The moment you have all been waiting for... well, at least me. Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow takes place one year after Soma Cruz defeated Dracula and escaped his fate of becoming the rebirth of the dark lord. He soon finds out that he gained the power to consume the souls of the enemies he defeats. Somehow, he finds himself in yet another castle, occupied by a cult, demons, and two candidates to be the next Dracula. He has to battle his way to the top before it is too late.
The graphics in this game have to be the best to date, at least on the handheld Castlevania's. The backgrounds and scenery are so beautiful that you are just in amazement as you're playing through it. In fact, there is this one part in the game where it is snowing outside and you jump onto a car, and the car sinks down a little bit and the snow on top falls to the ground. It may sound like nothing at all, but in the line of Castlevania, it is a step forward in an already great game. The castle you find yourself in is one of the largest to date, and you will be constantly wondering where to go next. That might not sound fun to some people, but I thought that was one of the reasons why I liked it.
As far as the sounds effects and music in the game go, I thought it fit perfectly. There weren't any voice-overs, but there also wasn't that annoying typing sounds as the text scrolled across the screen either.
This is the first Castlevania in the series to make it to the Nintendo DS and I loved the fact that it had two screens. In the others, you always had to leave the screen to view the map and personal items. The action was on the bottom screen, and in the top screen you had the choice of having either the castle map or personal screen showing enemy information and such. One con I noticed was that there was very low use of the touch screen. The only use was after you defeat a boss, you had to break out the stylus and draw a pattern of a magic seal to defeat them. This sucked. I found myself holding the stylus in between my teeth, and then quickly grabbing it when needed. I think this game would have been better with no touch screen elements at all.
There are also alternate endings depending on what path you feel like taking and how deep you go into the story line. I think this had a decent story for a handheld Castlevania, even though they are known for being a little thin. So far, I have put over 20 hours into this game playing all three of the modes, consisting of Normal, Julius, and Hard mode.
The learning curve is fairly easy as long as you have played any of the previous Castlevania games in the past. There are only a few things that are not explained that might confuse a new player -- for example, not knowing what to do if you're turned into stone and such. Other than that, anyone could play this, although it may hurt your thumbs after many hours of playing on the DS.
To sum it up, if a handheld game could ever win Game of the Year, Castlvania: Dawn of Sorrow would be my first vote. I loved this game so much and believe you would as well. Konami really outdid themselves on the game.