Review by Legend 14

"It's a great game with fantastic visuals, but it has its flaws"

Ever since I played Symphony of the Night (PS1), I have loved the Castlevania series. The entertaining gameplay can keep one at it for hours at a time. The newest game in the series, Harmony of Dissonance, is great, but it has its flaws. The developers took away from some aspects of the game to make way for other parts of it, due in large to the small game cartridge. However, these aspects do not really take away from the game's experience.

I do not drink...Vine...
The story revolves around two characters, Juste and Maxim, who come upon a castle in which their friend, Lydie, is being held captive. Reminds me all to well of a couple other Castlevania stories, where someone is trapped and need help from our hero. You play as Juste, who travels around the castle looking for clues and treasures to help him find Lydie. You will meet Maxim from time to time, who either acts like himself or a strange being. The story, it seems, is an excuse to whip your way through more and more of the castle. Story: 7/10

Let it whip!
The Castlevania series has a good track record in keeping their gameplay in excellent condition. Harmony is no exception; this game plays great, with hundreds of monsters to whip around the castle. As with many other games in this series, your character levels up, and is able to equip items such as new whips, clothes and various goods to help hi in his adventure. In addition, Konami added a new way to cast spells, called Spell Fusion, in which you character can combine a sub-weapon with various magical books to create powerful spells. I had a couple gripes with the gameplay, however. Juste levels up way too fast, which may not be a problem for many people, but for the hardcore Castlevania fans, this aspect may make the game easier than it should be. Also, having a limit of one sub-weapon at a time can hurt the number of spells you can choose from at one time, a variety the the last game, Circle of the Moon, had. But is the game still fun? Definitely. Gameplay: 8/10

Did'ya see that?!
The game looks excellent. I can hardly tell you how much a change it is from the past game, Circle of the Moon. The colors are vibrant, bright and beautiful. The backgrounds are very nice, with artwork, three-dimensional buildings and volcanoes spitting fire. The level designs are full of ingenuity, with bone caves, caves of illusion, etc. The castle is enormous, and it's amazing that they got it all into the GBA's small cartridge.

The characters in Harmony are certainly bigger than the past installment. Just looks very much like Alucard from Symphony of the Night. The character sprites, like the graphics, are also bright, and they move very smoothly. I do wish, however, that Juste wouldn't stand frozen like a statue when he brandishes his whip;it make him look funny. The bosses are amazingly detailed, with multiple limbs moving about, and, yet again, very vibrant colors. Some glow, some just move towards you slashing their giant swords at you...It is a wonder to behold. These graphics are some of the best on the Gameboy Advance. Graphics: 10/10

Sounds fair
The sound took at turn for the worse in this chapter of Castlevania. As I said before, the developers took away from certain aspects of the game to make another better. The sound effects are fine; the sound of the whip clashing on to screaming enemies, the sound of bosses exploding into many pieces, even Juste's yells as he makes a long jump are fine. It's the musical score that needs work. Circle of the Moon had great music; a couple of the tracks borrowed from other installments of the series, plus a crispness in the quality made its music a work of art. But Harmony's music is often times sad and depressing. The songs aren't very memorable, and some sound like they were just pushed in at the last moment. The musical quality, as well as the tunes, is certainly a turnoff. Sound: 6/10

To replay, or not to replay...
In the end, do you really want to go back and play this game? It would depend on what kind of gamer you are. The replay on this game is certainly not as high as the past installment in the GBA. It has a boss replay mode (although I forgot to mention that the bosses in this installment are very easy), lets you play as Maxim, a hard mode (and we need it) and some other codes (i.e. the classic Konami code)...this game does have some replayability riding on it. Replay: 8/10

''Should I make the commitment?''
This game is a safe bet. If you liked Symphony of the Night or Circle of the Moon, then you should be able to dive right into the game. But if you still aren't sure, check to see if there's a place where you can rent it.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.0 - Great

Originally Posted: 10/02/02, Updated 10/02/02

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