Circle of the Moon is the first handheld Castlevania game in the series since the non-canon Castlevania: Legends, and Belmont's Revenge 1 and 2 for the Game Boy. This game is rendered in it's traditional 2D environment with sprite characters as well. This game is also the first to not feature a Belmont as the hero of the game, but a new one. This is one of the best games in the Castlevania series, but to me, the best one is Symphony of the Night.
Plot. The year is 1830, for a long time the Belmont family has fought against the evil Count Dracula and his unholy legion. One night in an old castle, Camilla, a minion of Dracula, revives him, only to be interrupted by Morris Baldwin, his son Hugh and student Nathan Graves, who's parents died a decade ago to banish Count Dracula. But the vampire lord destroys the floor, causing Hugh and Nathan to fall. The two survive the fall, but Hugh leaves Nathan behind. Nathan is determined to find his master at all costs. Nathan Graves is the protagonist, who after the death of his parents was taken in by Morris Baldwin and trained him, thus becoming the successor to wield the ancestral whip, the "Vampire Killer", much to Hugh's displeasure and jealousy.
Also, introducing to the game is the Dual-Set up System (DSS), based on magic cards found throughout the game that belong to one of two categories: Action and Attribute. These cards grant Nathan strength and many unique powers that can be useful against the tougher bosses. Nathan can restore health with potions, cure poison with antidotes while in a save point he completely replenishes HP and MP, except for hearts.
Concept. The purpose of the game is to guide Nathan throughout the monster filled castle in order to defeat various bosses to reach Dracula and save his mentor Morris. In some occasions he will encounter Hugh, who is jealous of Nathan becoming the successor to his father. The game also has four alternate modes after completing it. In which players will recieve a code that can be entered as his or her name when starting a new game: his code will start the game in Magician Mode, in which Nathan begins with all twenty DSS cards. Fighter Mode does not permit the use of DSS cards, but increases his strength. Shooter Mode allows a higher maximum of hearts he can carry, but gives a penalty to strength, defense, and hit points. Thief Mode reduces Nathan's strength, but increases his luck.
Design. The game continued in it's traditional 2D side-scrolling origins, but still it is an awesome game. Also, I really loved the elements to SOTN that this game has. The graphics and visuals are awesome when selecting all kinds of powers for Nathan to attack enemies on sight.
Sound and Music. Though there is no voice acting dialogue in the game, Nathan can be heard in battle cries, grunts, and death scream when players are killed and given a Game Over. The sound effects are great, but the music is better too. Some of the theme songs of previous game such as Vampire Killer, Aquarius (Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse), Visions of Dark Secrets and The Sinking Old Sanctuary (Castlevania: Bloodlines) and "The Trick Manor" (also known as "Clockwork Mansion") (derived from combining "Rotating Room" and "Spinning Tale" of Super Castlevania IV). The game also features Dance of Illusions and Requiem (Castlevania Dracula X: Rondo of Blood). The game's soundtrack was composed by Sotaro Tojima.
Memories. My best friend from elementary, junior high, and high school introduced me to this game before I went to a game tournament the following day. Me and him used to play and told him about the old games. He has played the NES and SNES games, and so SOTN. As for the rest, he did not. In 2002, I downloaded a GBA emulator for the first time and really enjoyed the game. It reminded me so much of SOTN, because this game has the RPG concept of the latter.
Rantings. There are some new enemies that I have added to my list apart from the Medusa Heads. The werepanthers were one of the most annoying enemies and so where the Earth and Thunder Demons. Also, the boss I hated fighting against was Necromancer, because he flew around the room and when turned into his final form, the bother was higher when he transformed into a lethal energy ball that would cause great harm. Another boss that is long and tedious is against the two dragons. Dracula's second form is the most difficult.
Good Aspects. Graphics are detailed and the game is well designed. My favorite level is the Clock Tower and also the Chapel. The Clock Tower has one of the best music levels in the series, because it was kick ass. Also, I really loved the remix of old themes from previous game, including those from Rondo of Blood and Super Castlevania IV. This game has high replay value, and it's a great game to play.
Overall. This is a classic game, and wish that they would re-release it on either the Nintendo DS along with Harmony of Dissonance and Aria of Sorrow as a trilogy. The story is decent, and music is great. Gameplay is also similar to SOTN. Not the best castle, but a decent one. This game gets an 8 out of 10.
Play Hard Gamers!