Review by Alterwolf

"The best portable alternative to Symphony Of the Night."

This was the single game I was looking forward to getting (save Tactics Orge Gaiden, assuming they ever bring it over here) when I went into town to get a GBA. I didn't know what to expect really, since I didn't know entirely too much about the GBA's system specs aside from the fact it had a 32-Bit processor.

I wasn't disappointed. For those who have been fortunate enough to play Castlevania: Symphony of The Night (referred to as SOTN from now on), this game will be heaven, to an extent. Circle Of The Moon places you in the shoes of Nathan, a rookie vampire hunter on a quest to (once again) seal Dracula away ''for good''. The gameplay is almost exactly the same as the original Castlevania games, with a lot of borrowed elements from SOTN. You jump, whip medusa heads, throw holy water, all that jazz. Your character levels up, gains new abilities in the form of magical artifacts or cards, and changes armor and equipment. The only thing truly new in COTM is the DSS abilities. Cards you find throughout the game, each representing an elemental or god, can power your character up and allow him to use special attacks (i.e. the old fire whip) at the cost of MP.

The graphics are awesome for a portable system. The color depth is nice, and everything cruises along at blazing speed. The only thing that bugs me is the relative lack of animation. I suppose you could blame it on the cartridge format, but you'd think they could put in a running animation with more than 3 frames. Ah well.

The sounds are just fine and nothing special, the music is...not quite up to my standards, but what should I expect from a cartridge based system? Most of it just sounds far too upbeat and cheery for my tastes. The opening vocal theme and a couple of the area songs are decent though...it's too bad they repeat so much, otherwise I'd like them more. At any rate, it beats any music the original gameboy put out.

Assuming you can find a good enough lightsource to see the far-too-dim GBA screen well, COTM will keep you company for hours, and definately for those long boring trips. This game gets a thumbs up sheerly for being portable.
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Graphics: 9/10

+ Awesome for such a small system. The colors and enemies look great.

- The animation is noticibly sparse.

Sound/FX: 7/10

+ Most of the tunes are passable, and the sounds are just fine. Beats old gameboy music, that's for sure.

- Symphony of the Night spoiled me I guess. Most of this stuff sounds too plinky and upbeat for what should be kind of a dark game.

Controls: 10/10

+ Plays just like you think it would. And that's perfect.

Gameplay: 9/10

+ All the Castlevania-style action you've come to know and love.

- Some of traditional annoyances. Apparently Nathan went to ''the Simon Belmont school of taking a hit'', since getting hit by a stray goblin booger knocks him halfway across the screen. A relative lack of healing items isn't too fun either.


Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 06/12/01, Updated 06/12/01


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