Sunday, March 05, 2006

CASTLEVANIA: DAWN OF SORROW --------- (++)


Quality Index: 9.0 (MASTERPIECE)

Gamestats Score: 9.1
IGN Score: 9.3
Gamespy Score: 9.0
Gamespot Score: 8.9
Metacritic Score: 8.9

Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow (commonly abbreviated DoS) is the title of a video game for the Nintendo DS handheld game console, part of Konami's popular Castlevania franchise. The game was first released in August 2005 in Japan. It should be noted that "Dawn of Sorrow" is a play on "DS", the system that this game has been released on, (a subtitling structure that has been used for other games released for the system). This game is known in Japan as Demon Castle Dracula: Cross of the Blue Moon (悪魔城ドラキュラ 蒼月の十字架 Akumajō Dracula: Sōgetsu no Jūjika). The subtitle is also based on "Aria of Sorrow", known as "Minuet of Dawn" in Japan.

The game is a direct sequel to Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow, with Soma Cruz as its protagonist; other characters from Aria of Sorrow also appear in the game, including Genya Arikado and Julius Belmont. It takes place one year after Aria of Sorrow and deals with an enigmatic cult (unrelated to the cult led by Aria of Sorrow antagonist Graham Jones) who seeks to kill Soma and revive the dark power of Dracula sleeping inside him, as a sort of retribution for Soma 'denying his destiny' in becoming the Dark Lord incarnate in the previous game. In the cult's mind, Dracula represents the ultimate evil that must exist for there to be an ultimate good, and with the Dark Lord sealed, that can't happen. Instead of running from this new threat, however, Soma decides to take the initiative and confront his foes head-on, eventually discovering a castle and monsters similar to those owned by Dracula, supposedly constructed by the cult as the scene for the ritual required to sacrifice Soma and revive the vampire lord.

The game also features most of Aria of Sorrow's main gameplay, including the "Enemy Soul system" (Soma's ability to absorb enemies' souls and use their powers). This time Soma can upgrade most abilities by acquiring multiple copies of the same soul. New to the series is the "Magic Seal" system, which makes use of the system's touch screen. Using a finger or stylus, the player must draw an intricate symbol or "seal" on the touch screen to trap defeated boss enemies. If the seal is not drawn correctly, the boss can regenerate energy and continue to fight. The touch screen can also be used to break certain blocks, navigate menus, and control certain familiars.

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