, including ridiculously game-breaking weapons. However, there's no equivalent game breaking armor, and while most enemies will go down in one to three hits, they'll still do a surprising amount of damage.
The Lubicant soul increases your attack power as you lose HP. It's very useful for clearing Boss Rush mode quickly, if you dare, as you begin with a spoiled milk.
Gotta Catch Them All: The souls offer a bonus of the Chaos Ring, which restores magic at hyper speed, basically making infinite magic use.
Guide Dang It: The steps to unlocking the real ending in Aria of Sorrow. There are some vague clues and a sort of logic (you need to equip souls that give you Dracula's traditional abilities), but it still requires finding just the right enemies to get souls from, and the clues are very easy to overlook. Not to mention you still need to work out WHERE you need them equipped.
Also from Aria, how to get Legion's soul, the only boss whose Soul you may get or not. you have to attack its outer shell made up of corpses first. This shell is made up of four segments, which break off with enough damage, exposing its core. The catch is, you must not destroy the core without getting rid of all the bodies surrounding it. If you do, you kill it anyway, but you won't get its soul. And, since it's a boss, you cannot fight it again for its soul.
Guns Are Worthless: Played mostly straight in Aria, where the handgun is only obtainable at a point in the game that you can easily have the Infinity+1 Sword by (and even if you don't, it's still weak compared to everything else). The Positron Rifle is decent enough, but a Bragging Rights Reward due to the quick finish of Boss Rush (which requires getting the good ending and being able to kick every boss's ass in under 5 minutes) required. There is a hard mode exclusive Silver Gun though, which is pretty good (as in, workable, but like every other weapon, outclassed by the Infinity+1 Sword). Averted in Dawn, where the handgun is a great early weapon if bought from Hammer when first available (you can also find it a bit later) with its high firerate (if combined with any form of Lag Cancel), and the Silver Gun works great for a bit after that, but the lack of upgrades after the Silver Gun make it worthless for endgame.
Then again, the guns have an attack range across the entire screen and do hit scan damage, and don't require using any mana(as well as having infinite ammo), so they're not totally useless.
Hero of Another Story: Julius was the Belmont who permanently destroyed Dracula forever by sealing his castle in another dimension in 1999. So far, there have been no games that take place during 1999, so we have to take his word for it that it was the last hurrah for both old Drac and the Belmont clan.
High Pressure Blood: Anything that bleeds in Aria will emit jets of bright red blood with a distinctive spraying sound.
BlackOrange Blood: For some reason, any non-scenery blood in Dawn, whether it comes from you or your enemies, is orange. It's possible that this was an attempt to make the blood look more realistic that backfired.
Hoist By Her Own Petard: In the bad ending to Dawn, Celia fakes killing Mina. Without Mina's talisman to absorb the darkness spawned by his rage, Soma becomes Dracula, just like Celia wanted... and then brutally kills Celia in his anger. Nice work, Celia. Rest in peace.
Infinity+1 Sword: The Claimh Solais in Aria, or the Chaos Ring + Red Minotaur soul. Dawn had a great balance with the weapons and souls, but the three weapons that stand out as the best weapons are the Claimh Solais, Death's Scythe, and the Valmanway.
Item Crafting: In Dawn, Yoko's primary gameplay role is to fuse souls you're willing to part with with weapons to create upgraded weapons. This is the only way to get most of the better weapons in the game. Sort of a mixed blessing, as if you want to make the best weapons, you'll have to spend significantly more time grinding for rare souls than you otherwise would. On the other hand, buying cheap weapons, grinding for certain common souls, using them to make moderately good weapons, and selling the now much more valuable weapons back to Hammer is an excellent way to make money.
Sadly, it does borderline on the worse side since you need to give up some pretty rare souls in order to get certain weapons. The worse of it though is that specific weapons require you to give up BOSS souls. To Elaborate, Boss souls can only be gotten once. In order to get a second copy of the soul, you need to be in New game +, the very reason why you are making such a weapon in the first place. The Valmanway and the Death's Scythe are both final weapons so it is understandable (but both are endgame souls so you aren't getting another one for a LONG time). But the Balmung is the worse offender as it requires you to give up Gergoth, and it isn't even a final weapon...
Which brings up the most reliable weapon you can get without boss souls, the Gungnir. Most of the stuff you get to forge it is rather easy. The Halberd can be gotten through enemy drops, and the rest of the souls are easy to farm. The only hitch is Slogra so you won't get it before early endgame but it doesn't matter since you can stil get it before fighting Death (arguably the reason WHY you need the weapon in the first place as the bosses before this can be beaten without a weapon of mass destruction).
Kaizo Trap: In Dawn, if you kill and seal a boss during an attack, the attack will keep going during the boss's death animation. Death'sskull attack is by far the worst offender. As if the seal system needed any more reasons to be the Scrappy Mechanic...
Death's battle in Aria. Upon defeat, Death drops his scythe. Which can kill you.
Knockback Evasion: The Zombie Officer soul allows you to stop aerial knockback, while the Iron Golem soul in Aria ignores knockback and flinching completely.
Lag Cancel: Backdash can cancel out of many moves and are key for good boss rush times. Landing also works, but some items (Hammer, Broadsword, Balmung, etc.) don't cancel. The werewolf soul in Dawn does a strange forward dash, which is very spammable for lag cancelling, and filling the screen with soul attacks.
Laser-Guided Amnesia: Julius has this for a few decades. While he doesn't know anything about his life or family, he has somehow taken care of himself for all this time.
The Legions of Hell: While the series as a whole has featured devils and imps as enemies for some time, they're especially plentiful and varied in these games. Dawn provides a possible explanation. (See "Planet Heck" below.)
Level Grinding: Annoyingly, Dawn has a perfect leveling curve, if you don't avoid enemies you should always be around the right level, but encourages every other form of grinding. To get any Soul beyond the most frequently dropped and frequently encountered ones to a decent level (or found in the first place) you need to grind with the Soul Eater Ring (double soul drop rates) equipped. And to afford the Soul Eater Ring, you need a lot of money. The only way to afford this (as pretty much every enemy drops the same amount of money regardless of strength) is to grind zombies and fuse their souls into weapons and sell the weapons. This takes about 14 or so trips with each trip taking 8 or so minutes with decent Luck Stat. Once you spent 2 hours on the Soul Eater Ring, you spend more time repeatedly killing various enemies with low soul drop rates (many are 1% before ring and luck bonus, while others only appear in a single room). Of course, this only really applies if you're going for 100% Completion, but there are benefits to doing so...
To further help your luck, there is the Three 7s suit you can pick up, but only after you grind enough money so the last three digits are 777, which allows the room containing it to open. This occurs in a couple of other places - yes, you need to grind money to complete the map. Cursed Clock Tower's needs 573 while the third needs 666.
Taken to extremes if you're attempting to get the Sky Fish soul in Aria, a monster that is damn near impossible to see, even with the time-stopping Chronomage soul, let alone kill. God help you if you don't get the soul on the first try...
Miko: Mina is a member of the Hakuba Shrine. In Aria, she even wears the proper attire.
Multiple Endings: Both games come with three endings—the lame one (when everything is cut short and you don't learn anything), the bad one (when Soma turns and tries to kill everyone), and the good one (when everyone lives happily ever after. More or less).
Multi-Stage Battle: Something similar happens with Gergoth in Dawn of Sorrow, you fight him on the top floor of the Condemned Tower, and during the fight you and he end up falling all the way down to the bottom floor once he Turns Red
Musical Nod: Julius's theme in Aria is "Heart of Fire", one of the few themes from the original Castlevania that isn't a Recurring Riff in the series.
It actually quotes "Don't Wait Until Night" from Haunted Castle in the first half of the track, starting a recent trend of reusing Haunted Castle music. In the sequel, the theme of the Mine of Judgment, Basement Melody also it's originally from Haunted Castle.
Ninja Maid: As mentioned, Persephone. She stand prim and proper when you enter the room, then as you approach she does a curtsy and welcomes you (in Japanese)... Then proceeds to assault you with kicks.
Non Standard Game Over: How badly did you mess up? Enough that getting the bad ending in Dawn unlocks another play mode where the other characters team up to take down the now evil Soma.
Not-So-Harmless Villain: Depite being Dark Lord candidates, Dario and Dmitrii are treated mostly like jokes in Dawn. Dmitrii looks especially weak, that is, until the climax...
Not Using the D Word: No one ever refers to Dracula directly when discussing the prospect of Soma becoming the dark lord or in the bad ending, where he actually does despite the fact that the "dark lord's" identity is blatantly clear.
Nostalgia Level: Dawn features the Silenced Ruins, an area that looks exactly like a rather run-down version of the first level of Castlevania, although since it's deep underground you can see caverns (and in a couple of places lava) through windows and holes in the wall. It even has a "Vampire Killer" arrangement as its background music. Of course, this isn't the first time this has been done; Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse and Super Castlevania IV had similar levels at the start of its castle, although it wasn't underground.
In Dawn, if you note carefully, the areas are like in Aria in terms of map location. Think about it, a clock tower on the top right which is first entered by a long corridor, then the clock tower linking to the upper part of the castle, with another identical corridor to start that area off. That setpiece is in both games. And that's not to mention similar map design in the clock towers, the gardens in the castle centre, the chapel that extends towards the right of the map, and the guest house style area that is pleasant but creepy at the same time towards the top left. Maybe that's what Celia meant about it being a replica...
Old Save Bonus: If you start Dawn while Aria is in your GBA slot, you start with Rare Ring, which makes those rare drops more likely to drop. Also Yoko's shop gets a Mina doll in background.
This last one may be a shout out to the Reverse Catacombs in Symphony; while at the very bottom of the Catacombs is a river of molten lava, at the top of the Reverse Catacombs is a river of molten ice.
Poison Mushroom: There are poisonous items like Spoiled Milk, Tin Can Food (hundreds of years old food) and rotten meat that will damage Soma if you eat it. Unless you equip the Flesh Golem/Ghoul soul (depending on the game), where it will instead heal you.
Power Copying: Dmitrii Blinov has the ability to use any enemy ability he's hit by. In your fight with him, he'll mimic any Bullet and Guardian Souls you use against him, but he'll only utilize what you hit him with last, so you could... say... use the Student Witch soul and throw an easy-to-dodge cat at him, forcibly locking Dmitrii into a laughably easy attack pattern (all you'd really need to worry about then would be a simple stabbing attack). If you want to make him look even more ridiculous, hit him with the Cave Troll soul: any enemy ability he copies is restricted to level 1, meaning that instead of the longranged tongue attack with half screen range Soma gets at level 9, he'll be stuck with an ineffectual mildly rude gesture that has an even shorter range than his knife.
After his initial defeat, he seemingly dies and his black soul enters into Soma—but it's not Soma gaining dominance over a human soul, it's just Dmitrii inserting himself into Soma so he can copy Soma's basic ability to copy other powers by absorbing souls. Unfortunately, this double level of Power Copying overwhelms Dmitrii and he transforms into a massive abomination.
The Power of Love: Soma's friends—particularly his attachment to Mina—are the main reason he is able to fight off Dracula's influence. In one ending of the second game, when he thinks Mina has been killed, he Face Heel Turns to get revenge for her death.
The Promise: In Aria, Soma gets Julius to promise to kill him if he turns evil. In Dawn, Julius warns Soma early on to be careful, otherwise he'll be forced to carry out his promise. In the bad endings of both games and in Julius Mode in Dawn, Julius keeps said promise.
Soma: ... I've got a favour to ask of you.
Julius: What is it?
Soma: From here. I will set off to fight against my own fate. If I lose the battle... And I become reincarnation of evil, I want you to kill me.
Julius: ... I will... I promise.
Soma: Thanks. Now I can go into this battle without reservations.
Julius: Farewell, my friend. Don't let me use that whip again.
Random Drop: Enemies can drop souls, one or two items and sometimes money and hearts.
Rare Random Drop: some souls can be stupidly hard to get. Tsuchinoko from Aria and Peeping Eye from Dawn get the honour of being the most difficult ones in each game.
Say My Name: Soma's name is often called in dramatic moments.
Also, in Julius mode, each character calls for one another when switching. Prepare to hear lots of "Yoko!" "Julius!" and "Alucard!" over and over again.
Scratch Damage: Can be subverted to a degree in Dawn, as it has a soul that gives a flat damage reduction and with it equiped, all attacks that'd do 1 damage normally do 0 damage. This makes it so that Soma doesn't flinch when hit by such attacks, but he still bleeds like a stuck pig while shrugging them off which makes it look pretty amusing.
Sequence Breaking: The Succubus glitch in Dawn allows you to turn a temporary Flash Step special move into a permanent change in location, allowing you to warp past solid walls. Even without canceling out of it, it can activate a few Doors To Before from the wrong side. (This type can even be pulled off in Julius mode via Alucard).
Also easily done in Aria of Sorrow. You can actually ignore two areas and just go directly to the floating gardens. This allows you to pull off some serious shenanigans and get Skula before you get Undine or the Slide. You'll eventually have to backtrack, but by the time you've beaten Death, you would have acquired some seriously awesome stuff.
Shared Life Meter: In Dawn, all three characters in Julius Mode share a life and magic meter.
Shout Out: Julius Mode in Dawn is based on Castlevania III.
The Legion soul in Aria is based on the laser from Gradius. It even fires three as though they were from Vic Viper and the options. Another Gradius references can be found in Dawn: the Bat Company boss sometimes forms into the shape of a ring-spitting Moai head, a common enemy in the Gradius series.
There is a skeleton enemy that occurs in a single location in Aria who wears a Scarf of Asskicking and whose only attack is the Rider Kick. It has a chance of dropping a Red Scarf or an Ancient Belt, and its soul lets you do the kick yourself.
The battle with Evil Soma in Dawn is a call back to the final battle in Rondo of Blood, complete with the same battle opening, the same music, and the same transformation into a giant demon.
Cagnazzo, Scarmiglione/Skull Millione, and Rubicante/Lubicant in Aria are members of the Malebranche from the Inferno, as are Barbariccia, Draghignazzo, and Malacoda in Dawn. It's possible that Dawn's final area is also intended to be an Inferno reference, especially given that it has multiple segments with different themes, one of which is frozen.
When Arikado causes several monsters to die in Aria, you may recognize the attack as the Soul Steal. That's your first clue that Arikado is Alucard.
Being a high schooler and a (reincarnation of a) vampire, Konami couldn't resist making Soma full of Jotaro and Dio references.
The Cagnazzo soul is basically a stand, complete with the "Ora ora ora!" shout.
Many of Soma's other shouts are theirs, though some are slightly altered. Blocking with the Final Guard elicits a "Muda!" Others happen after major knockback or healing himself to full by draining enemies.
What used to simply be the clock item was turned into a colossal reference in Aria. First Soma encounters an enemy with a confusing power that won't let him get near. Then he gains the ability to move through stopped time. Finally he learns to stop time himself. Sound familiar? The series' visual effect is even modeled after the JoJo OVAs.
Zephyr in Dawn shows up to reference everything else about Dio that Soma missed.
Mina takes her name from the heroine of the original Bram Stoker novel (for bonus points, "Hakuba" is as Japanese as they could ever make "Harker" to be).
Popeye of all things gets one too. There is a usable healing item called Tinned Spinach and the description reads as "May give the illusion of bulking up muscle mass." Sadly, it neither heals you very much nor give you a temporary boost in attack power.
Most of Aria's pedestal souls are monsters from Symphony who were never adapted for GBA graphics. Most prominent are the Hippogryph, Malphas (the first time this name is used for him in English; he was called Karasuman in Symphony), and Galamoth.
It may or may not have been intentional, but Menace's "antibodies" are remarkably similar to The Langoliers.
Bat Company could be a reference to the band Bad Company. The official player's guide even makes a joke about it.
Spell My Name with an S: The English version of Aria in particular has quite a few questionable translations or outright errors in the names of enemies, e.g. Kali became Curly and Scarmiglione and Rubicante became Skull Millione and Lubicant. Dawn turns Agni into Aguni. Both Aria and Dawn turn Alraune into Alura Une. There are also a number of weapons whose names get strange spellings, including the Claimh Solais, whose spelling in the original (Irish) mythology is Claiomh Solais.
And Julius. Just like Arikado, he is never seen laughing throughout the game—let alone smiling at all. He is heard laughing at Soma and Mina at the end of the best ending of Dawn with Yoko and Hammer, though.
Time Stop: Chronomage's soul. It's even called Time Stop. However, it doesn't works on some enemies, and it's crucial to killing Sky Fish.
Turns Red: Death's second part, and a regular enemy - Gaibon. Both do it literally and metarophically, though Gaibon does that on his last hit points, while Death... well you still have the other half of fight.
Under the Sea: In both games. As per Metroidvania rules, you'll need an upgrade to get far in either.
Underground Monkey: Aria has many, many palette-swapped enemies with slight differences in their stats or behavior. Dawn is a little better about this (and also makes the Underground Monkeys' appearance slightly more different than a simple palette swap) but still has several examples.
Unique Enemy: The Chronomage, Tsuchiniko, and a flying fish enemy in Aria; several more in Dawn, most notably the Flying Humanoid, the Yeti, and the Mothman. There are a few enemies in both games that don't have a gimmick but only spawn in one room anyway though.
Unwinnable by Mistake: In Dawn a bad throw with the Puppet Master soul can get you stuck inside a wall. The Suspend feature, thankfully, can allow you to escape, but it's not immediately evident.
Victor Gains Loser's Powers: Soma himself does this. Every soul is from an enemy, most of the time, one you'll meet, even for basic attacking souls. Like he can get the Skeleton soul to throw bones from the Skeleton etc. In Aria you have to beat bosses to get the soul in the next room, which is often of a completely different creature, but in Dawn, this is played much more straight and you get the soul of the boss you killed instantly.
Wall Master: Mudmen. Paranoia in Dawn is more like a Mirror Master, as is the Kyoma Demon enemy in Aria.
Weird Moon: In Aria, the entire castle is inside an eclipse, whatever that means, but you can still see the (full!) moon outside. And then, to enter the Chaotic Realm, you have to pass through what appears to be an eclipse inside the eclipse. My brain hurts...
What the Hell, Hero?: In Dawn, Dario calls out Soma for apparently fighting Dmitrii with enough lethality to apparently kill him, prompting Soma to apologize for his actions. This (and Even Evil Has Standards) is then subverted, as Dario then snidely remarks that he wanted to be the one to kill Dmitrii ("Ah, what are you talking about? I just wanted to beat that stuck up jerk to death with my own hands!"). Oh, and Dmitrii actually isn't dead, as alluded by the acquistion of his soul by Soma after their fight.
Graham (like Dmitrii and Dario) was born on the day of Dracula's destruction in 1999. Aria takes place in 2035.
Averted by Arikado, said to be inhumanly attractive but has black hair. Subverted again, however, because he is really Alucard, who DOES have white hair...
With This Herring: At the beginning of the second game, an evil cult has arrived, ready to kill/turn Soma (hey, whatever works), attacks him and his best friend, and the world could plunge into darkness. What does Arikado toss to him to fight this menace?!... A knife. Really? You'd think he'd have a better arsenal at his disposal.
You Have Researched Breathing: Sort of. Aria has two ability souls of note—the first is Grave Keeper, which allows you to do a backwards dash (almost every other game has it naturally), and the Kicker Skeleton is the second, where you can do a drop kick after a double jump (normally a requisite of the double jump in other games). Neither of these are technically mandatory.
In Dawn, he starts the game with both of those powers, despite having released all his souls at the end of Aria.
alternative title(s): Dawn Of Sorrow; Aria Of Sorrow; Castlevania Sorrow; Castlevania Dawn Of Sorrow; Castlevania Aria Of Sorrow; Chronicles Of Sorrow; Castlevania Chronicles Of Sorrow; Aria Of Sorrow; Castlevania Aria Of Sorrow; Castlevania Dawn Of Sorrow