Review by Sheriff

"Simply put, the best launch game available"

I should be honest with all of you, before I start this review. I've never played a any other Castlevania games besides this one, and the N64 ones. That's right, even though I've been playing games for 11 years, I never touched one of the other Castlevanias. I guess you could say I never got around to playing them. But whatever the case, this will change my review a bit so keep that in mind.

I had reserved a Game Boy Advance along with this game back sometime in May. Hearing wonderful things about this game, I was excited about playing it. After all, the Castlevania series was pretty well known. So with that in mind, I got my Game Boy Advance on June 11 and put the game. After playing through the game, I decided I would write a review for it. All I can say is this: The game does not disappoint.

Yes, the game does have a story, and it isn't that big of a suprise. Hell, even I know the story of the Castlevania series, and this one is no exception. You are Nathan Graves, a vampire killer in training under your master Morris Baldwin. When learned that a young woman named Camilia has resurrected Dracula, you rush to the castle to stop her. But when you get there, Dracula is ready. He captures Morris and send you down a pit to the catacombs. And thus your one mission in this game is to get back to Dracula and save your master. Hey, you fight Dracula, that's more than enough for me.

The graphics of this game aren't the best of the launch games, and they aren't the worst either. Your character looks all right, as well as the other main characters. They also all have their own portrait, which are pretty good. The only problem is that the sprites don't have that many animations. Although this isn't a problem for me, just a few more animations in things such as running and walking would of been nice.

The backgrounds are very well done, and they well done, and they help add to the creepy atmosphere. The enemies look pretty good, but their often used over and over again in different colors in the later levels. My one gripe with the graphics is that the screen is VERY dark. Seriously, I needed to sit by a window with sunlight flowing in to be able to see the game, and then it was still a little dark. But overall, I enjoyed the graphics, and if you focus on gameplay, like I do, then you probably will too. Just have an adequate lighting source.

Ah, the gameplay. The gameplay of this game is excellent, and is the primary reason for this game being so good. Your primary weapon is the whip, which is already fun to lash around, but there is a hell of lot more to it than that. This game an RPG type leveling up system, where as you defeat enemies, you receive experience points and become stronger. You can also equip items to strengthen your character, or just use consumable items like potions for a quick healing.

Then theres the DSS card system. With this, you combine the powers of two cards to do a magic attack. For example, by mixing a Mercury card with a Salamander card, you get a flaming whip. There a LOT of combinations. I had fun just trying them out. Sadly, a lot of them are pretty useless, and you may find yourself only actually using a few of them. This is still very cool, though.

Some things I've seen people complain about is the fact that you can only swing your whip in one direction, and and healing items dont help much. As far as the whip goes, I have no problem swinging in one direction, and the game would be too easy if you could swing in all directions anyway. The healing items I believe were intended not to heal much, as the challenge of this game is avoiding enemy attacks and killing them quickly. Items can take care of any small damage you may have taken.

This game is very challenging. As you get farther, you'll find yourself dying more often. Thankfully, save points are very well spread out, so this keeps the frustration level to a minimum.

This game has some pretty cool sounds and music. When you start the game, you are treated to a creepy theme that sets the stage very well. The music is great, you shouldn't be surprised if find yourself humming along with it. Still, although the music is good, it could of been a little more creepier. Good job overall.

The sounds are pretty good to. The whip and running sounds are dead on. Some enemies even scream when they die, like the marionette. Overall, I have absoloutly no problems with sound. It's everything you would want from a Game Boy Advance game.

This game is definitley replayable. After you beat the game, you gain access to several new modes to tinker around with. just playing through this game again is quite fun as well, in my opinion.

Overall, Castlevania is a great game. Forget Mario Advance, pick this up instead with your new Game Boy Advance. So, why didn't it get a 10? First, im my opinion a 10 means the game is a masterpiece, which few games could be considered of having that honor. And second, the screen is a bit too dark, which makes it somewhat difficult to play. And now the final score..

STORY 8/10: Basically, you fight Dracula. Good enough for a Game Boy Advance game.
GRAPHICS 8/10: Very good, unfortunatley the screen's darkness really hurts the score.
GAMEPLAY 10/10: Perfect. I couldn't ask for anything more.
MUSIC/SOUND 9/10: Great, just needed to be a bit more spookier.
REPLAYABILITY 8/10: Offers some new modes for those that complete the game.

OVERALL 8/10: The best launch game available, by far. It would be a sin not to get this game.

Buy/Rent?: You can beat this game in a rental's amount of time, but I say you should still buy it. Then, you can truly enjoy this game and replay the new modes.

Castlevania: Circle of the Moon is a great game, probably better than most of the other Castlevanias. Do yourself a favor and go by this game. You wont be disappointed.

By the way, that was my first review. Feel free to tell me what you thought of it.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.0 - Great

Originally Posted: 06/22/01, Updated 06/22/01

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