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Castlevania CotM / CotMS Original Soundtrack :: Review by Mac_Tear

Castlevania Circle of the Moon / Concerto of the Midnight Sun Original Soundtrack Album Title: Castlevania Circle of the Moon / Concerto of the Midnight Sun Original Soundtrack
Record Label: Konami Music Entertainment
Catalog No.: KMCA-162
Release Date: June 26, 2002
Purchase: Buy at CDJapan


One year after the appearance of the acclaimed first Game Boy Advance title Castlevania: Circle of the Moon, Konami released Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance (aka Castlevania: Concerto of the Midnight Sun). Given both featured rather short soundtracks, their soundtracks were released together in the one disc Castlevania Circle of the Moon / Concerto of the Midnight Sun Original Soundtrack. While the first score received positive critics, the second was badly criticised, mainly because of the primitive sound quality. Is it still worth buying? We'll see in this review.


Castlevania: Circle of the Moon

Most of the tracks from Circle of the Moon are versions from previous Castlevania soundtracks. The first track "Requiem" is taken directly from the female hymn of Rondo of Blood and constitutes a nice opener. "Illusionary Dance", also from that game, is a traditional battle theme. However, instead of orchestrating it, the arranger choses to reanimate this classic with a pop and electronic style; quite refreshing, but not one of the strongest arrangements of this piece. "A Vision of Dark Secrets" and "The Sinking Old Sanctuary", both from Michiru Yamane's Bloodlines, are nice additions as well. While the first one is a bit short, the second is pure beauty with a gorgeous melody. It's sad that the bass line a bit so annoying.

There were tracks taken from several other classic titles too. There is the short "Game Over" jingle and the organ-driven "The Trick Manor" from Super Castlevania IV. Two tracks are even featured from Castlevania 64, namely the dramatic orchestration "Seal of the Lineage" and the rather repetitive sub-boss theme "Shudder". Though it's technically original, "Interversion" sounds like an upbeat mix of "Shudder" and sounds awful. The bulk of the arrangements are from Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse, though. These include the frenzied and upbeat "Clockwork" and "Aquaris", the classic "Vampire Killer", and the relatively lame "Big Battle" and "Nightmare".

As for the new compositions, they're fairly tolerable. Probably the most enjoyable of them all is the first stage theme "Awake" from Sotaro Tojima. From the acoustic introduction over to the catchy and excellent main melody with its bass line, strings, and flutes, it's a very effective track. The second part features traditional rock elements and incorporates the electric guitar well. "Fate to Despair" is another excellent stage theme with dramatic melodies and nice development. The final battle theme "Proof of Blood" sounds similar, only more fast-paced and engaging thanks to an excellent melody. Hiroshi Mitsuoka's contributions are somewhat weaker, but more or less enjoyable. "Hill of Soul's Repose" may be his strongest theme with a melancholy and harmonious character while the title theme "Circle of the Moon" is another lush if short melody.

Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance

Now let's come to the "bad half" of the score: Harmony of Dissonance. I like the title, because it's rather fitting with this score. Tracks are somewhat harmonious, but sound way too dissonant like NES or Game Boy music due to the atrocious sound quality. Even for the Game Boy Advance, the sound quality can be much better, as we have already seen from Circle of the Moon. Koji Igarashi stated that this was the first developement for the Game Boy Advance and that they had no idea of the system's capabilities. That's kinda sad in my opinion.

However, there are two exceptions. "Title Screen" and "Successor of Fate (Juste Theme - Variation)" are the only two themes with enhanced sound quality. They're mostly string-based, but definitely more enjoyable than most of the remaining tracks. Moving to other highlights, "Name Entry 2K2" is an remix from the very first Castlevania with a nice upbeat sound. The short "Game Over" jingle is also taken from an older Castlevania instalment, namely Castlevania: The Adventure for the Game Boy. "Successor of Fate" has a enjoyable melody and "Offense and Defense" features an interesting drum line.

Sadly the rest of the score is rather unteresting and bland. Even Michiru Yamane's appearance doesn't help much; she merely contributed "Pitch-Black Door" and "Night Head", two of many boring and repetitive tracks. Only her mix "VK2K2" is interesting and enjoyable given the inclusion of "Vampire Killer". The soundtrack ends with an arranged track by Suikoden III co-composer Takashi Yoshida. "Chapel of Dissonance" is an orchestral mix of the original piece, but it sadly can't hold up with Michiru Yamane's arranged tracks. While the beginning sounds rather promising, the overall developing chords sounding a bit too chaotic and disordered, especially with the use of brass and snare drums. Another fitting name for a dissonant track.


In the end, I personally categorise this compilation as one of the weakest Castlevania soundtracks to date next to the Castlevania Chronicles soundtrack. While the first 19 tracks are enjoyable, the last part of the score is simply horrifying and uninteresting. Not only that the sound quality is weak, if there were strong melodies it would be a different piece of cake, but even this is not the case. I can only recommend this to the die-hard Castlevania fans or collectors; for others the soundtrack isn't worth of buying. You can easily listen to the music within the game if you want to so you don't need this soundtrack. It's only worth purchasing for Circle of the Moon.

Overall Score: 6/10