"I am a Castlevania fanatic, and follow each and every one of them like a cult member follows his leader. You could say I am a member of the Castlevania cult. The games suck you in with it's excellent gameplay, and keep you there with it's addictive entertainment. Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance is no exception to this spectacular series. This is one of the tops in the series, although it is not the best Castlevania on the GBA. That doesn't change anything still, it is a must have for any GBA ..."
I am a Castlevania fanatic, and follow each and every one of them like a cult member follows his leader. You could say I am a member of the Castlevania cult. The games suck you in with it's excellent gameplay, and keep you there with it's addictive entertainment. Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance is no exception to this spectacular series. This is one of the tops in the series, although it is not the best Castlevania on the GBA. That doesn't change anything still, it is a must have for any GBA owner.
STORY (8/10): In the tradition of Castlevania, the stories were mostly horrible or nonexistant. There were only a few exceptions, and even those were not classic. This is no classic story either, but there is one, which definitely merits alot of points. You are Juste Belmont, and your friend Lydie has been kidnapped. Your friend Maxim is helping you to search through your castle. However you friend has not been acting typical lately, and well the Grim Reaper seems to be hanging around lately. Nothing very classy, and it has been done before (Very similiar to COTM if you ask me) but it is nice, and there is 3 different endings which is a nice touch.
GRAPHICS (15/15): This is the MOST beautiful Castlevania. I personally think it is the best looking game for the GBA also. It shows what the GBA is really capable of, and I love every minute looking at the enemies, and even better the backgrounds. How do you like the moving clouds? Doesn't it just suck you in. Circle of the Moon sucked me in when I first played it, but Harmony of Dissonance will suck you in once again, and keep you there the entire game.
SOUND (5/10): As you likely have seen in many places, there is a cost for the great graphics and that comes out of the sound department. In past Castlevania games you had orchestraic music playing in the backgrounds of each level. This is definitely a step back, while the music is easily listenable, it doesn't have that feel that a real orchestra is playing, and it doesn't really extend the mood of being lost in a castle. Definitely a weakness in such a great game.
GAMEPLAY (47/50): If you have played Circle of the Moon, this is a simple pickup for you, as it is a very similiar game. Juste has a whip that lashes out forward, however if you hold the button you can slowly move it in various directions. A nice addition as their are various whips in the game, some with nice add ons. There are also the special things, such as the Sylph Feather returns, and there are boots you can use to break through ceiling. There is alot of armor in the game, in my mind too much armor in the game. You will get very confused on what armor you want to wear. There is a shop in this game, however, where you can sell your armor and other various items, just so you can have room in your inventory. Too continue with this thing about the loads of items, there are certain collectibles you pick up just to decorate a room. There is really no purpose to doing this, but it is actually kind of fun. And then there are the 5 parts of Dracula to find, which will power you up, and lead you to a more crucial final battle. But with all those items, you must also have the subweapons and magic books and they are both here. The same subweapons return to be used, and if you mix them with a spellbook you will have various magical powers. The amount of things in this game is huge, along with 100 different enemies.
Alright, now to the game itself. There are two castles in it, and you will need to journey through hundreds of corridors to get through the game, and backtrack alot. Using the map is important, and understanding what you are doing. You will need various relics to move on through various areas. So the castle is huge, making this one long Castlevania adventure.
Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance keeps up the tradition of late, in leveling up your character. He has a large HP and MP, and it gains further at each level up. Also alot of HP and Heart increases are hidden throughout the entire castles. This gives an RPG feel to an action game.
So it easy to see my feel of the gameplay. It is great and entertaining. There is a little too much backtracking for my liking, but the rest of it is a nice collection and mixture of the Castlevania series. The controls are smooth, and the gameplay is just fun. Definitely an entertaining experience.
REPLAYABILITY (8/10): Well, I can play any Castlevania game over and over and over and over again. They are just so cool of a series, and they are easy to pick up and just start playing. There is about 10 hours of gametime before you beat the game, more if you try to find everything and get 200% of the map completed.
DIFFICULTY (5/5): The difficulty in this game is figuring out where to go next, when you are in the middle of the game. Too many ruotes are closed to you, and you will get confused trying to figure out where to go next. The bosses are all challenging, but beatable and really the final boss is jokingly easy. And yet it is still a fairly difficult game, that fits itself nicely.
OVERALL (88/100): This is a true Castlevania experience. Not to say this is a perfect game, for there are at least three Castlevania games even above the fun found in this one. And yet this is a true installment to the series, and one you just won't easily be putting down until you win that final battle (3x). If you have a Gameboy Advance, definitely pick this game up. Of course, you should be like me and just pick every Castlevania game up. It is a great game for a great series. Do I really need to say more?
Community review by ratking (November 20, 2002)
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