Review by Moranite
"Who will face Dracula when the Belmonts aren't around!?"
This review is merely an expression of this one's humble opinion, meant to possibly recommend this game to others who are interested in it(or to recommend against it#. I hope you found it helpful.
You know what Castlevania is, right? Side scrolling action, you go through a castle and fight Dracula at the end? Circle of the moon is another game in this series. One of the "Metroidvania" style games, where you go through one big dungeon as you slowly power your character up. Now that we have all this out of the way, I get to start telling you about this great game.
In the 1800s, the Belmonts mysteriously disappeared. In their place, several organizations are formed to try and find ways to prevent Dracula from returning.
It is now the year 1830. At an old Austrian castle, the worshippers of Chaos revive Dracula, the Lord of Darkness. Vampire hunter Morris Baldwin, and his apprentices, Hugh Baldwin and Nathan Graves, try to stop the resurrection, but they are too late. The three are separated, and that's where the game begins. The story's not amazing, especially if you've ever played a Castlevania before, but it doesn't take away from the experience of playing the game, and it's pretty entertaining at times, so I can't take too many points off it.
For reasons unknown to me, Castlevania: Circle of the Moon seems to have been written out of canon. That's too bad, because I think deserves to be there, even if the story isn't that great.
Circle of the Moon is a good looking game. Remember Symphony of the Night for PSX? Picture that scaled down for the GBA and you've got an idea of what it looks like. I've heard complaints about the game being too dark to see and it makes that a pain to play, but you'll probably only have this problem playing on a plain old GBA. I could see just fine using my DS. No problem with graphics.
I don't need to tell you that a Castlevania game has good music, do I? There's quite a few cool tunes to listen to, including a few new ones#which, sadly, are never used in any other game ever again#. The sound effects are all okay. Everything sounds like it should. Nathan also shouts and stuff when he jumps/attacks/takes damage. It all sounds good and I can't complain.
The most important part to any game#with some exceptions#, gameplay has to be top notch, lest the player be disappointed. Like many other Castlevania games, I wasn't disappointed in the slightest. Circle of the Moon is as much fun to play as almost any other Castlevania.
As I said before, this is one of the "Metroidvania" style games. You go through the castle and slowly power Nathan up through levels and certain treasures. Throughout the game, you also get two different kinds of cards and pairing cards up lets you use the Dual Set-Up System, which gives you some interesting powers, like elemental attacks, magical weapons, and different kinds of shields. It might sound a bit simple, and it is, but it's still pretty much flawless. A 10 for gameplay.
People say that this is one of the harder Metroidvania style games in the series. If this is true, then the others must be pathetically easy. Circle of the Moon is not a very hard game. It starts pretty easy and slowly gets more challenging, up to the point where you reach the Dracula, who is hard as always. You'll get killed more often later on, but you'll never get really stuck. I understand that the other games have a shop, and you can rely on Potions and other healing items a bit more, but even taking that into consideration, Circle of the Moon is probably about average in difficulty overall.
It took me about 8 hours to complete Circle of the Moon. It was shorter than I expected, but I was okay with it. It's not so short that I feel like I got cheated or something, so the length is fine.
I have only beaten Circle of the Moon once, but I will probably be playing it again. Beating the game unlocks a special mode where your stats are different(not a New Game+ where you keep your stats and stuff). Beating it again on that mode will unlock another. I believe there's five different modes in total. There's reason to go back to it.
So yeah... Another great Castlevania game. If you like the series and haven't played it yet, look for it. I got mine for $7, after all. If you're new to Castlevania, you might want to play a more popular one first, but this doesn't seem like too bad a place to start. I took off a point for story, but otherwise Circle of the Moon is amazing. I highly recommend it.
Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 02/06/13
Game Release: Castlevania: Circle of the Moon (US, 06/10/01)
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