Review by Mikey4004

"Simon Belmont would be proud."

Castlevania: Circle of the Moon is, in my ever so humble opinion, one of the best launch games for the Game Boy Advance. In fact, it is one of the best games available for the Game Boy Advance, at least until a new GBA-version Zelda or Pokemon or Metroid shows up.

Like Mario, Zelda, and Metroid, the Castlevania series has a long video-gaming history. Also like Mario, Zelda, and Metroid, the games in the Castlevania series have never really ever been bad. A few have been mediocre, but for the most part, if it has ''Castlevania'' slapped on the box, it's a good bet you're going to see a quality game.

You would definitely not lose that bet with this installment of the Castlevania series. COTM combines the classic whip-thrashing appeal that made the originals such classics, with an RPG element-style, primarily from Symphony of the Night (The PS Castlevania classic), that adds a very challenging feel. Another neat feature added is the DSS System, which allows you to collect various cards dropped by enemies, and use two together in tandem to add enhancements to yourself or your whip, or even to summon allies to come to your aid, at the cost of an ever-replenishing supply of Magic Points. The DSS design, I feel, is very balanced, allowing an unlimited usage of the abilities the cards grant you, at the expense of having to ''charge'' them up.

The storyline plays out much like the others in the Castlevania series, with Dracula having been resurrected, and your mission is to put him down until the next Castlevania game comes out.

But, I think the best feature of this game, as well as the GBA itself, is the reemergence of the 2D Platform-Adventure. Many people, especially younger kids who have been weaned on the likes of Quake III, Resident Evil, and other eye-candy laden 3D games, just don't appreciate the challenge a little 2D Adventure can present. It may just be me going nostalgic, but there you have it.

GAMEPLAY(10/10): The controls for any Castlevania game are simple, and these are no different. The A & B buttons are used to jump and whip, respectively. The R button allows the use of certain ''special'' moves, which can only be performed after defeating a boos and gaining the magical item that allows the move to be completed. The L button activates the DSS. The Start button brings up a menu screen which shows your character's current stats, his experience points, his items, DSS cards, and vital stats. The Select button brings up a very handy Map Screen, which you will definitely be referring to quite often.

SOUND & MUSIC(10/10): The opening sequence music is so eerie, it's hard to push the Start button to begin the game, because you just want to listen to it as long as you can. From the Opening sequence music, to the ending sequence music, the tracks played throughout the game are very clear and sharp, and, while they sound very fresh, are clever remixes, or even just resequenced, versions of previous Castlevania game music. The actual sound effects are limited, but the crack of the whip and the footsteps on the stone are very sharp and clear as well.

STORYLINE(9/10): While the storyline is just another variant on the classic Castlevania formula -- A minion awakens Dracula, you must destroy Dracula, Dracula is gone, a minion awakens Dracula, and so on -- it still really never gets old.

REPLAYABLITLY(10/10): Even after you beat the game once, there are stil many things you can do. Each time you beat the game, you are given a code in which it modifies the game from the get-go, such as giving you all DSS cards from the start, or increasing your base attack skills, and so on. And, you can beat the game without ever entering into the Battle Arena, which in itself is a very challenging side-quest, but if you complete it, you are rewarded justly.

REVIEWER'S TILT(10/10): I love Castlevania, and I absolutely love 2D Adventures, so this game is a perfect buy for me.

OVERALL SCORE(10/10): Buy a GBA. Buy this game. Enjoy life. :-)

Reviewer's Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

Originally Posted: 07/19/01, Updated 07/19/01

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