Castlevania: Circle of the Moon
Description official descriptions
Count Dracula has been resurrected and evil will reign supreme unless he is stopped. As Nathan Graves, you'll hunt down the Count and use your whip and a variety of special items to destroy his minions. Battle your way through Dracula's castle and rid the world of his evil once again.
Castlevania: Circle of the Moon is the first of the series to be based on the action/RPG structure of Castlevania:Symphony of the Night rather than the level-based action style of all previous Castlevania games. Dracula's castle is a single continuous building, and as Nathan discovers artifacts within it he gains new abilities that allow him to explore more of it. While Nathan can only use his Killer Whip as a weapon, he can find and equip different kinds of armor and accessories that change his stats. Unique to this entry in the series is the Dual Set-up System, where a combination of two cards will give Nathan unique magical abilities. For example, equipping a fire type card with a whip card will give the Killer Whip a fire attribute, while equipping it with a summon card will let Nathan summon a fire demon to attack onscreen enemies.
- 悪魔城ドラキュラ - Japanese spelling
Credits (Game Boy Advance version)
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Average score: 85% (based on 47 ratings)
Average score: 3.6 out of 5 (based on 76 ratings with 4 reviews)
Well, it's 2D Castlevania - for retro fans, that's a no-brainer. The beauty of Castlevania since Symphony of the Night has been firmly rooted in navigating a gigantic maze while steadily powering up your character. Happily, CotM continues this proven gameplay while adding a few new wrinkles. While the hero is nowhere near as cool as Alucard (and the plot is pretty predictable and cliched as well), you do get powers that Alucard didn't. These take the form of the card system. Throughout your travels, you'll collect a series of cards divided into two groups. When you combine a card from each group, your character takes on a certain power. For example, one set of combinations modifies your basic whip into a number of magical variants, each having its own strengths and weaknesses. Actually, the card system is the game's biggest strength AND its greatest weakness (more on that later). The boss battles are good and tough, the maze is puzzling (perhaps a bit too puzzling for its own good), and there's some incentive to replay after you beat it.
As I said, the card system is also one of CotM's biggest drawbacks. There are A LOT of card combinations - in fact, so many that I never had the time nor the capability to discover what they all did. Many of the combinations produce results that are not immediately apparent - you might be running around for thirty minutes or more before the highly specialized nature of your current combination reveals itself. This seems to me to represent a wasted opportunity - why make a game function more difficult to access than necessary? On the item front, SotN gave Alucard plenty of useful items that restored health, augmented powers, and so on all throughout the game. CotM, on the other hand, commits a terrible flaw in handing you very weak and ineffectual items from the beginning until the climax, especially in regard to health power ups. I can't understand why the designers didn't make the health items restore a percentage of your health as opposed to a set amount of points - anyone familiar with the old flat-tax scheme can tell you why this setup just doesn't work. Finally, the whole thing is just way too dark. Get ready to squint - and don't play unless you've got lots of sunlight.
The Bottom Line
It's classic, 2D Castlevania that you know and love. Not as good as SotN, but probably one of the best platformers available on your GBA.
Game Boy Advance · by Lucas Schippers (57) · 2002
Circle of the moon was the first Castlevania for Game Boy Advance, and it's one of the best games in this portable system. It has the essence of the Castlevania series on a 2-D environment, with all the elements that made this games a reference for the platforms and action games.
Castlevania: Circle of the Moon is different from other games of the same series in many ways, and these ways are the most remarkable things of this game in concrete. We don't have levels in this game, and we have no linear paths, instead we have the whole castle from the beginning and that's where all the game's going to take place. We can't enter some areas because we need some special power like double jump or wall jumping, we can get that power by defeating the bosses in the castle, that's how the game works. Many areas can't be reached and we have to come back when we have the power needed, this is one of the elements that makes this game looks a little like an action RPG. We have a map which is one of the most useful things in the game, it'll indicate the areas which you haven't explored. You'll take a look at it all the time, believe me.
Talking about that, we have some elements which are traditional in RPG, like levels increased by fighting, armors and accessories, items, HP, MP or stats like luck, attack, defense or intelligence. It suits with the philosophy of the game but it's still an action-platform game, not a RPG, just some elements which make the game much more special.
One of the best new things is the DSS system, we can combine cards taken from the monsters to gain special powers, and there are many combinations. Every combination has a different power. It sounds a little tedious but it's easier than it looks and soon you'll realize that it's a good battle system.
The music is good, but has no remarkable things. Some Castlevania classics sound during the game, the same old stuff that shouldn't be changed because it works!
Many other things of the Castlevania series are in this game, we have secret areas that could by found by hitting a wall (most of them are intuitive, but try to hit as many as you can), a whip to kill your foes with two attack moves (one of them is more like a protection move for you), some classic enemies like bone towers as well as secondary weapons like crosses, axes, holy water or knifes... and the only game that the hearts taken don't give you health!
There are many different enemies, you won't get bored of any of them because there are a lot. Many of them has rare items as well as cards (they're assigned to a concrete kind of enemy) and some of them are really hard to be defeated. Anyway that helps to know if you're level is the adequate. If you have big problems defeating the monsters in some concrete area... it's time to gain some levels!
Gameplay is just perfect and you got some extra modes once you've beating the game. Jumps are good, and you don't have to worry about falling to death because you can't, there's always floor (or something) because you're in a castle (the only bad thing that could happen to you is falling down from a high place and start again climbing). You have to fight a lot, but it's funny because you have to come back many times to enter secret areas which you couldn't before because you haven't the power required, so, it's not difficult to gain some extra levels.
No remarkable bad things in this game, just some things that could be better. If you want to get all the cards you have to know that they're assigned to some concrete kind of enemies, and the fact that they won't always give the card to you when you kill them, so, it's possible that you kill a concrete kind of enemy which has the card and then he gives you another item, and it's possible that it happens many times. Of course you don't know what kind of enemies have the cards that you're looking for, so, as I said there are many enemies and the conclusion is something obvious. If you've taken almost every card is really difficult to get the cards left. Try to increase your luck, maybe it helps...
The Bottom Line
A great game with many highs. Castlevania: Circle of the Moon is a reason to play a system like Game Boy Advance. It's a long game with some RPG elements as well as new features with a good gameplay. A Castlevania game that doesn't become unworthy of one of the best action-platform series in the world.
Game Boy Advance · by NeoJ (398) · 2009
Gameboy Advance, I'm not sure if I love or hate the console. I've never been any person who like consoles, I think most of the games on the consoles are insanely weak, mindless 3d games pointed at the mainstream audience. And why are all the japanese RPGs released on consoles the exact same? There's sure one thing good about the Gameboy Advance, it's the perfect excuse for making good old fashioned 2D games again (even though I still get the feeling GBA games share a little of that dull console disease). The bad thing about the Gameboy Advance is it's low amount of power, here you get neat 2D games... but so "small" games, you just can't help but think how cool it would be if they made the game for a more powerful machine, so they can give more animations to the 2D sprites and things like that.
I'm sort of going offtrack here, Castlevania: Circle of the Moon is exactly what the Castlevania fans have waited so long for. a good old 2D platform Castlevania game. And it's mighty good to see one after these years with these odd Castlevania 3D spinoff games. It's not entirely "good old" though, it's not in the same style of the very old Castlevania games though, it's like Symphony of the Night with the non-linear RPG gameplay. Which is definately a good thing, because it gives so much more life to the game (although for the purists there's a actually mode later in the game which give you the ability to play the game almost just like any super old Castlevania game).
There's not so very much to say about the game, it's just another step into the right direction with huge similarities from Sympony of the Night. It got great music, great graphics, great gameplay... it's just simply great.
You just can't help but comparing the game with Symphony of the Night. SotN was released for the Playstation which is more powerful machine that the GBA, which means they could so much more for it. SotN is much longer, it's music with fantastic quality, the graphics are great. In this regard Circle of the Moon is lacking. It's just plain worse than SotN, although it's still a really great game.
The Bottom Line
Though SotN is generally much better than CotM, CotM has some better things than SotN, it's balanced, it's got no of those silly weapons which make you super powerful. And the game is actually hard. The game is still relatively short though.
As a final word, this is the perfect game for any 2D platform gamer who likes some good old fashioned gameplay. If you've played Sympony of the Night and enjoyed it, be sure it get this, just don't expect it to be better.
Game Boy Advance · by Kate Jones (416) · 2001
The original Game Boy Advance was not back-lit, and Castlevania: Circle of the Moon is considered by many to be the most difficult game to view on it. The game features detailed artwork and backgrounds, all in darker toned colors. Positioning the screen "just right" to see the game properly is considered much more difficult than other Game Boy Advance titles. This game (which was a launch title) is considered to be one of the reasons behind designing the Game Boy Advance SP, as well as several luminance peripherals for the original Game Boy Advance.
Related Sites +
Konami: Circle of the Moon
The Castlevania Dungeon
A hosted fan "shrine" site devoted to all the games of the Castlevania series, including the GBA game Castlevania: Circle of the Moon. Content includes game info/descriptions, plot summaries, various kinds of media (images, MP3s, etc.) and links to other Castlevania-related sites.
- MobyGames ID: 4304
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Contributors to this Entry
Game added by Frumple.
Wii U added by ResidentHazard.
Game added June 13th, 2001. Last modified February 27th, 2023.