Review by LegaiaRules
"Harmony of Dissonance Spells Out a Typical Castlevania"
Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance is the second GBA CV for those who don't know. Developed by the infamous IGA of Konami, HoD is similar to Symphony of the Night, arguably the best CV game yet. HoD is a decent 2D action/adventure game, but for a CV game, it's just more of the same.
When Circle of the Moon came out on the GBA, many complained about the dark graphics and unable to clearly see the screen. HoD fixes this problem with lighter color use, which results in clearly visible gameplay. The backgrounds are well detailed and emits a certain atmosphere based on the area of the castles. Juste looks great and the enemies are decent, if a bit similar to past 2D Castlevania enemies. The animations isn't very smooth but gets the job done. The Spell Fusion attacks are a sight to behold; most are great to look at and others are simple. Great work, IGA.
Typical CV plot; damsel in distress, Dracula's resurrection, and a Belmont to save the day. This time, Juste Belmont fights Dracula and his evil army. His friend Lydie was taken away to Castlevania and his partner Maxim tells of the kidnapping. There's really not much new and it's basically recycled from past CV games. Then again, CV's focus isn't on plot but on castle exploration.
HoD gameplay is typical CV with some changes. Juste can swing the trusty Vampire Killer and can do a charged swing(must have a certain item) or dangle it around 360 degrees. Other moves include a useful dash, double jump, high jump, and slide. The special thing in HoD? The Spell Fusion system. Most CV fans are aware of the subweapon system(Cross, Axe, Knife) and the Spell Fusion system extends the effectiveness of the subweapons further. Juste can get spell books through the game and can be combined with a subweapon to produce a certain spell. Juste, for an example, can have the knife subweapon and combine it with ice to create freezing missiles or the wind book for a different effect. Juste can even summon using a special spell book. These make the game easier and allows for a different method of attack rather than the whip.
As far as castle exploration goes, it is similar to the well known and beloved Symphony of the Night. The castle is split into each areas, with their own themes and bosses. Typical of any CV game really.
HoD's weakpoint. The tracks of the game are okay but it feels as if it is from an old CV game. It's not quite up to GBA standards, or next-gen for that matter. The sound effects make up for the horrible music though. There is a Sound mode but it's not that great since the tracks are lackluster.
HoD maintains a good balance in game difficulty, but as with the CV games offering rpg elements, the game becomes easy with more fighting. The bosses of the game are not very threatening and quite easily beatable with even the basic techniques HoD offers. Even Hard mode is a walk in the park to beat.
Fun Factor: 6/10
This CV isn't that much fun to play, even though it's made by IGA and SotN creators. It has the feel of CV, but it's more of the same. SotN was unique and undeniably fun, but this CV is the opposite of that. It's a poor man's SotN. The bad music quality certainly doesn't help out. Don't expect much from HoD unless you've never tried out a CV game before. It feels uninspired and bland.
Once HoD is beaten, there's not much left to do except beat it with Maxim, on hard, play Boss Rush, or play as a special character. It's not that HoD is horrible, it's just that IGA and the development team could have a better execution of the game engine. Players will finish around the 8-10 hour mark, about 12 if trying to get 100% completion.
In conclusion, Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance is best as a weekend rental rather than a buy. The other 2 CVs, Circle of the Moon and esp. Aria of Sorrow are better and more fun games than HoD. Still, as a 2D action/adventure game, it delivers with some degree of success.
Reviewer's Score: 7/10 | Originally Posted: 01/31/05, Updated 01/02/07
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