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Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow Review - DS

Gameplay: 9 stars 9
Graphics: 10 stars 10
Audio: 10 stars 10
Multiplayer: 4 stars 4
Innovation: 2 stars 2
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Dawn of Sorrow continues the adventure of Soma Cruz, protagonist of the greatest Castlevania game this side of Symphony of the Night. After defeating evil at Dracula's Castle a year ago, Soma's life returns to normal as he and his friend Mina continue their lives. With Soma's abilities lost after the collapse of the castle, his life regains some normalcy, only to have it shattered when the leader of a cult decides that Soma is worth more dead than alive.

In short, he's a marked man, so what better way to save himself than to run headfirst into danger? With old allies rejoining the fight, Hammer sets up shop in an abandoned village just outside a new, mysterious castle. Yoko returns as well, with Julius Belmont in tow, the former setting up a shop of her own and the ever trusty Belmont rushing into the fray, leaving Soma in his wake.

Dawn does a rudimentary job of covering the basics of plot without dwelling on it too much. If you're a fan of Castlevania, you know the story. If you're not, the quality of this title will no doubt have you looking for its prequel, so either way you're covered. The plot really picks up toward the end, though it takes its sweet time getting there..

The writing is typical in that it touches upon themes such as the soul, destiny, good and evil. The story does its job in that it gives you an excuse to venture forth, and what an adventure it is.


Castlevania starts opens with an action packed anime cut scene, the kind we are seeing more and more often on the DS as cart memory continues to grow.

Castlevania is a member of a genre dubbed by fans as Metroidvania. It features a sprawling 2D map, one world of interconnecting corridors. Progress through the game world is determined by the artefacts you've collected. High ledges can only be reached as you retrieve the double jump, underwater areas once you've acquired water walking and swimming, etc.

The controls are tight, as they would be after more than two decades worth of refinement. Jumping and attacking are standard fare and handle well, with the heavier weapons leaving you more vulnerable as you attack. A new addition to the series is the power attack, which can be activated at any time with the press of a secondary attack button. It uses some of your special meter but delivers extra oomph.

Soma also has the handy ability of absorbing the souls of defeated enemies, which he then uses to enhance his own abilities. There are four types of souls: Bullet, which fire projectiles; Ability, which grant power such as the double jump and swimming; ... (continued next page)