Review by buruburu1
"A few problems keep this game from true excellence"
Graphics (30/30, judged by era)- An early release for this handheld, but already a shining example of the system's graphical capabilities. The castle / map is quite large with many varied environments, nice detailing and tons of hidden areas. Enemies are many and reasonably well animated, with some nice large bosses for good measure. Special effects are few, however. There were some complaints that the game was entirely too dark for the standard Game Boy Advance, and I might concur. Having played it on my DS, however, it was fantastic and I've no doubt any SP or GBA Player would look great as well.
Sound- FX/Voice (5/10) Really an unusually quiet game. There are parts where there is no music and where the game is basically silent.
Sound- Music (7/10) By and large the soundtrack is classic for this series, with only one remix that I could tell, not having played many of the Super Nintendo era titles. Even a bit more variety would've gone far in raising the music score.
Game play- Length/Replay (15/15) The game as I clocked it was almost 10 hours, however this did not include deaths / retries which easily pushed the game to a good 16 hours. This game is challenging, particularly the back half's bosses, so hard by the end that the final boss can kill you with one particular attack, instantly. So hard that after a few hours at that final battle I simply gave up in frustration.
Game play- Story (1/5) Has the plot in this series ever been deeper than it is here? Dracula has come back and it's up to you to kill him. Yay.
Game play- Game Design (27/30)-From its original roots in the 8-bit era, this series has picked up a lot of tips from the system employed in another long-running franchise designed by Nintendo, featuring collection and side-scrolling action, in a science-fiction vein, with a female protagonist, whose name this site won't let me include in this review. If you've played any of the later games in that series, you've played a Science Fiction parallel to this game. Granted, this series came before those, but the Super Nintendo entry of that series already had much of this type of back-and-forth game play with secret areas before this series began employing it. That said, this entry does a good job of presenting you with a large castle you want to explore and explore fully. As with the other series, it's apparent some areas will be inaccessible until you get a power-up, and upon getting it you are suddenly thinking back to all the areas you've seen where it can be used. Fighting is basic but fun, and the Card / Spell system is interesting with a few very useful spells being available. Unfortunately, you'll only get a taste of all of them through the game, unless you finish it, whereupon many if not all of them are available from the onset of a new game. Of course, finishing the game is the problem. Even after independently coming across the strategy most likely to kill the final boss it was frustrating and frankly, hand-cramping to continue attempting the last battle. I had missed out on a particular card combo that would've helped significantly, it turns out, and the battle was drawn out over many attempts. Probably 3 hours of tries later I simply gave up and moved on. It's unfortunate how unbalanced the last boss was: any enemy that can kill you with a single attack is far too powerful.
**Final Thoughts: If you're more elite or patient than I am you may find the final boss to be less a challenge, In that case you'll probably consider this game in the 90s, score-wise, that it would've otherwise deserved.
Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 06/07/10
Game Release: Castlevania: Circle of the Moon (US, 06/10/01)
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