Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance

Castlevania Harmony of Dissonance
Castlevania Harmony of Dissonance Cover
Platform Nintendo DS
Genre Mediocre Metroidvania
Score 6  Clock score of 6Gameplay: 6
Fun Factor: 5
Gfx/Sound: 6
Story: 5
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The first game in my new review series is Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance. The second Game Boy Advance Castlevania game and the third with Metroidvania style of gameplay (the first being Symphony of the Night, which I reviewed on The First Hour a week ago). The game was released in 2002 and then re-released again in the Castlevania Double Pack to reach a larger audience (as the first release of this game and the next had rather small releases). This is how I was able to play it for the first time, and being a huge fan of this style of gameplay, was very excited to play it. Let's see at how it panned out, all scores are out of 10.

Scores

Gameplay: 6
Okay, this is where the game messes up big. Juste's movements are really weird. Once you start a jump, that is your trajectory. You can not alter your jump at all! Maybe it's more realistic but it's extremely obnoxious in a video game. This makes fighting flying enemies very difficult as you have to jump to hit them, and you're likely to just fly right into them as you try to whip them. However, and this is very important, the game makes up for its awkward jumping and movement. The L and R buttons are used exclusively for dashing back and forth. This makes fighting (ground enemies at least) fun and adds a layer of strategy not found in other platformers. The neat thing is, L always dashes left, and R always dashes right, no matter what direction you're facing. This makes running around a little faster, though you'll be doing a lot of L and R tapping.

Fun Factor: 5
Leveling up and fighting is always fun, so is the exploration. However, the castle in this game is a little extreme. For one, there's two castles. They're exactly the same, but you basically have to explore both castles individually to continue advancing in the game. This can make for a lot of staring at the maps and trying to figure out which castle to go to and once you're there, what part to explore further. This problem is multiplied to even worse levels by the fact that there are ZERO teleportation rooms (besides those that bring you from castle A to castle B). Running through the same part of the castle over and over and over again killing the same weak enemies just to see if I can open a particular door yet does not a good game make. It basically sucks all the fun out of the game. However, the game offers almost 20 bosses and hitting 100% exploration rate makes it that much more satisfying when there are two castles.

Graphics and Sound: 6
The game looks pretty good for being on the GBA, especially after playing the two DS Castlevania games. Juste has this weird glow around him, I guess it's there to help spot the main character in the dark environments. The map made me squint a bit and the characters are rather bland too. The music and sound effects are typical Castlevania, good but nothing too special.

Story: 5
The stories in Castlevania games have been following the same sequence lately: Dracula's castle appeared and it's time to take him down. A feminine looking, whip-wielding hero will head inside, grossly unprepared, and attempt to take out the dark lord himself. This is how Harmony of Dissonance starts as we meet Juste, the white flowing hair protagonist. He was named as the Belmont-heir, which made his friend Maxim pretty mad. So Maxim went ahead and got their girlfriend Lydie kidnapped by Death and even got himself taken over by Dracula. Anyways, Juste must find Lydie, collect the remains of Dracula, and save Maxim. It's not very complicated and just the way I like it for this type of game.

Overall: 6
Not a bad game per se, it just doesn't live up to the expectations I have for Castlevania games. The lack of teleportation rooms really kind of ruined it for me as I spent probably a few hours total just running from point A to point B in areas I had already been through ten times already. The game is also not that difficult, as one of the sub-weapon/magic combinations is Cross+Wind, making for a brutal circle of crosses that surrounds you and destroys basically anything in your path, great for both weak enemies and bosses. If you're into Castlevania or Metroid games, this game is probably worth looking for in the Double Pack, at least you get two games on that cartridge.

Castlevania Harmony Of Dissonance Art