Tag Archive | Circle of the Moon

Castlevania: Circle of the Moon — Awake

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Utl5udium0Q]

I’ve been listening to a lot of Castlevania music lately. Specifically, I’m catching up on back episodes of Brett Elston’s superb video game music podcase, VGMpire. He did a thing about six months ago where he took his listeners on a grand tour of the entire Castlevania musical oeuvre, and even as someone who is a die-hard fan of the franchise, I learned a thing or two (apparently Order of Ecclesia has some fabulous music! Who knew?).

Still, the thing that most struck me as I listened to track after track of awesome chiptune goodness was how much I really, really like the opening track from Circle of the Moon, titled “Awake.” I may or may not have stopped cleaning the house to do a little rocking out when one of the episodes opened with it.

The GBA doesn’t have great sound quality, and even the cleanest recordings sound like you’re hearing them broadcast from space through a battery-powered transmitter, but some of the compositions on the system were superb regardless (I point out here Advance Wars, in particular, along with the score to Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga), and Circle of the Moon, as a launch title, is particularly impressive.

Through the fog of memory, I can’t recall whether I purchased my GBA because I desperately needed to play Circle of the Moon or, as is more likely, that I had a good bit of pizza-delivery money burning a hole in my pocket and was anxious to be an early adopter of a system, but Circle of the Moon was unquestionably the only title available for the system at launch that was worth a damn. Even now, I have an inordinate fondness for the game, despite the fact that on the original GBA, the game was so dark that it was often impossible to see unless you were sitting directly underneath a bank of florescent lights. It was hard, sometimes brutally hard, and it was the first game after Symphony of the Night to ape the “Metroidvania” method of level design.

It’s tough to recommend Circle of the Moon to a new gamer (or new Castlevania fan) when there are much more accessible games available (like Symphony of the Night, and Aria/Dawn of Sorrow, and Portrait of Ruin)–but for those of us that played it back when it was originally released, Circle of the Moon was really something special.

Castlevania: Bloodlines — The Sinking Old Sanctuary

I have had this song stuck in my head all day.

Bloodlines has some of the best tunes in the Castlevania series, and in this gamer’s humble opinion, considerably outclasses its contemporary Super Castlevania IV despite the obvious superiority of the SNES’s sound chip when compared with that of the Genesis. (Of course, my affection for the Genesis’s unique sound is a matter of public record.)

Michiru Yamane, who would later go on to do the score for Symphony of the Night and at least four other entries to the series on several different systems, cranks out some really rocking tracks for this Genesis/Mega Drive outing. I’m a particular fan of the track “Calling from Heaven,” as I’ve mentioned before. “The Sinking Old Sanctuary,” however, from the game’s second stage, is a much more ponderous and mellow piece of music, one that tends to lodge itself in my head and play on loop for several hours before I’m finally able to replace it with something else.

An interesting note: Despite being a Genesis owner, I didn’t actually play Bloodlines until many years after its release. I first fell in love with this track when Castlevania: Circle of the Moon used it, in the time-honored tradition of Castlevania composers borrowing standout tracks from previous games. That version is accessible here–in some ways the GBA’s sound chip is just as limited as that of the Genesis, and the track has less punch than the original version, but it still has that inescapable melody that can take control of my brain for hours at a time.