After thoroughly enjoying my playthrough of Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance, I was looking forward to playing the final entry in the trilogy of Game Boy Advance Castlevania games. When I preordered the Retroid Pocket 3 Plus, I knew Aria of Sorrow would be the perfect game to play on my new handheld emulator as traveled for the holidays.
I wasn’t disappointed.
Allow me to get right to the point, Aria of Sorrow is the best of the Game Boy Advance Castlevania games. Though the music can’t compare to Circle of the Moon, Aria is a tight game with excellent controls and beautifully animated pixel art that surpass either of the previous handheld Castlevania games. The game looks especially attractive on the Retroid Pocket 3 Plus’s comparatively larger 4.7 inch screen (the GBA had a 2.9 inch screen).
Aria of Sorrow is also the shortest of the trilogy, and I think it manages to cram a delightful little story and cast of characters—at least by the standards of the series—into such a short runtime. You don’t have to play the previous games to appreciate this one, but the Aria contains nods to the history of the series.
I will point out that Aria has a substantial difficulty spike in its final third. I feel absolutely no shame about using emulator save states, and neither should you. I don’t need to be a professional vampire hunter like Julius Belmont. I’m just a tourist.
Ultimately, Aria of Sorrow is a worthy successor to the legacy of Symphony of the Night and quite possibly the best Metroidvania game available on the Game Boy Advance.
In my ongoing effort to rank every game that I’ve ever finished, Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow is tentatively ranked 59 out of 254.