Review by Canadian Guy
"The Belmonts return after SOTN and COTM!"
First things first, this game is NOT going to be called White Night Concerto (weird title) in the US, it should be called Harmony of Dissonance and is due to be released sometime during September in America.
This game is the third Castlevania game to use non-linear one-big-level type of game. the only other game that comes to mind for a comparison is Super Metroid (any of the 3 to be exact but the third one is my fav). You are alone on a big map divided into parts, each parts is a room in the castles (in the same way that SOTN had two castles) and in order to progress you have to obtain items that enable you to execute special moves: double jump, slide, super jump and so on. Nothing out of the ordinary to say the least... Although you do have to obtain a relic if you want to see how much damage you make (it IS at the beginning of the first castle but in COTM you didn't need a relic for that). With these new moves you can have access to more rooms of the castle and, at the same time, making the story progress.
As I said in my synopsis the Belmonts are once again drawn into the struggle against the count and his infernal castle: in this game you get to control Juste Belmont (weird name!) who, with his friend the sword wielder Maxim, has ventured into the castle to find a missing friend. The two separate to cover more ground and after a while Maxim starts acting strange and it seems the exit to the castle is locked! Juste realizes that what is happening is not normal starts his search for the truth.
On a technical note this game is much clearer than COTM (but that wasn't hard now was it?) and also sharper, more colorful. It seems that some people are saying that the graphics are not as good as COTM or are on the same level, I can't agree with them, the game looks flawless and not a single slow-down in the ENTIRE game! On a side note I really like Juste, his sprite looks like Alucard (son of Dracula and main character of SOTN) and he is the first Belmont not to have that stupid-looking stance (look at Simon in SC IV, you'll see what I mean), he's just plain cool (though not as cool as Richter).
The GBA carts don't have a lot of memory so for the great visuals Konami had to reduce the memory given to the music... Any fan of Castlevania will say that the music in the games were always a big part in the mood of the game and this time, not like some are saying, it still does on a lower level. If you compare the music in this game with the one from SOTN then will be let down, that for sure. Even hen compared to COTM the music can a let down to some. The music is around the quality of late NES games (not THAT bad!). Music is such a subjective thing that I will not attempt to convince anyone: you'll like it or not, it's that simple.
Gameplay speaking this game is very close to the previous two others ones. Juste can, however, use his whip in the same way that Simon used his when the attack button is held: it's hard to describe but you can swing it around with the control pad for half the damage but you can direct with much more ease. This game is also very fast: Juste can run from the start of the game with the shoulder buttons and everything just goes faster then they used to. This can be annoying to some, but I think it's really nice that the action is kept as such a nice pace. A nice feature was also added: the save where-you-want option!! But you won't restart where you saved there still are saving-rooms and you start at the closest one from where you saved. You can also buy stuff from the various merchants in the two castles: potions etc.... Juste can also equip different armors but this time also different WHIPS! Juste will get different types of whips (the one you can charge is VERY nice) that have different effects. The magic system was also ''updated'': now you'll find spellbooks (in the castle, not dropped by enemies) that, when used with the various sub-weapons, will unleash a very powerful attack (I love using the axe with the ice book) While we are talking about sub-weapons there're some new weapons! Well the bible isn't new but isn't common either, there is also the fist weapon (I don't know the exact name, I ain't jap fluent) that lets you hit your foes with your hands. there's only two new weapons but it's better than nothing! You can also play as Maxim with a code (haven't tried it yet, I think you need to beat the game first), his game his similar to Richter's in SOTN: no plot and different moves (although I hope Maxim's sword is cool). And I also know there's a boss rush mode in which you can play with Simon (with his NES sprite I heard), this will make old CV fans happy.
I heard that the story is pretty good in this game but I don't speak Japanese so I don't understand the plot (I'll wait for the American version to understand, I'll keep my friends Jap version until then :). At least I can't spoil it for you!
In the end this game's only real flaw (the music is a consequence, no real flaw) is it's lack of originality. Like I said earlier the game is very similar to SOTN and COTM. I haven't played SOTN yet and LOVED COTM so I don't think the lack of originality is such a flaw, but since there are people who have been playing SOTN for 5 years now, those players will have a strong feeling of déjà-vu! If you don't have a GBA yet, then what are you waiting for?! COTM was a good reason to buy it for that game alone, now you're missing TWICE the fun!!
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 06/12/02, Updated 06/12/02
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