Review by Zylo the wolf
"Another good Castlevania game, but no so fantastic as many others."
Castlevania is one of those series that you usually know what you get when you buy one of the games. You know that you are going to be a Vampire Hunter in Dracula's castle, and the whole point about this game is to kill Count Dracula. The series started way back in the 80's on the Nes and is now one of Konami's longest running series. Castlevania: Circle of the Moon is the first of the three games released on the Game Boy Advance, and was the game that started the trend to make handheld Castlevania games just as important or maybe even more important than the Casltevania games released on consoles.
Normally you play as one of the Belmont family members in a Castlevania game, but this game is more treated like as spin off, and the plot in this game is not considered to be canon, so instead you play as a young man named Nathan Graves. He, his master Morris Baldwin, and Morris's son Hugh have entered Dracula's castle to stop Camilla from reviving Count Dracula. However they arrive a few seconds to late, and Camilla makes Nathan fall into a big whole and is separated from his master and friend. Now it's up to Nathan to find them and survive in Dracula's castle.
Castlevania: Symphony of the Night changed the series when then game no longer where separated in different levels, and you could explore the whole castle and travel back all you want. Since that game also became the most popular in the series. Just like in Symphony of the Night, you can't walk everywhere right away, but you have to learn new abilities as the game goes on that will allow you to reach new places. You learn a new ability every time you have killed a boss.
Another thing that was introduced in Castlevania: Symphony of the Night was that you now gained experience points every time you slayed an enemy, and of course the stronger the enemies are, the more experience you get when you have killed him. When you have gained enough experience points to gain a level, Nathan becomes stronger in everything. Unlike in many other Castlevania games, it's important that you don't run away from to many enemies because even if they may seem to tough, the enemies in the next area will be even tougher.
Another way to increase your stats is to pick up different equipment that the enemies might drop when you have killed them. It can be anything from a new armor which increases your defense to any kind of ring which have different powers.You can equip one armor and two rings. The only weapon you get in this game is however the whip, which while it's just as deadly as any other weapon, could be a little more unique. It looks like Nathan is fighting his enemies with a thin rope for crying out loud.
What makes this game unique compared to the other Castlevania games is the DSS (Dual-Setup System) cards, which gives Nathan all kind of different magical powers that he can use up his MP with. In order to be able to use these different magical spell you need to find cards, at least one action card and one attribute card. When you find more cards you can use this to cast a lot of different spells that will surely help you on your through Dracula's castle. However I managed to get through most of the game without bothering about these cards.
The are two things that really makes this Castlevania game not as fun as the two other Gba Castlevania games more fun to play. The first thing is that it's not really that rewarding to explore Dracula's castle and to try to find as many hidden places as possible because the only thing you can find is potions that either increases your health, your Mp or you heart limit. You won't find any cards at all by searching, since the only way to find them is to get enemies to drop them. You get all the new abilities that allows you to reach new places by killing the bosses anyway.
Which also brings us to the other thing. Everything is so random depending on how lucky you are with the enemies. They can either drop a great equipment, a healing potion or even a card the first time you fight these enemies, or you kill the same type of enemies for hours and still not get anything at all. I know that there are equipment that increases your luck, but that's not how you are supposed to get stronger.
But it's hard to say that this game is to bad, when it almost is just like the greatness called Symphony of the Night, a game I've mentioned to many times in this review. Because Circle of the Moon can hold it own, and shouldn't be underlooked by anyone who likes the other Castlevania games.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 12/01/08
Game Release: Castlevania (EU, 06/22/01)
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