Review by Shadow Edge

"A CV so bad I thought it preceeded CotM"

No, the title you've read isn't a joke. I'm serious with that one. Konami's Castlevania - Harmony of Dissonance was so bad, I really thought HoD was the first GBA CV game. And I was baffled when I discovered that it succeeds Castlevania - Circle of the Moon. It turns out that it preceeds HoD. :/

Graphics: 5/10

Graphics... are just horrible. I haven't found the crispness and sharpness I've always been expecting for CV games.

Sprites look blotchy, and doesn't have a harmony of colors (means the colors are "noisy"). Konami attempts and fails to make HoD similar to their most successful CV Symphony of the Night. They've pushed the GBA's capabilities beyond its limits. Okay, first thing is that the protagonist, Juste Belmont, glows blue, and has those blue trailing shadows when he jumps and stuff. GBA isn't quite ready for that. Result? Choppy animation, very choppy in fact. When you get hit, the game uses about two frames of animation, and the number that indicates the damage taken scrolls too fast, and it blends with the background.

Yes, HoD is commendable for its great quality of graphics, but that's the only thing good in the graphics department. When you run, the game uses about 4 to 6 frames, so it looks choppy. The same fate meets your enemies. And apart from that, your enemies are disproportional. Many enemies' sprites looked like it was strectched, in result, producing chubby sprites.

Another thing not to like here is the font. There's this ugly gothic-style fonts, shrinked to be proportional to the GBA screen, therefore making it less legible. The menu layout does also not receive blessings from Konami: some fonts, though all are more legible than the gothic-style garbage, are compacted (especially for long phrases) or streched (for short phrases), so making it less legible and less inviting to read.

Though with the improvements in graphics from CotM, it loses the smoothness and finness and animation. The fonts are worse compared to other CV games. With all these, HoD sadly receives a 5.

Gameplay: 8/10

Okay, HoD compensates. Gameplay was good.

So, like traditional recent CV games, you have a whole castle to explore, filled with enemies, but no more secret rooms. Yep, you read that right. There are no more secret rooms in the game. Secret rooms were usually the ones that add spice to exploration, but Konami ditches it. Bad move, Konami.

So you use Juste Belmont, a descendant of the Belmont clan who fought Dracula many times. You use the whip called "Vampire Killer". It seemed to have magically changed from CotM: it sounds and looks like a chain with this ball thing in the end. Anyways, you still have a good ol' inventory system where you can wear armor and stuff.

Whip getting too boring? You can find attachments for your whip, giving you effects like automatic whip spin, increased damage, elemental properties, etc. etc. Still looks the same. Then use your subweapons for a bit of fun. Yes. It's still here, good stuff. You collect hearts by smashing chandeliers and stuff then use subweapons (dagger, axe, etc.) by consuming a certain amount of hearts.

This time, Konami brings in something new: the Spellbook system. Spellbooks are additions for your subweapons. Example, using the Holy Cross subweapon while Ice Book is activated brings in a floating, ice cross thing that shoots at enemies. Using this combo uses MP. Neat system, with many possibilities.

Story: 6/10

So you just play as Juste Belmont, a descendant from the Belmont clan who has fought Dracula over the generations. Trouble is, Dracula keeps regenerating over generations. :/

You go in together with Maxim, a friend of Juste. You don't explore together, you split up. So that's that until you find the menace of the game, Dracula. Pretty typical for a CV game. Belmonts are getting too old now.

Sounds: 3/10

The downfall of the game, the rotten piece.

The title speaks for the quality of the sounds, Harmony of Dissonance. If you look at www.dictionary.com, "dissonance" means something like terrible, distortional sounds. This "dissonance" is present in the sounds of the game, but nowhere you can find the "harmony".

Sounds sound terrible. You can find the background music very similar to NES/Famicom quality sounds. Oh yes, I'm serious. It's so bad, you'd be tempted to turn off the volume and save your battery power.

The sounds effects were decent enough. The "whapack" sound of your whip when it makes contact, the "bump" sounds of enemy hits, was good enough. Apart from that, sounds are just terrible. Three out of ten!

Controls: 8/10

Controls are simple, but they've got a drag. D-Pad for movements, B attack, A jump, L and R for left and right dash and Up + B for subweapons. That's it.

The thing I complain about is the "drag" that is present when you jump and attack. Juste feels "heavy", and you stop for a moment when you land. This, in my opinion, vaporizes the reason of min from giving it a higher score.

Lifespan: 6/10

I didn't like the game much. The choppy animation and terrible music pretty much spoils the game.

Ratings
Graphics : 5
Gameplay : 8
Story : 6
Sounds : 3
Controls : 8
Lifespan : 6

Total : 6 (6 flat) (Good)

PROs:
- Improved quality of graphics
- Huge game
- Innovative "Spellbook" System

CONs:
- Choppy animations
- Disproportional sprites
- Very terrible music that matches NES quality
- Draggy controls
- The font! (small bad thing)

RENT OR BUY?
Don't buy this game just yet. Borrow one from your friends and see, though you'd have trouble finding a friend who has a copy because they'd tend to avoid this too. But if you're a hardcore CV fan, this one's a definite for your collection.


Reviewer's Score: 6/10 | Originally Posted: 05/31/05


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