Review by DKamikaze
"It looks like a dog but purrs like a kitten!"
OK, lets face it. Circle of the Moon was, on a GBA, quite dark. But hey - atmosphere! Konami obviously took light into consideration and now we have this, which is quite... striking... my nice ability to read (SOME!) Japanese armed and ready, I waded into this game...
NEON LIGHTS AND SHADOWS!
OK, truthfully, lets be honest. Compared to CotM, this looks pretty poor. The graphics are nowhere NEAR on-par with COTM, it's WAY too bright and the shadow effects are a little... well... different. These very obvious changes can't disguise the fact this game does look very poor, even compared to it's SNES counterparts!
But we all know that graphics maketh not a game! So lets skip the looks and see if beauty is skin-deep!
WHIPS AND CHAINS... OOH, KINKY!
Juste Belmondo is obviously a vampire, the story supposedly goes that Juste is Alucard's son. Juste is walking to the castle with his (Don't shoot me if Juste is a girl!) friend Maxim. Maxim is wounded and begs Juste to go on without him... and Juste goes to slay his granddaddy! Aww... glad that blood ties are so strong!
The game itself is far more worthy of the name Castlevania - it plays smoothly and never feels overwhelming. Also gone is the rather difficult CSS system from CotM to be replaced with far simpler Spellbooks. Which makes the game feel faster.
Merchants play a great role in this game too, and it's really great to finally see some decent addition to the CV series. Merchants sell items and equipment and appear based on how complete the map is, and your level. Good key items can be bought here, although selling is - like in SotN, restricted to just gems. Which I think is a serious downfall to such a nice, tidy and sorely overlooked addition to the series.
The game is, however, a little TOO easy. Thats my only major gripe - finding items tends to be frustrating if you don't know what you are looking for. Whip power-ups can be frustrating to find and you have to learn to use your bracelets wisely to progress and see the final, good ending.
The plot is good, although I strongly recommend if you can't read Japanese you wait for the translated version which will be released soon.
This game looks rough around the edges, but underneath the rather brash and almost ARROGANT exterior hides another jewel in the crown for the Castlevania series.
I do however strongly doubt that it will achieve as much success as CotM or SotN, because apart from a few points of total frustration, the bosses do not pose a significant challenge, the enemies are predictable and they don't look very good. The beauty of the game lies in this odd simplicity though - predictable but oddly comforting in it's own way.
Konami should have stuck to the dark atmosphere but no-one should be complaining, This will eat a few weeks of your life and it's great relief after playing a hard session of Super Smash Bros. or something equally challenging. But I do feel the hardened Castlevania fan is going to feel a little disappointed.
Now Konami, when do we get another 3D Castlevania?
Reviewer's Rating: 3.5 - Good
Originally Posted: 06/13/02, Updated 06/13/02
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