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As we put the final nail in this coffin, we look back at the experience and feel a sense of uneasy peace. From the enhanced 2D glory that we have grown up with, the amazing customizable enhanced classic soundtrack, six player Co-Op, to the time tested proven gameplay, Castlevania: Harmony of Despair is an amazing addition into a series already known for quality titles. This is one of the best arcade titles released, and for 1200 points you and your friends can finally track Dracula, and put an end to his evil..... for now...
Cheat Code Central
Castlevania: Harmony of Despair is a great title for both fans of Castlevania and for those just getting into the series. The new co-op element will certainly add a layer of depth to the title unseen in previous releases, and the RPG aspects ensure that there is plenty of replay value here. Although the game does seem a bit hollow if you are playing by yourself, playing with friends is a blast. Be warned, the game is one of the pricier XBLA titles (weighing in at 1200 points) and it only features six levels. If you like playing with friends or have a passion for Castlevania, you'll find some enjoyment with this title, but if you prefer a single-player focused experience (or have never played a Castlevania game), then you may not be as impressed with Harmony of Despair.
That said, Castlevania: Harmony of Despair is a game centered on replay. With five characters and six chapters, the game counts on players to visit and revisit the castle to improve their scores and find new treasures. Dismaying as the rate of reward may be, I’m excited to tear this incarnation of Dracula’s Castle wide open. Repeatedly.
The game is clearly made for fans of Castlevania, as some of the character intricacies require a previous knowledge of the series, but what Konami has offered here is something that I’m not entirely sure Castlevania fans will enjoy. Konami should certainly be commended for trying something different with their popular franchise. It's not a risk most developers would take with an established game series. It succeeds in the multiplayer, which is an important element, but there are many, MANY missed opportunities for what they could have done with Castlevania on the Xbox Live Arcade. If you're a long time Castlevania fan, just make sure you download the demo first.
Compared to other Castlevania games, Harmony of Despair's world feels like a bit of a patchwork. The thrill of discovery is gone, and in its place is the compulsive drive to acquire loot. Oddly enough, it works, and it can actually be a lot of fun with friends. If you've got a party willing to take the dive with you, this is $15 well spent.
That Gaming Site
This new multiplayer, massive map theme on an old formula is intriguing and fun. Expect some aggravations in the way of challenge and reliance on the online community’s whims.
Planet Xbox 360
To Konami’s credit, they managed to do the unthinkable and created a multiplayer that mostly works. They did cast single-player to the side, creating a game that unfortunately must be played with others. This makes the $15 price tag on the game extremely tough to justify as I’m hard-pressed to imagine someone completing this alone and enjoying it. To those of you who are fans and know at least a few others who will buy the game, by all means download it ASAP on Wednesday. The rest of players who are curious on experiencing each game in the Summer of Arcade should be weary of the frustrations the game will inevitably lead to. While Castlevania: Harmony of Despair contains a good but not quite stellar multiplayer experience, and is fairly far from an enjoyable single player game, I must say can’t wait to see what Konami pulls off with an improved follow-up.
Castlevania: Harmony of Despair may not quench the thirst of all vampire hunters out there, though it does provide hope for what could lead to a solid, traditional 2D adventure. If this idea ever comes to fruition, put me first in line to buy it, let's just hope it doesn't take another 10 years to do so. Overall, Harmony of Despair screams XBLA for 2 to 6 players, but I can't stress demoing the game to see if this new style and structure meets your single player demands. One thing is for sure, this is the first console Castlevania title released in many years that not only is finally back in 2D, but doesn't completely suck.
If you have been waiting for another 2D Castlevania game with an epic quest to complete, sadly Castlevania: Harmony of Despair isn’t the game for you. If, on the other hand, you’ve wanted a multiplayer cooperative action adventure game to play with your friends, then this one has quite a bit to offer. The Survival mode may not be the game’s strongest point, but co-op mode makes up for it. Castlevania HD is essentially the gameplay you know and love, without any of the back story. Hopefully Konami will consider doing a full 2D single player Castlevania game in the future.
Konami takes an interesting idea and makes it work. While it might disappoint some gamers looking for a more traditional Castlevania outing, those open to a new experience will have a lot of fun. If you're looking for a quick and simple multiplayer dungeon crawler that combines the best elements of Castlevania into one $15 package, then this is the game for you. Everybody looking for a great single-player adventure game should look elsewhere.
The focus on multiplayer came at the cost of the single-player experience. With so little of the game explained, some players may find themselves confused or, worse, frustrated. And because assets seem to have been plucked straight from previous games, that $15 price tag is questionable. But, Castlevania fans will definitely have fun with Harmony of Despair. It's basically a six-player time attack mode with all your favorite characters, and there isn't anything else quite like it on Xbox Live Arcade. If Konami ironed out the kinks, a follow-up to this could be really great.
Part of this game's charm is building up your character and handily beating the boss, only to move to the next level to be thoroughly beaten down by a new boss. Of course, there are some instances when Harmony of Despair caters more to the multiplayer cooperative experience than the single-player. For instance, most of the secret areas can be accessed only with other players, but in reality, that's the best way to experience this new Castlevania, and it's the optimal way to experience what may be a new and fun potential direction for the series to take.
Would we have preferred a new 2D, HD Castlevania that employed stunning new sprites instead of recycled heroes, villains and environments from the past 13 years? Hell yes. Does that make this game inherently bad for not being what we hoped? Definitely not. Just be aware of what you’re getting yourself into.
MS Xbox World
In the end, Harmony of Despair is a paradox. Konami wants Castlevania fans, the gamers who are most likely to enjoy the game to its fullest, to pay for content they've already played. First-time players, on the other hand, will probably enjoy the game less, even though all of the content will be new to them. However, with a price tag of 1200 Microsoft points and the likelihood that future DLC won't be free, first-time Castlevania players would be better suited picking up Symphony of the Night for 800 points instead. Long time Castlevania fans, on the other hand…well, you probably already bought the game on principle (and I wouldn't blame you).
I’d recommend Harmony of Despair only to the savviest of Castlevania fans, as they'll probably stick with the multi-player long enough to appreciate its moderate value and admirable, but flawed evolution of the classic formula. But even to them, I’d warn that aside from the familiar aesthetics, this is not the addictive, challenging-but-balanced vampire hunt they’ve come to expect. And for everyone else, I’d say spend your points on the Symphony of the Night XBLA port that came out a few years back.
With the right group, Harmony of Despair might deliver a few hours of entertainment for the most hardcore of fans, but the first few attempts to play through the game will probably bring nothing but frustration for the majority of gamers. Unlike Symphony of the Night and the DS games, which I would recommend to anyone, it’s hard to imagine that non-Castlevania fans will get any enjoyment out of Harmony of Despair. Beating the game on Normal difficulty unlocks Hard mode, which masochists will probably get a kick out of attempting, and a last-man-standing Survival Mode does very little to add to the replay value. Castlevania: Harmony of Despair isn’t a terrible game, but it is disappointing. While it’s nice to be able to play through a Castlevania game with a friend or five for the first time, that alone can’t carry one of the more lackluster titles in the series’ recent history.
I slutänden är det faktiskt inte så roligt som man kan tro att spela Symphony of the Night i multiplayer. Vissa saker fungerar bättre i vår fantasi än i verkligheten.
Castlevania: Harmony of Despair liknar som sagt inget annat i den anrika serien. Konami har haft flera goda idéer, men har inte lyckats realisera alla på ett bra sätt. Resultatet är ett ojämnt äventyr som pendlar mellan genialt och sjukt frustrerande.
Don't get me wrong, Harmony of Despair is fun enough and the grinding can become strangely addictive, but this is a shadow of a Castlevania game. The only thing it truly excels at is making one want to play the DS titles again. Hardcore Castlevania fans will get something out of it, but you'll be missing very little if you pass this game up.
Sicuramente ci troviamo di fronte a un gioco che non vale 1200 Microsoft Point. A una cifra inferiore è infatti possibile scaricare, su Xbox Live o sul PSN, l'indimenticabile Symphony of the Night. Se siete alla ricerca di un Castlevania tradizionale, quella rappresenta sicuramente la scelta ideale. Se cercate quel genere di esperienza in qualcosa di più attuale, Shadow Complex è un'altra possibile alternativa. Harmony of Dispair può essere preso in considerazione se volete provare una divertente esperienza multiplayer da condividere con gli amici... e non vi tirate indietro di fronte a un prezzo troppo alto.
It's clear that Harmony of Despair tries to be something different but it's almost impossible to do when the contents of the game are recycled. It's like a horrible person trying to turn over a new leaf...by being a horrible person. It just doesn't make any sense. There is fun to be had here but the fun is overshadowed by frustration. Any game can call itself "hardcore" by using the same tricks as HD. Sure the map system is snazzy and the HD graphics make it look nice, but there's still so much wrong with it. It feels like Diet Castlevania; keeping things mostly the same, rehashing old ideas but just removing the interesting bits i.e. the story, any amount of real challenge. Even as a Castlevania fan, you probably won't lose any sleep if you missed this out.
One time, while enduring this forced meditation, I considered what a joy it would be to play a Symphony of the Night-type adventure with a few friends, exploring a castle that had untold hours of secrets to unlock, each of us developing our own fighting styles from an array of possible strategies. That would be a fantastic journey. It's what this mess of half-ideas and compromises wanted to be. Harmony of Despair isn't a failure of concept but a failure of ambition, one that leaves Koji Igarashi still waiting for his next great discovery.