Review by LordAzgul

"Truly a handheld legend reincarnated"

If there's one thing that sets Castlevania apart from other games, it's the series' ability to entrance gamers with Gothic visuals, gloomy music, and entrancing yet simple stories. And Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance does just that.

The story itself is simple. As Juste Belmont, heir to the Vampire Killer whip, you'll traverse Dracula's haunted castle along with your comrade, Maxim Kischine. Along the way, you must uncover the riddles as to the true nature of the castle and the seemingly two different versions of Maxim that confront you.

The graphics are top notch. Unlike Circle of the Moon's dull, muddy, and repetitive backgrounds, Harmony eschews them in favor of brighter, easy to see graphics. They don't sacrifice the Gothic touches, however; areas like the Wailing Way constitute some of the most dark areas to be explored in a Castlevania game. Details abound, like the arches and hallways in the castle's main hall, the piles of decaying bones and bizarre sculptures in the Skeleton Cave, and the rusted halls in the Aqueduct of Dragons. So much detail is rarely seen on a Gameboy Advance game.

The sound does its job. The sound effects are superb; unlike Circle of the Moon, where the character's only sounds was two grunts, Juste will shout attacks and hurl curses if he's hit. The music is of low quality, but opts for a darker route instead of upbeat happy tunes. Think something along the lines of Castlevania 64's music.

The game play is exquisite. Unlike CotM, with its boring grinding for DSS cards and awful level design, Harmony opts for a complex layout like that of Symphony of the Night yet also a simple Rondo of Blood-esque system for combat. Instead of tediously grinding for cards oblivious as to which enemies actually drop them, the system in this game is combining spellbooks with the sub-weapons. Unlike the dull DSS system, there is no grinding required; just pick up and play!

Replay value is also high. This was the first Castlevania game to include the boss rush mode, which allows you to try to beat the current record to fight the most bosses in the shortest amount of time. Two bonus characters can be unlocked, and two difficulty modes can be unlocked as well at the name entry screen.

Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance easily earns the silver medal when it comes to the GameBoy Advance Castlevania games. It may have been surpassed by later titles, but it gets almost everything right.

Reviewer's Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

Originally Posted: 01/21/09

Game Release: Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance (US, 09/16/02)

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