Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow

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US box art.

Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow is a Metroidvania developed and published by Konami for the Nintendo DS on 2005-08-25 and the nineteenth game in the Castlevania series and direct sequel to Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow.

In the game, you play as Soma Cruz who discovers a cult is trying to once again revive Dracula. Your friends and fellow vampire hunters from the previous game go to stop them. Just like in Aria of Sorrow, Soma can collect the souls of his slain enemies to gain their powers.

Personal

When I bought my friend's used DS, I started playing this game, however, a broken right button made me abandon it before I got very far into it. After I got a good Nintendo DS emulator, I started playing it again, but, kept getting bored with it, so I spent months playing it in short spurts. I got the two bad endings, then finally got the good ending on 2022-09-04. I doubt I'll try to beat the unlocked modes like Julius mode, hard mode, or new game plus.

I don't own this game.

Review

Video Game Review Icon - Enjoyment.png Video Game Review Icon - Control.png Video Game Review Icon - Appearance.png Video Game Review Icon - Sound.png Video Game Review Icon - Replayability.png
6 7 10 7 8

Best Version: Nintendo DS

— This section contains spoilers! —

Good

  • As with most 2D Castlevania games, the graphic art is gorgeous. The background scenes are very detailed and the multi-layered parallax scrolling gives them a lot of depth. The enemies and characters are beautifully designed and highly animated many with complex sequences. The new system of rotating and scaling portions of the sprites really makes them feel more alive, as do the 3D backgrounds. The little touches do a lot as well like Soma's breath when he's in the snow.
  • The music, composed largely by Michiru Yamane and Masahiko Kimura, is nice and Gothic, perfectly fitting the theme. Many of the tracks stand well on their own.
  • There is a huge amount of game play and replay value with lots of upgradable weapons, hard mode, new game plus, boss rush, and an unlockable character.
  • The inclusion of mini puzzles like the slider were welcome additions. I also liked the golden locked doors which require you to have a specific amount of gold in order to open them.
  • I like the barrel-throwing ape skeletons inspired by Donkey Kong.

Bad

  • The game feels too similar to Aria of Sorrow, a game which I found to be a bit dull, and, for much of this game, I was a bit bored. Certainly not enough for it to ruin the game, it just dragged on for longer than I would have liked. By the time I beat the proper ending, I had spent over 10 hours playing. Had this been my introduction to the series, I'm sure I would have been far more interested, but, since so much of the content comes from earlier titles, it was more like a replay.
  • Although the game gives you a large variety of weapons to choose from, each with its own attack form, I found most of them to be difficult to use. They either have a tiny hit box, very little range, do very little damage, or all three. I most preferred the great sword and axe forms. They're a little slower than the other weapons, but they do about double the damage and have enormous hit boxes.
  • The stylus-based magic seals are annoying. They don't add any strategy to the game, they only slow down some of the boss battles if you don't accurately memorize or enter them. It's as though the designers just threw them in just to make more use of the DS's touch screen.
  • The mandragora soul, which you can get about halfway through the game, is extremely overpowered, making most of the other red souls pointless. The only one I found to be marginally better was the Killer Clown.
  • As with most Castlevania games, the story is shallow and unimportant. None of the characters, including the protagonist, are very interesting, and Mina exists solely to be a damsel in distress.
  • This is another one of those games where bullets do less damage than daggers. While I understand this from a game mechanics stand point, it's still ruins immersion. Just replace guns with a magic bolt or something to justify the weaker attack.
  • It's a Castlevania staple mechanic, but I still hate that you lose all control and fallback each time you're hit.
  • The game caters too much to Abrahamic mythology saying that a monotheistic god exists. This is a typical trope in the horror genre, but still annoying.
  • Whats the point of having a floor piano if you're not going to make a puzzle around it?

Ugly

  • Nothing.

Media

Box Art

The box art shows all the principle characters with Soma Cruz front and center. The background has a large moon and castle, with some ghostly apparitions below it.

Documentation

Maps

Videos

Longplay - J2ME.
Longplay - Nintendo DS.

Representation

Bechdel test?FailThere are three women, but they never talk to each other.
Strong female character?FailEach of the three are minor characters.
Strong non-white character?FailHammer is black, three others are Japanese, but none of them are important.
Queer character?FailThere are no overtly queer characters although Genya and Dmitrii are possible.

Links

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