Review by Gtyyler

"Castlevania took a few wrong turns"

I have first played the demo version of the game Castlevania: Harmony of Despair. I thought it was hard. Most games should be hard when I play on the "Hard" difficulty. Seeing that is only one difficulty, it should be playable for most people, especially since I liked the original Castlevania series and it was "Nintendo Hard." I walked into this game thinking it was fun, but it instead turned me down.

Firstly, there is the roaster of characters. Soma Cruz, Alucard, Johnathan, Shanoa and Charlotte. Some characters these are. Where is Simon Belmont? And this all five characters, where there is six player coop. How does that make sense? Anyway, all of them use melee attacks, but also have a set of ranged attacks, but good luck finding any. I was only able to find a few weapons for Johnathan. The store is also useless. They don't sell any weapons or decent armor, which by the way, you find armor in the dungeons anyway, so why buy it? I find I always need high potions, so the store is only there to sell healing items.

One more thing, there isn't any offline coop, which is funny because I find it easier on coop and I always have a friend around to play split screen with me.

Anyway, I chose Johnathan at the start, because he has a whip, like Simon Belmont...called Vampire Killer. What's the next weapon called? Bloody Tears?

At first, the objective is that I have to kill the boss at the other side of the dungeon. That's easy, but why am I looking at the map? I should be in sidescroller view, not total view. I discovered that by pressing the right stick (Yeah, RIGHT STICK) will have it go into side scrolling view. It should start like this, not to have me make it like that.

The game is pretty easy at first, but the hardest part is figuring out what to do. Mostly, I switch between the map and side view and try to make my way towards the boss. But the dungeon is non-linear. There are sections of the dungeon that you can choose to go and find more items. There are places that you need to go to hit switches, some you can only do on coop, which has the end result being a fox, chick and worm puzzle and only get one player the item. Then there are places that have the book, which is essentially the start menu.

This is another thing. There is no start menu, so if you want to change weapons or items, you need to find the book. There is one at the start, but not one mid-dungeon, so you are constantly back tracking to equip weapons and use items. You can hold only one healing/recovery item at a time. This includes, everything from your antidotes for status aliments to health and mana potions. I find that antidotes and stuff like this is useful, since there is no esuna spell, but you will need all three types of items constantly. Mana recovers over time, but health doesn't and the curse spell kills all your mana, which always it bad. There is no potion to restore health and mana in the shop, so you will want health potions either way and try to survive through low mana and status aliments alone. And you can only have and quantity of three of the same potion, so you will be restocking a lot.

The bosses are hard to kill, which is rightfully so, but are nearly overkill. All of the bosses have special attacks that are hard to dodge and the block only gets you so far. Pretty much, you have to kill him before you take to many hits. I just spam the axe, since it is powerful and does multiple hits. That works for the first boss, but the second boss can kill of a majority of your health in a move that's too hard to dodge. Now, I'm stuck there, and I have to redo the ENTIRE level, start to finish to try again. There are no checkpoints, continues, saves, extra lives or anything. You have to do the entire mission with one life. So, I'm quitting on single player for now. I need to farm a lot of items, as well as level up the ranged attacks anyway to beat the game. I won't deny the fact that the bosses are really easy, but I will try some more character and see what they can do.

Overall, it is very difficult. I just realized that I did not mention the time limit on each level. Essentially, you have thirty minutes to kill the boss. It is plenty of time, so I don't really mind it. But the pause menu and book menu don't stop the clock, so I can't stop and any time.

Finally, I won't say it is good, but it is irritating. But is it worth the 15$ I spent on it. I will agree, because the music and 32-bit graphics are badass! This game has the nostalgic value, but still some play value.

Reviewer's Rating:   3.0 - Fair

Originally Posted: 08/16/10

Game Release: Castlevania: Harmony of Despair (US, 08/04/10)

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