plasticpals's Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance (Game Boy Advance) review

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Awful Soundtrack & Easy, But Still Fun

Home to three great games in the Castlevania series, the GameBoy Advance is the perfect cure for all that ails the oldschool gamer. While not quite the creamy center we all expected, Harmony of Dissonance is still a benchmark for the system and a valuable learning experience (which paid off in Aria of Sorrow).  It is without question much easier than Circle of the Moon, and more closely resembles the PlayStation masterpiece Symphony of the Night.

Game play Additions

Despite the main character “Juste” being a Belmont, he possesses powers more akin to Alucard (forward and reverse dashes, the reverse-gravity jump, and floor slide). He can also flail his whip by holding the attack button similar to Simon in Super Castlevania IV, though the beloved grapple hook swinging sections are absent.  Game play additions are sparse but include a new subweapon/spellbook combination system. This combines the effects of classic subweapons such as the dagger, axe, holy water, boomerang, and so on with elemental effects such as fire, ice, and lightning. While not terribly original, both the controls and new weapon system work better than Circle of the Moon‘s and in all there are over 40 different pairs to play around with.

Graphics & Sound

Harmony of Dissonance doesn’t strike the best balance between graphics and sound, living up to its name; it features the worst music out of the GameBoy Advance Castlevania games. It’s a real shame for a franchise which has built a reputation for its outstanding music, and unfortunately more than one track will have you turning the volume completely off.  When the issue was raised in one interview, the designers claimed that they had to downplay sound quality in order to up the ante in the graphics department to coincide with user demands after the first GBA game. Despite this, the jukebox is still welcome as there are a couple of tracks which are downright awesome.

The increase in graphical power from Circle of the Moon is clearly evident, but the brighter color palette diminishes the usually creepy atmosphere. Those who have played Symphony of the Night on the PlayStation will undoubtedly remember the chapel level with the clouds streaming across the sky, an effect which has been perfectly reproduced in this handheld game.  The details can be striking; like a room illuminated by sunlight streaming in via a beautifully rendered stained-glass portrait of the Virgin Mary, the rainbow light falling on a sacred suit of chainmail.

Length & Final Thoughts

The shortest of the Castlevanias on the GBA (with the exception of the NES Classic original), Harmony of Dissonance can be completed in approximately 6 hours. Die-hards can easily complete the entire game in one sitting (though you might want to stop to rest your sore fingers somewhere near the end).  As a cool bonus you can play a Boss Rush mode, and what’s more you can do so as the original Simon Belmont (though his decidedly stale 8-bit technique is hardly the match for the beasties he’ll face inside!).  While not exceptional, the game is enjoyable enough to recommend if you’re looking for a good 2D action-platformer.  Konami later republished this game along with Aria of Sorrow as a double pack after under-shipping them.

 This review is a repost from my site:

Other reviews for Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance (Game Boy Advance)

    Kind of a mess, but still manages to be enjoyable 0

    I enjoyed my time with Harmony of Dissonance. More than the other mostly uninspiring retreads of Symphony of the Night that came later anyway. Superficially, it may just seem to be yet another inferior take on SOTN, and yet...HOD's minimalist soundtrack, subdued graphics, and often extraneous but suggestive level design are all clearly meant to invoke the same atmosphere that permeates the NES titles. In this regard I would say the game is successful. On the other hand there are elements which m...

    1 out of 1 found this review helpful.

    It copies the SotN formula right down to its faults. 0

    NOTE: This review was written by me years ago, but it's never been posted on GB, so enjoy!***************Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance is the third game in the CV series that plays more Metroid-ish than the classic side-scroller games of the 8-bit/16-bit era. Many gamers love Symphony of the Night, and it's likely that said gamers will equally love HoD. Why? Because HoD (more so than Circle of the Moon) plays more like SotN: excellent graphics and animation, two huge castles, big bosses, an...

    0 out of 0 found this review helpful.

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