Castlevania Aria of Sorrow
Image: Konami

Are you sitting down? Good. Well, let it be known that Konami's GBA classic Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow is now 20 years old.

Released in North America on May 6th 2003, the game would arrive in its native Japan two days later and in Europe the day after that. The third Castlevania game to release on the GBA, Aria of Sorrow is widely regarded by fans as one of the best instalments in the entire series and comes very, very close to matching the brilliance of 1997's Symphony of the Night, considered by some to be the zenith of the Castlevania bloodline.

Set in 2035 – which was quite a leap forward in time for the franchise – the game places you in the boots of the young Soma Cruz, who finds strange powers awakening within himself. Aria of Sorrow follows the typical Metroidvania template laid down by SotN, giving the player a vast, non-linear castle to explore and items to collect, but also introduces the Tactical Soul system, by which Cruz can gain special powers by acquiring souls from fallen foes. These are divided into four categories: Bullet, Guardian, Enchant, and Ability.

Aria of Sorrow is highly desirable in its original form and regularly changes hands for large sums on the second-hand market. Still, you can obtain it cheaply (alongside Castlevania: Circle of the Moon, Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance and Castlevania: Dracula X) on 2021's Castlevania Advance Collection, which is available on Nintendo Switch, PS4, Xbox One, and Windows.

In 2005, Aria of Sorrow got a direct sequel in the shape of Dawn of Sorrow on the Nintendo DS.