Castlevania: Circle of the Moon (2001)

by Ji-yeong
7 minutes read


An exploration of Castlevania: Circle of the Moon, highlighting its gameplay, innovative Dual Set-up System, and its impact on the Castlevania series. Despite some criticisms, it remains a beloved classic for its challenging gameplay and engaging mechanics.


Castlevania: Circle of the Moon is an action/RPG that combines exploration, strategic combat, and a deep, engaging narrative. Released in 2001 for the Game Boy Advance, it was the first in the series to adopt the explorative gameplay style of Symphony of the Night.


“Castlevania: Circle of the Moon” is a captivating action role-playing game that was released in 2001 for the Game Boy Advance. The game is part of Konami’s renowned Castlevania series, which revolves around the eternal conflict between the vampire hunters of the Belmont clan and the immortal vampire Dracula.

The game is set in the year 1830, in an ancient castle on the outskirts of the Austrian empire. The plot begins with a demon lord, who seeks to unite the powers of darkness, being resurrected by a fiend yearning for chaos. At this demonic castle, Camilla, one of Dracula’s minions, initiates a ritual to bring her lord Dracula back to life.

The protagonist of the game is Nathan Graves, a vampire hunter who, along with his mentor Morris Baldwin and fellow apprentice Hugh Baldwin, arrives at the castle to thwart Dracula’s resurrection. However, they are a few seconds too late, and Camilla successfully starts the rite to revive Dracula. In order for Dracula to regain his former power, he must wait until the full moon ritual is completed.

Before the group can fight Dracula and reseal him, Dracula destroys the floor under Nathan and Hugh, causing them to plummet down a long shaft, leaving Morris alone with Dracula and Camilla. Fortunately, Nathan and Hugh survive the fall. Hugh runs off to save his father, leaving Nathan alone in the castle.

Nathan decides to stay and ensure his master’s safety. He explores the large castle, battling Dracula’s minions along the way. Like many of the previous Castlevania protagonists, Nathan uses a whip to attack and defeat enemies, alongside secondary weapons—an axe, cross, holy water, dagger, and stopwatch.

The game follows a nonlinear style of gameplay: at the beginning of the game, Nathan can only traverse certain areas of the castle; by obtaining various abilities, such as becoming able to run, double jump, and wall kick, he gradually explores the castle. He can encounter rooms with the ability to teleport him across portions of the castle and rooms which will restore his health and allow the player to save their progress in the game.

After fighting Camilla, Nathan learns that Hugh was possessed by Dracula after the vampire exploited his desire to become more powerful than Nathan. He wanted to prove that he was superior to Nathan so Morris would bestow the Hunter Whip to him instead of Nathan.

The game incorporates role-playing elements, where Nathan possesses various statistics: hit points, the amount of damage he can withstand before dying; magic points, how often he can cast a magical attack; strength, the power of his physical attack; defense, his resilience to damage inflicted by the monsters; intelligence, the recovery speed of magic points; and luck, the frequency with which items are dropped by enemies.

“Castlevania: Circle of the Moon” is a game that combines action, adventure, and role-playing elements to create a thrilling experience. The game’s plot, filled with suspense and intrigue, keeps players engaged as they navigate through the castle, battling Dracula’s minions and uncovering the secrets within.


Nathan Graves is the protagonist, a young vampire hunter armed with the Killer Whip. His quest leads him through Dracula’s castle, facing off against numerous enemies, including the iconic Dracula himself, and other dark creatures lurking within.


The game emphasizes exploration, with a single, continuous castle environment. Nathan gains new abilities from artifacts, enhancing exploration. The DSS magic system allows for customized abilities, combining action and attribute cards for varied effects.


Castlevania: Circle of the Moon stands as a pivotal and celebrated entry in the Castlevania series, offering a challenging and richly atmospheric experience. Its legacy endures as a benchmark for action/RPG gameplay and innovative design within the franchise.

Review Score



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