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Concerto Of Midnight Sun
March 21, 2011 5:07 PM   Subscribe

An in-depth examination of Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance focusing closely on its aesthetic aspects and minute architectural and gameplay details.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn (29 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
Ah! I had considered posting this, but there's like three or four posts I'm considering at the moment. Glad to see I can take this off the candidate list, it's an excellent, and extremely detailed, look at the game!
posted by JHarris at 5:19 PM on March 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


Here, let me </CENTER> that for you.
posted by lubujackson at 5:20 PM on March 21, 2011


I love pretty much all of these Castlevanias (the GBA Metroidvanias). I'm currently stuck on the Shadow of the Colossus boss (Eligor) in Order of Eccelsia.
I didn't give much though to Harmony of Dissonance when I played it but I enjoyed the fluidity of the main character's movement (and disliked his sprite). The final form of Dracula is just bizarre and Granfallon/Legion was both gross and fun at the same time.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 5:22 PM on March 21, 2011


much though

er, much thought
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 5:22 PM on March 21, 2011


Perhaps I didn't give Harmony of Dissonance enough of a chance, but I just really didn't like it. Say what you will about Circle of the Moon's graphics, but it was extremely well-structured, gameplay-wise, and although several of the enemies were simple palette-swaps of each other, their attacks were unique and inventive enough to make up for it.

I cannot remember the exact basis for this impression, but HoD just struck me as being incredibly haphazard by comparison, and its gameplay systems certainly couldn't approach the awesomeness of CotM's cards.
posted by The Confessor at 5:50 PM on March 21, 2011


Awesome! I've been playing through Symphony of the Night recently, and I remember thinking "Each one of these rooms and areas tells a sort of story that they never really make explicit in the game." Like the alchemy lab, you have all of these experimental flames, and beakers, and contraptions, and you get to the area just before the boss which is a kicked in door, and a desk on a raised platform, which then leads to a surprisingly tough boss (your doppleganger) hidden behind a magical seal... so you're thinking, mad scientist creates a monster he can't control who later hunts him down and kills him (where's a skeleton hanging behind the desk). None of this is ever even remotely addressed, but you can sort of piece it together with the background detail.

Looks like HoD was crafted by the same team. Really love all of the references and callbacks.
posted by codacorolla at 5:55 PM on March 21, 2011 [6 favorites]


i don't care what anyone says about Symphony of the Night. i was there, i 100%'d it, and i'm here to tell you that Dawn of Sorrow is the best Castlevania ever.
posted by radiosilents at 5:56 PM on March 21, 2011 [4 favorites]


MY FURNITURE!!
posted by ShawnStruck at 5:57 PM on March 21, 2011


I played one of the Old Castlevanias on my Sega Genesis. Bloodlines, i think. that was enjoyable in its own way. Order of Ecclessia managed to get some of that difficulty in a modern Metroidvania


i don't care what anyone says about Symphony of the Night. i was there, i 100%'d it, and i'm here to tell you that Dawn of Sorrow is the best Castlevania ever.


Yes. I could have gone with nothing but soul collecting. the Panther soul! the way the souls spiral into you!

I've wanted a multiplayer 2D Castlevania for ages. is the XBox Live one any good?
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 6:08 PM on March 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


I've wanted a multiplayer 2D Castlevania for ages. is the XBox Live one any good?

I've heard good and bad things about it (haven't played it myself since I don't own an XBox.) There are some run-throughs up on Youtube - it sure looks like it's fun, and I love the music!
posted by Anima Mundi at 6:23 PM on March 21, 2011


Lovecraft In Brooklyn : seems like the answer is "not so much". metacritic seems to demonstrate that folks concur.
posted by radiosilents at 6:39 PM on March 21, 2011


Yes. I could have gone with nothing but soul collecting. the Panther soul! the way the souls spiral into you!

I never fail to get a chuckle out of the Persephone soul's skeletal vacuum cleaner. Creating a special extra graphic display and code for every monster in the game must have taken ages, so I'm not surprised that they don't do that for every game.

My favorite Castlevania games are the first and third (I could write an essay on why), but I won't deny that Rondo of Blood and the Metroid-like Castlevanias aren't great.
posted by JHarris at 6:48 PM on March 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


My favorite Castlevania is anything that isn't the recent 3D travesty. How could they even call it Castlevania with a straight face? If I wanted to play God of War I would've bought God of War!
posted by naju at 6:51 PM on March 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


My favorite Castlevania games are the first and third (I could write an essay on why)

You should write that essay
speaking of your essays, a Castlevania Roguelike would also be fun

My favorite Castlevania is anything that isn't the recent 3D travesty. How could they even call it Castlevania with a straight face? If I wanted to play God of War I would've bought God of War!

why not just make what everybody is demanding: a full 2D Castlevania on a modern console? I'm still tempted by the 3D games though
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 6:59 PM on March 21, 2011


a Castlevania Roguelike would also be fun

Indeed.

posted by lumensimus at 7:04 PM on March 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


I really liked Lords of Shadow but one definitely has to abandon expectations very early on. Either way it was a damn sight better than Castlevania 64.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 7:35 PM on March 21, 2011


What's the best way for a total newcomer to Castlevania to get started? I've got an old PC, a new Mac, and a Wii of a certain age, if that makes a difference.
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 7:40 PM on March 21, 2011


I'd emulate Aria of Sorrow, probably the best of the GBA games, on your mac with Visual Boy Advance or another emulator.

If there's a way to emulate Symphony of the Night, I'd love to hear about it.

Or, buy a DS and play all of the DS ones, especially Dawn of Sorrow, which is my favorite.
posted by Rinku at 7:54 PM on March 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


Conrad, there are a number of options.

You have a Wii, so you can get the original NES Castlevania for only $5. To allude to my fondness for it stated above, I have beaten it many times. I can pretty often complete it now on one credit. One life is still challenging though.

It is a hard game, really difficult, but it's fair difficulty. Some players hate how Simon Belmont, your character, moves. He's slow, and although his main weapon, the whip, has great reach it has no vertical extent. This is because, from a gameplay perspective, the game is about Simon's limitations, and his strengths. You're slow, but your enemies aren't really that fast, so you never get hit by something you couldn't have avoided. Yet the game is still challenging.

The main job of difficulty tuning is this, making the game fair but not a pushover. Castlevania does it by giving you enemies that your whip is hard to use against. Fleamen don't stay put long enough to get a good shot off on one, yet I almost never get hit by one. Medusa heads are well known for their ability to knock you into pits, but they appear and move in an easily predictable rhythm, so with practice you can either whip or avoid them every time.

Rhythm is really what Castlevania is about. When you're really into the game, it's almost like a rhythm game in fact. The signs you have to react to aren't arrows, but they're the same kind of thing. Each level's music is even tuned to its flow, so it's possible to almost groove to it.

What is more, you will never find another 2D platformer that is so finely tuned to the player's options. One of the neatest tricks of the game involves the subweapons. The first game has some imbalance in the subweapons, I will admit; the dagger seems to exist mostly to be accidentally collected when you have something far better, and there's only a couple of places in the game where you want to have the Axe. (Castlevania III does a better job of making the Axe worth having.)

But the boomerang and the holy water are very useful, for different reasons. The boomerang is the fill-the-room weapon: if you have it (and have enough hearts), ordinary enemies aren't much of a problem, and by using it you get shot multipliers that make it even better. The holy water is the boss killer: if you know what to do with it, four of the game's six infamously difficult bosses can be easily killed without taking a scratch. But the boomerang, while useful against bosses, can't instakill them, and the holy water, while making most bosses a piece of cake, is hard to use against normal enemies.

Finally, the game has a great sense of place. There's a reason the game is named after its setting. It's one platformer that easily avoids the fire level/ice level/water level cliche. Instead, each level is a different area of the castle. The normal areas are at least as challenging as the bosses. Yet again, for however difficult it may seem I can vouch that it is definitely masterable.

Rondo of Blood is also frequently given as an excellent game, and is the link between the earlier straight platformers and Symphony of the Night's free-roaming exploration. Symphony of the Night is justly admired and obsessed over by fans. And the later GBA and DS games are all at least very good (Harmony of Dissonance is sometimes derided, but that's because fans are used to wonders from this series).
posted by JHarris at 8:16 PM on March 21, 2011 [8 favorites]


If there's a way to emulate Symphony of the Night, I'd love to hear about it.

Playstations (PS1) are easily emulated even by low-end computers now.
posted by JHarris at 8:17 PM on March 21, 2011


Half-life-vania
posted by codacorolla at 8:34 PM on March 21, 2011


Playstations (PS1) are easily emulated even by low-end computers now.

yeah, i played it on an emu and it worked fine

Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell, there's basically two different Castlevania series (not counting the 3D and fighting game stuff). the older ones are ultra-hard sidescrollers. think Ghosts and Goblins. lots of action, not as much exploration. after Symphony of the Night they shifted to the Metroidvania (Metroid + Castlevania) format, where it's more about exploration and psuedo-RPG mechanics

if you like the aesthetic of the modern Castlevania games but wish they had more difficulty and level-grinding, check out
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 8:43 PM on March 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


Any castlevania fan with a psp owes it to themselves to pick up Dracula X Chronicles. Rondo of Blood is a fantastic game otherwise unavailable in english and playing as Maria in SOTN is hella-fun (even if she's not as ludicrously broken as in the Saturn version).
posted by Proofs and Refutations at 9:09 PM on March 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


i don't care what anyone says about Symphony of the Night. i was there, i 100%'d it, and i'm here to tell you that Dawn of Sorrow is the best Castlevania ever.

Blasphemy. I think I even liked Aria better than DoS because the soul collecting thing was at least fresh at the time. DoS felt like an expansion pack of Aria of Sorrow except look, now we can use the DS to make you draw stupid seals (although the map displaying while you're playing is a phenomenal thing).

And as fun as the soul thing was, I felt that Aria just built pretty heavily off of the foundation that Symphony of the Night created. Symphony was just so incredibly detailed and complete and FUN and I think it might be the greatest game ever made, ever. EVER.

that's just like, my opinion, though
posted by girih knot at 10:53 PM on March 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


Also for those of you who are of that mind, I found that Circle of the Moon represented a pleasant enough halfway point between the earlier hard-as-hell games and the Metroidvanias.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 7:15 AM on March 22, 2011


I liked HoD even though it wasn't the best of the series (I tend towards Aria of Sorrow, but there are many high-standard games there), so I'll be giving this a read later on.

Lovecraft, check your MeMail.
posted by ersatz at 9:30 AM on March 22, 2011


if you like the aesthetic of the modern Castlevania games but wish they had more difficulty and level-grinding, check out Demon Hunter for the iPhone
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 1:19 PM on March 22, 2011


if it's more difficult than Order of Ecclesia it'd probably result in a broken iPhone
posted by girih knot at 12:33 AM on March 23, 2011


I've got the Xbox arcade HoD. If you buy everything you're probably out $45. Basically, if you ever wanted to play Castlevania (the original) as someone from the later series this is the game for you. Watch Soma get his face eaten by NES era fishmen. Alternatively, make Simon Belmont fight a 300 foot tall collection of organs.
posted by Peztopiary at 6:24 AM on March 23, 2011


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