Review by Videogamer
"The great Castlevania series has a great GBA game"
The Castlevania series has a very long history behind it. Basically, every game in the series has been a very enjoyable action game (or action RPG in the case of this game and SOTN). I honestly think every game in the series has been great and this one is no exception.
Graphics 7 out of 10
As far as the GBA launch titles are concerned, this one probably has the weakest visuals. The animation isn't that great, and 3D-like effects aren't used a whole lot, but they still get the job done. Like all the other reviewers have noted, the graphics are too dark, and can't be seen well without some kind of light (I'm cheap, so I use my GBC Worm light, it works ok, but I'll probably get a GBA one soon). Once you have a light, you can see the visuals, and they do get the job done in creating a fairly scary atmosphere.The enemies and bosses also fit in well and manage to look fairly menacing.
Gameplay 9 out of 10
The gameplay is a lot of fun most of the time, but it can be frustrating at times. It's like a combination of Metroid and the old Castlevania games with an RPG leveling up system. The challenge level is pretty high, and it will probably take you multiple tries to defeat each boss. The control can take some getting used to, but it generally works fine. The GBA controller does take some getting used to as well, but once you've adjusted to the system and game's control, it works just fine. Anyways, you basically go around whipping enemies, filling in the map, and raising your level. There's also the DSS cards. They basically show up almost at random for you to collect, and you can combine two of them (one element and one attribute) to give yourself a shield, stronger weapons, or just an enhancement of one of your stats, like luck. These add to the game and make the boss battles more bearable. You also have sub weapons like the dagger and holy water that you use at the expense of hearts, like all games in the series. The game is fairly long, and the first mode will probably take at least a week. Then you have three (or four, I'm not sure) extra modes to go through that add even more length to the game. It can be boring if you have to take a lot of time to level up, since it can get repetitive if you're not exploring or heading for the next boss, but if you go through and take your time, you probably won't have to take much time to level up.
Music and sound 10 out of 10
There's only one word to describe the music: incredible. The music in this game is simply remarkable. It's wonderfully composed, and the quality easily rivals some N64 games. You'll probably be humming some of these tunes all the time. The sound effects sound like an above average SNES game, and they get the job done just fine.
Replay value 9 out of 10
With all the extra modes, the replay value is naturally very high since you'll probably want to complete each mode. It'll certainly be several weeks before you complete all the modes and see everything this game has to offer. It's also just simply a lot of fun to play, so you might even continue to play it after completing all the modes.
Overall 9 out of 10
Overall, this is certainly the best GBA launch title, and definitely one of the best games ever made, as well. I had to take off a point because it can be difficult to see the screen if you don't have a really good light source, and the fact that it can occasionally be boring or frustrating. These flaws are minor, so don't let them stop you from getting the best game for the GBA, and quite possible one of the best games ever made.
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 06/18/01, Updated 06/18/01
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