Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow is a 2D action platforming game for the GameBoy Advance, and the final Castlevania title for Nintendo's handheld platform. Aria of Sorrow finally advances the Castlevania timeline to the near future of 2035, introducing fans to a new generation of protagonists including player character Soma Cruz.
Soma and his friend Mina one day find themselves trapped in the mysterious and deadly castle of Dracula following a solar eclipse. Now Soma must explore the castle in 2D side-scrolling action to uncover the truth behind the reappearance of Dracula's castle, and stop a plot to resurrect the ancient vampire himself. Players defeat enemies using weapons and armor they find hidden throughout the castle as well from enemies. Soma gains experience points from defeating enemies to increase his level for more health and magic points like in RPGs.
New to Aria of Sorrow is the Tactical Soul system, allowing players to customize Soma's attack and support abilities by capturing souls from defeating enemies; nearly all enemies in the game (including the bosses) have a soul to capture, each offering unique effects divided into four categories. While Soma can only have one of each category of soul equipped, the strength of individual soul effects can increase the more of a particular kind the player manages to collect. Using the GBA Game Link cable, players can also trade souls with friends.
- The game's introduction reveals how the Belmont vampire hunter clan succeeded in defeating Dracula during a solar eclipse in the year 1999, prior to the events of Aria of Sorrow. This is both a reference a solar eclipse which actually happened in Eastern Europe on August 11th, 1999, as well as Nostradamus' infamous prediction concerning a "great and terrifying leader" emerging in that same year.
This game is also known as Castlevania: Akatsuki no Menuet in Japan.