GBA

North America

Castlevania: Circle of the Moon

by David Trammell - July 18, 2001, 9:11 pm PDT

9

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.

Score

Graphics Sound Control Gameplay Lastability Final
8 8.5 9 9.5 8 9
Graphics
8

The environments are interesting and well conceived, but much of the detail is lost in the darkness. The animation can be a bit stiff at times, but there are usually a lot of large enemies on the screen at once. A big plus is that the game was built from the ground up for the GBA unlike a few of the other launch titles.

Sound
8.5

The sound effects are well done and can be clearly heard over the music. The music itself consists of well composed remixes, but I have to complain about the minority of original music in the game.

Control
9

All four buttons on the GBA are used to good effect. The movement of your character is very precise and wielding the traditional Belmont clan whip has never been easier.

Gameplay
9.5

Circle of the Moon takes something from most Castlevania games before it and blends it with some new innovations to make a game that should draw you in for countless hours.

Lastability
8

Your first run through should last well over 10 hours, not counting the time you spend with the game paused to look at your maps and items. You’ll probably want to play the new modes you unlock after you beat the game as well.

Final
9

If you haven’t experienced a Castlevania game yet, now is a great time to do it. Circle of the Moon is Castlevania in its prime, and it’s definitely reserved a place in my list of favorite games.

Summary

Pros
  • Big castle to explore with refined Castlevania gameplay makes this one of the best games in the series to date.
  • Classic Castlevania music remixed for your listening pleasure.
  • Huge boss encounters.
  • New bonus mode is unlocked each time you beat the game (four in all).
  • Simple, but effective story line advanced by a few well-placed cut-scenes.
Cons
  • Animation is a bit simple at times.
  • Graphics are very dark, making the game less portable than others because you will need good lighting
  • The game can be very difficult at times.
  • Very little music that is completely new to the game.
Review Page 2: Conclusion

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Genre Adventure
Developer Konami
Players1

Worldwide Releases

na: Castlevania: Circle of the Moon
Release Jun 10, 2001
PublisherKonami
RatingTeen
jpn: Akumajo Dracula: Circle of the Moon
Release Mar 21, 2001
PublisherKonami
Rating12+
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