Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance (known in Japan as Castlevania: Byakuya no Concerto, the sub-title loosely translated to "Concerto of the Midnight Sun") is a 2D horror-fantasy action-adventure platformer developed by KCE Tokyo and published by Konami for the Game Boy Advance in Japan (on June 6, 2002), North America (on September 16, 2002), and Europe (on October 11, 2002).
A spiritual sequel to Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, Harmony of Dissonance features the same gameplay style of free-roaming backtrack-focused exploration with RPG-style attribute, inventory, and experience systems.
The game takes place in 1748, a half-century after Dracula's defeat from the legendary vampire hunter Simon Belmont. The player takes control of Juste Belmont, grandson of Simon and heir of the Vampire Killer whip, as he explores a mysterious castle (alongside friend and fellow vampire hunter Maxim Kischine) to rescue his childhood friend Lydie Erlanger.
Along with the classic Castlevania combat style of whip and sub-weapons, Harmony of Dissonance features a unique gameplay mechanic known as "Spell Fusion", which builts upon the traditional "Item Crash" by allowing Juste to perform a unique magical attack based both on his current sub-weapon and his equipped magical tome.
In 2006, the game was bundled together with Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow in one cartridge as Castlevania Double Pack. It was also digitally re-released for the Wii U (as a Virtual Console title) in North America (on October 16, 2014), Japan (on January 21, 2015), and Europe (on February 19, 2015).
The control pad of the Game Boy Advance is used to move Juste left and right. The A button is used for jumping and the B button is used for attacking. When the floor beneath Juste is thin, jumping while crouching allows him to bypass the floor. Juste is unique to other Castlevania playable characters in that he can freely dash forwards and backwards by pressing the L (for dashing left) and R (for dashing right) buttons.
Like Richter Belmont in Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, Juste can only attack horizontally with his Vampire Killer whip, but can flail it around by holding down the attack button and moving the d-pad (shielding him against projectiles while doing minimal damage in any direction close to him). Collecting certain whip upgrades changes the result of holding down the attack button.
Sub-Weapons and Spell Fusion
Like traditional Castlevania games, Juste can use sub-weapons by holding up on the control pad and pressing the attack button. Sub-weapons are unique attacks that use up the Heart meter (which is replenished by finding heart-shaped tokens). Juste can carry only one sub-weapon at a time, which is usually found in breakable objects. Damage done by sub-weapons is proportional to the amount of STR stat Juste has. Some equippable items change the basic properties of sub-weapons.
Unique to Harmony of Dissonance, however, is Spell Fusion. Similar to Item Crashes in Castlevania: Rondo of Blood, Spell Fusion is a special magic attack that is determined both by Juste's equipped sub-weapon and spell book. These special attacks do not consume any Hearts, but do consume mana, which is both replenished automatically over time and at save points.
There are five spell books hidden throughout the castle: Fire Book, Ice Book, Bolt Book, Wind Book, and Summoning Tome. Performing a Spell Fusion attack is the exact same as using a sub-weapon. However, spell books must be toggled on (which is indicated by the background of the sub-weapon area in the HUD). Pressing both dash buttons while holding down on the control pad toggles between using spell books and using normal sub-weapons. Holding up on the control pad while pressing either dash buttons switches between different spell books on-the-fly. Spell books can also be toggled in the status menu.
If the player manages to receive the Summoning Tome without picking up a single sub-weapon, he can use the Summoning Tome (provided Juste doesn't pick up a sub-weapon) to make a glowing aura appear around Juste for 100 MP, fully healing him.
- Sub-Weapon - (8 Hearts) Juste performs a rapid flurry of punches. If he is wearing the Nova Ring, he delivers a larger barrage of punches (at the cost of 10 Hearts).
- Fire Book - (50 MP) Juste summons four slow-moving fireballs in a spread formation.
- Ice Book - (30 MP) Juste lunges forward, throwing a punch that is surrounded in a large icicle.
- Bolt Book - (60 MP) Juste fires a lightning bolt that chains around enemies.
- Wind Book - (20 MP) Juste fires a large wave of energy.
- Summoning Tome - (100 MP) Juste summons an Asura, who throws a flurry of punches around the entire screen.
- Sub-Weapon - (1 Heart) Juste quickly throws a dagger horizontally across the screen. If he is wearing the Logoth Ring, he throws three daggers instead (at the cost of 2 Hearts)
- Fire Book - (60 MP) Eight knives appear around Juste (doing damage to those that run into it), form a fireball, and bounce around the screen (doing more damage).
- Ice Book - (30 MP) Juste releases numerous ice daggers, which spread out vertically and aim towards a point in front of Juste.
- Bolt Book - (80 MP) Juste sends a barrage of shurikens to the sky, only for them to fall on an enemy seconds later.
- Wind Book - (40 MP) Juste continuously throws many daggers in front of him, in which he is invulnerable at the time.
- Summoning Tome - (100 MP) Juste summons a phoenix, which covers the entire screen in a rain of deadly pointed feathers.
- Sub-Weapon - (4 Hearts) Juste throws an axe overhead that travels in an arc, ripping through enemies (and sometimes doing multiple damage). If he is wearing the Heaven Ring, the axe is much slower (doing multiple damage) at the cost of 6 Hearts.
- Fire Book - (70 MP) Juste summons two flame dragons, which home in on the nearest enemy and surrounds it.
- Ice Book - (30 MP) Juste summons a huge icicle to rain down diagonally from the sky.
- Bolt Book - (60 MP) Juste rises up and send lightning bolts out in all directions.
- Wind Book - (20 MP) Juste summons an axe that circles around his current position, shielding that area for a short time.
- Summoning Tome - (100 MP) Juste transforms into a winged demon and throws parts of his wings around like boomerangs.
- Sub-Weapon - (5 Hearts) Juste throws the cross horizontally, where it will return like a boomerang. If he is wearing the Nova Ring, the cross moves forward faster and farther (at the cost of 8 Hearts).
- Fire Book - (50 MP) Juste summons a huge cross in front of him that acts like a proximity mine. If an enemy touches it, a large flame spirals around the screen.
- Ice Book - (30 MP) A cross made out of ice will appear near Juste, following him and shooting a barrage of icicles at enemies. (Shatters after three rounds of firing)
- Bolt Book - (60 MP) A pillar of light appears around Juste while numerous giant crosses spiral up the pillar.
- Wind Book - (50 MP) Juste summons seven crosses that shield him at all times. Every time a cross hits an enemy (or any other object), it breaks apart and deteriorates.
- Summoning Tome - (100 MP) Juste summons a warlock, who uses his power to summon a large meteor strike.
- Sub-Weapon - (3 Hearts) Juste throws a vial of holy water downward, creating a trail of flames when it hits the ground. If he is wearing the Chaos Ring, the flames splash forward at the cost of 6 Hearts.
- Fire Book - (40 MP) Juste summons a ball of fire to roll and jump around.
- Ice Book - (40 MP) Juste summons three ice crystals to appear on the nearest enemy, shattering and doing damage.
- Bolt Book - (40 MP) Juste summons a large lightning bolt to strike at the nearest enemy, which erratically moves back and forth.
- Wind Book - (50 MP) Juste summons a powerful rainstorm, doing multiple damage to every on-screen enemy.
- Summoning Tome - (100 MP) Juste summons an angel, who moves around the screen twice while dropping holy water from her vase.
- Sub-Weapon - (3 Hearts) A book appears in Juste's location, spiraling around the screen while dealing damage to enemies. If he is wearing the Earth Ring, the book spirals around him as a shield before launching at a nearby enemy (at the cost of 5 Hearts).
- Fire Book - (30 MP) Juste summons a fire tornado, which engulfs nearby enemies.
- Ice Book - (30 MP) Waves of deadly water shoot out from Juste's position, travelling across both directions.
- Bolt Book - (60 MP) Two shuriken-like gears appear and are placed directly in front of Juste, shielding him while doing damage to all enemies they touch.
- Wind Book - (40 MP) Juste summons two books, which spiral around him as a shield before launching at a nearby enemy.
- Summoning Tome - (60 MP) Juste summons a cute fairy, who follows him around before dealing massive damage towards a nearby enemy with a toy hammer.
Juste's Vampire Killer whip is not only affected by the amount of damage dealt by Juste's STR stat, but is also affected by special whip upgrades found among the castle. He can only equip one whip upgrade at a time, which can be changed in the status menu.
- Energy Circle - Holding down the attack button causes the whip to flail around in circles around Juste automatically.
- Red Stone - Adds 2 to STR and fire damage to all whip attacks.
- Blue Stone - Adds 2 to STR and ice damage to all whip attacks.
- Yellow Stone - Adds 2 to STR and lightning damage to all whip attacks.
- Green Stone - Adds 2 to STR and wind damage to all whip attacks.
- Crushing Stone - Removes 5 from STR. Holding down the attack button causes Juste to charge his whip for a powerful attack (that can break some unbreakable walls).
- Steel Tip - Adds 10 to STR.
- Platinum Tip - Adds 25 to STR.
- Bullet Tip - Adds 5 to STR. When Juste's health is maximum, each whip attack causes fireballs to fire from it. (In a similar vein to Christopher Belmont)
Along the way, Juste can pick up special relics (which can be toggled on and off in the Relics menu of the status screen) that gives him special abilities, allows him to identify enemies, increase his stats, and allows him to progress throughout the castle.
Throughout the game, Juste will find three special relics that give him special abilities. (All are necessary to progress throughout the game).
- Lizard's Tail - Allows Juste to slide under short passageways by pressing the Jump button while crouching. Juste can also slide through most enemies while inflicting damage upon them.
- Sylph Feather - Allows Juste to double jump by pressing the Jump button in mid-air.
- Griffin's Wing - Allows Juste to perform a super jump by tapping Down on the d-pad, then holding Up on the d-pad and pressing the Jump button. This can also be done in mid-air, even after another super jump.
Early in the game, Juste can pick up three relics that can identify enemies and the damage inflicted onto enemies.
- Soul Orb - Allows the player to recognize how much damage an enemy has received (via hard numbers that appear over the enemy).
- Fairy Journal - Allows the player to recognize the names of enemies that are in combat with Juste. (Shown on the bottom-right corner of the screen)
- Monster Tome - Allows the player to see the data of the enemies Juste has defeated. (Shown in the Encyclopedia section of the Secret Info menu of the status screen, it shows each enemy's identification number, name, level, starting HP, elemental tolerance, elemental weakness, items that has dropped from this enemy, and the amount of experience gained from defeating this enemy.).
Juste can also find relics of Dracula (a nod to Castlevania II: Simon's Quest) hidden throughout the castle, which not only increase Juste's stats and tolerances, but are also important for achieving the best ending.
- Eye of Vlad - Allows Juste to negate all curse effects.
- Heart of Vlad - Allows Juste to negate all petrification effects.
- Rib of Vlad - Allows Juste to negate all poison effects.
- Nail of Vlad - Increases Juste's STR stat by 10.
- Fang of Vlad - Increases Juste's DEF stat by 10.
- Vlad's Ring - Increases Juste's LCK stat by 10.
Along with relics and equipment, Juste finds miscellaneous items along the way. Some are used automatically and help Juste progress through the castle (such as keys) while some can be collected and must be used manually in the "Items" menu of the status screen (such as health potions). Most can be found in rooms throughout the castle while some can be dropped by enemies. They are split up into several categories:
- Magic Vials (manual) - Health potions (small, large, and the rare elixir) and meat (drumstick and full turkey) restore Juste's HP, mana prisms (small and large) restore Juste's MP. Anti-venom Potions counteract the effect of poison on Juste while Uncurse Potions countract the effect of curse on Juste. Medicine Jars grants Juste temporary invulnerability.
- Castle Maps - There are three map pieces which can be found throughout the castle, instantly revealing a specified portion of the map in the map screen in gray.
- Castle Keys - Glowing green doors marked with a skull requires the Skull Key to open. Doors locked with a golden glow (usually in front of Transition Rooms) require the Lure Key to open. One mechanism found later in the game requires a Floodgate Key, which drains an area of water.
- Precious Stones - Useless to Juste, these stones can be sold to the Merchant for gold. These include opals, rubies, sapphires, turquoises, and diamonds.
- Hint Cards - Cards that provide a discrete hint to the player. Their contents can be viewed in the "Items" menu of the status screen.
Along the way, Juste finds an empty room in dire need of some furniture (for some reason). As a collectible gimmick (which has no impact on gameplay), players can find decorative goods scattered throughout the castle that can be picked up. When picked up, they can be viewed in the "Collectibles" section of the "Secret Info" menu of the status screen. When Juste re-enters the collectible room, the furniture will be placed inside the room.
While finding all collectibles have no impact on gameplay whatsoever, it slightly alters the best ending.
Unlockable Modes and Characters
Harmony of Dissonance has some bonus game modes that are playable once the game is complete as Juste. Some modes allow players to play as different characters, such as Maxim. Sound Test is also unlocked when getting the best ending the game as Juste, allowing you to play any music track.
By inputting "MAXIM" as the player's name once the game is complete as Juste, players can play through the entire game as Juste's friend and master swordsman, Maxim Kischine. Similar to Richter Mode in Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, Maxim Mode contains no story, dialogue, inventory, status screen, and experience points. He can, however, collect Life Max Up and Heart Max Up powerups to make him stronger.
Maxim plays wildly different than Juste. He is faster and has special moves, but only has access to one sub-weapon (the Large Shuriken, which uses up 5 Hearts for a strong boomerang effect) and has no access to Spell Fusion. Instead of the traditional Vampire Killer whip, he has access to the Stellar Sword, a sword that is used for powerful and quick lunges. He also has a slide attack, a jump kick attack, the ability to triple jump, and special martial arts abilities done by certain d-pad and button combinations:
- Cartwheel (Up and Jump, mid-air only) - Maxim begins doing cartwheels as long as Up is held on the d-pad, moving himself forward and causing damage to enemies while being invulnerable. Each roll costs Maxim 5 MP.
- Healing (Up, Down, Down-Forward and Attack) - For 50 Hearts, Maxim causes a beam of light to glow around him, restoring his HP.
- Mirage Attack (Forward, Back, Down, Up and Attack) - For 100 MP, Maxim splits into several images of himself and bombards the entire screen with attacks.
Boss Rush Mode
Boss Rush is an arena mode selectable from the main menu once the game is complete as Juste. Here, players go through a set of bosses consecutively with no experience system in play. Players begin in a corridor where they select their sub-weapon (which will remain with the character throughout the mode) before entering a room with the first boss. They can only regain their health by collecting Mystic Spheres dropped by each boss. Six large Hearts (which gives 30 Hearts) can be collected in-between bosses.
There are three difficulties: Easy, Medium (unlocked by completing Easy), and Hard (unlocked by completing Medium). The only differences between the difficulties is the number of bosses players will fight. The game also includes a local leaderboard system, showing the number of bosses defeated and the time it took to defeat them. By default, players play as Juste (who has Spell Fusion disabled). Maxim can also be played by holding down L and R while picking a difficulty.
Entering the Konami Code when the Konami logo appears allows players to play as Simon Belmont (in his original Castlevania form) in Boss Rush Mode only. Simon plays exactly like he did in the original Castlevania, meaning that along with no Spell Fusion attacks, he cannot dash, slide, control his jump mid-air, double jump or super jump. However, he is immune to status ailments such as poison and curse. He only has access to the Dagger, Axe, Cross, and Holy Water sub-weapons, with the Holy Water acting more like the traditional Holy Water in the original Castlevania.
By putting in "HARDMODE" as the player's name, players can play the original game as Juste with all attacks doing less damage. By putting in "NO MAGIC" (using the R button as the space between NO and MAGIC) as the player's name, players can play the original game as Juste with Spell Fusion completely disabled.