Castlevania: Circle of the Moon was a 2001 action-adventure game by Konami for the Game Boy Advance. I was introduced to the Metroid series through the Nintendo GameCube and Game Boy Advance. After having a lot of fun with those games, I heard about this other series of games called Castlevania.
The gameplay was very similar to the two-dimensional Metroid games, except having a horror setting instead of a science fiction setting and the main character using a short range whip instead of a long range gun arm. Castlevania games also had role-playing game elements. The character could get power-ups similar to Metroid, but they also could level-up by defeating enemies to gain power without having to find power-ups. In addition, the character could get special spells or abilities to use against monsters and bosses. The complexity added by the role-playing game elements really intrigued me, but I never was interested enough to part with any money to try the Castlevania games out. Now fifteen years later, I was able to get all three Castlevania games on the Wii U Virtual Console.
As far as I know all of the games take place in and around Dracula’s castle. Usually, the main characters somehow stumble across it and end up trapped. In their exploration of the castle to find a way out, they discover an evil plot by Dracula or one of his followers and are in the right place to put a stop to it. In Circle of the Moon, the hero was Nathan Graves. He was being trained as a future vampire hunter under his mentor, Morris Baldwin. Unfortunately, Morris was kidnapped by one of Dracula’s minions while investigating a castle. Nathan Graves set out to explore the castle, rescue his mentor, and put an end to Dracula’s evil plot.
Just like the Metroid games, I really enjoyed Castlevania: Circle of the Moon. It was so cool how even if I was stuck and not making progress, I could still defeat enemies to level up. This game did come with one big downside. It was really hard. I guess it was the same difficulty as Super Metroid, but it was far harder than Metroid Fusion. I was playing it on the Wii U though. The “save anywhere” feature made this game much easier. I would only save it when I had made very good progress without taking too much damage.
Overall, I liked this game just as much as Metroid Fusion, also on the Game Boy Advance. These days I prefer games with role-playing game mechanics, but Metroid Fusion is just as good. It’s too bad I never got to play Circle of the Moon until now. Then again I probably would have been too frustrated having to retry large sections of the game so much.