Game music of the day: Castlevania Circle of the Moon

Welcome to GamesRadar's daily blast of all things pertaining to the ever-growing field of game music. Each post will introduce new sounds, games, composers and fan-made remixes of gaming's greatest aural achievements.

June 8, 2010

Game: Castlevania: Circle of the Moon

Song: The Sinking Old Sanctuary

Composer: Michiru Yamane / Sotaro Tojima

Above: Sinking Old Sanctuary from Castlevania: Circle of the Moon

There are enough excellent Castlevania songs to fill an entire month of Game Music of the Day articles, so it's always going to be tough to narrow things down when I do decide to dip into this vast resource. Today, rather than pick one of the well-known legacy tracks, I went with a song from GBA launch title Circle of the Moon. If you bought a GBA within the first few months of its 2001 release, odds are you'll recognize the tunes.

This version of Sinking Old Sanctuary comes from Circle of the Moon, but it's actually a cover of the Michiru Yamane original from Castlevania: Bloodlines. Both are immensely listenable melodies that burrow into your brain and set up shop for hours at a time - I just happen to prefer the GBA sound in this instance.

Above: All three versions of the song, from Bloodlines to the N64's Legacy of Darkness to GBA's Circle of the Moon

Composer Yamane had been with Konami for quite some time before Bloodlines, but this is considered her first personal breakthrough. Its songs have been reused in several games since, and she then went on to score Symphony of the Night as well as pieces of Aria of Sorrow, Portrait of Ruin, Harmony of Dissonance and the two PS2 Castlevanias. Here's a brief excerpt from a February 2010 interview, discussing her Bloodlines music in particular:

“First of all, I think there was some affinity between the image of a vampire-infested world with the traditional classical music that I had been taught from a young age. Back then, I thought very carefully and tried integrating such things as the classical music element that had already been a part of me with the rock elements previously featured in the series. In addition, dynamic bass lines and groovy rhythms were fundamental to the game's music.

In addition, some great musical works already existed from the previous Castlevania games and I gained inspiration from tracks such as 'Vampire Killer', 'Beginning', and 'Bloody Tears' especially, which have become the standard tunes for the series now. There were many heritages like these that the previous composers had left for me. I analysed the compositions to find out the secret of their charm and composed so I didn't create something inferior to previous works.”

Even though I prefer the GBA version of the song, the Bloodlines level fits much better with the music. It opens with a sun-blasted walkway leading into a sinking temple, an already interesting locale made even more captivating by the mirrored effect from the rising and sinking water. Hey, it was the 16-bit days. Little things like that really made a difference.

Sadly Yamane left Konami in 2008 to make music elsewhere. With her gone, and the usual artist (Ayami Kojima) MIA for several games now, it's up to 2010's Lords of Shadow to bring this series back on track. So far, we're thinking it just might.


Game music of the day: Mario Kart 64
Oddly inspiring credits music from Kenta Nagata


Game music of the day: Xenogears
A refreshing Irish jig from Yasunori Mitsuda


Game music of the day: Super Castlevania IV
Prologue by Adachi and Kudou


  • Modroneman - June 9, 2010 2:15 p.m.

    Great song selection, very uncastlevania if you ask me, but its what makes this song special.
  • itkonlyyou109 - June 9, 2010 1:44 p.m.

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  • wrapdump - June 9, 2010 10:02 a.m.

    Brett's smile in this makes me laugh. So manic, so cheerful. Should go on the packaging for some Japanese soap or something.
  • OldSkoolNinja - June 9, 2010 7:04 a.m.

    This was actually the first game I got for the GBA. I remember I played it all the time with the sound off cause I thought that would drain the batteries. Only when I was watching speedruns later that I grew to like this song.
  • GamesRadarMichaelGrimm - June 9, 2010 6:02 a.m.

    Love this track
  • Kisokuiki - June 9, 2010 4:37 a.m.

    I can still remember the final boss theme from Circle of the Moon years after playing it.
  • Tymiegie - June 9, 2010 3:59 a.m.

    Never played a Castlevania, but I can't help but recognize good music when I hear it. Love the tone of the track.
  • Squander - June 9, 2010 3:13 a.m.

    awesome, the style reminds me very much of Secret of Mana or Terranigma
  • FearlessRaven - June 9, 2010 1:53 a.m.

    Circle of the moon I only played for a few hours but the music did stick with me probably more then any other Castlevania game. Good Article damnit
  • Stahlbrand - June 9, 2010 1:01 a.m.

    Powergoat (sometimes just credited Goat) does an amazing guitar-driven cover of this track as "Kick That Sinking Feeling" Its damn good, along with the rest of his Castlevania covers.
  • DrillurSimpson - June 9, 2010 12:27 a.m.

    This is darn fine.
  • elpurplemonkey - June 8, 2010 11:48 p.m.

    I think I prefer the Bloodlines version.
  • Embolado - June 8, 2010 11:22 p.m.

    Now where did i place that whip?
  • BigBoss - June 8, 2010 10:36 p.m.

    I must admit the selection today hasn't really grabbed me. I look forward to tomorrow's pick.
  • Cyberninja - June 8, 2010 10:26 p.m.

    circle of the moon is my least favorite casltevania game and i still love it that just shows the quaitly of the games

Showing 1-15 of 15 comments

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