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reviews >> gamecube
Castlevania : Cricle Of The Moon

written by Shaun McCracken

Game Information
Publisher: Konami
Developer: KCET
Year Released: 2001
Players: 1
ESRB Rating: Teen

Visuals 9
Other than the fact that the main character is too small and the picture is a bit too dark, the game looks great.
Audio 9
The music is great, despite the slight fuzziness in the sampling. Great sound effects.
Gameplay 9.5
This is a great playing game. It has a very Super Metroid feel to it, yet set in the Castlevania universe. The DSS card system is also a great addition to the game, and add a lot of depth to the combat. The RPG elements add depth, too.
Replay Value 8.75
It's a pretty long game (about 25 hours), but wether or not you want to play it again is up to you.
Reviewer's Impression 9.25
Well, this was the first game I bought for my GBA, and I'm still pretty happy with that decision. It show off the new system pretty well in both graphics and sound, and the design itself is great.
Overall 9
In general, it's a great game with a couple of flaws. The picture could have been brighter, the character could of had more detail, and there could have been a little more incentive to play the game again. But still, it's a game any GBA owner couldn't afford to be without.

I probably should have gotten to writing this review sooner, seing how I've owned this game for two years. But, I put things off. Well, now that I finally have the chance to write a review for this game, I will do so. Ok then.

COTM was one of the first games to come out for the GBA, and was probably the best launch title for the GBA, despite the fact that you need some really good light to see the game. But now that we have the Game Boy Player out, I think now is a great oppertunity for people to try the first Castlevania game for the GBA. While not as colorful or as detailed as the later releases, COTM is still a great game to go through. Plus, it's not often you will find a GBA game that offers 20+ hours of gameplay outside the RPG circuit.

In this installment, you take the role of Nathan, an apprentice vampire hunter who is after Dracula once again after being ressurected by a girl named Camilla. So, on the way to deal with this problem Morris, Nathan and Hugh (the other a-hole apprentice) fall through the ground and are now left to fight their way to Dracula. I know, I suck at retelling the story. Throughout the game, you'll explore every area of the castle, from bottom to top, in Super Metroid fashion. Although you are exploring a huge environment, you will not have access into each area until you acquire a specific item or defeat a certain boss. Hmmm... like Metroid! In fact, you can draw many similarities between this and Super Metroid, but COTM does offer a pretty cool element.

A big chunk of this game is wrapped around the DSS system. DSS, or Dual Set-up System, involves the pairing of cards you acquire throughout the game. There are two different types of cards, and by pairing one type with the other, you can access special moves an techiniques that help you throught the game. But, you'll need to keep an eye on the blue meter, as it will depelete each time you access a DSS technique. Don't worry, it slowly replenishes on it's own. Another facet of COTM is the use of experience points, like an RPG game. Almost every enemy you defeat has an experience point value, which is built up to increase your life and attributes. Speaking of attributes, you will also be able to pick up items that can help or hinder your character's statistics (much like an RPG). The level up system works pretty well in a game like this, and I wouldn't mind seeing it implemented in releases for the console releases.

The design of COTM, like I've said before, is a lot like Super Metroid. You do not play stage by stage any more. Now, you are in one large environment to explore, provided you have the items needed to move on. While you could say it's unoriginal, it does work very well, and immensely deepens gameplay.

The graphics of COTM are pretty good, but you'll need a great light source, a GBA SP, or the GB Player to really see what is going on. I'm not sure why this game is so dark, but it is. I think that may be the game's greatest problem. Because it's darker than a lot of the other GBA games, you may not be able to play it in certain places (or should I say places with lower lighting or even the car). If you have a GBA SP, then it's no problem. Beyond the dark contrast, the other problem COTM has is with the character sprite you play as. It's a bit too small, and a little limited in animation. This problem was fixed in later releases, but as far as this game goes, you can really tell this was a launch title. As for the rest of the game, the detail is pretty sharp and well done.

The sound is great. At first I was thrown off by the fact that the sound was a little fuzzy, but compared to other games, COTM sounds great. Well enough reason to have a pair of headphones. Sound effects, music and everything is well done.

Overall, COTM is still a must have for the GBA. In fact, it's lower price and the release of the SP and GB Player can breathe new life into this GBA classic. If you haven't gotten into any of the GBA Castlevania games, COTM is a fairly good place to start. The open environment and DSS system are a good enough reason to give this game a go.