The Castlevania series is undeniably iconic at this point, with the first game releasing 33 years ago this year, and an incredibly long list of games making up its history in that time and one that continued to evolve before perfecting a formula.
On this point, the series went on to become genre defining, with games after Symphony of the Night (and ever since) that share mechanical similarities being called “Metroidvania” titles after it and Nintendo’s Metroid series.
The title we looking at today is the first in a trilogy of Castlevania titles released for the Nintendo GameBoy Advance, 2001’s Circle of the Moon.
Circle of the Moon opens with the revival of Dracula (again) by his minion, Camilla. Before his full power can be restored, Morris Baldwin and his two apprentices arrive; but before they can do anything of any use, Morris is abducted and Nathan and Hugh are thrown down into the castle depths as the minions of Dracula clearly didn’t account for weapons.
From here, players take control of the impossibly handsome Nathan, as he begins his journey through the castle to find his fellow apprentice, rescue his mentor, and put an end to Dracula. This title contains all the twists in the narrative you’ve come to expect, complete with betrayal and almost inconceivable schemes. So far, so Castlevania.
Also along the lines of expectations is the gameplay, sticking to the tried and tested sprawling map complete with impassable routes to overcome once you have the right abilities. So, you’ll be seeing tantalisingly breakable blocks and unsubtly out-of-place crates throughout that will bug you until you gain the ability to move past them.
Nathan fights with the Vampire Killer whip, which he was given by Morris, along with a set of different sub-weapons that all require hearts to use. Luckily hearts are plentiful,