Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow (GBA): COMPLETED!

So I went rummaging around for three books that Mina suggested I might need. I actually had one already, and the other two were found pretty easily once I’d taken a good look at the map. I found another boss (Legion) who was alarmingly easy to kill, and then got another soul or three.

After all that, I had the books required, and the three souls it was suggested I equip (Flame Armour, Succabus, and Giant Bat – all traits of Dracula, if you think about it…), so I set them all up and went after Graham again. He was even easier to kill than last time! Not least because the Succabus soul gives you HP each time you get a hit in. Oh, and I was on Level 39 instead of 32 or something too.

Then a thing happened that I won’t say as it’s a spoiler, and then instead of the game being over, I could carry on playing. Got another soul and some better armour from the room just past Graham, then set off to the black mist door (with the floating garden baddies now complete walkovers – even the huge Devil which previously took a billion hits), where I had to fight Julius. He wasn’t easy at all, as it turned out, and I used just about all my potions on him. Managed it though, then retreated back to Hammer to get more supplies, saved my game, then stepped into the Quantum Leap acceleratorwarp to Chaos and vanished.

Soma awoke to find himself trapped in the pastin a twisted version of the castle, where going from one room to another seemed to warp him around the various areas I’d previously been through. It almost became a SuckySuck(TM) bit, as there were loads of previous bosses, but since they’re all really weak now, or I could just skip them (flying bat powaz FTW), I won’t complain.

Then Chaos came. And he was easy. Like, realy easy. OK – not as easy as Dracula at the end of Harmony of Dissonance, but still pretty simple to beat. And the game was over – properly this time, with the happy ending and everything!

Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow (GBA)

Bossaroo! Did the third boss-room-that-isn’t-a-boss first of all today, and then moved on to the actual next boss. At first, it seemed like it was going to be a giant bat, but then a huge hand came out of nowhere and squashed the bat, killing it.

Instead, I had to kill the two hands and two eyes of a, uh, thing. Balgone? Something like that anyway. It was actually pretty easy once I’d sussed the fact you could jump on the hands as long as they weren’t swiping.

Then I got a soul to turn me into a bat, opening up more areas of the map. Went and got all the small areas I’d previously been unable to get to done first, before moving on to a new area with some really hard baddies in (flying things with pitchforks, succabuses, harder versions of previous bosses, etc.) and found a save point in a tower. Then, found another boss – Graham.

He did Dracula’s classic “warp then shoot fireballs” attack at first, and then morphed into a huge thing with grabby hands and a storm cloud thing. He seemed impossible, until I realised you could tell which hand was going to grab at you, so you got a chance to dodge. So I killed him, and then the credits came up and the game was complete!

So why no “COMPLETED!” in the title of this post? Because I think the game is lying. The end boss seemed too easy (although, that was also the case with Harmony of Dissonace), but also I’m only at 86% of the castle complete, there’s that swirly black door thing to get past yet, and the ending didn’t seem quite “right”. Also, it didn’t unlock any other modes, unlike every other recent Castlevania game does. So there’s more, kiddies!

Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow (GBA)

Death = DEAD! Well, sort of. He got sucked into some sort of whirlpool thing. I’d got the lightning doll soul, which really helps, and gone up a couple of levels. In the room just past Death was a soul giving me the power to swim (I guess Soma never got his bronze swimming certificate), so off I went into the waterways in the bottom of the map.

Found lots of new baddies, souls, weapons (I now have an ice sword which is way more powerful than the hrunting), and a ring. Did get a bit stuck though, but eventually found my way into a new area with loads of beam skeletons and stuff.

And then, I found not one, but two boss doors. Neither of which had a boss behind them, instead having a difficult room each and a weapon and armour at the end of each. Did those, and levelled up a bit more. I’m now on Level 28.

Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow (GBA)

Well. It looks like Death is the next boss after all. I spent ages exploring every single part of the map that I could get to, and found some more weapons, potions and armour (and collected a few souls along the way), but found no other bosses.

Now I have to traipse half-way around the castle again to get back to him! Bah.

Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow (GBA)

I’m lost. I think. I killed another boss, and got a power-up to do the Jesus thing and walk on water, which let me access a couple of new areas. However, I then stumbled into some kind of garden filled with giant chickens, and then into some strange castles in the sky that are linked together in a strange way with really difficult wear-jaguars (or something) and devils in.

Then I appeared to be in a clock tower, and it was difficult with loads of Medusa heads and dragons and Disc Armours in. And then, I found Death. Surely I shouldn’t be up to Death yet? I mean, he’s usually at the end of the game? I tried to kill him, and it took ages to defeat his first form and then his second form killed me. So I don’t think I should be there…

I backtracked a bit, but the castles in the sky warped me around again and I ended up in a place with a black cloud blocking a door, and I don’t know what to do there. Eventually, I managed to make it back to known territory and saved the game. An upside of my wanderings is that I now have over 50% of the map open.

Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow (GBA)

I’m 35% through this already! Lawks. Killed the Manticore easily this time, as I found that if you stand in the doorway, you can’t be hit. Grenade-tastic!

After that, it was STOP! Hammertime! As in, I met Hammer. And he told me he was going to set up a shop by the castle entrance. As you do. I then collected a soul that gave me a double-jump (finally!) and had a bit of an explore some more, heading vaguely to Hammer’s shop, and finding a few new routes and a warp point along the way.

Killed some more bosses, including a huge suit of armour and a thing which kept swapping heads, and have the group slide power-up too.

I’ve also got a nifty broadsword now, which is a bit slower than my previous weapon of choice, but does waaaaay more damage and has a wider killing arc, meaning I can swipe it at things above and below me. I’ve improved my armour as well, buying War Fatigues from Hammer, and have a soul which boosts my strength. However, I’m now in an area with some witches and persephones and it’s a bit hard.

Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow (GBA)

Squeezed a bit more of this game into my day, exploring an area I’d have found far more easily if I’d actually looked at the map I’d found.

Worked my way up into some sort of bell tower, but couldn’t find anything to do up there, so came back down again. I then found another save point, followed by a Manticore boss, that killed me. So it’s harder than Harmony if nothing else…

Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow (GBA)

So, no sooner had I finished Harmony, I was on to Aria. They’re even on the same cartridge (hence the same box art on the left there), so I didn’t have to swap games or anything. Ace.

Only played for about half an hour so far, and Soma’s sword (rather than Juste/Nathan’s whip) is taking a bit of getting used to. I’ve already found a few things about Harmony that I prefer to this (yes, I know – and I didn’t like that as much as Circle), such as the ability to save anywhere, and the ability to equip more concurrent items. However, since Aria has a primitive version of Dawn of Sorrow‘s soul system, you get to use several magical items at once. Graphically, it’s very lovely, and the silly blue glow of Juste is no more, which is good.

I’ve killed a huge skeleton-with-no-legs boss, gone up abut 4 levels already, upgraded my weapon and armour, got a soul to let me jump further, have assorted other souls, and have run out of places to go already. Hurrah!

Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance (GBA): COMPLETED!

Well. After getting a couple of keys, I was able to get around pretty much the entire map. Picked up the Griffin’s Wing and Crush Boots too, so I then could get round the entire map, and killed a few more bosses on the way and collected fahsands more power-ups and some well ace armour. I reached Level 48 or so, and my DEF stat was so high that almost no enemy could deal out more than a couple of damage to me. Even some of the bosses that were left barely scratched me. Excellent.

Then I found, right at the very top of the map, part of Dracula’s body. This opened a passageway – and I knew it was the blocked hole in the floor near the middle of the map. So, I set off down there, bought loads of Potions and High Potions, and saved next to the hole before jumping in to kill…

Maxim? What, no Dracula? Well, I was expecting Maxim then Dracula, but no – just Maxim. Who was easy. And then it was game over and I’d won. Sort of. Not the proper ending, methinks.

A quick search of the internet, and it seems I needed to be in Castle B, not Castle A for the proper ending (and have some specific items equipped). So off I went, only to find the hole in the floor sealed. I didn’t have all the parts of Dracula, apparently. Eventually found his missing eye (nice), and tried again. Hurrah! I was in!

Then there was Maxim to kill again (he was even easier then), and finally Dracula. Well, not Dracula as such, a Dracula Wraith (who was so easy I didn’t even get hit), followed by a second Dracula form. Who was also easy. In fact, I would go so far as to say that Dracula was in fact the easiest boss in the entire game. Tch. So much for my millions of High Potions…

And that was the REAL actual proper happy ending! Completed!

Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance (GBA)

Grr! I’m stuck again! I’ve explored everywhere I can, and even though I now have the smash-through-walls whip attachment, I have exhausted every area there is.

I have killed a couple more bosses (including a Giant Merman), and found a load more HP/MP/heart Max power-ups, and have explored 125% of the castle(s) now, but I have no idea where to go next. There are loads of doors still locked, a hole in the floor that is sealed, and at least three rooms I can’t navigate as I can’t jump high enough…

Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance (GBA)

After half an hour of searching, and finally resorting to watching the first part of a speedrun on YouTube, I eventually found somewhere I could reach but hadn’t been to yet. And so, I had opened up a huge new area!

In fact, my exploration status went from about 65% of the castle, to 102% in this evening’s play. No, that isn’t a mistake – it turns out there are two castles. Cripes.

Both are effectively the same layout, but with slightly different graphics and enemies. Sort of like the light and dark worlds of Link to the Past. Yeah, so not content with stealing Metroid‘s raison d’etre, Konami have nicked bits of Zelda too. ACE! 🙂

Anyway. I have killed loads of bosses now. There seem to be hundreds of them in this game. Got rid of a giant slime, a giant skeleton, a giant Peeking Eye, and a few other things which were not all giant things. Also pushed a huge Guardian Armour into a clock mechanism, mincing him and spitting out a load of Guardian Armour items I could wear, improving my stats considerably. I’ve also come across Maxim again, who is now slightly less scary than he was previously, and Death, who I couldn’t kill as he ran away.

I’m on about level 26 now too, and have collected a pile of items for Juste’s room. Yeah, he has a room in the castle. I don’t know why. It’s all a bit Pokémon, actually.

Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance (GBA)

Hmm. Some of the flaws are starting to show in this game now. The map isn’t as easy to navigate as in Circle of the Moon, especially in the way that there are rooms which serve no purpose than to slow you down. No baddies, no spikes, just a poorly laid out room to navigate. They’re not hard, just annoying. Then there’s the structure of the bosses. You don’t seem to have to do them all in a specific order, and you don’t get an extra move power-up after each, meaning you wonder why you bothered killing them.

The graphics aren’t as good as Circle either, mainly due to the drab caves, busy bone caverns, awful psychedelic swirly nonsense, and strange character after-effects. Then there’s the problem of not being able to use sub-weapons and spellbooks.

I mean, it’s still good, but it should have been better, really.

Anyway. I’ve killed a couple more bosses (which aren’t that great either, to be honest), and have explored 61% of the castle. I’m totally stuck now though, as I can’t find anywhere to go. Locked doors, sealed holes in the floor, platforms I can’t reach (even though I now have the double-jump power-up) and walls that are clearly breakable (but I can’t break them) block every route. Bah.

Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance (GBA)

And so it’s out with Circle of the Moon, and in with Harmony of Dissonance. I’ve played it for almost an hour and a half already, and I’m enjoying it. There’s something not quite right about it, though. Maybe it’s the way Juste (your character) has a bizarre blue glow and shadow trails. Maybe it’s the fact I had to start again completely powerless. It could be that L and R perform dashes rather than special moves. Or perhaps it’s that you don’t have DSS (like Circle, which is effectively the same as the souls in Dawn of Sorrow for the DS). It could even be that you don’t feel like you’re actually in a castle for much of it (so far), with strange rooms and caves and caverns and things.

But in other ways, it’s more like Castlevania. Specifically, some of the baddies from Super Castlevania IV reappear, like the bone snake thing, and the bone towers (which were in Circle, bit in a bastardised form). You collect money too, and can manually “twirl” your whip.

And then it has bits like Dawn. Like a shop. And great added bits like the ability to quick save anywhere. You can sort of tell it was made between the SNES and DS games, anyway.

So to the game itself proper then. I’ve killed two bosses already. There was a bat cluster, and a big skeleton with a large sword who I whipped in the kneecaps. I’ve seen about 25% of the map, collected the Ice and Fire books, loads of armour upgrades, and assorted relics including Lizard Tail. I’m really missing the double-tap-to-run and double-jump powers though. I’m sure they’ll become available at some point.

I’m saved up near a boss door for now. That’s for next time’s play, though.

Castlevania: Circle of the Moon (GBA): COMPLETED!

After trying several times to kill Dracula, I gave up. The final boss has two phases: one where he appears and disappears, and has three attacks – poison clouds, laser beam, and meteor strike, and after that he flies around a lot, then turns into a load of bats and a giant eyeball. The first phase was easy, especially if I used the DSS card combo that effectively grants you double energy. The second, however, was not.

Dodging Dracula flying around was simple enough – just use Roc’s Feather to stay at the top of the screen – but the bats and eye was a real pain. I could use Poison Cloud myself to kill most of the bats off, and get a hit or two in with the eye, but most of the time it was unreachable, or a bat somehow dodged the cloud and hit me.

So I left it for a bit, and wandered off to find the card needed for Summons. It was in the hall where I’d previously killed the Golum boss (GameFAQs helped here with it’s Card FAQ), and after a bit more exploring of the castle, gaining another level and some more upgrades, I set about killing Dracula again.

Summoning Thunderbird to get the eyeball worked a treat! I just needed four Summons, and he was dead! The game was over, the credits came up, and I unlocked Magician Mode (where you start will all the cards). Aces!

Castlevania: Circle of the Moon (GBA)

Damn that Devil thing! I either get past it unscathed and then have my HP demolished by the Dark Armours, or the thing kills me. Thankfully, I found a fantastic way of killing Hugh without me losing much energy at all – shoot a load of crucifixes away from him, then jump over him and them as they come back, they all pass though Hugh and Super Damage ensues. Aces.

So after a couple of attempts with this tactic, he was dead. Then I realised that in order to get back to a save point, I had to pass the two Dark Armours and the Devil again! With almost no energy left! Gaaaah!

Thankfully, I fluked it, but then got hit by an Electric Skeleton. It did only 2 damage, but since I only had 3 in total, I was a bit alarmed. But I did it!

I then went and found Dracula and easily saw off his first form, before tailing it out of there and spent an hour exploring the castle more for power-ups, cards and potions and stuff. Suitably powered up, and with a new card combo that halves the damage I can take (effectively giving me double HP), and then tried Dracula’s second form. Five times. And died every time.

I think I have a tactic that’ll win, though…