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Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance

Video Game Reviews

Ratings are based on a five-point scale, in homage to the the late, great Next Generation Magazine.

Gameboy Advance

Rating: * * *
Castlevania - Harmony of Dissonance - video game reviews
Castlevania - Harmony of Dissonance - screen shots - click for closeup

February 25, 2005

I've always been a fan of the Castlevania games since the beginning, when that first title dropped itself into a friend's Nintendo and started kicking our asses. Those damn games have been kicking our collective asses since the Reagan Era, and after all the bruises and blisters and mutered swearing, it's still worth the ride.

If it seems as though Harmony of Dissonance feels a little familiar, that's no coincidence. The vampire-whipping series has been spinning its wheels since Symphony of the Night crawled out of everyone's Playstations. So far, it's been a mutual leeching. The thumb-crippled kids ask for another course of the same leftovers, and the designers at Konami are happy to oblige. Hell, it beats a normal job any day of the week.

You can always get away with this sort of scam by moving the franchises to newer platforms. It's one of the oldest tricks in the book, and it very often works. This specific title is the second of the three to appear on the Gameboy Advance, so it has that advantage of knowing the territory. Sure looks pretty. Imagine that.

Most everyone agrees that Harmony of Dissonance is an excellent modern platformer adventure, and a good way to kill a few hours out of your life. It's not like you were doing anything important, anyway. As long as the drugs remain illegal, and the Frat Boy King's fascists take a torch to what was once the United States of America, you've got to find your distractions somewhere.

I think at this point, I'm supposed to rattle off the usual game review cliches, which more often read like instruction manuals and have all the stimulation of the back of a cereal box. Do you really need me to tell you which button to press to make the hero throw the whip? Point out all the nooks and crannies of this year's version of the mansion, which is taken from at least three other games dating back to Super Metroid in 1994.

I'll try to be generous, because this really does have its kicks while it lasts. Those of you who are older Castlevania freaks may be happy to spot all the references to the other games, going back to the original Vampire Hunter from the MSX days. Extra credit to the first one who spots the nods to Gradius and Donkey Kong, too.

Why am I holding on to that knowledge? Am I scrounging that hard to find something new to say about half a dozen different videogames that are the bastard children of one another? This business is more imbred than the Bush White House. Go figure.

This is why I got out of the game-review racket in the first place. Besides, when you go a full day without sleep and start pulling out cornball catch phrases like "nooks and crannies," it's time to pack it up and run for the hills. Assuming you can find any hills left after all the strip-mining and oil-drilling is finished. Damn, this country's in a bad shape, like a junkie on a red- and blue-pill binge, and there isn't a medic in sight. Oh, well, when you're drafted to lose the next war, you'll wish you had a Gameboy and a copy of Castlevania to keep you company. Just don't ask me to tell you about it.

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