Review by Ofisil

"Blood, whips and... cards"

Castlevania: Circle Of The Moon is an Action\Platform developed by Konami. This is the first Castlevania game I've ever played, or more correctly the only one that I've managed not to stop playing because of boredom. Yup, I don't belong to the vast majority of the Castlevania series fans and I don't like the first games, the classics, I however like this very much…

Story: 5/10
Presentation: 4/10

I was waiting do be disappointed by the plot of this game and I was, but I wasn't expecting to be so disappointed! I expected a typical, run-of-the-mill Dracula background story and I was right. Dracula awakes once again, (doesn't he learn?), and you, along with your friend must kill him and save your sensei or something. From there on apart from a small, (and predictable), plot twist the game has no plot whatsoever. Okay I wasn't expecting an RPG but it COULD a couple of more characters, dialogues, cutscenes, etc. However I must be fair so since the game isn't very story oriented I gave a somewhat higher Story score than I initially intended to.

Gameplay: 8/10
Replay Value: 6.5/10

This Castlevania is basically, like its predecessors, just a hack n' slash game… and that here is very fun since our hero is quite fast and veeeeeery easy to control. Of course in almost every Castlevania game there is a small new addition and this time around we have the DSS system. You see while you fight, enemies drop stuff and in some rare moments and only with certain enemies a card is drop, 10 cards that have the power of gods and 10 that have the power of magic creatures. This can be combined together, (100 combos!!!), in order to gain some special skills, like heal over time, have a fire whip, create defensive orbiting chunks of ice, summon a full-screen destructing spell and many more.

Apart from the DSS system you'll find some special items that will grant you a skill like the ability to run faster, double-jump, push objects or even fly! All these in combination with the DSS system will make your humble fighter look like a demigod near the end of the game. All these skills however help in another crucial and quite interesting part of the game, the searching for secret areas and items. Searching 100% of the map can be addicting, you'll find yourself hitting every wall in order to check if there is a secret room, thoroughly check the large castle of Dracula obsessed with finding everything. Finally your character can level up through gaining experience, a nice addition but nothing to die for…

If there was no DSS system and map searching this game would be just a slash-fest. While searching around searching around, you'll fight with various enemies, from the simple one-hit-and-I-am-dead skeleton\zombie mobs, to enemies that attack in large packs or the large and dangerous Devils and Demons. But you know fighting these folks gets boring quite fast since there is no actual strategy involved and while the DSS system is good and all, the fights still get boring soon. However while Circle Of The Moon isn't an excellent game I had fun with it and I generally consider it a good game.

Graphics: 8.2/10
Design: 8/10

The castle of Dracula looks like a horror theme park with each great variety and detail in level design. There are many areas, from the typical castle parts, dark dungeons, sewers with blood and many, many more, all good looking. The sprites are small but look good and have good animation, not to mention the large number of various effects from your combat skills.

Sound: 7/10
Music: 8.5/10

I liked both the sound and music of this game and while the sound effects are the typical hit & slash fanfare and do the job done the music is even better with lively, catchy themes that remind me of the great classic castlevania music. Some people might want some more atmospheric, moody, horror music, but no Circle Of The Moon has a more 16-bit retro style music, unfitting to the overall theme of the game but I didn't have a single problem with that I just had to mention it…

Positives:
-Many skills from the new card system DSS
-A large castle with many secrets
-Good controls
-Good music and graphics

Negatives:
-Fighting gets boring fast
-Dull plot

Also Play:
Castlevania 2, 3 (NES)
Castlevania: Aria Of Sorrow (GBA)
Castlevania: Bloodlines (Mega Drive)
Castlevania: Harmony Of Dissonance (GBA)
Castlevania: Symphony Of The Night
Super Castlevania (SNES)

Overall: 6.9/10

Well that's about it. We have a good game with lots of skills available, various secrets you must search for and lots of boring mob fights. The game is both addicting and boring at the same time, both great and average. I enjoyed it and I believe that if you are a fan of the genre or the franchise you'll like it too.


Reviewer's Score: 7/10 | Originally Posted: 08/28/09

Game Release: Castlevania: Circle of the Moon (US, 06/10/01)


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