Circle of the Moon, an Advanced Review by Darkmoon
US Release Date: 6/11/2001
System: Game Boy Advance
Circle of the Moon Extras:
Took me a long time to finally get my hands on this game... Well, technically I still don't have my hands on the game physcially... but eh, why quibble. Suffice it to say I took the time to play through this game, and it was well worth it.
Considered by most to be a sequel to Symphony of the Night (in style, as the plot is totally unrelated), CotM uses the same RPG with action elements that Symphony used. There are differences like any good sequel has, but if you liked Symphony of the Night, you'll like CotM.
Excellent (in my opinion) play control. The control is spot on, and only sometimes is there any slowdown due to the number of sprites on screen, which of course affects your reflexes.
The music and graphics are at times stunning (for a portable system), although, due to constraints in the cartridge system (ie, not a lot of room), the music and graphics do tend to get repetative. Well, unless you are looking, you prolly won't notice. Just something for you nitpickers.
Of course, the best thing about this game is the DDS (double-deck system, or something... no need for research, really!). Course, everyone else on every other castlevania web site has gone on about this, so I'll just cover important stuff here. The DDS is a combination of status and element cards under the guises of critters and gods (or planets depending on how you look at it, although Diana and Apollo technically aren't planets...). COmbine two cards, turn on your magic, and voila, you have a magic power. All sorts of powers range, but here's the best couple for ya:
Jupiter + Serpent creates a shield of 4 orbs that encircle you, protecting you almost completely from projectiles (even better, after a few levels into the game, you can pretty much just turn the shield on and run with it--it uses so little magic, you'll never notice it). Jupiter and the Tree Critter (again, no need to research, biotches) heals you if you stand still. This one drains your magic, so use it in dire circumstances.
About my only real gripe with the game (as far as I got into it, which was damn far) was the learning curve. The game starts farily easy, and you get caught up in exploring. Before you know it, you're low level, everything you encounter in high level, and due to the way the game works, you get no safe havens. The worst for me was battling Death much before I was supposed to (unbeknownst to me) and having to spend five tries getting past him (which I did, thanx to the ice shield). And yet, oddly at times, other bosses are easy as cake, and you'll sit around going "where's the fun?"
Nothing much on the fugly meter either. I do wish that the couple areas where I noticed slow down had been fixed, but this is a truly minor gripe.
Score: 8.3 out of 10
And a brief run down of the areas:
Catacombs: Starting area for the game. You won't be able to get into the upper areas for a little while, so you'll have to explore the lower areas. Try to level up to level 5 here. And watch out for the Earth Demon. The boss is Cerberus. He's a pushover really, so there isn't much point in trying to give you a strategy...
Abyss Stairway: Transitional area. Easy enough place at first, just watch out for the hordes of flying critters.
Audience Room: Another easy area, just watch out for Zombie Theives (or maybe that's in the Triumph Hallway). They have a tendency to dodge your ships and fall on you. Also, there is a Flame Armor here, but he isn't really worth fighting yet. You'll face the Necromancer here, and he'll fight you mostly by raising critters to fight for him. Most strategies say to just use the cross on him and fight the monsters, but honestly, that strategy wasn't workin for me. Just whip him too and you'll be fine.
Outer Wall: You can't do much in this area at the start, but you'll find yourself walking back and forth through here a lot. The mother of all transition areas.
Triumph Hallway: Transitional Area. Leads you off the the Machine Tower, if I'm not mistaken (as with everything, this is all from memory). As with all these starting areas, it's not that difficult a place.
Machine Tower: A bit of a tit of an area. The Heat Shades may give you some trouble, as will the archers. Just persevere, and try to dodge the medusas. They ALL stone you. You'll face the Golem here, but he really is an easy battle. Just whip him, or cross him, and dodge his stones. He'll die, you'll party.
Eternal Corridor: Really a transitional area, but I don't consider it as such. To me, it's a kick ass power up area. One long corridor with a bunch of big nasties to kill. You'll wanna stay here for a bit before moving on.
Chapel Tower: Lots of parts to this level are bitch ass. The flying knives are evil, as are the cursed dolls... Really, you'll spend a lot of time screaming at the game as you try to save you ass here (and this still isn't nearly as hard as later levels). Armadeleck is the boss. Actually wasn't that hard a fight. Just throw on your ice shield and attack his head. Again, guides say to use crosses, but I had better luck with the whip.
Underground Gallery: Things really start getting nasty from here. If I remember correctly, there's a high number of poisoning mosters here (or maybe in the next area). Just stay on yoru toes and keep up with the save points. The boss, two dragon zombies, are utter tits. I had to fight them a couple times to get it done. Basically, take out the one on the left first. Primarily stay behind him, but when he throws himself bacwards, slide underneath him. Dodge the debris, and do it all again. You want him dead first, cause his flame attacks are evil. The otehr dragon will eat him for health once he's dead, so just don't attack the otherone, and it won't get a bonus. Then, once the one dragon is dead and gone, run to the left corner and use the healing magic. Trust me, you'll be safe. Then just go kill the other guy.
Underground Warehouse: This area is technically optional (you can brave the next area without getting the purifying medal here, but it's nasty and not fun). It's wiser just to fight through and take out Death. BTW, the Death battle is evil indeed. Use the ice shield to protect against his various projectiles. When you jump to whip at Death, don't do lateral (left/right) movements, and you'll be safe within the shield. Dodge his bigger attacks, and you'll be fine. His second form is cake by comparison. When he rises up from the ground, jump before he lands back down to avoid damage, and try to stay far enough out of range of his scythe hands.
Underground Waterway: You'll learn to hate ice here. Ice Armors, Ice Shades, Ice Demons. Basically leave you ice shield on and learn to dodge. Camilla is the boss, but she's really cake. Just stay above her, and whip her, not the skull. Stay on the upper platforms when she uses her massive beam attack. Oh, and as always, have your shield on.
Observation Tower: Can't remember much of this area. Wasn't anything that'll cause you too many headaches, but you'll still wanna keep the shield up and stay on your toes. Hugh is the boss here. He's fairly easy though. He'll dash at you and whip, let him come close, then dodge the whip and whip back. Just keep it up. Never let him get too far away, cause otherwise he'll use evil secondary weapons.
Battle Arena: I'm just gonna say that this place is evil. I made it about halfway through it, then had to escape. I need to level up more before finishing it. There's supposed to be really nice armor inside though...
Dracula: Dracula lies inside... Sadly I haven't gotten that far yet, so no strategy. But then, there's plenty of other sites out there to help you. I'm just overviewing here anyway...