Castlevania – Harmony of Dissonance (GBA) Review

Release in 2002, this is the second of the GBA Castlevania trilogy and another metroidvania style game. Telling the story of Juste Belmont (next Belmont after Simon) who with his friend Maxim, infiltrate Castlevania to save their kidnapped friend Lydie. As the plot moves on, you discover there are 2 castles, one harder than the other that you can switch to via warp rooms. Sporting a great soundtrack and a different style of graphics than the previous game. Juste has access to use all the normal sub-weapons, gaining levels and new abilities, and using magic books based on the elements to augment the power of the sub-weapons. A 2nd mode letting you use Maxim and a boss rush opens up when you finish the game with one of its 3 endings.

SO HOW IS IT? I enjoyed this one a lot more than Circle of the Moon for the plot, gameplay and more. Was nice using a real Belmont again for this title and this one feels more like a Castlevania, even though the castle seems smaller than previous ones, even with the reverse castle. I liked the gimmicks in this title of the spell books and the reverse castle being harder than the main one, and having to do things in both to get the real ending. Some sub-weapons do more with certain spellbooks than others, so it’s a matter of trial and error to find what works for you in situations. There’s a weird sidequest involving collecting furniture for an empty room in this which makes no sense. The boss rush is fun, and so is the Maxim mode, though it works as the 2nd mode in SOTN, where Maxim regains health after boss fights and saving only, so you gotta be careful as you make progress looking for that next much needed save point to heal. Different endings require the player to perform different actions at some key events, or wear certain items during boss fights, like SOTN.

GRAPHICS AND SOUND: The graphics are pretty and colorful. Though the castles are kinda dull in their look and color schemes. Graphics do look a bit washed out as the colors look good, but look like they were painted with watercolors. Bosses range from big to small like most Castlevania games and the character portraits are very pretty. Even your whip has a flashy look to it. I know the graphics look washed out due to the lack of a GBA backlight, but still.

The music is quite good in this one, even if it sounds quite twangy, perhaps due to the GBA sound chip. Sound effects range from your whip swinging, using sub-weapons and enemies exploding, all you’ve heard before in a Castlevania title.

PLAY CONTROL: Juste controls like any other Belmont, along with Maxim. Going to the options screen you can turn on and off relics and your various spellbooks and use sub-weapons with a separate button. Juste and Maxim each have their own special moves like double jumps and slides. It’s hard to lose control of Juste in the rush of a heated battle, so there’s also that. there are a few spots that may take awhile to figure out using your special moves and skills.

CHALLENGE: Harmony is easier than Circle of the Moon definitely, even with the harder mirror castle. of course one the big challenges in the metroidvanias is getting from point a to b without dying when you don’t know, or remember, what’s coming up next, especially the Maxim game. Like most metroidvanias with a 2nd mode, Maxim only gains his hp back at save points and after boss fights, so you gotta be careful. Some boss fights can be tough especially the final fight, but not as crazy and hectic as Circle of the Moon or the later Aria of Sorrow. The mirror castle has the harder enemies, but manageable once you start getting it down. Full completion of Harmony includes all the areas in both castles for the full percentage completion.


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