Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance
Description official descriptions
Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance is the second Castlevania game to appear on the Game Boy Advance. Juste Belmont and friend Maxim are drawn to the newly resurrected Dracula's Castle in order to save their mutual friend Lydie, although it remains to be seen who will be saving whom.
The game is another Castlevania in the action/RPG style of the previous Castlevania: Symphony of the Night and Castlevania: Circle of the Moon. Juste is able to dash at will similar to Alucard, and use subweapons like the axe and holy water. By combining subweapons with magic tomes located throughout the castle he can increase both their power and their properties, such as turning the holy water into a rain that damages every monster onscreen, or turning a Bible into a holy shield that circles him. Juste can equip many kinds of armor and accessories, and he can modify his Vampire Killer whip with different tips that change its elemental property or increase its power. As an optional side quest, Juste can also find furniture and furnishings left around the castle and decorate a room with them, although there is no reward for doing so beyond a nice looking room.
- キャッスルヴァニア 白夜の協奏曲 - Japanese spelling
Credits (Game Boy Advance version)
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|Character Design & Illustration
|Player & Magic Program
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Average score: 83% (based on 31 ratings)
Average score: 3.7 out of 5 (based on 61 ratings with 3 reviews)
If you've ever played Castlevania before, specifically Symphony of the Night, you'll get what's going on here very quickly. Harmony of Dissonance sticks very much to the formula that its predecessors laid out for it, and that's mostly a good thing. You play the role of Juste Belmont, who's taken on the family responsibility of keeping the vampires in check. In this particular adventure, you and your friend Maxim are charged with exploring a mysterious castle that has (yep, you guessed it) appeared out of the mist.
...I wonder if Dracula's involved?
Okay, recycled storyline aside, the game play of HOD is pretty solid. The castle is laid out on one gigantic map much like prior Castlevania games, and within it you'll find plenty of items including sub weapons like axes and daggers, equippable gear like armor and boots, and, of course, monsters. Lots of monsters.
The variety of creatures you face off with during the course of the game is pretty impressive. There's also a healthy number of boss battles to be fought, and all the critters, big and small, are quite pleasing to the eye. A lot of artistic direction went into the graphics that represent your enemies, and it helps keep the game interesting.
For people who enjoy unlocking things, HOD offers a few decent Easter eggs. A boss battle mode becomes available once you finish the game for the first time, and there's a bestiary which keeps track of the monsters you've killed, along with descriptions and potential weaknesses. The weirdest diversion this game has to offer is the collectibles, which are random items of furniture and interior design that are dispersed around the castle, which, when collected, help to decorate a particular empty room in the castle. Every time you visit that room, any collectibles that you've attained since your last visit will be placed accordingly. Interesting, but kinda strange...especially for a Castlevania game.
It's not hard to see that Konami wanted to capture the same feel for this game that they had for Symphony of the Night. Unfortunately, by comparison, Harmony of Dissonance feels distinctly average. Even though the platforming jumping, puzzles, and combat live up to the Castevania name, I just could shake the feeling that I've done all of this before, and there wasn't anything particularly new here.
I also cry foul to the design chosen for your main character, Juste Belmont, who, for no apparent reason, looks more like a vampire than anything else you encounter during the entire game. The grayish skin, white hair, and over-the-top Victorian outfit just don't seem to be the stylings of a vampire hunter. If I could hazard a guess, I would say that Juste's look is heavily inspired by Alucard from Symphony of the Night, but why, Konami, why would you make a character look exactly like an existing character from the same series?
The bosses of HOD, although nice to look at, fail to pose much of a challenge to you through the course of the game. For most of them, you can prime up your most powerful spell or sub weapon and blast away until the creature is toast. Though the easily frustrated among us will certainly appreciate not having to spend hours trying to figure out how to beat a certain enemy, most of us (specifically Castlevania fans, who are used to some pretty stiff competition) will feel unsatisfied from the challenge this game has to offer.
One final, quick note: the music in this game is positively horrible. Keep the volume low.
The Bottom Line
While the core design of Harmony of Dissonance shows a lot of potential to make a truly memorable Castlevania, the final product, with the flaws that it has, bumps this title down to a simply passable platform adventure game. Nothing is so wrong with it that it's completely unplayable, but Castlevania fans are used to a higher standard of game than what's presented here. Some casual gamers might enjoy Harmony of Dissonance, but most will probably want something more substantial to sink their teeth into.
Game Boy Advance · by The Cliffe (1552) · 2009
Harmony of Dissonance is the second game of the Castlevania series for the Game Boy Advance system. It has many new features, bigger sprites, a new magic spell system based on spell books instead of the DSS system seen in Castlevania: Circle of the Moon and two castles (which are the same one with a different look).
Bigger sprites usually means better graphics in a game like that, and there are many castle details. Each room is different from the others, and the enemies are tough. That's an important new feature, here you can face some enemies so big that they look like big bosses, but they aren't. Beside that, there are many bosses during the game, and you can find one of them every five or six rooms. Here you have much big bosses than in the previous game, in Castlevania: Circle of the Moon you faced a boss who's guarding some specific object/power to progress in the game, here you will face bosses only to get pass, and nothing more.
A new control system uses the L-R buttons to dash. It will take some time to get used to that, but when you've mastered it you'll realize that it was a good choice. It makes the game faster and spectacular.
Circle of the Moon has a good music, it used some epic songs of the series, on the other side, Harmony of Dissonance hasn't such as good songs, but there are all new. So, you decide what you prefer. FX's good too.
The best thing of the game is the fact that it's Castlevania. You play that and you don't have to know the name of the game because it has the essence of the series. It's not easy to keep that essence in all the games, but it looks that they have the way. That mixture of action, RPG, and exploring the whole castle makes the game really funny, and you'll play it a long time because it's not short. Also, you have a Boss Rush mode when you've finished the game to make the game much longer.
The androgynous main character Juste Belmont suits with the essence of the game, but the story is a bit stupid. Dracula's presence is only available if you do some specific tasks, if you don't you won't see him, facing a final big boss a bit disappointing. Anyway, Dracula as the final boss is disappointing too, far from the evil boss of the other games of the series.
Castlevania: Circle of the Moon is a better game than this one. It has many interesting new features but the previous one was better. In Circle of the Moon you can modify the direction of your jump in the air, here you can't, and don't tell me that "it makes the game more realistic" because you can still make special power jumps as you were flying, which is not something realistic...
To collect the furniture is good, but it gives you nothing special. Something similar happens with the endings. There are three different endings available, but there are no important differences between them, who survives is the only change.
If you're trying to complete your monster encyclopedia you'll need to be really patience. The encyclopedia tells you which objects drop the enemies when they die once you've picked them, and if you want to complete your monster book you'll need to kill the same enemy a lot of times, because they won't drop the object that you want once you've killed him. Sometimes you need a few minutes, but there are many others that needs a lot of time with a ratio of 1/50 or so. It's really boring to achieve that objective and you've got nothing special if you do.
To finish with.. where are the breakable walls?! That's a classic! Instead of that we have invisible walls. Prepare to look like a stupid rubbing with all the walls in every room...
The Bottom Line
Castlevania's second game for the Game Boy Advance is a good game, but not better than the previous one. You'll enjoy exploring an enormous castle, taking all the relics and collectibles of the game and all the things that you usually do in a game like this. Don't expect too much or you'll be disappointed (specially if you've played Castlevania: Circle of the Moon). Take away Dracula's ambition... again.
Game Boy Advance · by NeoJ (398) · 2009
Castlevania : Harmony of Dissonance is the 2nd game of the series to have been released on the Game Boy Advance. The 1st, Circle of the Moon, was successful, but the game had bad graphics and very little sprites, and the game felt overall inconsistent. Harmony of Dissonance fixes all that was wrong with Circle of the Moon and go back close to what Symphony of the Night was.
You take the role of Juste Belmont (yeah! is has been a while since a Castlevania actually had a Belmont as the main character), which is the grandson of Simon from the original Castlevania, and Castlevania II - Simon's Quest. Your goal is to rescue your childhood friend Lydie that has been captured in a Castle. As with all modern Castelvania titles, it has RPGs elements where you should upgrade your main character in order to be able to go to new areas and explore the Castle.
The really unique feature to Harmony of Dissonance is to be able to combine your subweapons with spellbooks to make spells. For example if you use ice book with holy water you will be able to use a spell, but if you combine it with axe you will cast another ice spell, and so on. This feature is absolutely amazing, and make it really fun to play the game, as there is a grand total of 6 subweapons x 5 elements = 30 spells to cast ! Note that you also can (should in case of mana shortage) use raw subweapon, without a spell on them. This game also have another unique feature I'm not going to say as it would be a spoiler.
Now people will say this is nothing compared to the 100 DSS possible combinations in Circle of the Moon, but this is not true, as a good half of them had absolutely no effect (the combination was not used), a good part of the combinations which were used were not useful during gameplay. In the end you'd end up using the same half-dozen of DSS all the time and never use the others. Here you can really use all your spells and access to most of them are easy, the only exception being the last element book which allows you to use summons, but is hard to find.
The game has very good graphics for GBA standards, the animation of the main character is very fluid (in contrast with Circle of the Moon). Many transparency effects, etc... Some people will complain about the blue outline around the main character but the game was designed to be played with an original GBA or a GBASP, which had washed out colors. If you play it on a DS, it will look a bit weird but it's not such an issue. Remember that there was huge complains about the dark graphics of Circle of the Moon which were made even darker with the washed out Game Boy screen and made the game playable only in optimal lighting conditions (thanks god it is now playable in all conditions with a DS).
The only bad point about this game is the lack of challenge. The game is hard at the beginning of the as you start underleveled, but after some point it becomes way easier than other Castlevania games for some reason. Most bosses are a cakewalk, too. A reason for this is probably the spells which are so powerful.
Another not-so-good point is the music. Not that it's bad, but as the title says, it's dissonant (I guess intentionally). In addition to being dissonant, the music in this game is made exclusively of 8-bit style chip tunes. It ended good for a few songs, but most of them are average, and this particular style of music of music might not being to everyone's taste. But at least it uses mostly original compositions (as opposed to Circle of the Moon which used almost exclusively remixes of previous CV games), and it really have an unique style of music. But as the Castlevania series is really reputed for its music, they could have come up with something way better, even while limiting them to dissonant chip tunes.
Finally I have some complain that, while the controls are way better than in Circle of the Moon, there is still a problem when you whip while jumping, you can't control your jump anymore (like in the NES games), while when you jump without whipping you can. This has tricked me a few times to jump into enemies.
While the game features dialogues and minimal character development, the storyline is incredibly simple and will not give any emotions to the player, despite the fact Konami tried to develop personalities of their characters.
The final thing I have to say, is not a bad point of the game but just... This game features a "decoration" room where you can gather furniture. I mean WTF ? What is the point ? This is one of the most nonsense I have ever seen in a videogame.
The Bottom Line
Castlevania : Harmony of Dissonance is a good game, and fun to play. It fixes all that was wrong in Circle of the Moon, and has definitely aged better (considering it was released only one year later, it feels much smoother), but unfortunately it is also easier and shorter, so don't expect a huge challenge with this game. Eventually, Konami has released their third and final GBA Castlevania : Aria of Sorrow, which will be way better than both, but that's another story.
So I recommend this game if you like Castlevania games of course, but also if you're new to the series and want to play one game that is not too hard for a start. Also the magical spells makes a good reason to play this instead of some other random Castlevania game.
Game Boy Advance · by Bregalad (937) · 2011
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Game added September 17, 2002. Last modified January 18, 2024.