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Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance

Preview By: Siou Choy

Developer:  Konami
Publisher:  Konami
Genre:  Platform
Est. Release:  September 2002
Posted:  6-27-02

In what amounts to an extremely brief lifespan, the Game Boy Advance has all but cemented its position as a 2D gamerís dream come true. Already, the GBA boasts some of the nicest 2D side scrollers available for any system to date, and has consistently proven itself to be the platform for quality games among all the next-gen competition (whose individual records remain spotty at best). Well, surprise, surprise, itís time to add one more quality game to the pile. Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance is the follow-up to last years Castlevania: Circle of the Moon. In keeping the 2D tradition alive, HoD will be developed by the same team that were behind the original Playstationís Castlevania: Symphony of the Night (considered by many the best of all Castlevania games).

In a nutshell, hereís the plot: Dracula just doesnít seem to want to stay dead. This time around, heís causing trouble for Simon' Belmontís descendant Juste. Justeís friend Lydie has disappeared and to find out what happened Juste must collect the "relics of Dracula" to solve the mystery.

The graphics for HoD will be a notable improvement over CotM, with backgrounds and character designs appearing to be significantly better and more clean than those of its predecessor. In fact, the overall look and feel of the game, if we can judge solely by advance screenshots, seems closer to SotN than CotM, which should please gamers who felt that CotM wasnít quite the follow up they were hoping for. HoD will also be brighter in comparison to CotM (notable for giving gamers a lot of trouble in making things out, with itís overly dark backgrounds and characters).

Juste is controlled like any other character in the Castlevania series: A and B buttons to jump and attack; shoulder buttons to dash forward and backwards. You will, of course, be able to equip various types of whips, armors, and accessories, including such indispensable secondary weapons as cross, ax, dagger and holy water. Helpful items like healing potions and relics are found throughout the game; the relics give you the ability to perform more advanced maneuvers like the double jump. There will also be a spell system this time around, allowing Juste to combine items and sub-weapons to create stronger attacks and providing you with even more ways to fend off your many enemies. In the interest of keeping things from getting too repetitive and samey, HoD also offers a "Dual Map" system (increasing replay value), a "Quicksave" feature allowing Juste to save his progress at any point during play, and some extra gameplay modes to be unlocked. But nicest of all, Harmony of Dissonance is non-linear, allowing the intrepid gamer plenty of room for exploration.

Expect Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance to keep would-be vampire slayersí schedules booked on its September release.

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