Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance (commonly abbreviated HoD) is a platformer game part of the Castlevania series developed by Konami Computer Entertainment Tokyo (KCET) and published by Konami for the Nintendo Game Boy Advance handheld system. It was originally released in Japan in 2002 under the title Castlevania: Concerto of Midnight Sun (キャッスルヴァニア 白夜の協奏曲 Castlevania: Byakuya no Concerto?).
Two years prior to the game's beginning, Maxim Kischine left on a training expedition in order to cope with his self doubt after Juste Belmont was chosen over him to receive the legendary whip of the Belmont Clan, the Vampire Killer. Two years later, Maxim returned from his training expedition, badly wounded and with startling news: a childhood friend of Juste and Maxim by the name of Lydie Erlanger had been kidnapped. Maxim had also lost a great deal of his memory of the events of the past 2 years. Even so, he was able to lead Juste to the site of the disappearance, where they encountered a castle that hadn't been there previously. Juste hurried into the castle as Maxim recuperated in the entry way, promising to join Juste later.
As the story unfolds, Juste discovers that Maxim, in his eagerness to prove himself, had attempted to emulate the actions of Simon Belmont; he had gathered Dracula's remains in an attempt to resurrect the Dark Count, so that he could defeat Dracula himself. Something went wrong, however, and Maxim wound up possessed by Dracula's evil influence. Knowing this, Juste set out to collect the remains himself so that he could destroy them in order to save both Maxim and Lydie.
After locating Lydie and the remains, Juste once again confronts Maxim, who has once again been overcome by jealously and hatred. Different endings are offered to the player :
Ending A - Bad
True Maxim, faced by Juste in Castle A, begs him to take his life and relieve them all of the danger. Shortly thereafter, he loses all control over his dark side and attacks Juste with his full power, leaving the Belmont no other choice than to fight him. He finally reverts to his old self, mortally wounded. He manages to tell his friend that he just wanted to relieve him of his 'cursed fate' to fight for all eternity. His last words are: "Take care of Lydie, will you...". Juste leaves the castle with Lydie, as Maxim's body stays inside as it starts to dissolve.
Ending B - Worst
Evil Maxim, faced by Juste in Castle B, welcomes him, claiming that he doesn't have any remains of old Maxim living within him, and that thanks to the blood of Lydie, he's gained great power. After taunting Juste, he proceeds to battle him. Lying in defeat and at the brink of death, he doesn't show any hint that the soul of the vampire hunter's friend still lives within him. Wondering how could he lose with all of Dracula's powers, he curses Juste, telling him that with his own death, real Maxim and Lydie, bitten, will perish as well, and that the eternal vampire hunt is a good enough fate for someone like him. He presumably dies then. Juste then leaves, cursing his inability to save anyone, as the castle dissolves, taking Maxim's and Lydie's bodies along with it.
Ending C - Best
Evil Maxim, faced by Juste in Castle B, welcomes him, claiming that he doesn't have any remains of old Maxim living within him, and that thanks to the blood of Lydie, he's gained great power. After taunting Juste, he proceeds to battle him. Even though Maxim is severely wounded in the fight, he stands up uneasily, clutching his head. He notices that Juste is wearing both his own and Maxim's bracelets and, newly motivated by his friend, tries to fight off the dark influence. He tells Juste to kill him off while he still can restrain his evil side, but then, Dracula's remains start to fly away from Juste and form a circle. The evil influence then leaves Maxim's body and, using the power of his remains, manages to take Dracula's form through the remains, albeit unstable, claiming that the Belmont's blood will once again make him whole. After a fierce battle, Dracula Wraith is burned away, causing the castle to dissolve.
Outside, Maxim returns to normal. He asks about Lydie, but Juste claims she'll be all right. Maxim apologizes to Juste and the Belmont just tells him it's all behind them now. Lydie then comes to her senses, telling her friends, confused, that she thinks she's been bitten by Maxim. Juste tells her it probably was just a nightmare. Maxim protests, saying that they should tell her the truth, but Juste tells him to be quiet. As Lydie notices Maxim, he and Juste quarrel and are actually close to fighting but Lydie calms them down, saying they're ruining the moment and that they'll talk about it back home. She then says that it has been a long time since they were home...
This is considered the canonical ending.
- Main article: Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance/Gallery
|Protagonists and Allies|
The main protagonist. Can fuse Belmont family weapons with Belnades family spells. (Playable)
A master swordsman, wielding the Stellar Sword, who gets possessed by Dracula. (Playable)
Childhood friend of Juste and Maxim. She is kidnapped by the possessed Maxim.
A mysterious merchant who sells the goods.
A being born of Dracula's relics.
Seeks to merge the two layers of the Castle to complete Dracula's revival.
Gameplay in Harmony of Dissonance follows the model established in the series' "reinvention" with the release of Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. At heart the game is a 2D action-RPG with level design based on similar principles to the Metroid series. The player collects new equipment and skills by exploring the game's castle setting and fighting increasingly powerful enemies and bosses, leading up to a climactic encounter with the castle's master.
Defeating minor enemies and bosses will procure experience points for Juste, and he will level up, in traditional RPG fashion, when the statistical requirements are met. Occasionally, Juste will kill an enemy, and they will produce a set of armor for Juste's chest, arms, legs, or face. Equipment can also be found scattered about in corners of the castle. These items will contribute to the main character's stats, such as his attack power, and magic power.
The player will also gain the use of whip add-ons, such as the Charge Whip, which releases a blast of energy when the attack button is held down for an extended period of time, and then released.
Juste primarily attacks at close quarters using the series' traditional whip weapon, the Vampire Killer, which can be brandished to deflect projectile attacks, reminiscent of Simon Belmont's usage of the weapon in the Super Nintendo game, Super Castlevania IV. A variety of ranged sub-weapons are available, one of which can be carried at any given time. Using a sub-weapon drains the player's supply of "Hearts", available by smashing lamps and candelabras found in the castle. Once no hearts are left, the sub-weapon may no longer be used.
Harmony of Dissonance distinguishes its gameplay from that of its predecessors through a new magic system, which is displayed very similarly in the 2003 release of the PlayStation 2 game, Castlevania: Lament of Innocence. Various spell books are hidden throughout the castle, and combining any of these with any of the sub-weapons will provide the player with a new magic attack far more potent than the sub-weapon itself. This drains a separate stock of Magic Points (MP).
Unique to Harmony, also, is the addition of the dash move. By pressing either of the shoulder buttons on the Game Boy Advance, Juste will either dash forward or backward with a short burst of speed. The move is mostly intended for the player to use when encountering enemies who employ speedy attacks.
Juste will also, like Symphony of the Night, gain certain Relics through exploration of the Castle's areas, which will help him to reach previously inaccessible areas, and also gain new moves to add to his repertoire; an example of these is the Griffin's Wing, which allows Juste to utilize the super-jump that Alucard uses in Symphony of the Night, thus allowing the player to scale high cliffs and ledges.
- Lizard Tail
- Sylph Feather
- Griffin's Wing
- Soul Orb
- Fairy Journal
- Monster Tome
- Eye of Vlad
- Heart of Vlad
- Rib of Vlad
- Nail of Vlad
- Fang of Vlad
- Ring of Vlad
The game employs a wider range of techniques that most players noted being non-apparent in its predecessor, Castlevania: Circle of the Moon. Whereas critics hammered Circle of the Moon for being too dark to see on the Game Boy Advance screen, Harmony of Dissonance has been respected for not only presenting brighter colors and special enemy attacks, but also for its wider variety in architecture and greater distinction between areas. It also ups the ante by employing effects such as multi-jointed creatures and rotating sprites. The animations of most characters have also been changed to include more frames of animation.
The castle areas also house more effects and oddities in the backgrounds; arcane details such as a skeleton trapped in a wall in the chapel area or strange paintings in the Clock Tower contribute to a more horror-based game, a departure from the majestic feel of previous efforts. Parallactic effects make more of an appearance too, and occurrences such as lightning and luminescence also appear occasionally.
Despite all of this, Harmony of Dissonance's graphics still have been criticized by some players for employing too much gray and reddish colors throughout its areas, and also for the main characters' sprites generally being unrefined (rumors have circulated claiming this could be due to the game being resized after possibly being developed for a home console originally).
Castlevania: Circle of the Moon was infamous for bringing back the difficulty of the old games' platforming and generally being much more demanding in its structure. Its Game Boy Advance descendant decides to take a more laid back approach.
Harmony of Dissonance presents a much more corridor-like structure, with most of the platforming occurring in the Clock Tower. This, naturally, leaves much more emphasis of the challenge on enemies. The overall design of the castle does, however, present a more open-ended style, allowing players to take paths in a different order each time they play the game.
Unfortunately or fortunately, depending on the viewpoint, Harmony of Dissonance has very little in terms of secret rooms and breakable walls, which is somewhat of an oddity, seeing how the previous games of similar nature contained so many of them.
Harmony of Dissonance presents the idea of the castle having two spirits; one Chaotic and spiritual (Castle B) and one that is Earthly and more natural (Castle A). Juste can only access all areas of the castle by traversing through multi-dimensional portals to enter the Chaotic castle's realm and open up previously inaccessible places in the Earthly realm in that dimension. The use of parallel worlds is comparable to another Konami franchise, Silent Hill.
Most reviewers and players criticized the way this was handled and claimed it to be needlessly convoluted.
- Entrance - The obligatory first area of the castle. Large windows reveal a coniferous forest outside, along with lightning. Inside, the place is relatively small, and is mainly composed of cobblestone and brick corridors. One of the rooms is a storage place for Dracula's wine.
- Marble Corridor - A place quite comparable to an attic. The colors are grim, and most of the rooms seem to be for storing certain items.
- Room of Illusion - More of a transition place, than a true area, the Room of Illusion provides the teleporter necessary to further Juste's progress. There is a room with rivers of lava, along with a large hallway with psychedelic effects in the background.
- The Wailing Way - The graveyard/tomb. A dark, cloudy sky shifts in the background, and broken apart, brick structures are scattered about. Small towers and hills can be seen in the distance.
- Shrine of the Apostates - A continuation of the Wailing Way, but with more of an architectural feel.
- Castle Treasury - Long, gray, pillared corridors make up this place, along with some hallways brimming with huge crystals. Ethereal mist is apparent in some rooms. Juste's room is also located here.
- Skeleton Cave - Finally, all the bony denizens of Castlevania get their own haunt! Walls overflowing with skulls are present in some chambers, along with appearances of the skeletons of former Castlevania baddies. Some rooms feature large skeletons of beasts that Juste must move in order to progress.
- Castle Top Floor - A continuation of the Castle Treasury. A couple elevator rooms are located here, along with corridors exposing more of the outside forest and clouds. Dracula's chamber is uninhabited, and the wall inside is broken away, exposing large, tumultuous clouds. The Clock Tower can, as usual, be viewed from the stairway prior to his room.
- Luminous Cavern - Very similar to Symphony of the Night's own Underground Caverns. The lower portion is overflowing with water, which Juste must get rid of in order to progress. In the background, large, rocky formations glow from luminescent water. In one room, Juste must strike a switch to crush a huge monster, and have its blood fill up a vertical corridor and raise a platform, in order for him to move on.
- Sky Walkway / Chapel of Dissonance - Again, similar to Symphony of the Night, mainly due to the background borrowing the scrolling clouds technique, though they are much more active here. Majestic, Gothic architecture makes up most of this area, along with a room containing an old, worn organ, and a large room featuring myriads of stained-glass windows.
- Aqueduct of Dragons - The game's sewer area. Waterfalls pour down in the foreground, and mucky, amphibious enemies inhabit the place's rusty, slimy rooms.
- Clock Tower - This dark place features myriads of complex cogs and such, along with a few unique interactions, one of them being where Juste can whip an armored knight into a mechanism to obtain its armor. The Marble Gallery's clock room hallway is back, too.
Like Symphony of the Night, the game draws heavily from previous games for its enemy selection. Nearly sixty of the castle's inhabitants have been drawn from Symphony of the Night, and, consequently, the Japanese-only Castlevania: Rondo of Blood.
Due to the game being created on a system with much less of a capacity to handle the myriads of details seen in Symphony of the Night, Harmony of Dissonance's reuse of the characters is noticeably different. Resolutions have been downgraded to fit the requirements of the game's space, and some enemies have lost the use of some of their previous repertoire of attacks. Some have not been so much drawn blatantly from prior creations, as have been upgraded. Dracula's Curse's owls make a return in a much more impressive fashion, coincidentally, only inhabiting the game's graveyard.
Harmony of Dissonance's new enemies are possibly the oddest denizens yet seen in a Castlevania game, and contribute further to the horrific influences of the game. Their designs have been described as occult and indefinable at times.
The legion of bosses is also drawn from previous games in most cases. Symphony of the Nightʼs Legion/Granfaloon beast makes a return, though in a less gigantic fashion, as does Dracula's Curseʼs Skull Knight. The multi-form boss, Shadow, could even be described as being similar to The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening's final boss Nightmare in its concept. Despite the reuse of ideas, Harmony of Dissonance's bosses have been praised highly for allegedly displaying some of the best character graphics for the handheld.
- Main article: Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance/Script
The music written by Soshiro Hokkai is certainly Harmony of Dissonance's most heavily disputed area. Most of the general outcry against the music in the game is due to it featuring a sound quality reminiscent of video games being produced nearly two decades ago, thus sounding very similar to the NES or Game Boy video games.
The second component of this controversy is the actual melodic compositions themselves. The music is quite unconventional and gloomy in comparison to both previous and following titles, being almost depressing at times. The way the instruments are utilized also has provided some source of discomfort for people; the songs are quite heavily layered with multiple melodies and this sometimes gives a feeling of dissonance.
Despite the general dislike for the music, some players have been known to readily defend the songs, as well as to proclaim the soundtrack to contain some of the best the series has yet had, such as Juste's theme, "Successor of Fate", the Marble Corridor's "Offense and Defense", and the Chapel's theme, "Chapel of Dissonance".
A persistent false rumor is that Mana, guitarist of Moi dix Mois and Malice Mizer, composed the music for this game. In fact, Mana didn't write any music that appears in the game itself, he only wrote a promotional cell phone ringtone called "La Nuit Blanche", which was only released in Japan.
- Main article: Maxim Mode
After beating the game once, the player can enter their name as "MAXIM" in order to play as Maxim in the main game. This mode includes none of the story elements of the main game or inventory. Pressing Start just pauses the game. Dash and double jump are available. Areas where certain relics were such as the Fairy Journal will instead have a heart.
Boss Rush Mode
- Main article: Boss Rush Mode
After beating the game once, the player may play in the Boss Rush Mode. This option allows the player to face the game's bosses in a time trial.
To play as Maxim in the time trial, hold the L and R buttons as you select the difficulty. To play as Simon Belmont from the first Castlevania for the NES, enter the Konami Code (Up Up Down Down Left Right Left Right B A) on the Konami logo screen.
Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance was re-released in the United States in January of 2006, along with Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow, as the Castlevania: Double Pack. Both games are contained on a single GBA Game Pak. The re-released version contains the following changes:
- In the original GBA version, the enemy Pike Master drops both the Gold Headband and the Floating Boots. In the Double Pack, Pike Master no longer drops the Gold Headband and it is replaced with 400 gold instead.
- The Hint card that mentions the Summoning Tome calls the tome as the "Black Scroll".
- Rather than dropping the Medusa Pendant, Gold Medusa drops 100 gold.
- The Man Eater no longer drops the Mirror Pendant, it now drops Turquoise.
- In the Skeleton Cave, several background details make references to other games in the series; most notably, the large statue, reminiscent of Dracula's final form in Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse, another statue which is clearly intended to resemble Carmilla's mask (Vampira) from Castlevania II: Simon's Quest, the Giant Ghost from Castlevania: Rondo of Blood, the skeleton of Medusa, and the skeletons of the dynamic duo from Super Castlevania IV, Slogra and Gaibon.
- There is a monster later in the game called the Simon Wraith. It's dressed as the original Castlevania hero and wields a whip. However, in Japanese, its name was "Shimon," which is how you write "Simon" in Japanese. The kanji literally means "Gates of Death". This is a type of pun unique to the Japanese language. You'll also see the whip-wielding skeletons referred to as the "Gates of Death" in the English Dracula's Curse instruction booklet. Their first appearance in a Konami game is actually in the Japanese only Getsu Fūma Den where they are also known as "Shimon".
- There are a few items that refer to characters from older Castlevania games. Sypha's Crystal (Cipher's Charm) will increase your MP recovery rate, while Christopher's Soul (Bullet Tip) is a whip attachment that will let you thrown fireballs when you're at full health (like the old Game Boy games). Unfortunately, these names were changed for the American release.
- The menu screen music is a remix of the name entry screen in the Famicom Disk System version of Castlevania. The Game Over music is also from the first two Game Boy games.
- The Bolt Book and Holy Book's Spell Fusion will create two glowing energy orbs which float in front of you and block enemy attacks. You can also run them into enemies to directly damage them, but the shields only last until hit about 16 times, and they shrink to reflect how much energy is left. The orbs are a direct reference to the early form of the Shield power-up from Gradius, Konami's prolific shooter series. It even uses two sound effects from the first Gradius game; the power-up confirm sound is heard upon activating the spell, and the shot impact sound is heard when something hits the shields.
- When Juste halts on a sloping surface, or lands from a fall, he'll strike the pose displayed in the older games' protagonists (Simon Belmont, Trevor Belmont, etc.).
- When using the Sacred Fist sub-weapon, Juste will yell: "Oraoraora!!!", a common Japanese battle cry used in anime/manga heard usually when someone is charging toward an enemy. This yell originates from JoJo's Bizarre Adventure, which also features several vampire antagonists.
- In addition, the fist sub-weapon also bears resemblance to Pegasus' Meteor Punch from the Saint Seiya series.
- Death's second form is very similar to Ouroboros from the Strider series.
- The room that Juste decorates with furniture was a scrapped idea from Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, according to Koji Igarashi on an interview. The room would be located at the top of the Outer Wall.
- Harmony of Dissonance is the only GBA installment of the franchise to have Death play a major role in the plot.
- It is also the only GBA installment to actually have the player play as a member of the Belmont Clan (not counting the Classic NES Series port of the original Castlevania or Julius Mode in Aria of Sorrow), as Circle of the Moon featured a completely different vampire hunting clan fighting against Dracula, and Aria of Sorrow had Dracula's reincarnation Soma Cruz as the player character.
- It is also the first Castlevania game to have Death and Dracula share voice actors (as both Dracula's Wraith and Death were voiced by Takuo Kawamura). This would later be repeated in Portrait of Ruin (where True Dracula and Death are both voiced in English and Japanese by Tom Wyner and Yasuhiko Tokuyama, respectively), Order of Ecclesia and The Dracula X Chronicles (where both are voiced by Patrick Seitz in the English releases).
- Harmony of Dissonance Bestiary
- Harmony of Dissonance Inventory
- Harmony of Dissonance Voice Translations
- Akumajō Dracula Best Music Collections BOX — Contains music from this game on Disc 9.
- BradyGames Konami Game Boy Advance Combo Official Strategy Guide — US official strategy guide.
- Castlevania: Circle of the Moon and Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance Original Soundtrack.
- Castlevania: Double Pack — A compilation package including both Harmony of Dissonance and Aria of Sorrow.
- Castlevania II: Simon's Quest — This game is a sequel to Simon's Quest.
- Futabasha Castlevania: Byakuya no Concerto Official Guide — A Japanese official guide.
- NTT Pub Castlevania: Byakuya no Concerto Official Guide — Another Japanese official guide.
- Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance at the Castlevania Fan Wiki
- Official Konami Site (Internet Archive, Japanese)
- Castlevania Realm
|Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance|
|Maxim Kischine • Lydie Erlanger • Merchant|
|Death • Dracula Wraith|
|Talos • Giant Bat • Living Armor • Skull Knight • Golem • Minotaur • Devil • Giant Merman • Max Slimer • Peeping Big • Legion (saint) • Shadow • Pazuzu • Minotaur Lv2 • Legion (corpse) • Cyclops|
|Entrance • Marble Corridor • The Wailing Way • Shrine of the Apostates • Room of Illusion • Castle Treasury • Skeleton Cave • Luminous Cavern • Chapel of Dissonance • Sky Walkway • Aqueduct of Dragons • Clock Tower • Castle Top Floor|
|Successor of Fate • Original Soundtrack CD|
|Bradygames guide • Futabasha guide • NTT Pub guide|
|Inventory • Bestiary • Maxim Mode • Voice Translations|