Castlevania: Circle of the Moon was the first Castlevania game released for the Game Boy Advance. It was developed by Konami‘s Kobe division and released in 2001.
Circle of the Moon was also a launch title for the GBA and went on to sell over one million physical units worldwide.
Playing Castlevania: Circle of the Moon now it’s not difficult to see why the game sold well and was a critical success – it is a refinement of every Castlevania game that came before it and includes role-playing elements, as well as the usual whipping/platforming, which makes it very absorbing.
The game begins with a confrontation with Dracula himself, before he literally pulls the rug out from under you and you fall into the depths of his castle… And then it’s a case of exploring, fighting off his evil minions, and collecting as much loot as you can. Classic ‘Metroidvania‘…
A handy map shows you where you are as you explore, as well as (most) exits from from a room (the map doesn’t show hidden exits until you reveal them).
Sometimes, when killed, an enemy might drop a special card that you can collect. Activating these cards imbues your weapons with certain powers, or allows you to perform special actions. You can also pick up armour and other defensive items left by enemy drops and equip them, improving your defence as you progress.
Every now and then you’ll also get a special magical item that gives you permanent new abilities, like the Dash Boots which make you run faster (and therefore jump further) or the Double, which gives you a double jump (very handy for reaching out-of-reach areas).
Castlevania: Circle of the Moon is a superb game. Graphically it is varied and beautifully constructed. Musically it’s great too. Whether it’s as good as Harmony of Dissonance or Aria of Sorrow is open to debate, but there’s no doubting that Circle of the Moon is a classic Castlevania game.
All three Castlevania games on the Game Boy Advance are still worth playing now – they give the best games in the Castlevania series a serious run for their money.