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
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.