We've removed ads and are looking to Patreon to secure revenue so we can grow. Please pledge support today!
Google+   Facebook button  Twitter button 
3DS | DS | PS3 | PS4 | PSP | VITA | WII | WIIU | X360 | XB1 | All
Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance (Game Boy Advance) artwork

Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance (Game Boy Advance) review


"Adding to the intrigue, a couple of meetings with Dracula's top subordinate, Death, seem to show that the grim reaper seems more than a bit confused as to what's going on and why his master's castle even returned. Fortunately for Juste, the instant Death figures everything out, he tells the Belmont everything in a fit of excessive gloating, which eventually leads to the endgame and (if you meet certain stipulations) happy ending. And Dracula keeps this guy on staff for what reason?"



It seems that after Castlevania: Symphony of the Night was released seemingly to give me something to be happy about in life after graduating college, Konami got the great idea to re-release that game a few times on other systems. Sure, the Game Boy Advance's Circle of the Moon, Harmony of Dissonance and Aria of Sorrow weren't EXACTLY the same game, but it was pretty obvious they were released by designers who'd been spending a good deal of time chanting "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" like a mantra.

Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance can best be described as Symphony of the Night, but not as good nor as memorable. Don't get me wrong, it's still a fun game to romp through -- I just don't see myself picking it up for "one more go-around" like I still do with Symphony of the Night from time to time.

You get to control Juste Belmont, the latest vampire-whipping member of that clan, as he and his amnesia-inflicted buddy Maxim go searching in Dracula's mysterious castle for their missing gal-pal Lydie. While exploring the vast place, Juste becomes quite confused by his friend's behavior, as Maxim alternates between being cool, if a bit addled in the head, and a total jerk who's completely contemptuous of Juste's abilities. Adding to the intrigue, a couple of meetings with Dracula's top subordinate, Death, seem to show that the grim reaper seems more than a bit confused as to what's going on and why his master's castle even returned. Fortunately for Juste, the instant Death figures everything out, he tells the Belmont everything in a fit of excessive gloating, which eventually leads to the endgame and (if you meet certain stipulations) happy ending. And Dracula keeps this guy on staff for what reason?

While all of this is going down, as in Symphony of the Night, you'll be wandering through a pretty immense castle divided into all sorts of regions ranging from an aquatic waterway to a chapel to the tried-and-true clock tower. There will be a lot of backtracking involved, as Juste will find a number of key items that grant him the ability to get to rooms and ledges he couldn't reach the first time through an area. And to add to all the exploration, there are two castles which are connected via a handful of special gates. It's a simple formula that's served Konami pretty well with their more recent Castlevania games and it works here, as well. You'll find items that increase your maximum life or heart capacity in out-of-the-way places and rooms you couldn't access for most of the game will wind up being great treasure troves containing awesome pieces of armor. You'll want to explore 100 percent of both castles just to collect all the items and power-ups.

That exploration will be supplemented by a whole lot of monster-whipping, as most of the game's corridors and rooms are populated by various unfriendly critters, including a couple dozen bosses. Much like Symphony of the Night, the majority of this game is pretty easy to get through, as there really aren't that many foes capable of offering that much resistance. I thought things were going to pick up towards the end of the game, as my collection of healing potions rapidly started dwindling under the abuse inflicted on Juste by the high-powered foes scattered through the last few castle regions I explored, but then I grabbed some really good armor and found those tough foes were maybe causing half the damage they had been. To make things worse, the final tussle with Dracula rivaled the one in Simon's Quest as the easiest clash I've had with ol' fangy (not counting that one time in Symphony of the Night when I had the Crissaegrim).

However, the only real problem I have with Harmony of Dissonance is simply that there's barely a shred of originality to it. By dropping the name of Symphony of the Night in this sentence, it marks the seventh time I've mentioned that game in six paragraphs. That's not me being repetitive for the sake of being repetitive; that's me not-so-subtlely saying this game is so similar to its PlayStation forefather that it seems to be more of a portable system port than an original game. While it's a fun game, I was reminded of the latter NES Mega Man games in that it seemed released more to continue cashing in on a successful name than to add anything new to the series.

Rating: 7/10

overdrive's avatar
Staff review by Rob Hamilton (December 04, 2008)

Rob Hamilton is the official drunken master of review writing for Honestgamers.

More Reviews by Rob Hamilton
Robo Aleste (Sega CD) artwork
Robo Aleste (Sega CD)

I think a lot of shooters I play in the future are going to seem sort of mundane after this game.
Red Dead Redemption (Xbox 360) artwork
Red Dead Redemption (Xbox 360)

While I don't know if I'd go as far as to call Red Dead Redemption one of the best games ever released for the Xbox 360, as aggregate review scores indicate, it was still a fun romp with only one thing I'd consider to be a glaring flaw.
Super Mario 3D Land (3DS) artwork
Super Mario 3D Land (3DS)

Where I revisit the past through the present...or some such pretentious-sounding statement.

Feedback

If you enjoyed this Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance 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!

board icon
Masters posted December 05, 2008:

Good review Rob.

I found a few things:

"That exploration will be supplemented by a whole lot of monster-whipping, as most of the game's corridors and rooms are populated by various unfriendly critters, including a couple of dozen bosses."

The "couple OF dozen bosses" doesn't sound right.

"By dropping the name of Symphony of the Night in this sentence, it marks the seventh time I've mentioned that review in six paragraphs."

I think you meant "game" and not "review."

Otherwise, nice job, and pretty much exactly how I saw the game. Competent, but ultimately more of the same with less magic.

board icon
overdrive posted December 05, 2008:

Thanks for the kind words and finding a couple errors.

Yeah, I didn't even bother talking about the magic in this game. The main thing I noticed about it was that it made an easy game easier. Early in the game when I'm causing 20 or so damage with my whip, but can combo the ice book and axe to create a big ice crystal that causes 80 or so damage.......gee, what am I going to do against that boss to make the fight end in 30 seconds?
board icon
Masters posted December 05, 2008:

Ha, hey I meant the 'magic' of the game, not the actual magic in the game. But yeah, that too.
board icon
overdrive posted December 05, 2008:

Heh.....misinterpreted that one. But you're right about that. I think part of it comes down to the repetitive nature of the enemies, which SotN didn't have. You're in the final couple of areas and still fighting the same skeletons you fought early in the game, but they hit a lot harder and have a little "gimmick" like breaking out of a glass container or being transparent so you can only hit them when they're attacking you. You go to the caverns in one castle and you're fighting a lot of witches and female mages. In the other castle, you're fighting.....palette swaps of those two enemies. And by the end of the game, I was getting really tired of the "big soldier that stumbles backwards after being hit a few times" enemies. They start out as an early game boss.....then become a gimmick where you get them to stumble into something to remove an obstacle (or in one case, give you all the guardian armor, which is good stuff for that time of the game) and then, essentially become mini-bosses guarding some item.

And of course, no Crissaegrim hurts. There's just something really fun about getting it in SotN, power-leveling on the two really tough knights in that one room until you're at an ungodly high level and then just utterly slaughtering everything before it can even react to your presence.
board icon
sashanan posted December 07, 2008:

The main thing making HoD so much easier than the rest is that potions are cheap and there's no inventory cap on them. The difficulty of the SotN-style Castlevanias seems directly tied to potion availability anyway. Circle of the Moon, for instance, does not let you buy any, and the enemies drop them very sparingly. This more than anything is what makes encounters like the Dragon Zombies so difficult. There's no margin for error.

Well, and the fact that without stiff preparation, Dracula can one shot you.

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

Info | Help | Privacy Policy | Contact | Links

eXTReMe Tracker
© 1998-2014 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: Harmony of Dissonance is a registered trademark of its copyright holder. This site makes no claim to Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance, 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.