The second Game Boy Advance Castlevania game hits us like Dracula with holy whip of the Belmont Family, right in the FACE! Does it maintain the great standards that the series demands, or does it flop like Gawkman when he sees a wasp? Read to learn, my child.
Most of us who've gamed a few times in our life are aware of the Castlevania series. The very first was released in '86 or something, and hooked anyone who enjoyed a good challenge. As a matter of fact, it was VERY hard.
Err, anyway, that leaves 2 sequels for the NES, 2 more for the SNES, 1 for the Genesis, like 3 or so for the Game Boy, and now 2 for the Game Boy Advance. Oh, and there was 2 for the N64 (one I haven't played, the other is spooky as hell). WHOO!
Most Castlevania games are centered around the Belmont family, unlike Circle of the Moon (it had nothing to do with the Belmonts). The Belmont family is pretty much destined to forever be a Vampire Hunter bloodline, as most of the heroes originate with the last name.
This time around, Juste Belmont ventures into Dracula's Castle with his buddy (or rival, I guess) Maxim to rescue a sweet honey thang named Lydie. The two split to go find her, as always, and end up having some dialogue fun every now and then. As before, the castle is much different, MASSIVE, and contains tons of critters, goblins, as well as flying barrels of death. So...
Well, I'll be frank. This game is basically a portable Symphony of the Night. There's nothing much new here, as most of HoD borrows elements from the PSOne debut and "remixes" it for the GBA. I don't find this particularily bad, since I adored Symphony of the Night with so many hours of fun. But...this being my only gripe, I should emphasize.
Killing is my business and business is... *scratch*
First of all, Juste looks JUST like Alucard, right down with the white hair and trailing-image-thingys as he jumps. The story seems to be very similar to SotN - two different styles of characters traveling throughout the castle to rescue someone. Relics, spells, items, controls, and many other elements are identical to SotN. Leveling up, heart increases, life-ups, and mana-increases are the same. However, the games aren't EXACTLY the same, but if you've played SotN, you're practically played this game as well. I don't find that bad, as I've been wanting another SotN type game. Circle of the Moon just didn't quite do that for me and most gamers, and that's why I think Konami decided to step forward and make another one. That, and CotM was WAY too dark to play on the GBA. So yeah...there.
Since the game is so similar to SotN, it retains the fun factor. As you play along, you start feeling the need to explore more and get stronger. You want to find that next relic, or item, so you can pass through to the next area (also very Metroid-like). The game is very fun, and addicting, as it should be. Highly recommended if you like Castlevania, or just a good game, or simply killing the undead in 2D form. SNUUUGH!
Graphically, it's a major improvement over Circle of the Moon. Everything is much brighter and easier to see, as it SHOULD be. The monster animations are crisp and nifty. Juste's animations are very blah, though - I was hoping he'd be have smoother movements like Alucard, but I guess the GBA has it's limitations in this department. That's just me being nit-picky and dumb.
Overall, it's excellent to look at and fun to smack 'um baddies around with yer whip-e-poo.
Finally, the music is very well done. Lots of eerie, catchy melodies play in the background as you perform heroic candle-whipping deeds of death. Though the GBA has sound limitations (which sucks, I think Nintendo should have spent more time on that), the music comes across well enough to meet the strict Castlevania standards. There's nothing groudbreaking, like Castlevania III's music, but it's good nonetheless.
He are large!
With 7 different endings (that's what I've heard, heh), a boss rush mode (playable with Juste, Maxim, and a special guest...), and hours of gameplay, Harmony of Dissonance is an excellent gaming experience that will get you through those rough hours of...well, whatever you do with your time. So shut up and get the game.
|Gameplay||Very fun and addicting. HARRR!||4.5|
|Graphics||Smooth and happy, sometimes bland.||4.5|
|Music/Sound||Good and memorable, and stuff.||4.5|
|Replay Value||If you missed something, you'd wanna play it some more.||4|
|Originality||It's been done, a little better, but it's still fun.||3.5|
|Final Verdict: 4.2|