Genre: Action-Adventure (with some RPG elements. Also: Jump'n'Run)
Graphics: Good. This was 2D as good as it gets on the GBA, the sprites were clear, the areas diverse, enemies colorful. Awesome.
Story: The story seems kinda uncommon for a Castlevania game, mostly because of the setting. Usually one would assume to hunt Dracula somewhere in the Middle Ages or whenever, at least somewhere in the past. Not this time. Aria of Sorrow forwards the story to the year 2035 in Japan, where the exchange student Soma Cruz is visiting some kind of shrine during a solar eclipse. Because of some sort of magic or whatnot, Soma and his friend Mina are teleported into the eclipse (don't ask me what that means, but that is the description of the events happening the game gives you :F) right at the foot of Dracula's castle. Somehow you get to know that Soma is in some way the heir of some kind of dark force which renders him able to absorb the souls of slain enemies. So you go on and try to get rid of Dracula.
Key-Feature in this game is the soul-absorbing. It is possible to get a soul out of every opponent, it only takes some time. Some enemies, like bosses, are always spawning their soul, because you need the soul to advance in the game.
Need the soul? What the hell?
Easy, every soul allows you to do some new stuff. Most of the time it's only a different attack you learn, but sometimes it's stuff like the double-jump or underwater-breathing or whatever. There are 3 different sorts of souls, one is the "active" sort, which can be used like normal weapons. These will always cost you some mana, or energy, I can't remember how it was called in this game. Then there are souls with a continuous effect, like transforming you into a monster, and stuff like that. These will suck your mana dry as long as they are activated. And then there are passive souls, which grant you stuff like "+10 Strenght". Always active, no costs.
At any point in the game you can always just have one of each type equipped, so this is where things get tactical.
This soul-absorbing is really more of a time-absorbing feature, since you get this Pokémon-like-feeling of GOTTA CATCH EM ALL, just because you think "mh, this monster looks cool, I wonder what kind of soul it has" and soon you'll find yourself grinding for hours on one spot, on one monster, just because you think it MIGHT offer you a cool ability. Sounds lame but in reality it is addicting and fun.
Awesome Fact: After you finish the game there is a possibility to start it anew, this time with increased difficulty. OR you can start anew playing as JULIUS BELMONT with different abilities. Pretty neat-o.