Reviewed on GBA


Reviewed By: Jamelle Bouie

Computer Platform: Game Boy Advance (GBA)
Produced by: Konami
Price Range: $30-40
Learning curve time: 10 min.
Age level: 12+
ESRB Rating: Teen

Genre: Action
Christian Rating: 2 of 5
Gameplay: 5 of 5
Violence: 3 of 5
Adult Content: 5 of 5

Box art for 'Castelvania: Circle of the Moon'
Having just purchased a Game Boy Advance just over a week ago (GBA is the latest upgrade to the Game Boy which was introduced in 1989.) I decided that I might as well purchase a game for my new handheld. After a day or so of searching through malls, an employee at the local Babbages suggested "Castlevania: Circle of the Moon". Having played "Castlevania: Symphony of the Night", I had very high expectations for the game. Happily, all expectations were met.

When you first get to the "Castlevania: COTM" title screen, you'll hear a woman sing the eerie chorus from "Symphony of the Night". When you press start you'll be greeted with several options: Data Select (Game Start), Data Delete, Data Copy, and Name Change. (Others open up as you progress.) When you start the game, you'll be treated to an opening cinema depicting the events behind the game. Apparently, Camilla, a servant (worshipper) of Dracula, has resurrected him. As this is happening, the three main characters run in: Nathan Graves (Player), Hugh Baldwin, and Morris Baldwin. Dracula sees them and proceeds to capture Morris to use his soul to bring himself back to full power and he dispatches Nathan and Hugh. This is where the game begins…

Screenshot from 'Castlevania' Anybody who has played a “Castlevania” game should be familiar with “COTM”, which is a side-scrolling action/adventure with your main weapon being a whip with which you defeat enemies. You collect hearts for sub weapons and so on. The controls are relatively simple. D-Pad (Move), A (Jump), B (Attack), Up-B (Sub Weapon), R (Special Ability), and L (DSS). The DSS is the games' form of magic. As a Christian, I was rather upset by the extensive need to use magic. The magic is used by collecting DSS Cards (a total of sixteen). There are two different types: Attribute and Action. Attribute cards resemble animals, while Action cards resemble ancient Greek and Roman gods and goddess. Each card combination has a different effect.

“Circle of the Moon” is a very long, deep quest. Anyone who has played the Metroid games will be familiar with the game. Since it is one big level divided into many sections, it will take a while to explore everything (not to mention collecting all the cards and items). After the game is beat, a new mode opens up. After that, yet another comes until five modes are played.

The Occult

What does the Bible say about it? Answer

What is the Occult? Answer

Answers about religion Index

Violence is minimal. When you kill enemies, they usually are caught up in flames. There is no cursing, and the main character is genuinely intent on trying to find his friend and save his master.

One big warning: this game is heavily occultic. From the overall symbols to the magic to the enemies, everything has a general occult feel to it. For example, the enemies you fight are two-headed demon dogs, demon lords, and demon-like marionette's that curse you. One of the bosses is a giant goat head that sprays skulls at you; another is Death itself. Everything screams occult.

The second character, Hugh Baldwin, is very self-centered and uncaring. The entire story is focused upon trying to stop Dracula from stealing your master's soul. During the final encounter with Dracula, he turns into a large demon!

"Castlevania: Circle of the Moon" is rated “T” for “teen”. Heed the rating. No one under ten should play this, and it may be best untouched by teens and adults due strictly to the occultic nature. Children and teens need to learn that magic, whether white or black, and other occultic material, is an abomination in the eyes of the Lord. While the gameplay receives a 9/10 from me, just be warned of the dark nature of this title.

Year of Release—2001

Comments from Young People…

Positive—I disagree very much with this review. This game is AWESOME on all levels! I'm aware that the reviewer likes the gameplay itself, but I also don't think it's very offensive. First off, this is a game about Dracula. In case you didn't know, Dracula is a pretty evil dude. But you're fighting against him, right? It's natural that he'd have some cultish stuff, demons, etc., but you're putting a stop to it and trying to prevent his evil from conquering the world. As opposed to a game like Doom, a nearly storyless game which has all kinds of Satanic symbols for no apparent reason, this game clearly establishes what you're doing. Besides, I didn't notice a whole lot of cult stuff anyway. A lot of the monsters are called demon-this, devil-that, but I didn't notice many symbols or anything. Maybe you have to look really closely at the background or something…? Oh, and the giant goat head boss doesn't even resemble a satanic symbol (as the final boss of Doom 2 does). It looks like metal in the basic shape of a goat's head, with horns on it. The “magic” in this game shouldn't offend anyone. It's clearly designated as “mind power” (that's what the initials “MP” stand for—not “Magic Points,” as they usually do). The attribute that controls your MP recovery rate is “intelligence.” This has nothing to do with calling up spirits or anything—it's just special powers. To specifically counter some of the reviewer's statements: Hugh Baldwin is indeed very self-centered and uncaring—until he realizes the error of his ways. There's actually a very positive message conveyed by the time you finish the game—about how Dracula controls people by exploiting the greed in their hearts, so people have to start thinking about others. While Dracula does indeed turn into something large, whether or not it's a “demon” is up to you. So in conclusion, this game will probably be shaky to some people—and that's okay. You know the whole thing about eating meat sacrificed to other gods: some Christians are comfortable with it, some aren't. However, some things are clearly just plain wrong—and this isn't one of them.My Ratings: [4/5]
   —Aaron Saraco, age 16

Though true that Christians should heed warning about occultic things, you must remember that all of this is indirect, and it explains easily that it is an rpg/adventure fantasy game. It is not meant to force or attempt to move anyone to any belief, it is simply how the game is made. Take a look at the old Dracula movies. Those are considered occultic simply because of Dracula being a vampire. The Castlevania series are born from the Dracula stories and media, and therefore if they do not offer such “occultic” (note the quotes), the game will be very much off course from what it is designed to represent. You certainly cannot have a Dracula game with sci-fi technology and spacecraft nor can you have it with bunnies and flowers. It is meant to be dark and dreary just like the movies. Besides, Christians that are true in their belief are able to determine what is false and what is true, by the Holy Spirits direction. Certainly this game is not making any attempt to change anyone's beliefs, but rather for people to enjoy in this certain unique environment of gamestyle. Also take into account that this game was made by Japanese. Though it is true that majority of Japanese believe in non-Christian religions, they don't believe in the occult either. They still created the game on behalf of the fact that if not they would not be able to have the audience see that this game derives from the Dracula/Castlevania series. My Ratings: [5]
   —Isaac Garvin, age 16

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this Christian Spotlight review are those of the reviewer (both ratings and recommendations), and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Films for Christ or the Christian Answers Network.

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