Review by Synthetic Messiah
"Closest thing to SotN that you'll find. Oh, and it's portable, too."
Whether you're an old school Castlevania fan or a newcomer to the series, Harmony of Dissonance is well worth the money. Sure, the graphics aren't up to par with the Playstation classic Castlevania: Symphony of the night, but what can you expect? For being as in-depth and as wonderful as it is, and portable, Harmony of Dissonance delivers and it rocks verily.
Konami does it again. After their last few entrants into Castlevania, they decided to go back to the classic whiplashing, sidescrolling action that SotN perfected. If you're used to the playing style of Circle of the Moon, then get ready for something slightly more fast paced. If you're used to the N64 games' style, however, you're in for a huge surprise. Old school Castlevania fans who haven't been satisfied with any of Konami's recent Castlevanias beyond Symphony of the Night will definitely love Harmony of Dissonance. Playing almost identical to SotN in many ways, HoD is one solid game, as far as gameplay goes. Slightly improved jumping, an addition of two dash buttons, and a variety of enemies all come together to make for fast-paced gameplay that is unrivaled as far as sidescrollers go. Exploration, though, is also an important factor. Like SotN, exploration is about as important, if not moreso, than gaining experience and getting to the final showdown with Dracula.
As best I can gather, it's the basic Castlevania story. Drac's back, you gotta make your way through his castle and seal him away, once again. If I could read japanese (or had a reviewable US version), I would give it a real judgement. Sorry, but not yet :/
Sure, gameplay is what makes a game, but pretty graphics and excellent sounds are kind of important, too. Good thing Konami did them right, once again. A typical high quality soundtrack and excellent voice samples (even for GBA, they own), as well as a plethora of fitting sound effects, make up the auditory pleasure. What you see, however, isn't quite as good. A bit of ugliness due to graphics being turned on screen, rather than having more sprites, namely. If you've played SotN, you'll know what I'm talking about. Warping of sprites, rather than drawing sprites for complete animations. Heck, you'll see it at the beginning of the game with the first enemy you encounter. Other than a few small sprite problems, though, the graphics are spiffy. Excellent backgrounds, pretty high quality (once again, for GBA) sprites for all characters, well done portraits on the characters who speak at one point or other....et cetera, et cetera. You've done it again, Konami.
Once you finally explore all that Drac's castle has to offer and put him back into his grave as Juste, you'll only want to do it again as Maxim. If that doesn't suit you, then there's always boss rush mode in which you take on all the bosses in some sort of order, continuously. No matter how you slice it, Harmony of Dissonance has a HIGH replayability. It's damned fun, I tell you.
buy or rent?
Buy it. I command it. As mentioned earlier, oldschool fans and newcomers to Castlevania alike will enjoy this portable gem. Whether it's out now in the U.S. or not, I'm not sure. It will be soon, though. When arrives in the states, I strongly recommend you get out to the store and pick it up. You won't be disappointed.
Reviewer's Rating: 5.0 - Flawless
Originally Posted: 07/11/02, Updated 07/11/02
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