Castlevania producer Koji Igrashi held a press conference yesterday to announce officially announce the development of Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow for the Gameboy Advance. This time around, it is high school student Soma Cruz who is tasked with exploring the labyrinthine castle and halting the devious machinations of Count Dracula. The catch here is that the game takes place in the year 2035, marking the first Castlevania game to take place in the future. Apparently, a group of unkown vampire hunters was able to defeat Dracula in the year 1999, simultaneously as sealing the castle within a solar eclipse. 36 years later, another solar eclipse has begun, and Dracula's castle has reappeared.
Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow looks graphically similar to Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance, and the futuristic setting of the game has had little effect on Dracula's castle itself, which is the same creepy abode of skeletons and zombies it has always been. Meanwhile, the gameplay is set to distance itself from its predecessors. The traditional sub-weapons of previous Castlevania games have been done away with in favor of a new system in which Soma is able to absorb souls left behind by enemies. Some of these souls allow Soma to magically use that enemies' ability, such as throwing bones or hefting large axes, while others grant him permanent abilities similar to the role relics played in past games. In a bid to add a collectable nature to the souls, players will be able to use the GBA link cable to trade or transfer souls with their friends. Fans of Castlevania: Symphony of the Night will be glad to know that Soma can use multiple weapons and is not stuck with the traditional Castlevania whip for the entire game.
Noting the dissatisfaction many players had with Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance's music and overall sound quality, Mr. Igrashi said that special efforts were being made to improve this as much as possible for Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow. To this end, the composer from Castlevania: Symphony of the Night has been enlisted to work on the project. In a rather cryptic ending, Mr. Igrashi chose to remark that he had begun development on a game for one of the major consoles. Whether this game turns out to be the much-requested "sequel" to Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, or even a Castlevania game at all remains to be seen, though almost everyone seems to find the timing of Mr. Igrashi's statement suspicious at the very least. In the meantime, Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow is set to be released in Japan and North America this May. No mention was made of when other regions might expect to see the game.