Video Game Thoughts: Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance

Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance was a 2002 adventure game by Konami for the Game Boy Advance. Since these Castlevania games on Game Boy Advance were so cheap on the Wii U eShop, I bought all three. Harmony of Dissonance, the second game, had a similar story to the first game. Juste Belmont, a descendant in the legendary Belmont family of vampires, and his friend, Maxim Kischine, went to Dracula’s castle in search of their other friend, Lydie Erlanger. During their exploration of the castle, they encountered evil, of course, and had to beat back Dracula’s plan. The characters were different, but it was basically the same story. These games are not known all that much for original stories. It’s all about the gameplay.

Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance’s gameplay was just as good as the first game. As before, the main character got a whip for short range attacks. It could also deflect some ranged attacks. Other temporary weapons could be found from exploration. He could also level-up after gaining enough experience points from defeating monsters. This helped take the sting out of being stuck. I didn’t feel so bad knowing that the character would get stronger even when I didn’t know where to go next.

Unique to Harmony of Dissonance was the spells system. The last game had special cards to collect that could be combined to create spells. This time, there were spell books that represented different elements like fire or ice. These could be combined with the temporary weapons to create spells. There were less combinations of spells in this new system, but they were more useful in general. The developers had the time to spend on each spell to make sure there were a lot of uses for it.

The changes to the gameplay weren’t really improvements, just variations to keep things interesting. I found the gameplay to be just as good as the first game. The graphics were what really improved in Harmony of Dissonance. The graphics were fine in the first game, but there were a lot more particle effects in the sequel. Also, they used some cool 3D effects, which wasn’t common in Game Boy Advance games. The only downside to this game was that the music wasn’t quite as catchy as the first game. The music was still great at giving off the feeling of being in a scary castle, but it just wasn’t music I would find myself humming or wanting to listen to after playing.

Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance was fairly lengthy, but I really liked all the extra modes that unlocked after beating it. Boss Rush was fun for a little while, trying to beat all bosses in the game as fast as possible with no saving or continues. The real fun was being able to play through the whole game as Maxim, the other protagonist of the game. I didn’t see this one coming, so it was really welcome. Playing as Maxim functioned as a hard mode because he could not use any of the temporary weapons. He also didn’t have a whip, only a boomerang. It was harder to aim properly than the whip. I haven’t beaten this hard mode, but it’s a good reason to return to the game again someday.

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