Game Review: Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance

I have a couple of topics in mind, but this blog is in dire need of geeky stuff. So here comes a review for a video game!

Harmony of Dissonance (henceforth referred to as HOD) is the second title in the series to be released for the GameBoy Advance, following after Circle of the Moon.

When I first started the game, I wasn’t sure what to expect. There are excellent titles in the series, but Circle of the Moon is crap. It is ugly, the characters don’t fit anywhere in the overall storyline and it is way too hard, although the card system was interesting.

But this is not a review of that game, of course, so back to HOD! Visually, and in several elements of the gameplay, the game is reminiscent of Symphony of the Night, released 5 years earlier for the PlayStation. SOTN is one of the most critically and fan acclaimed games of the series, with excellent music and whatnot (although the voice acting sucks).

You are back to being a member of the Belmont family, named Juste. Your goal is to retrieve a friend of yours, who has been kidnapped, and understand what is happening to your friend.

This game, overall, is really great. First, let’s have a look at the controls, which I believe are one of the best aspects of the game. You see, you are from the Belmont clan, as I said before. You are supposed to be a vampire killer, an awesome dude ready to kill Dracula if he raises. It is only natural that you should be a skilled fighter. Juste can dash at will across the castle. This is truly one of my favorite bits. You can dash forward and backwards, moving fast across the rooms, getting quickly away from an enemy’s attack, etc.

The rest of the controls are mostly what you see in other Castlevania games (or in other platform games in general!), so nothing special here.

Next, the battle system. Since Symphony of the Night, pretty much all Castlevania games have had a unique aspect in battle system: souls in the Sorrow games, the cards in Circle of the Moon, etc. HOD is no different. You can collect spell books across the castle. Each book is associated with an element (fire, ice, wind, etc.). The combination of your book plus your subweapon (the classic ones, like the axe or the holy book) makes a series of special attacks that can really help take down bosses and harder enemies. There are also stones you can add to your whip to get special attacks or elements.

The game also has another of my favorite things in Castlevania games: Juste’s room. As you move around the castle, you can collect various decorations and elements of furniture, which you then get to place in your room. Really silly, but still fun. I think that getting all of the furniture will give you a bonus of some kind, but don’t quote me on that.

As in Symphony of the Night, you can collect Dracula’s remains: rib, heart, and so on. Here, however, they aren’t only more things to collect, they allow you to do two things. First, they are needed to get the best ending. Second, they can boost your stats or make you immune to various status ailments such as curse or stone.

Overall, I believe this game is a very good one, probably on par with the other good GBA Castlevania game, Aria of Sorrow.

Sadly, the game is rather hard to find today, probably because Aria of Sorrow has a larger fan following. The game is also part of the Double Pack, which includes, you guessed it, Aria of Sorrow.

If you can get your hands on it, though, I really recommend you to do so!

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