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 dont "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, wont be an adventure in the vein of the N64 titles, but instead a
return to sidescrolling on the Game Boy Advance.
Circle of the Moons storyline is much of what youd expect from Castlevania:
Despite being killed numerous times over, Draculas still alive and kicking
(sucking?), and this time, hes 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 counts 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 theyll 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
youre used to seeing in Castlevania, theyll 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.
Its been a while since weve 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.