David Trammell quit playing Diablo II long enough to write our first review of this new Castlevania game. More to come later this week!
I'm a big fan of Castlevania Symphony of the Night for the PSX. Thus, it makes me quite happy that Circle of the Moon is a lot like that game. It's the basic feel and look of the game that is similar; naturally, everything else is quite new. Like its prequel, CotM features an expansive castle to explore. You'll be aided along the way by upgrades that allow you to jump higher or destroy obstacles, and you'll gain experience, raise levels, find items, fight huge bosses and ultimately face the evil Count Dracula once again. Castlevania is honestly evolving from an action platformer into an action adventure game, and the change is definitely welcome (although I wouldn’t mind some more old-school Castlevania). Graphically, the game is a step up from previous games in the series with the exception of Symphony of the Night. The animation looks a bit limited at times compared to SotN, but that can be forgiven due to the GBA’s RAM limitations. Be warned that this is one of the darker games available on the GBA, but a few good light bulbs will take care of that problem. The game’s audio reflects the series very well. In fact, most of the music is simply remixed from previous games. The control style is probably the biggest step up from classic Castlevania games. You’re able to jump around and whip your enemies with ease, and you’ll gain additional abilities throughout the game that allow you to reach previously blocked areas. Much of the game is spent fighting monsters, and you’re rewarded with experience and items for this. One really good idea that was implemented this time, is that beating certain bosses will change the monsters that appear in some areas. So, when you’re back tracking though old areas, you’ll still be challenged by powerful enemies. The game should take you over 10 hours to beat, and even longer if you wish to completely explore the map. There are additional modes of play for you to explore after clearing the game as well. In conclusion, this is another excellent installment in the Castlevania franchise, and one of the best GBA launch titles. Unless you have an aversion to platformers, get this game.