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Castlevania: Circle of the Moon Package Art

Castlevania: Circle of the Moon

Milli Vanilli, Guns ní Roses in their Prime and Firebird vs. Camaro. Ah yes, the late eighties/early nineties, a time of high teenage pregnancy ratings and great 2D gaming. Castlevania Circle of the Moon is an unbelievable throw back to that great era of gaming. I had chills down my spine as the opening sequence led me into this fantastically put together title. If there were one title that I point to as a ďsystem sellerĒ at launch for the GBA itís Konamiís great effort. The fact that Konami put together a very deep, gorgeous and adventurous title for the GBA at launch should be applauded. The fact that itís a teen rated game is even more of a bonus!

I met Ken Lobb on the showfloor at E3 and he was totally excited about this title. After playing it myself for and extended period of time I have to sayÖ Forget Mario Advance, this is the one you want at launch folks. Hereís whyÖ


Thereís a really cool thing going on with the background and the foreground in this title. It gives the illusion of depth because the background, which is separate from the foreground, scrolls. Youíll find that the environments all exhibit a great level of detail. The bosses are well scaled to your character and the enemies are all easily distinguishable and animate fairly well. It has to be mentioned that some of the animations of the main character and enemies seem a bit too akin to the Game Boy Color in that there are some frames missing but who caresÖthe game is gorgeous and itís a launch title. A launch title whereby you can actually see a gauntlet on your charactersí arm when you equip it! Now thatís detail!

Because the game is supposed to have a horror feel to it, itís set in the classic Castlevania domain of a dark castle resided by none other than Darcula. Unfortunately, couple the dark setting with the fact that the GBA is a bit on the dark side and youíll need plenty of light to see this title. But you know what? Youíll search that light out. Youíll want to find the light to play this game. GO TO THE LIGHT! GO! Itís just that good.

One of the cool things about the graphics is the teleport and save rooms. I love how the screen particles and fades away in these rooms. Itís going to be amazing to see what effects Konami and others come up with as they become more familiar with the system.

Lastly, the menu screens are well laid out and easy to navigate. Considering the amount of information on the screen, this is a great feat. Finally, with a quick click of the select button, you get a great map of the area that allows you to get your bearings as to where you are in the castle.


Thereís one tune in this title that I just canít stop whistling. Get the earphones on for this one Dojo Disciples. All of the sound effects, music and audioscape are all here. The only thing missing is voice samples! The music is so good that it even comes across well over the tiny GBA speaker. I canít say enough about how difficult it is to work within the context of a launch title development environment. Any semblance of quality should be appreciated because the developer is working with a dev kit that may be evolving from day to day. Konami has put together a great title here from the audio to the visuals to the gameplay...


Castlevania Circle of the Moon is one of the best examples at exactly how much more complex and in depth the control scheme has become on Gameboy because of the extra shoulder buttons. I was impressed with the amount of control depth. In Circle of the Moon there are several different methods for you to attack the minions of Dracula. The first is the simple whip attack using the B button. With that same B button you can also use a crouch attack by pressing down on the pad and B. Also, up on the pad and B allows you to throw a sub weapon that can vary from a dagger to a crucifix depending on which one you pick up. Of course, thereís also the jump button ďAĒ and the down and jump button slide attack. Add to this the whole host of magic moves you pick up like the dash, double jump and charge. Some of these moves are achieved using the R shoulder button ďspecial moveĒ. Now add to all of that control depth the DSS card system. This is where you collect cards and combine the different attribute and action cards for different methods of attack.

I donít usually go through the entire control scheme in a game but Konami squeezed so much out of the four buttons on the GBA that I had to take note of it. Other developers that may complain about the lack of buttons should take this as an example.

Now the gameplay itself is your standard brilliant 2D action. You explore Draculaís castle in an effort to save your brethren and crush the fanged one himself. Along the way youíll battle tons of enemies, mini bosses, find secret rooms. Sounds pretty straightforward? It is, and thatís why it totally engrossed me. When you add in the action level in the game with the RPG elements of upgrading your character and the whole card system, geeze. This game is on the level of a home console in terms of depth.

Forget the N64 editions of Castlevania, this is the bomb. After playing this game I canít wait to see whatís in store for the new Metroid title for the GBA.




This title is certainly one of the must buy launch titles. Although thereís definitely room for improvement, youíve got to keep in mind that this is an incredibly deep adventure for a launch title. I donít usually advocate action titles as heavily as I am with Circle of the Moon, but damn, this is a great game. Itís certainly going to be used as a benchmark for the system both in terms of quality and depth.

final score 9.8/10

Staff Avatar Eric Mattei
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"Lost like tears in rain"

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