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"If the world needs a dark lord, it will emerge."
Genya Arikado

Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow is a 2003 Metroidvania game and part of the Castlevania series. Its the third and final installment on the Game Boy Advance after Castlevania: Circle of the Moon and Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance.

In the year 2035, Soma Cruz is a seemingly Ordinary High-School Student (Foreign Exchange 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 a solar eclipse, along with fellow student Mina Hakuba. Also at the scene is government agent Genya Arikado, 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.

It was followed by Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow in 2005. Aria of Sorrow was included in the Compilation Rerelease Castlevania Advance Collection alongside Castlevania: Circle of the Moon, Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance and Castlevania: Dracula X; released on September 23rd 2021 for Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Steam.

Unmarked spoilers ahead.


Aria of Sorrow provides examples of:

  • Advanced Movement Technique:
    • You can cancel your backdash into a jump, then backdash again immediately upon landing. This is faster than normal movement.
    • In Julius Mode, you move faster by continuously jumping and doing your Diving Kick.
  • Affably Evil: Graham Jones, although his Devil Complex phase discards most of his affability.
  • All the Worlds Are a Stage: The Chaotic Realm is made up of various parts of all the previous areas.
  • Ambiguously Brown: Hammer is notably dark-skinned compared to the rest of the cast, who are paler. Justified as he's a former soldier who comes from a different country.
  • And Then John Was a Zombie: Getting the bad ending when fighting the True Final Boss.
  • Anti Anti Christ: Soma, upon finding out that he is the reincarnation of Dracula, makes it very clear over the course of the game that he doesn't want to be his successor.
  • The Antichrist: Soma is Dracula's reincarnation, which makes him the target of the With Light cult that believes in Good Needs Evil, so they're trying to get him to come into his heritage and become the Dark Lord so that God can once again embody perfect good.
  • Anti-Frustration Features: While fighting enemies in the Castlevania Advance Collection re-release of Aria, a new "gadget" shows a pop-up indication that tells you whether or not you already have their soul in your possession, potentially saving you time from checking the in-game bestiary.
  • Arrange Mode: Julius Mode, where you get to play as Julius, who mostly plays similarly to Richter, with the exception of being able to dive kick as well as dash, which passes through enemies.
  • Artistic License Space: According to the English translation of Aria, the game's eclipse will be the first solar eclipse of the 21st century. As Wikipedia shows, that's a load of crock. However, it will be the first total solar eclipse visible from Japan in this century. The Japanese version instead describes it as the "biggest astronomical event" of the 21st century, which is arguable and dependent on whether it refers to Japan only as opposed to worldwide.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: Guns. Despite how awesome it is to bust a cap in evil's ass, even the strongest gun pales in comparison to even most of the mid-game weapons.
  • Background Boss: A lot. Death's first phase, Balore, Graham's second phase, Chaos, as well as the background mook, the Kyoma Demon.
  • Badass Longcoat: Soma and Julius. Soma's looks like a fur coat.
  • Bait-and-Switch Boss: The Giant Bat appears, only to be crushed by Balore. You get the Giant Bat soul anyway in the room after the boss room.
  • Ballistic Bone: Humerus-ly deconstructed with Skeletons absent-mindedly throwing away their own heads along with bones.
  • Battle Theme Music:
    • There's a boss music for Julius (a combination of two old tunes, "Don't Wait Until Night" and "Heart of Fire").
    • There's also a separate boss theme for fighting Graham, and Chaos, the final boss, has two separate battle themes for both its phases. There is also both a regular boss theme used for most bosses, and a major boss theme used for Creaking Skull and Balore.
  • Berserk Button: Graham Jones doesn't take kindly when someone other than him shows signs of being Dracula.
  • BFS: There are many ones. For example, Claimh Solais, which is bigger than Soma himself.
  • Big Bad: Graham tries to set himself up as Dracula's successor in the belief that, having been born the day Dracula died, he is himself Dracula's reincarnation.
  • Bishōnen Line: Soma is chronologically the latest incarnation of Dracula, and by far the bishi-est.
  • Blessed with Suck: Soma is Dracula. This gives him many powerful abilities, but also means that a bunch of people attempt to either turn him into Dracula proper for ulterior motives, or to eliminate and replace him to gain his power.
  • "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 collecting since Castlevania II: Simon's Quest.
    • The names of many enemies are misspelled. "Curly" should be Kali, "Skull Millione" should be Scarmiglione, "Lubicant" should be Rubicante and the soul of Scylla has been renamed "Skulla" for whatever reason.
    • Instead of fixing these, the Compilation Rerelease added more. One of the rerelease's Anti-Frustration Features is a gadget that pops up every time you hit an enemy to show if you already collected their soul or not. The Mudman is listed on the gadget as "Madman".
    • A handful of souls have decidedly unhelpful or outright wrong descriptions. For instance, the game claims the Dead Warrior allows the player to "deflect normal attacks by pressing UP + B," when what it really does is allow the player to cancel their own normal attacks by using a Bullet soul. The Zombie Officer soul's description says "Jumping while taking damage restores health," but all it does is allow Soma to cancel aerial knockback by jumping after taking a hit.
    • The weapon names. A holy spear is named "Ronginus' Spear" (as in Saint Longinus, who pierced Jesus's side with a lance on the cross), Katar was renamed to "Cutall", the Claiomh Solais is mispelled as "Claimh Solais", the list goes on.
    • When Mina explains the myth that inspired the idea to seal Dracula's castle in a solar eclipse, the goddess Amaterasu Ōkami is mistranslated as "Tensho Daijin" due to a complete misreading of the kanji used to write her name.
  • Book Ends: Depending on how you look at it, Aria of Sorrow provides the ultimate closure for Dracula. For one, compare Soma to Mathias; the color of their garments and hair are almost completely reversed. In Lament of Innocence, we see Mathias falling out with the Belmonts and the beginning of his descent into darkness. In the Sorrow games, Soma gets to live a relatively blissful life, has a good ally in the form of Julius Belmont, and, just as he is the latest incarnation of Dracula, his love interest Mina Hakuba is heavily implied to be the reincarnation of Elisabetha Cronqvist, as Lisa was before her. Perhaps God gave Mathias another shot at happiness?
  • Boring, but Practical:
    • The Medusa Head Soul makes you hover in the air for a pittance of mana. Almost indefinitely, in a game featuring bosses with raised weak points whose attacks sweep the ground.
    • The Headhunter boss's soul is a passive soul and guaranteed drop that grants boosts to all stats but LCK based on how many souls he's collected. Unless you're actively avoiding killing monsters as much as possible...
    • Giant Ghost soul 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. Boy, are you ever going to miss it in the sequel.
    • Any soul that increases LCK (such as the ghost dancers) is a generally good go-to "passive" soul to have active when exploring the castle, since it also increases your chances of getting more souls in the process.
  • Boss Rush: Present as an unlockable mode.
  • Call-Back:
    • During the intro cutscene, a large amount of enemies appear in the starting area and surround Soma and Mina. Arikado makes short work of all but one enemy with a spell, turning them into orbs of light that fly into him. To be specific, he uses Soul Steal — almost exactly as it first appeared in Symphony of the Night.
    • 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.
  • The Chosen One: Soma, though as the chosen villain instead of hero (but luckily for him, he is able to resist).
  • Church Militant: Yoko Belnades is a witch trained by the Church.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Hammer. Used to lampshade the oddity of opening a weapon shop on the doorstep of a magical castle full of monsters.
  • Collector of Forms: Implied to be the case with the boss known only as "Headhunter." She normally looks like a headless woman in 17th century garb; however, by putting heads from her collection on her neck she can transform into different shapes. For example, putting the head of a lizard-like creature turns her into one and gives her the ability to climb walls. And she's vocally eager to add your head to her collection...
  • Collision Damage: With Julius as the only exception in Aria.
  • Color-Coded Characters:
    • We have Hammer wearing green, Yoko's first outfit contains pink, Julius is in brown, and Graham wears 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. 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 yellow while the latter is blue, which has been in the series since Castlevania: Rondo of Blood.
  • Colour-Coded Timestop: Chronomage's soul. It's even called Time Stop. However, it doesn't work on some enemies, and it's crucial to killing Sky Fish.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • The save rooms have Alucard's save coffin in the background. Makes sense, considering it's implied Alucard is also venturing through Castlevania at the same time Soma is.
    • Graham's second form is similar to that of Dracula's in Symphony: a large mass of flesh in the background with huge hands on the sides that swipe at you.
  • Cool Old Guy: Julius Belmont. In his fifties or no, he can still storm the castle with the best of them.
  • Creator Provincialism: After centuries of Dracula's Eternal Recurrence throughout the series, he is finally defeated for good when Julius Belmont joins forces with the heretofore unmentioned Hakuba clan of Japan to seal Dracula's castle inside of a solar eclipse. This intrinsically ties the plot of both Sorrow games to Japan, a location that had been mostly ignored up to this point.
  • Creatures by Many Other Names: The Cockatrice and the Basilisk are pretty much palette swaps, although mythological, speaking, they're very different, which is Call a Pegasus a "Hippogriff".
  • Dark Fantasy: A much more explicit case than most of the games in the franchise. With Soma's Power of Dominance, you eat and absorb enemies' souls to gain their abilities.
  • Degraded Boss: All the early bosses, like Creaking Skull, Manticore, or Great Armor, later become regular enemies.
  • Determinator: Julius Belmont, who defeats Dracula once and for all (with some help from Alucard, admittedly), then returns in his fifties and beats the ever-loving crap out of Dracula's reincarnation. He returns one year later in the sequel and (though non-canonical) does it again.
  • Developer's Foresight: The Red Minotaur enemy gains a new attack in the Top Floor area that involves tossing its axe in the air, charging forward to catch it, and bringing it down on Soma. But if the player uses the Chronomage soul to freeze time and interrupt the attack, the axe will fall off the screen and the Red Minotaur will be reduced to charging and uppercutting the player.
  • Devil Complex: Graham Jones is completely convinced that they are Dracula's Reincarnation because he's born the day he died. While he has demon-related supernatural abilities, he's also completely wrong; the real reincarnation is the protagonist Soma.
  • Difficult, but Awesome: The Final Guard soul. It's a rare drop from a very tough enemy (making it a pain to even acquire in the first place), can only be used on the ground, freezes you in place and stops you from doing anything else while it's active, and has an excruciating MP cost. However, it grants instant invincibility on demand so long as you're grounded and provides even more lengthy invincibility frames if you block an attack — during which you can deactivate the soul and move or attack again.
  • Disc-One Final Dungeon: The Top Floor is a pretty by-the-book example, with its high octane soundtrack, the sometimes hellish backdrop, little details like the animated armor letting Soma past, and of course the final battle taking place in the throne room as is tradition, against Graham, who does a pretty damn good job living up to his claims of being Dracula. Only the dangling plot thread of Julius and his whip and the easy to miss and easy to forget sealed entrance in the floating gardens hint that there's more game past this area.
  • Disc-One Nuke:
    • The Nightmare soul. Possible to acquire early, powerful for the entire game, for a reasonable MP cost too.
    • The very first enemies, 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 weapon, it does a surprising amount of damage with its good ATK boost and high speed.
  • 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.
    • 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: Though you'll need Malphas' soul to do it.
  • Easy Amnesia: Played straight with "J" or Julius Belmont, who loses his memories after the trauma of finally slaying Dracula, yet regains them after going on a sabbatical at his castle.
  • Eldritch Abomination: Chaos, a good contender for the most Eldritch of any abomination in the entire franchise.
  • Eldritch Location: The Chaotic Realm. It's a surreal amalgamation of rooms mashed together with no real thought for logic, are isolated from the rest of the castle in some way, and contain the True Final Boss.
  • 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. Interestingly, certain weapons such as the Kaiser Knuckle, the Killer Mantle's soul, and Balore's soul have no attribute assigned to them, allowing them to bypass resistances. This allows them to make short work of a Final Guard, who are resistant to all attributes in the game otherwise.
  • Elephant in the Living Room: Death is repeatedly stated to be Dracula's closest confidant in other games in the series, so you would think he would have something to say to the reincarnation of his old friend. On the contrary, though, this game and the sequel are some of the only games released after Castlevania: Symphony of the Night where Death has no speaking role at all. Maybe Dracula's defeat in 1999 had some permanent effect on him?
  • 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.
  • Entertainingly Wrong: Graham Jones believes that since he was born with magical powers on the day that Dracula was killed that he has inherited Dracula's powers. He's not entirely off-base, given that he can exert some control over Dracula's castle, but he's missing one key piece of information, namely that Dracula's Power of Dominance is residing in someone else.
  • Evil Is Visceral: In a word, Graham's final form is disgusting. For those with a strong stomach... 
  • Excalibur in the Stone: The Excalibur weapon allows you to swing an enormous sword, and the stone it's still embedded in.
  • Eye Beams: Balore, though it takes form slightly differently. Strangely, his soul has nothing to do with lasers...
  • Eyes Do Not Belong There: Graham's One-Winged Angel form has eyes on its hands.Chaos's true form also has four eyes in each corner of its room; destroying them lowers the core's defense.
  • Fantasy Gun Control: Subverted. There are modern firearms, but they're very scarce and come much later in the game than needed. By the time you pick them up, you'll likely have swords that far outclass them.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Graham Jones is extremely kind and polite to Soma, but later admits that this is solely because he doesn't see Soma as a threat. The moment Soma unwittingly implies that he may have inherited Dracula's powers, Graham's demeanor changes completely to murderous rage.
  • Fetus Terrible: Legion's shell of bodies invokes the image of a fetus in the womb, and defeating it reveals the inner core is a cage that really does contain a fetus of some kind. Notably, defeating Legion without completely destroying its outer shell causes the fetus to burn up after the cage breaks, but if you fully destroyed the shell, it instead floats into the air and briefly opens its eyes before transforming into a red soul to be absorbed by Soma. note 
  • Fiery Lion: The Ars Goetia demon Buer is a lion head on a flaming wheel.
  • Final Boss: Notably one of the only 2D games where Dracula isn't the final boss. Instead, it features Chaos.
  • Final Dungeon Preview: About halfway through the game, Soma passes through the Top Floor of Dracula's Castle to get to the Inner Quarters. The Top Floor is the final area of the game, though this is subverted if the player unlocks the Golden Ending.
  • Flunky Boss: Legion, the corpses of whose shell can drop out and attack on their own.
  • Foreshadowing: Once you obtain the Flame Demon soul and use its exceedingly familiar attack, you might be able to guess The Reveal.
  • Full-Frontal Assault:
    • The succubus enemy is completely naked, although the pixelated nature renders any sensitive bits undiscernable. The sequel would opt to make them Stripperific instead.
    • Cagnazzo and it's variants are the male example, with a visible (albiet undetailed) penis that can be seen upon closer inspection.
  • Hard Mode Perks: Certain items will only spawn/be collectable in Hard Mode despite being spotted early on in normal mode. The most notable of these is Death's Scythe, which makes soul collecting much easier. However, since Hard Mode can only be unlocked after beating the game on Normal once, the player will be forced to at least play Normal Mode once before they can get any Hard Mode loot.
  • Gashadokuro: The first boss, Creaking Skull, is a gigantic skeleton without legs (as its body has collapsed under its own weight) and a bone club. It's encountered again in the Dance Hall, where Soma can get its "Guardian Big Bone" soul ability, which creates its club hand. It can also later be encountered as the "Giant Skeleton", now lime-green and without the fire breath. Killing the Giant Skeleton grants the ability to lob big skulls.
  • Gender Bender: The Curly soul will briefly turn Soma into the female enemy.
  • Glass Cannon:
    • On a New Game Plus on Hard Mode, 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.
  • God Was My Copilot: You know that odd guy who keeps telling you what to do, helps you understand your power, and protects all Distressed Damsels in the area? Well, he's not God, but Alucard is the next best thing in this series.
  • Golden Ending: 100% in either exploration or soul collection changes the best ending a little, with Soma bragging about how cool he's become and Mina holding his hand at the very end.
  • Gotta Catch Them All: Collecting all attainable souls comes with the reward of the Chaos Ring, which constantly regenerates MP faster than you could ever hope to deplete it — in other words, unlimited MP.
  • Grand Finale: The good ending marks the conclusion of the battle between Dracula and the Belmont clan. Soma manages to defeat the evil of Castlevania that sought to turn him into Dracula again.
  • Grand Theft Me: This is how Dracula came Back from the Dead in the bad ending, via his reincarnation Soma Cruz.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: Aria of Sorrow establishes that Chaos is this for the entire series, despite its lack of sentience.
  • Great Offscreen War: The assault on Dracula's castle in 1999, in which Dracula was finally killed for good and his castle sealed inside an eclipse. This event directly results in the whole story of Aria of Sorrow. Unlike every other instance, this wasn't just a lone hero traversing the castle and fighting Dracula, but it also involved contemporary military forces, as seen in the zombies of the soldiers.
  • Guide Dang It!:
    • The steps to unlocking the real ending. 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.
    • How to get Legion's soul, the only boss whose Soul you may get or not. note  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 in that run. This does not affect story progression, but does lock you out of 100% Completion and makes one of the hardest boss fights in the game much harder.
    • Getting through the waterfall is quite the confusion, as it requires the use of two souls in conjucture to get through. Specifically, Undine which is logical to have by that point and any other soul that rushes you further such as the Curly soul. While the solution is quite literally written on the wall of the room, it's in the form of small drawings that can be rather hard to notice and figure out.
    • To a lesser extent, Julius Mode's primary mechanic. Yes, you can get to the Final Boss Graham almost immediately since Julius starts with all his abilities unlocked, but if you do that the boss will destroy you. Turns out, Julius "levels up" only after defeating the game's bosses, so you need to go around and defeat them before you can effectively stand up to the final boss.
  • Guns Are Worthless: Played mostly straight, 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' 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).
  • The Gunslinger: Soma can equip guns if you can find them.
  • Hard Mode Perks: Playing on Hard mode increases the chances that enemies will drop their souls if you don't already have them. Additionally, some unique and powerful items like Death's Robe can only be obtained in Hard mode.
  • Helpful Mook: Bone Pillars allow you to stand on them, as do the Catoblepas and Gorgons. If you don't have double jump or flight (and even if you do), they can help you reach slightly higher places.
  • 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 will emit jets of bright red blood with a distinctive spraying sound.
  • Holy Hand Grenade: The Claimh Solais sword, Ronginus' Spear, and the Valkyrie soul.
  • Hot Witch:
    • Yoko Belnades, who doubles as a Cool Big Sis to both Soma and Mina.
    • The normal Witch enemies as well. Sometimes you just want to stand there and watch them bounce.
  • I Just Want to Be Special: Graham Jones is exactly this. While normally an Affably Evil antagonist throughout the game, he breaks down when confronted with the possibility that he is not the reincarnation of Count Dracula as he had believed his whole life. It reaches its peak in the Throne Room if Soma battles him with Dracula's souls equipped and proves himself the true successor to the Dark Lord.
  • Improbably Female Cast: The Inner Quarters. Practically all of the enemies there are Cute Monster/Humanoid Girls of one kind or another. Fun fact: If the results of using a certain debug code are any guide, the area was originally going to be called "The Harem."
  • Infinity +1 Sword: The Claimh Solais or the Chaos Ring + Red Minotaur soul. Completing Boss Rush Mode nets you three more in the form of the Valmanway, Excalibur, and the positron rifle.
  • Interface Spoiler: Soma plays far more similarly to Alucard in Castlevania: Symphony of the Night than any other Castlevania protagonist which, combined with Yoko's allusions to them having similar powers, is a huge hint about Soma's identity.
  • It Came from the Fridge: The Spoiled Milk item. "It expired THREE YEARS ago."
  • Item Farming: 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...
  • Kaizo Trap: Death is capable of pulling this. Upon defeat, Death lets his scythe go spinning through the air — except it still has a (very large) hitbox, meaning it can easily hit and potentially kill an unwary Soma.
  • Knockback Evasion: The Zombie Officer soul allows you to stop aerial knockback, while the Iron Golem soul 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. Even better, ducking allows Soma to lag cancel his backdash, and some attacks cut off the ducking animation, thus allowing him to attack even faster by lag cancelling his lag cancel.
  • 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.
  • Late-Arrival Spoiler:
    • None of the official materials post-Aria have bothered to hide the reveal that Soma is Dracula's re-incarnation. In fact, this was considered a selling point of Aria of Sorrow pretty early on in its run, with fans of the series eager to play through Castlevania as the Dark Lord himself.
    • Played with in terms of Genya Arikado's identity. He is so heavily implied to be Alucard in all of his appearances that it is practically impossible to miss, but the Sorrow main stories avoid coming right out and saying it. It's largely treated as an open secret by fans and the series' creators regardless.
    • Dracula was killed once and for all in 1999 by the last Belmont descendant. This is one of the first pieces of exposition the player is given in Aria of Sorrow and is simply treated matter-of-factly from that point on.
  • Legendary Weapon: The Vampire Killer Whip becomes this, if not already. Even in the future with modernized weaponry, the whip of the Belmonts is still the ideal weapon against the forces of the undead. Julius revealed he had sealed the Vampire Killer somewhere in Castlevania in order to weaken the castle's dark influence and slow its recovery.
  • Lethal Joke Item: The Waiter Skeleton soul. Try it on an Iron Golem.
  • Light Is Not Good: Graham, dressed in an all-white suit with white hair (even though he's only 36 during the events of Aria). His One-Winged Angel form is a pale mockery of Dracula's final form from Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, complete with a "halo" of a golden ring looped through the eye sockets of two stark white women and a much larger halo made of skulls raining down devastating beams of light.
  • Losing Your Head: Skeletons may absentmindedly throw their own head, not that it'll stop them from throwing more bones.
  • Maou the Demon King: Dracula is finally Killed Off for Real when his castle (the personification of his power) is sealed inside of a solar eclipse. However, the forces of Chaos (the aggregate of all human evil) reincarnate him as Soma Cruz. Soma refuses to become the new Dark Lord, but this simply means that Chaos will wait until another candidate is born that will accept the role. In the non-canon bad ending, Soma does become the new Dark Lord and is an exact copy of Dracula gameplay-wise.
  • Marilyn Maneuver: Various wind effects can make certain female enemies like the Student Witch or the Persephone go through this.
  • Meido: The Persephone enemy, a cutesy ninja maid that debuted in Castlevania Chronicles.
  • Miko: Mina is a member of the Hakuba Shrine. She even wears the proper attire.
  • Money Grinding: The Soul Eater Ring costs a whopping 300,000 gold, far more than you could have by playing the game normally. Some form of grinding, whether for money directly or for equipment to sell, is absolutely required.
  • Multiple Endings: Comes with three endings — the lame one (where everything is cut short and you don't learn anything), the bad one (where Soma turns evil and becomes the Dark Lord), and the good one (where everyone lives happily ever after, more or less). This was carried to the sequel.
  • Musical Nod: Julius's theme 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 trend of reusing Haunted Castle music.
  • My Name Is ???: Shows up whenever someone speaks whose name hasn't been revealed. Usually when they speak for the first time, as the second time will likely involve them introducing themselves.
  • Ninja Maid: Persephone. She stands prim and proper when you enter the room, then as you approach, she does a courtsy and welcomes you (in Japanese)... Then proceeds to assault you with kicks.
  • Noodle Incident: The Battle of 1999 has not been featured in any game.
  • Nostalgia Level: Almost every enemy in the Floating Garden is a creature or summon from Castlevania: Circle of the Moon.
  • Older Than They Look: Graham was born on the day of Dracula's destruction in 1999. Aria takes place in 2035.
  • Orbiting Particle Shield: The game has the Buer soul, which are fire particles, and more appear the more copies of the soul you have.
  • Ordinary High-School Student: Soma starts out as exactly this.
  • Our Cryptids Are More Mysterious: In addition to Castlevania staples like demons and legendary monsters, Aria of Sorrow throws in a tsuchinoko, a cryptid from Japanese folklore. It acts as a Metal Slime, there being only one in the game, appearing randomly in one room, and quickly burrowing away if it gets damaged too much without dying.
  • Outside-the-Box Tactic: The game has a specific unusual "attack" that is the only practical way to kill a certain enemy. The game makes it fairly obvious what the attack and the enemy are, though.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: Quick hint to Genya Arikado, pronouncing your name funny does not count as a disguise. Possibly justified, since Genya Arikado is how you would pronounce it in Japan, where Soma lives, and it's not like Soma has any idea that this is an alias for Alucard.
  • Parrot Exposition: Soma has a tendency to repeat things being told to him, though admittedly all of it sounds kind of fantastical.
  • Permanently Missable Content: Legion will only drop its soul if you destroy all four pieces of its outer shell before destroying the core. As Legion does not respawn again for that playthrough after you kill it, you cannot gain 100% souls and the Chaos Ring until you reach that point again in New Game Plus.
  • 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. Alternatively, you may eat it and run around at low hit points while spamming your "best used at low HP" attacks like Lubicant. The key to every Boss Rush Speed Run.
  • Polite Villains, Rude Heroes: At the beginning, Arikado is aloof and closemouthed, and Graham is chatty and helpful.
  • Post-Defeat Explosion Chain: Aria of Sorrow's true ending has the castle explode repeatedly before imploding.
  • Post-End Game Content: Boss Rush Mode and Julius Mode.
  • Power Up Letdown: Trying to summon using the Killer Fish soul results in the fish dying unless you're underwater. The soul description does warn you about this side effect.
  • Pretty in Mink: Soma's fur collar.
  • The Promise: Soma gets Julius to promise to kill him if he turns evil.
    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 the 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.
  • Punched Across the Room: Balore might be big and slow, but if he hits you, it'll hurt.
  • Random Drop: Enemies can drop souls, one or two items and sometimes money and hearts.
  • Random Drop Booster: In addition to the Rare Ring for items, the Soul Eater Ring increases the chance for souls.
  • Rare Random Drop: Some souls can be stupidly hard to get:
    • Tsuchinoko can just straight up leave the room, so you need to be decently powerful and/or hope it feels like co-operating to get even a chance of having its soul. And then you need to hope the RNG co-operates as well, although its drop rate isn't too terrible. So as long as you're strong enough to kill it decently quickly, it's much easier to get.
    • Sky Fish gives a Stealth Hi/Bye.
  • Real-Time Weapon Change: When he's playable, Julius can switch sub-weapons with a single button press.
  • Really 700 Years Old: Genya Arikado is actually the immortal dhampyr Alucard, and around six hundred years old by the time the game takes place.
  • Reincarnation Romance: It's implied that Mina Hakuba is the reincarnation of Elisabetha and Lisa, as in Bram Stoker's Dracula, where Dracula's reincarnated wife was named Mina Harke.
  • Religion of Evil: The Big Bad is the head of a sect that focused on the apocalypse.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: Dracula's castle is kept sealed away within an eclipse.
  • Sequence Breaking:
    • You can actually ignore two areas and just go directly to the Floating Garden. 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.
    • Wonky collision detection makes it possible to clip into walls while riding on the back of a Catoblepas or Gorgon, as well as use the Giant Bat soul to turn virtually every solid wall into a warp zone. Proper application of the two can result in Soma warping from the Castle Corridor to the warp room in the Chapel to fetch the Malphas soul, warping from the Floating Garden to the Arena for the Giant Bat soul, warping from there to the Top Floor en route to an even more advanced warp into the Forbidden Area for the Claimh Solais before finally warping into the Chaotic Realm, right in front of Chaos' chamber for the final boss battle.
  • Sequential Boss: A two-stage fight with Graham for the normal ending. Beating him with the three souls that best represent Dracula's powers (Giant Bat, Succubus, and Flame Demon) equipped let you progress further in the game to fight Chaos so you don't turn into Dracula (losing to him causes exactly that to happen) in another two-stage battle.
  • Shown Their Work: There's actually going to be a total solar eclipse in Japan in 2035, even if it won't be the first in the 21st Century. Also, there was indeed a total solar eclipse in 1999, the maximum being in Romania, where Dracula's castle usually reappears. Soma is 18 years old in the game, meaning he was born in 2017, possibly implying that he was born during the August 2017 eclipse. That eclipse, as well as the 1999 and 2035 eclipses, are all part of the same Saros series, being 18 years apart.
  • Spell My Name with an S: The English version 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. It also turns 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.
  • Stealth Sequel: At first, it seems like Aria of Sorrow takes place in its own contained storyline. However, late into the game you find out that Soma is the reincarnation of Dracula and the Arikado is Alucard under a different alias, making it apparent the game is a direct sequel to Castlevania: Symphony of the Night.
  • Stock Weapon Names: The Claimh Solais, a.k.a. the Sword of Light, which was the sword of a leader of the legendary Tuatha Dé Danann.
  • The Stoic: Arikado and Julius. Both are never seen laughing throughout the game — let alone smiling at all.
  • Superpowerful Genetics: Julius, Yoko, and Arikado get their abilities from these.
  • Super Speed: Sky Fish zips across the screen at super-high speed, moving from one side to the other in a split-second. Consequently, it's very difficult to hit at normal speed. You'll require the Chronomage ability to slow it down enough to actually hit it.
  • Surprisingly Happy Ending: The Castlevania saga ends not with the final destruction of Dracula, but with his redemption, the final destruction of the source of his evil, powers and castle, and a second chance for him to live a good life.
  • Sweeping Laser Explosion: Balore will start firing Eye Beams that leave trail of fire behind once he enters his second phase.
  • Taken for Granite: Stone status paralyzes you until you finish Button Mashing. Attacks that hit while in stone form cause double damage, even when the petrifying hit throws you into spikes.
  • This Cannot Be!: Part of Graham's final words when defeated the right way.
  • This Is Gonna Suck: In the extended ending, Soma begs for mercy upon realizing Julius is dead-set on killing him to prevent him becoming Dracula.
  • Tomato in the Mirror: Turns out that Soma is Dracula.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Soma, according to his dialogue in the best ending.
  • Trial Balloon Question: Soma asks Mina if she'll still like him if he's Not Himself. Confused, she tells him that no, she wouldn't if he changes too much. Unlike most examples, she immediately realizes that something is amiss for him to suddenly ask that, but doesn't figure out what exactly prompted the question in the first place (considering Soma tends to run off if she tries).
  • Tsuchinoko: There's a tsuchinoko as a particularly elusive enemy that serves as a Metal Slime not because it drops a lot of money if killed, but because possessing its soul reduces prices at the shop. It appears in a single room, and not every time you enter it, and tends to disappear quickly.
  • Underground Monkey: There're many, many palette-swapped enemies with slight differences in their stats or behavior.
  • Under the Sea: As per Metroidvania rules, you'll need an upgrade to get far.
  • Unique Enemy: The Chronomage, Tsuchinoko, and Sky Fish. There are a few enemies that don't have a gimmick but only spawn in one room anyway though.
  • The Very Definitely Final Dungeon: The Chaotic Realm. It's more played up than usual for the IGA-made Castlevania games, being much longer, and having a map screen separate from all of the previous areas in the game. It is inaccessible in Julius Mode, leaving the Top Floor as this instead.
  • 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. You have to beat bosses to get the soul in the next room, which is often of a completely different creature
  • Video Game Sliding: Soma gains this ability if he finds the Skeleton Blaze item.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Upon killing Graham Jones, who believed himself to be Dracula's reincarnation. He finds out the hard way he's not.
  • Weird Moon: 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.
  • Wham Line:
    Soma: Finally... I clearly understand... everything. I am... Dracula.
  • With This Herring: Soma starts with nothing but a knife and the clothes on his back. Justified in this case, as his plan for the day was to, effectively, go to his not-girlfriend's house and watch a solar eclipse. He certainly wasn't expecting to be transported to Dracula's frickin' castle to fight for his life, and it's actually a small miracle he had the knife at all. You'd expect Arikado — who was there at the beginning, gets him started on the quest and, y'know, is Alucard — to at least have a sword for him or something, though.
  • You Have Researched Breathing: There're 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. There's also the Skeleton Blaze soul, which lets you slide, but unlike the former souls, it's necessary to progress in the game.
  • Your Soul Is Mine!: The basis of Soma's powers. He can steal the souls of the monsters he kills, and use their abilities.


Alternative Title(s): Aria Of Sorrow

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