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Castlevania: Circle of the Moon
Preview By: Marty Weisenburger
Developer:   Konami
Publisher:   Konami
Genre:   Platformer
Est. Release Date:   TBA
Posted:   11-22-00

Ever since gaming moved into the 32/64-bit era, almost every series that existed in the past has either been discontinued or seen a transition from the roots of videogaming itself (2D) to the third dimension. Many of these went smoothly, perhaps making the change for the better. However, there are certain games that just don’t "feel right" in 3D, and are, well, best left in their sidescrolling origins. One of these is unquestionably Castlevania. When you think of the name, 2D, whip-toting action - not massive 3D exploration - comes to mind. It should come as a relief to purists, then, that Castlevania: Circle of the Moon, the next title in the Castlevania Saga, won’t be an adventure in the vein of the N64 titles, but instead a return to sidescrolling on the Game Boy Advance.

game2.jpg (12559 bytes)

Circle of the Moon’s storyline is much of what you’d expect from Castlevania: Despite being killed numerous times over, Dracula’s still alive and kicking (sucking?), and this time, he’s kidnapped a master vampire hunter. Not to worry, though; two of his students – Nathan Graves and Hugh Baldwin (You can play as either of them) are ready to invade the count’s castle, put him to rest once again, and rescue their mentor.

The look and feel of CotM is very similar to the classic NES Castlevania games – breakable candles, flying bats and skulls, and multi-leveled castles will all be familiar to longtime fans of the series, as will the whip-toting heroes. The control layout is nearly identical to the old school games, too – The A and B buttons are used to attack and jump, and holding the up button while attacking allows you to use alternate weapons, such as axes and daggers.

When Symphony of the Night was released on the PlayStation, it introduced RPG and adventure elements to the series. Some of these will be present in Circle of the Moon, though they’ll play a lesser role than in SOTN. The two characters gain experience as they slay their foes, and although levels will still be separated by the bosses you’re used to seeing in Castlevania, they’ll be open ended and allow you to travel back and forth between them. As far as graphics go, expect visual quality on par with Castlevania 4, only less blocky and on the small screen.

game1.jpg (12045 bytes)

It’s been a while since we’ve seen a good 2D sidescroller, and with Circle of the Moon, old school gamers clamoring for just that will have a good reason to pick up a Game Boy Advance the day it hits stores.

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