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Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon is a 2018 game developed and published by Inti Creates for the 3DS and Nintendo Switch. It is a companion title to developer ArtPlay's upcoming Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night and was conceived to fulfill the promise for a retro-style accompaniment to Ritual of the Night after its Kickstarter campaign exceeded crowdfunding goals. Curse of the Moon follows Zangetsu, a cursed swordsman hunting down demons for revenge, as well as three other playable characters named Miriam, Alfred and Gebel.

Gameplay

Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon is a 2D side-scrolling platformer that plays and looks similar to Castlevania games on the Nintendo Entertainment System, most notably Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse. Like Castlevania III, the game features stages with branching paths that lead to a single boss, and multiple playable characters. The player starts as swordsman Zangetsu, and may recruit up to three other characters as they progress including the whip-wielding Miriam, a magician named Alfred, and a vampire named Gebel. Each character has different weapons, skills, health points, and attack styles that make them more appropriate for different situations. The player may switch between these characters instantly at any time. If a character dies, they become unavailable for the rest of the level, which may limit the player's ability to explore the remainder of the stage or potentially even complete it. In such instances, the player can restart the level with all characters again. The player has the ability to enable and disable unlimited lives and the player character is knocked back when hit by an enemy, characteristic of classic Castlevania gameplay. There is also a boss rush mode, and other options to increase game difficulty.

Plot

The story follows Zangetsu, a swordsman searching for revenge upon the demons who magically cursed him. He feels the presence of a great demon, and swears to kill all demons he can find as he quests across the areas of Curse of the Moon. During his search he encounters Miriam, Alfred, and Gebel. Based on how the protagonist treats the other travelers, the ending changes. In all paths, he fights the archdemon Gremory in the final stage. If Zangetsu allies with all three potential party members, Gremory's final attack on the party is blocked by him, who absorbs the dark power and becomes corrupted. Miriam, Alfred, and Gebel manage to escape the castle, but are not able to forget about Zangetsu who was left behind. If the protagonist ignores all three potential party members and travels alone, then the three of them arrive to block Gremory's final attack, sacrificing themselves and saving the main character. If Zangetsu mixes recruiting, ignoring, and killing the others, then he (and any allies) will leave the castle and watch as it crumbles with the sunrise, but the swordsman is not freed from his curse. If Zangetsu chooses to kill the other three and absorb their power he will absorb Gremory's dark energy attack and become the new dark emperor.

In "Nightmare" mode, unlocked if the player defeats the game while recruiting all three potential allies, Miriam, Alfred, and Gebel travel back to the castle to defeat the corrupted Zangetsu, who is that mode's final enemy. The three kill the emperor and free his soul from the curse of the moon.

Reception

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