"80% Castlevania , 20% Circle of the Moon, 100% Buy Now"

Castlevania...Castlevania. Once again we hold a jewel in our hands, well more like in our Game Boy Advance.

Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance is the first game to carry the English name even in the Japanese territory and it differs HIGHLY from the original GBA Castlevania adventure.

Gameplay:
Yes, Castlevania at its finest...or is it? I would say it is definitely one of the better ones. The Sometimes annoying DSS system from Circle of the Moon has been replaced by a more classic Spell Book system. New DASH moves have been included allowing you to dash left or right by pressing the shoulder buttons. This allows for some more careful strategy or cowardish hit and run combos. Unfortunately the bosses are some of a laugh. Circle of the Moon was a bit too hard for its own good, but Harmony is a bit WAY too easy. It is definately a challenge. But this is mostly due to the trademark Castlevania 'you finally found an upgrade BUT you just find out you need another one to advance' puzzles. You will ecounter times where you will finally unlock a door just to find another one right after it. This makes the game annoying and is the only real factor that makes the game hard. The Bosses usually follow a set pattern.

Comments: 8/10 - The Changes to the formula are welcome, but the difficulty is not. Perhaps a difficulty option should be included in the next Castlevania

Story:
What can I say. Stories in Castlevania games, while definately being a bit more complicated then your usual platformer/adventure, are usually about one and the same thing. Go into Castlevania, beat the heck out of monsters and get out. The story this time centers on yet another descendant of the Belmont family. When his friend return mortally wounded he brings him the new that their (female) friend was kidnapped and by sheer coinsidence they run into a unmapped Castle. There are a couple of twists and surprises but not your Final Fantasy storyline.

Comments: 6/10 - The usual stuff

Graphics:
The original Castlevania: Circle of the Moon adventure had very dark visuals. Harmony of Dissonance got rid of the perhaps most hated part of COTM and replaced the almost unseeable enviroments with colorful ones while still remaining true to the haunting Castlevania areas. The whip is now composed of parts which animate together making it look that much more realistic....but not like a whip actually. The Konami team also redid one annoying aspect of CoTM. The enemies and your character appeared way too small making it sometimes hard to recognize whats what in the middle of a fight. In HoD teh camera is zoomed in with some better animation for the characters/enemies to go with it. Ofcourse.

Comments: 10/10 - The Graphics make the game much more enjoyable then Circle of the Moon

Audio:
If you ask any Castlevania fan they will tell you that the music has always been very high quality. It indeed does the set mood. This applies to Harmony of Dissonance as well...but only partly. While the graphics were improved MASSIVELY over the previous adventure the Sound took a HUGE hit. Konami blames this on limited cart space but i do think that the cart could hold more then what we get. The tunes are still as hanuting and atmospheric as ever...but something youd expect to hear in the late NES - early SNES days. The songs themselfs are good but they dont use that many instruments and sometimes turn into repetetive bleeps and bloops.

Comments: 5/10 - Dissapointment, unfortunately

Buy/Rent:
Definately a game to buy. Might be a good one to introduce you to the series because of it lowered difficulity.

SCORES:
Gameplay: 8/10
Story: 6/10
Graphics: 10/10
Audio: 5/10
Buy/Rent: Buy

FINAL: 8

Closing Comments: Another great Castlevania adventure bringing fresh ideas and improved graphics to the series. Nothing can be perfect and therfore the difficulity and audio are questionable but neverless a great product.


Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 10/13/02, Updated 10/13/02


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