, North America
. Castlevania: Gyougetsu no Enbukyoku, Japan
Computer Entertainment Japan
: Koji Igarashi
(lead producer), Michiru Yamane
: 05/06/03 (NA
), 05/08/03 (Japan
), 05/09/03 (Europe
: Game boy Advance
: Teen (violence and blood)
The year is 2035 and Soma Cruz is about to witness the first solar eclipse of the 21st century when he suddenly blacks out only to awaken inside a mysterious castle. As Soma, you must navigate the caste's labyrinths while confronting perilous monsters at every turn. But beware, you must escape before evil consumes you!
Following the successes of Castlevania: Circle of the Moon and Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance comes the third installment in the Castlevania series to hit the Gameboy Advance. Switching things up a bit, and perhaps in an attempt to help their target market identify with the protagonist, you play Soma Cruz, a foreign exchange student attending high school in Japan. He lives near the Hakuba Shrine, which the game purports to be strongly tied to Japanese mythology, and visits it on the day of the eclipse. He passes out and awakens inside Castlevania, and soon learns that he has 'dark powers,' namely that of absorbing the souls of defeated enemies.
Listening to complaints of the first Game Boy Advance Castlevania being too dark in palette, but otherwise good, and perhaps hearing that some found the second a bit boring and formulaic, Konami's third is a well-balanced and entertaining masterpiece. As the animations are done far more smoothly than the previous two, it's a pleasure to control Soma through the castle. The sound is also a blast, containing 87 voice samples and 29 musical themes that accompany you throughout the game. Just hearing the theme of the location will instantly let you know which part of the castle you are presently. And the soul-gathering system? At first, I was worried that it would feel too much like Pokémon, and was very wary of it. However, it is this very feature that allows this game to escape the staid, side-scrolling-while-yet-an-RPG formula that Castlevania: Symphony of the Night first premiered; I found myself actually wanting to get each and every soul in the game. Another nice piece of motivation came through in the Boss Rush mode, where the player could earn items based on how quickly they could go through the game's bosses using their character.
Truly, the only complaint I have about this game is that it is too short. A determined and relatively experienced video gamer will be able to get through this game in a mere six hours. However, in obtaining all of the souls in the game and getting all the items in the Boss Rush mode (I told you those were good motivators!), I've spent close to twenty hours on this beautiful game. Having played through all three Game boy Advance Castlevania games, I'm quite confident that this is the best of the three, and I'm a bit disappointed that Konami went with a 3D game for their Playstation 2 Castlevania game, Lament of Innocence.
Althorrat informs me that, in fact, this game is not widely available in stores any longer. In fact, doing a search on Amazon reveals that they only sell used copies through other users... Ebay is probably your best option.
Soma's name translates roughly into Body Cross. The character who's lost his memory, J, is Julius Belmont. After completing the game, you can enter JULIUS as your name to play as Julius. Also, as with most recent Castlevania games, there are several endings... happy hunting!