Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow is the latest Nintendo DS game that I've been playing over the past few weeks. I just beat it last night, so I thought I'd share a few thoughts on the game.
This is the first Castlevania game that I've ever played, though the series dates all the way back to the original NES title. For those not familiar with the series, you play as a crusader set out to destroy the evil that has taken up residence in Dracula's castle. It's a classic 2D side-scrolling game, and is an incredible blast to play.
Your character has two ways to attack the various monsters throughout the castle: either with a number of weapons or via special abilities which come through harvesting the monster's souls. Each soul you collect gives you a different ability. Some abilities cost mana to use, while others act as "enchantments" and are active all the time. You can equip three souls at any time (one "bullet" soul, one "guardian" soul, and one "enchantment" soul). There are also a few ability souls collected through the game, which are always active. This specific aspect of the game is quite enjoyable. Collecting all of the souls is much more difficult than you might think. I've been playing off and on for several weeks and only have about 75% of the souls collected.
Interestingly enough, there are only two real "levels" to the game: Dracula's castle and an area (presumably of Hell) called simply "The Abyss." The castle "level" has a number of stages, and is incredibly large. It took a long time to explore the entire level, and I have undoubtedly missed some hidden rooms.
When your character dies, the game is over. There are no "extra mans" to be had, so you have to be very careful. Thankfully, you can save the game any time at a number of save points throughout the castle. Make sure to save often; I lost a number of hard to get souls last night because I got overconfident.
I highly recommend this game. I've had a ton of fun playing it, and I've already started the next game (Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin). This is excellent proof that 2D games are not dead (and shouldn't be). My final rating: A+