Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance is a 2D metroidvania game and the second in the trilogy of Castlevania games for Game Boy Advance. If you want to know more about the basics, check out my review on Castlevania: Circle of the Moon, as that is the first in the trilogy. This is essentially part two of three. Harmony of Dissonance is more influenced by Symphony of the Night than the other two in the trilogy. Many features and aesthetics are very similar between them and it shows just how capable a system the GBA really is. You can once again run, jump, and whip your way through a large world. You fight monsters, kill bosses, level up, get equipment, and learn new abilities. Plus, you even get a few handy basic abilities. One is the ability to dash left or right to quickly avoid or advance on enemies. The other is the ability to hold down the attack button and swing your whip in any direction, at a reduced amount of damage of course. The card system from Circle of the Moon is gone. Instead, you have secondary items and relics. Secondary items fall out of destroyed candles in classic Castlevania style. You’ll most likely recognize most of them from other titles, like the knife or the axe for example. Using these will use up hearts, also in classic Castlevania tradition. However, you can also get spell books. Depending on which one you have active, the secondary weapon will do a different, elemental type of attack, which will cost magic to use. There are also relics, which give you new abilities to help traverse the world. Equipment makes a comeback in this game, being found from exploration and from defeating enemies. You can use this equipment to make yourself stronger. There are even some attachments for the whip. The game is much more colorful than its predecessor, and also has more video game style music, as opposed to the more dark and serious tone of Circle of the Moon. Plus, there’s a handy quick save feature in here, which is very helpful. If you quick save, you can keep your progress from that point on, even if you die. If you die or restart, you’ll be transported back to the last save area, but you will not lose any items, experience, or map area up to the point of your quick save. This is especially smart for handheld titles that get played on the go and often must be stopped on the go as well.
It’s not perfect, though, as no game is. Harmony of Dissonance is rather easy. There aren’t many times where you’ll need to grind. There are lots of possibilities with the items and spell books, but you’ll most likely find one you like and stick with it because you know how it works. The generally low difficulty, along with the quick save feature, may make this game too easy for hardened Castlevania veterans looking for a challenge. Also, there’s a part where the map will get split into multiple parts with warping involved. It’s not well explained and can be very confusing at first until you wrap your head around it. Plus, although equipment is back in this game, you’re still stuck just using your whip instead of any other weapons.
I personally loved this game and it’s easily my favorite of this trilogy. I like how colorful the art is. I like the catchy music. I like leveling up, getting equipment, and exploring with 2D Castlevania gameplay. Also, the control is very smooth. Sure, it’s easy, but I’m bad at games so it evens out. It was just a lot of fun and not much fluff between. I’d say it’s worth your time and your money. If you’re looking for a fun metroidvania style game on GBA, this is the one to get. I’d say you could go as high as the 30-35 dollar range for this one. Stay tuned for the final installment of this Castlevania GBA trilogy, Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow.