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Japanese Logo

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General Information
Date Released: 2003
Heroes: Soma Cruz | Secret: Julius Belmont
Stage Number: 13 Castle Sections
Size: 8MB
Original System(s)
Game Boy Advance (GBA)
Ported To
Cell Phones
Alternate Names/Systems
Castlevania: Akatsuki no Minuet -- translation: Castlevania: Minuet of Dawn (Japan)

Re-release Information

(1) 2005: Re-released in Japan as part of Konami's GBA "The Best" series
(2) 2006: Re-released in North America under the Player's Choice line
(3) 2006: Re-released along with Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance as part of the GBA Castlevania Double Pack
(4) 2008: The Game Boy Advance classic is ported over to European cell phones

Manual Story Description

The year is 2035. Japan.

Crowds of spectators are gathering around in anticipation of the first full solar eclipse of the 21st century.

My name is Soma Cruz and I am a high school exchange student studying abroad in Japan. I live near the Hakuba Shrine, an ancient shrine with strong ties to Japanese mythology.

Mina Hakuba, the only daughter of the shrine's caretaker, is both my classmate and my childhood friend. I started making my way to the shrine to see the solar eclipse with Mina.

But, for some strange reason, the stairway leading up to the shrine felt longer than usual, as if something was trying to keep us from our destination. When I finally managed to get through the shrine gate, my senses began to dim.

In the distance, the solar eclipse was approaching totality, but the pitch black sun appeared to be trapping chaotic darkness. At that moment, Mina and I were knocked unconscious - only to awaken inside a mysterious castle. Now I must find a way out of this labyrinth and escape safely with my friend.


While creating Harmony of Dissonance, KCET was so sure of its success that the production of the division's next title was already ongoing. So in timely fashion, it brings to you Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow, yet another free-roaming adventure-RPG in the vein of the award-winning Symphony of the Night; this latest GBA entry, as you'd suspect from the timing, closely emulates the previous Harmony but corrects many of its deficiencies.

You're this time in control of Soma Cruz, a seemingly ordinary young man, and you must guide him through thirteen castle sections--each crowded with Aria's brand of minor enemies, twisted traps, and menacing boss creatures--in a quest to discover his true self, to gain insight into his so-called friends' intentions, and to escape from the thought-banished Castlevania. Soma starts out with only a weak knife and his fists, so you'll have to empower our hero using the RPG system, which can be manipulated through the gaining of levels, through the collection of dozens of new weapons and armor types, and through the use of inventory-held magical items. Moreover, you can take advantage of Soma's natural ability to steal souls and therein gain three types of soul power: Bullet (sub-weapons); Guardian (helpers); Enchanted (body enhancers); and Ability (relic-like powers such as sliding, double jumping and dashing). How you go about reaching the final destination will earn you one of three different endings.

Once you complete the game, having received the best ending, more options will open up: (1) You can play through the game on a "hard" mode. (2) You can play as Julius Belmont. (3) The "Boss Rush" mode returns, this time a single-gauntlet challenge that pits you against all of the game's bosses; this time around, you can select your main mission file and carry along all of your collected weapons, souls and items. You can play through it with Julius, too, in his own special manner. And (4) you can access a sound test.

Port Differences

Cell Phones: (1) There's no opening dialogue between Mina and Arikado, nor is there any conversation when the first of the souls is absorbed; character encounters are instead briefly "described" via narration. (2) Several areas have been removed; this is reflected in the game's map. (3) The soundtrack features only four area themes (Castle Corridor, Chapel, Study and Underground Reservoir), which substitute for even boss fights and sequences. (4) There are no doors separating the castle areas; musical changes are your only cue. (5) A large number of equippable weapons are missing. (6) Liberty is taken in that level design from one area is sometimes recycled in another (likely for space-saving), which creates incongruity between this and GBA version and overall player confusion. (7) There is only one final boss--Graham's second form; to breach the final room and initiate this battle requires the collection of the three Ancient Books. (8) There are only two bosses game-wide (the Creaking Skull and the aforementioned Graham Jones). (9) Mandatory "Ability Souls," like the double jump, are found simply laying in the open, as almost all of their former boss guardians are missing. And (10) the ending is abbreviated. (Thanks to ReyVGM for this information.)

Japanese/European Differences

All versions of Aria of Sorrow are identical to each other in mechanics, in palette, in play control, and in extras. The only difference, as usual, is the deviations in the names. In this case, J, whose full name is revealed to be Julius Belmont, is named in the usual Japanese style--that is, his name is instead Julius Belmondo. Soma is "Kurusu Souma." Also, Lubicant should be called "Rubicant" (as in Final Fantasy's own), which shows that some name-changes are more a product of mistranslation. In that vein, many of the enemy characters use their true Japanese names rather than the adopted names used in the American version of Symphony of the Night and its ilk. For instance: Thornweeds are actually called "Unes" and Lossoths are now "Biphrons."

The only notable change is in that of its story, in which Kurusu Souma is instead a man of Japanese descent rather than "an exchange student from Japan." Koji Igarashi explained that he made this change to the character's profile in order to better acclimate him to western audiences.

Soundtrack and Credits

Opening and Ending Themes: 1 - Black Sun | 2 - Mina's Theme | 3 - Purification | 4 - Epilogue | 5 - Credits
Area Themes: 1 - Castle Corridor | 2 - Chapel | 3 - Study | 4 - Dance Hall | 5 - Inner Quarters | 6 - Floating Garden | 7 - Clock Tower | 8 - Underground Reservoir | 9 - The Arena | 10 - Top Floor | 11 - Forbidden Area | 12 - Chaotic Realm | 13 - Don't Wait Until Night
Battle Themes: 1 - Confrontation | 2 - Formidable Enemy | 3 - Throne Fights | 4 - Heart of Fire | 5 - Battle with Chaos | 6 - Last Battle
Miscellaneous Themes: 1 - Dracula's Fate | 2 - Name Entry | 3 - Game Over | 4 - Hammer's Shop | 5 - Premonition | 6 - You're Not Alone

Music Files: MP3 and MIDI
Soundtrack Release: Official Soundtrack, Lament of Innocence OST, and
Castlevania Best Music Collections Box
Game Credits: Available

Other Characters

Lesser Enemies: Bat, Zombie, Skeleton, Merman, Axe Armor, Skull Archer, Peeping Eye, Killer Fish, Bone Pillar, Blue Crow, Buer, White Dragon, Zombie Soldier, Skeleton Knight, Ghost, Siren, Tiny Devil, Durga, Rock Armor, Giant Ghost, Winged Skeleton, Minotaur, Student Witch, Arachne, Fleaman, Evil Butcher, Quezlcoatl, Ectoplasm, Catoblepas, Ghost Dancer, Killer Doll, Waiter Skeleton, Zombie Officer, Wooden Golem, Tsuchinoko, Persephone, Lilith, Nemesis, Kyoma Demon, Chronomage, Valkyrie, Witch, Curly, Altair, Red Crow, Cockatrice, Dead Warrior, Devil, Imp, Werewolf, Gorgon, Disc Armor, Golem, Gremlin, Harpy, Medusa Head, Bomber Armor, Lightning Doll, Une, Giant Worm, Needles, Man-Eater, Fish Head, Nightmare, Triton, Slime, Dryad, Poison Worm, Arc Demon, Cagnazzo, Ripper, Ball of Destruction, Werejaguar, Ukoback, Alura Une, Biphron, Mandragora, Flesh Golem, Sky Fish, Dead Crusader, Kicker Skeleton, Weretiger, Killer Mantle, Mudman, Gargoyle, Red Minotaur, Beam Skeleton, Alastor, Skull Millione, Giant Skeleton, Gladiator, Bael, Succubus, Mimic, Stolas, Erinys, Lubicant, Basilisk, Iron Golem, Demon Lord, Final Guard, Flame Demon and Shadow Knight
Bosses: Creaking Skull, Manticore, Great Armor, Big Golem, Headhunter, Death, Legion, Balore, Graham and Belmont
Dracula Forms: Chaos and Chaos (2)
Supporting Cast: Mina Hakuba, Genya Arikado, J, Yoko Belnades, Graham Jones and Hammer

Character Lists

Lesser Enemies | Bosses | Dracula Forms | Supporting Cast

. . .

Hero Image
Full Name: Soma Cruz
Main Weapon: Fists and a Knife
Weapon Power-Up: Click here for Soma's comprehensive list
Alternate Weapons: Click here for Soma's comprehensive list
Sub-Weapon Power-Up: Click here to see Soma's bullet souls
Special Abilities: Can back-dash, slide, double jump, jump kick, super jump, and transform/gain other powers via his collected souls
Armor: Click here for Soma's comprehensive list
Limitations: Soma is similar to the modern members of the Belmont family: He moves quickly and he jumps gracefully, able to control each jump till its end; leaps are only hampered by heavy weaponry. He starts off with a simple knife, which should suffice in the early going. However, Soma will need increased ability to fully navigate the castle and deal with its tougher foes; he'll do this by using his absorbing power to collect Ability Souls: The back dash won't help much, but the slide, though more affected by traction, will allow him to quickly gain ground and slice through enemies. The double jump will afford him more accessibility, and the later-gained super jump will make scouring the castle an unrestricted breeze; he can also remain airborne by repeatedly jump kicking off of enemies' heads. To increase his numbered stats, Soma will have to gain levels while collecting better armor and more potent weaponry. The three other category of soul powers aid this process by supplying to him multiple sub-weapons, guardian helpers, transformation propensity, and different enhancers. Due to the RPG system, he can become as powerful as you want him to be.

Hero Image
Full Name: Julius Belmont
Main Weapon: Vampire Killer Whip
Weapon Power-Up: None
Alternate Weapons: None
Sub-Weapon Power-Up: None
Special Abilities: Can double jump, slide, circle dash--on the ground and in the air--super jump, jump kick and brandish the whip
Armor: None
Limitations: As a secret character, Julius is free to go almost everywhere with no restriction. In simple terms, Julius very much emulates a fully-powered Juste Belmont from Harmony of Dissonance. He moves much more quickly than Soma and performs well-controlled jumps. However, his is the more traditional arsenal: He uses the Vampire Killer whip as his main weapon, and he can swing it left and right and even utilize a brandishing technique; if he whips while jumping, he'll be forced to commit to that direction. Additionally, Julius can switch between four available sub-weapons--an axe, holy water, a boomerang and a special cross--that are powered by magic rather than hearts (collected hearts instead restore the magic meter). Julius, of course, can use all of the Juste and Soma special moves from the start: The double and super jumps for easy accessibility, a slide and a unique dash/dodge move for skilled combat, and a jump kick for a quick air assault to complement the whip. The only negative is that Julius has no stat-potential, so he can't become stronger or more equipped to deal with tougher enemies through normal means; instead, he'll have to defeat bosses and collect the crystals in order to become stronger and attain better defense.

Weapon Name
Weapon Image
Without a weapon equipped, Soma will rely on short jabs
Soma begins the game with a short knife used for quick stabs
Vampire Killer
Ancient steel-enhanced whip of the Belmont clan

Magical Items
Item Name
Found In
Candle, Structure
Restores Magic Power
Big Heart
Candle, Structure
Restores Magic Power
Candle, Structure
Money Bag
Laying Around
Boss Creature
Clears Room/Restores Stats

Weapon Name
Magic Consumption
Holy Water
Julius Only
Julius Only
Julius Only
Julius Only


Local Title Screens

U.S. Title Screen
Japanese Title Screen

Action Shots











Quick-Reference Links
What's Inside
A look at the thirteen castle areas and what's found in each
I look at how this third GBA title compares to the two previous
"Boss Rush" Mode in detail | Castle Map | Name-Entry Codes

Magazine Coverage
Item Name
The official Japanese guidebook featuring maps, strategies and more
Shown are the front and back magazine covers plus select page samples

Text Documents and Help Files
Other Files

Scenes, Packaging Scans and More
American Version
Japanese Version
European Version