Patreon button  Steam curated reviews  Discord button  Facebook button  Twitter button 
3DS | PC | PS4 | PS5 | SWITCH | VITA | XB1 | XSX | All

Castlevania Double Pack (Game Boy Advance) artwork

Castlevania Double Pack (Game Boy Advance) review

"After playing the disappointing Castlevania Double Pack, the "Castlevania" name now brings back memories of emasculated bishounen dunderheads, forgettable filler music, long empty hallways, and tiresome backtracking. Quite frankly, this cartridge makes me sad."

Castlevania the name conjures images of whip-swinging action, endless enemies, blue-skinned countesses, pirate ships floating in moonlit bays, burning villages, and a diabolical vampire who's been resurrected more times than Spider-Man's elderly Aunt May. Castlevania the name is synonymous with excitement!

At least, it used to be.

After playing the disappointing Castlevania Double Pack, the "Castlevania" name now brings back memories of emasculated bishounen dunderheads, forgettable filler music, long empty hallways, and tiresome backtracking. Quite frankly, this cartridge makes me sad. Instead of providing a double shot of Transylvanian tequila, both games Harmony of Dissonance and Aria of Sorrow leave me thirsting for the past. Neither game satisfies on its own and, since each highlights the other's weaknesses, they're even worse when mixed.

Harmony of Dissonance starts off slowly. Aria of Sorrow seems exciting at first, but runs out of gas halfway through. Harmony is too empty. Aria is too short. Harmony's music is under-produced. Aria's colors are too dark, especially if you're playing on an actual Gameboy Advance. And, if you've experienced Symphony of the Night, they both feel uninspired.

"Aaaargh! Death has returned!"

...for the record, those are Juste Belmont's words, not mine.

As in SOTN, the hero in Harmony of Dissonance is taunted several times by the specter of Death. In this case, Death is searching for Juste's damsel in distress a girl named Lydie. You're probably guessing that Juste fights Death at some point. You're right. Although it's a repeat Castlevania encounter, the battle was interesting; Death had some surprising new abilities that I didn't expect.

Unfortunately, the hero himself does not have any surprising new abilities. Throughout the entire game, Juste Belmont's only weapon is the trusty whip, and his (few) other abilities such as the rocket jump are lifted straight from the legendary SOTN. Compared to SOTN's array of unique weapons or Circle of the Moon's card-based skill system, Juste is underpowered.

But I'll be fair I wouldn't dare attack the original Castlevania or Dracula X for only including a whip. I'll also be honest those two games more than compensated with actual action. Harmony is too laid-back. Like NES Metroid, it's an "exploratory" game. Unlike NES Metroid, a lot of Harmony's spacious rooms are loosely populated or completely devoid of enemies. Running through long empty hallways does not excite me. Backtracking through those same empty hallways excites me even less. My greatest fear while playing my motivation for locating the Save Rooms strewn throughout Dracula's Castle was that the GBA's batteries would die.


Adding to the travesty, Harmony's music is technically and aesthetically inferior to past adventures. On the plus side, Harmony does showcase some nice stylish graphics, such as the disturbingly detailed "Scarecrow" enemy... which is a naked man impaled on a bloody spear, bouncing around the screen on his macabre pogo stick.

The Double Pack's other title, Aria of Sorrow, doesn't have such cool visual moments. Compared to its older brother, Aria's scenery is drab and its enemies creatively uninspired. The best you'll see is a full moon hovering overhead, which is nothing compared to Harmony's roiling thunderclouds in the Sky Walkway.

Aria does feature lots of enemies and tons of new abilities. Whereas Harmony's rooms might contain three or four easily-slaughtered skeletons, many of Aria's overly-dark environments are populated by re-spawning ghosts or skeletons. New hero Soma Cruz (who looks even more girly than Juste) wields DOZENS of ways to obliterate his uninspired opposition. Soma gains these powers by STEALING MONSTERS' SOULS and MAKING THEM HIS SLAVES.

Unfortunately, there's still too much back-tracking. Revisiting visually uninspired, poorly designed areas even if those areas are heavily populated isn't fun. Furthermore, even though you'll meet a lot of enemies, they're not particularly challenging. Dracula's minions move in basic, easily-slaughtered patterns... instead of offering any real resistance, they're just going through the motions. The game is difficult because creatures take off 40 points of health, not because of any actual intelligence of design.

That's what the Double Pack lacks: intelligence. Intelligence and creativity. Both games assume that players want mindless, repetitive treks through stale variants of Dracula's castle. WRONG! I want stimulation. The Double Pack lacks the creative spark of genius that fueled Castlevania, Dracula X, Bloodlines, and Symphony of the Night.

However, the problem with the Castlevania Double Pack is NOT that it abandons the "classic" formula. Nor is it a problem that the Double Pack tries (and fails) to imitate a great game like SOTN. The problem is that Harmony of Dissonance and Aria of Sorrow both come across as half-assed efforts, especially when compared to each other.

Still, I have to admit that Double Pack producer IGA has balls. With Harmony of Dissonance, he tried to replicate Symphony of the Night's perfection... and he tried to do it on a much weaker system. After failing miserably, IGA had the balls to go out there and try again! If IGA led a band, I bet he'd release a hard rock cover of "Imagine". Then he'd follow it up with a jazzy rendition of "Enter Sandman". I'm sure some people would praise him as a visionary.

I wouldn't.


zigfried's avatar
Staff review by Zigfried (July 04, 2006)

Zigfried likes writing about whales and angry seamen, and often does so at the local pub.

More Reviews by Zigfried [+]
Attack on Titan (PlayStation 4) artwork
Attack on Titan (PlayStation 4)

Koei's latest not-a-Musou lives up to the source material.
Deception IV: The Nightmare Princess (PlayStation 4) artwork
Deception IV: The Nightmare Princess (PlayStation 4)

Tecmo Koei continues to stake their claim on PS4 with quality software.
One Chance (PC) artwork
One Chance (PC)

One Chance is a bad game for obvious reasons. The graphics are poor, the music is repetitive, the guy walks slowly, the story is silly, player interaction is minimal, and victory is achieved through repetition instead of mastery. Its claim to fame is that you only have one chance unless you game the syst...


If you enjoyed this Castlevania Double Pack review, you're encouraged to discuss it with the author and with other members of the site's community. If you don't already have an HonestGamers account, you can sign up for one in a snap. Thank you for reading!

You must be signed into an HonestGamers user account to leave feedback on this review.

User Help | Contact | Ethics | Sponsor Guide | Links

eXTReMe Tracker
© 1998 - 2023 HonestGamers
None of the material contained within this site may be reproduced in any conceivable fashion without permission from the author(s) of said material. This site is not sponsored or endorsed by Nintendo, Sega, Sony, Microsoft, or any other such party. Castlevania Double Pack is a registered trademark of its copyright holder. This site makes no claim to Castlevania Double Pack, its characters, screenshots, artwork, music, or any intellectual property contained within. Opinions expressed on this site do not necessarily represent the opinion of site staff or sponsors. Staff and freelance reviews are typically written based on time spent with a retail review copy or review key for the game that is provided by its publisher.