Review by Megaman1981
"Quite subpar for a Castlevania game."
I grew up playing several Castlevania games. I played all of the original games on the NES, Castlevania Chronicles, the two N64 Castlevania's, Symphony of the Night, Lament of Innocence, and I will invest in the Curse of Darkness when it comes out on the PS2. To put it simply, I have enjoyed all of them. When the GBA was released in 2001, the most logical thing to do was to release a new Castlevania game. Circle of the Moon was a solid game, and although it isn't the best Castlevania I have played, it was still good. Now the newest Castlevania is upon us. Unfortunately, Castlevania Harmony of Dissonance simply doesn't live up the usual Castlevania quality.
The gameplay in Castlevania HOD is a mix of Metroid exploration and RPG elements. Can't beat a certain boss. Then just keep beating enemies until you level up enough in order to beat the boss. This right hear is why I oppose RPG style games. Any lousy gamer can just simply level up to their hearts content to beat the game. As for a gamer as myself, I like to simply beat a game without these type of elements. Let me say I have only played and beaten three RPG's my entire life, Paper Mario (N64 and Gamecube versions) and Final Fantasy X-2. In fact there really isn't much else to the gameplay in this game. Just explore to unlock new areas, get lost, and do it all over again. The enemies are also a complete pushover as well. Now I think that areas of Symphony of the Night were very easy, but Harmony of Dissonance is easy all the way threw.
The story also isn't quite up to snuff. It revolves around Juste Belmont, the grandson of Simon Belmont. His girlfriend Lydie simply vanishes, and his friend Maxim is acting very weird. On their search they come across Dracula's castle. That's it, the rest of the game is to find Lydie. On another note, during the game you also search for Dracula's body parts. These are the same body parts destroyed by Simon in Castlevania 2. To incorporate this into the story isn't a very good idea. How could the same body parts that were destroyed by Simon return? Furthermore, why do all of the new Castlevania games have a Dracula, but without his full powers? Is Ganon or Bowser ever weak in the Zelda or Mario games? No, of course not, just like how Dr. Wily and Sigma are always in the Mega Man games. For crying out loud, the excitement of playing a Castlevania game is to beat Dracula in the end, not someone else.
The graphics are the best part about the game. They are simply beautiful, and are clearly a step above Circle of the Moon. With vibrant color and perfect lighting, they blow away the first GBA game. Remember how difficult it was to see everything in Circle of the Moon? You won't have to worry about that problem anymore. Sound is a much different story. The music in this game is terrible. It sounds like something from an NES game, but much worse. At least all of the NES Castlevania soundtracks rocked. What is sad is that there isn't one memorable song from the game. It is certainly a step down from Circle of the Moon's awesome song tracks. I must say that Harmony of Dissonance has probably the worst music in any Castlevania game.
Harmony of Dissonance won't take you very long to complete. It's extremely easy, which is very un-Castlevania like. Once you do beat it, there really isn't much point going threw the game again. Sure you can play as Maxim, but really what's the point? There is however a very good boss rush mode, and with a certain code you can play it with Simon Belmont from the original Castlevania.
For my final thoughts, I will tell you why I didn't like this game. First as I explained before, I don't like RPG's. However a game with the right kind of RPG elements is fine with me. This is why I didn't mind Circle of the Moon. Harmony of Dissonance however is way too easy because of this. This is the number one problem with this game. Castlevania games are supposed to be tough. Sadly this game isn't like that at all. The only boss in the game that is hard is the final one, every other boss is a complete pushover. In addition, the game becomes an utter joke about halfway threw. When you are going threw this certain crypt, your character gets an endless supply of glass skeletons. These enemies give I believe 999 exp. points with each one defeated. Oh yeah, and it only takes one hit to defeat each one. Eventually the game does cut you off, but even when it does, the game is already too easy. Another problem with the game is the terrible sound, which I talked about before. In addition, you won't see very many familiar Castlevania locations during the game. There is also one more reason why I dislike this game so much. During the game it is way to easy to get lost. Even worse there is almost no way to figure out where to go next without a guide. In conclusion, this game would probably be liked by people that like Symphony of the Night, but even that theory may not be true because I loved Symphony of the Night and I really dislike this game. I can't recommend this game. If you like Symphony of the Night, grab a copy of Circle of the Moon and play that instead.
Reviewer's Rating: 2.5 - Playable
Originally Posted: 08/07/04, Updated 05/14/06
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