jessicaboo's Castlevania: Harmony of Despair (Xbox 360 Games Store) review

Castlevania: HD. The Good the Bad and the Undead.


Castlevania: HD.

Sitting down to play Castlevania: Harmony of Dispair, I was excited to play a new side-scrolling Castlevania in the style of Metriod. All the way back to Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, Konami has been delivering  ways to keep fans interested, and intrigued when playing each new interaction of this style of gameplay. 
After a while however, with this installment, I feel confused. I want to like it, but there are so many drawbacks to it as well. 


Visually, this game looks good. Zooming In and out with the click of the right stick looks good and the transition is well done. However while some of the enemy sprites looks good, a lot of them seem to look like they've been ripped right out of a DS game. Having multiple players on screen as well as enemies seems to not lag or bog down the gameplay at all. In fact, with all 6 players on screen, in different parts of the map doing different things, does not seem to be any slow down of any sort. Which is good of course if you are wanting to get a full party of people together for a game.  The drawback to all of this of course is the unpolished look of the sprites. This is something they could have polished a bit better concidering under XBLA the title it's classified as Castlevania:HD. 

This is where all the action is at, while single player is ok and still fun, the BEST way to enjoy this game is with multiple people.  
 With different types of mechanics like levers to help pull your friends up or over bridges, to helping defeat the end stage boss

with the help of a  gaint spine cord hammer, this is where your going to sink a nice heafty chunk of time into. Throughout the stage there are chests which contain gold, weapons, armour, and other little goodies to help satisfy that loot monger inside of you. As well as to keep you playing through multiple times to find that special loot piece that's better than what you have.  

Full map view.

The good thing about grabbing a chest is that even if you grab it everyone who is on the map no matter if they are near or far get    the benefits of the spoils within each chest. 
However I've found a lot of repeats on levels and from what it seems like so far not all characters are created equal, or more sence, are given equal types of loot. While people like Soma Cruz and Alucard have tons of different items like weapons, and armour. Characters such as Jonathan Morris however do not.   
The trade so far with the sole Whip weilder is that he does have access to various types of sub weapons. Things like hand grenades and wrecking balls you swing around your head are very useful as well as the classics such as the knife and the axe. 
 Other characters like Shanoa and Charlotte, the two mage style characters have the ability to cling onto spheres that hang in the air to propel themselves higher to a spot where another character may not be able to access. The two Vampires types have the ability to use enemie powers ( Soma) and shape shift ( Alucard) where as John Morris is kind of your standard, however he can flail his whip around manually, which oddly enough can help in certain situations. 
Another interesting aspect when playing with muliple people is the Duel attack. A attack done when two people have full energy(which regenerates at that) and press the RT to deliver a cool looking and often if done right a huge damage boost. 
The downside to this is some of these attacks require you to be in a short range visinity of the boss or thing your trying to kill. 

Boss fights are fun!.

The boss fights are fun , and can become even more fun and chaotic with more people. These bosses however are not new, many of these bosses have been included in various other castlevania games, but they each have been tweeked a little to make use of the map this time around. When a boss is defeated a chest drops from him similar to many types of RPG's, and everyone receives an item, unless of course, you are a skeleton, which is what happends when you die, in which you still can attack until revived. Then you get boned out of an item.  

There are 6 stages in total, each with a theme and its own metriodvania style map. It's kind of like a mix of the older games in the series like Castlevania 3, Bloodlines, Rondo of Blood. Mixed with map styles of the newer games, such as portrait of ruin, and order of ecclesia .  

This is where everything goes bad. While playing the game is fun, getting to the game and inbetween is a pain in the ass. While you can change music of each level, you cannot change music of the menus which is probabaly the worse music in the game. While it has your standard Single Player and Multiplayer menus with options and achievements, navigating through them feels like a chore. 

Jumps can be tricky.

While Multiplayer is key to this game there seems to be a few problems. Getting online requires you to pick the type you want, creating, joining, or quick match, then it brings you to a menu which asks if you want 'Your country' or 'Worldwide'  and THEN it brings to to a list of people after a few minutes of annoyingly watching blank pages flip forever until it connects. A lof of this would have benefited from just all being on one page. 
The other biggest problem with all of this is if you try to connect to anyone and it fails, you are brought all the way back to THE MAIN MENU. Not the Multiplayer menu, in which you have to do everything all over again. Which can be fustrating if your unable to join a game for the 3rd or 4th time.  Other things like the equip menu and shop menu, which I find, depending on the character is pointless to buy any upgrades when you can get them from drops could be handled better and a lot less confusing. As well as simple things as picking a character could be made a bit simpler.   


As with any Castlevania game, the music kicks ass. With exception to a few tracks, each level and song is pure guitar shredding castlevania music which reminds me Trans Syberian Orchestra, only doing  Castlevania covers. Just awesome all around. 
Over all I like it and would recommend it if you enjoy Castlevania, and multiplayer, but this game is far from what it could have been but if you enjoy boss hunting,loot, and doing it all with 5 other people online, then I'd say try it. However, if your looking for a rich story driven Castlevania like past titles. Your out of luck.

Posted by Jost1

I've come to terms with the fact that this game just isn't for me. I would have loved a new exploration-heavy single player Castlevania but alas.  It seems decently put-together, though. 

Posted by Marmaladebrat

I Think that this sentence puts it best: 
"After a while however, with this installment, I feel confused. I want to like it, but there are so many drawbacks to it as well." 
Thanks. Good, simple review.
Posted by spacemanspiffgbr

Having bought the other 4 Summer of Arcade titles, it's kind of pointless not to get this one effectively for free with the 1200 rebate for buying all 5, so I'll be giving it a go. Maybe with my expectations set really low, I might enjoy it?!

Posted by JessicaBoo
@spacemanspiff said:
"Having bought the other 4 Summer of Arcade titles, it's kind of pointless not to get this one effectively for free with the 1200 rebate for buying all 5, so I'll be giving it a go. Maybe with my expectations set really low, I might enjoy it?! "

Yes, u didn't expect much at all to be honest, because i can proudly say i didnt play any other castlevania's before this one, i bought this one and i enjoyed it to the max, then my boyfriend hooked the snes and i played the first one, then every single one minus the 3d ones and i can say is good. The one before this one and this one are my most favorites :)
Edited by XylonWarrior

"  The drawback to all of this of course is the unpolished look of the sprites. This is something they could have polished a bit better concidering under XBLA the title it's classified as Castlevania:HD" 
Zooming out all the way makes use of HD. That's where the "HD" comes from. It was prominently featured and you all know about it, so people really need to stop asking "WHERS TEH H-DEE?"   It's a silly question you all know the answer to already. Just another baseless nitpick made by people determined to hate this game. 
Recycling those graphics allowed them to save TONS of time and money, which VERY likely made the difference between  whether or not they got to make the game at all.
"  if you('re) looking for a rich story driven Castlevania like past titles(,) You('re) out of luck" 
99% of the average CastleVania title is driven by monster killing and platform jumping. I don't know which games in the series you've been playing , but I've played every 2D game in the series and even the most story-heavy entries simply use bits of dialogue to interconnect loooooong stretches of good old monster killin.  The original CastleVania had about 1 line of text anyway. It rather irks me when people claim a feature "isn't part of the series" when in fact it was very much was, just maybe not in recent memory. Same goes for time limits and linear maps; they are very much appropriate for a CastleVania game if you knew the series' full history.

On an unrelated note, you need to work on your spelling & grammar. I'm pointing this out because you seem to be going for a "proffessional" style of review, and that would certainly help.

Edited by XylonWarrior
@Marmaladebrat said:

" I Think that this sentence puts it best:  "After a while however, with this installment, I feel confused. I want to like it, but there are so many drawbacks to it as well."  Thanks. Good, simple review.    "

Overall I thought her review was decent, but I don't get why you selected that line in particular; "I feel confused" does not strike me as "Good" reviewing. Isn't being able to clearly and effectively articulate your critique part of being a good critic? The fact that the game is unique and therefore harder to describe is no excuse whatsoever, either. This is, once again, a challenge a competent critic should be able to meet. 
Not meaning to outright trash her review but I was just puzzled why you chose a line essentially talking about how she doesn't know what to write, as an example of what a "good" review it was. 
Maybe you just kiss up to anything with a vagina? ;D
Posted by JessicaBoo
@XylonWarrior: Yes maybe i have a vagina, but it doesn't mean you have to point that out, i think people can see it on my pictures, that i am a girl.  
Thanks for the comments also by the way.  I can agree with this that you've said. And i tottaly appreciate that you think it was decent. All i do is try and do something i like.
P.S: All comments to me are helpful being negative or possitive. I didn't find anything in here offensive :)  
Posted by XylonWarrior
@JessicaBoo: Cool yeah, I really wasn't trying to trash your review at all, it was really just the fact that he selected that line from it in particular xD 
...And the vagina thing... I was theorizing that maybe he praises your confusion because hes trying to find internet girlfriends xD
Posted by JessicaBoo
It's all cool, but i am happily taken :) So if he was, therer would be zero chance! xD
Posted by lorthan119


Castlecania Harmony of despair


Harmony of despair isnt far from what this game is.   As a former player, I know what despair this game brings.   First off let me tell you how you will be ripped off.   The game comes with 5 player characters (soma, alucard, johnathan, charlotte, and shanoa) and 6 stages which have a boss for each (Gergoth, Puppet master, , Burer, Death, and Dracula). The DLC so far (jan 24 2011) has 3 extra stages (320pts) and 4 extra characters (240pts) they have outrageous costs for a reused sprite game. My friend who has purchased all DLC tells me he spent $40 for all the content (including main game).   He is addicted to the game as I was.   We would try farming for items and the most popular belief to get the rare items was to get a high score.   So he spent a total of 2 hours on one level without any obtaining.   This game is like a slot machine or a crane game, you won’t be satisfied until you get something, and the frustration it gives you.   I beseech you, that this game is not worth it!   It’s a piece of shit game put together to seem like a “kool” thing.   It’s a waste of time and money.   “Get good items to get gooder items to get goodest items that you will never get”!

  My idea of the game. I've traveled through the Hell to tell you this.

Other reviews for Castlevania: Harmony of Despair (Xbox 360 Games Store)

    Co-op can't save everything 0

    The Castlevania franchise has been incredibly stubborn when it comes to trying new things, but I thought that with a new-found focus on cooperative play that all might change with Harmony of Despair. And it kind of does- but unfortunately the changes are all for the worst. Harmony of Despair can be an okay time waster when played with a few friends, but the low quality of the game itself makes it one that is very hard to recommend otherwise.  First and foremost, all of the traditional strengths ...

    4 out of 4 found this review helpful.

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