The second Castlevania game released for the Game Boy Advance, Harmony of Dissonance was published by Konami in 2002.
In this game you play as Juste Belmont, a direct descendant of Simon Belmont – the protagonist from the first Castlevania. And – for some reason – he has a blue glow around him, and a blue trail, that he leaves in his wake as he moves…
The aim of the game is to search for your kidnapped friend inside Dracula’s castle, although the true nature of the castle is not clear from the outset. The truth is that the castle exists on two different planes (or “layers”) and these layers share a connection. Meaning: if something is changed in one, it will affect the other. The room layout in the two castles is mostly the same, but enemy types and placements differ. Juste can travel between the two castles using portals.
The way Harmony of Dissonance works is somewhat different to Circle of the Moon, the previous Castlevania game. In this one special powers are bestowed upon you after collecting Relics, and magic powers upon collecting special magic items. You still collect and upgrade armour and defensive items as you go, and special weapons still come from whipping candles. Oh, and the whip can be upgraded by adding special stones to it.
The graphics in Harmony of Dissonance are a big leap forward from the previous game. Not only are they better drawn and coloured, but the game’s designers have been much more ambitious with the animation and design of the enemies. Bosses in particular are much bigger and more impressive and the level of variety throughout really is quite amazing.
Additional play modes can be unlocked by playing the game. Boss Rush Mode is unlocked after completing the game once, and Maxim Mode (where you play as Maxim, Juste’s friend) is unlocked after completed the game with the ‘best’ ending.
Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance is one of the best Castlevania games ever made, in my humble opinion. The game’s Producer, Koji Igarashi, also worked on Symphony of the Night (regarded as the best Castlevania game of all time by many people) and he and his team really brought their ‘A’ game to the park with Harmony of Dissonance, creating something special in the process.
Surprisingly, though, the game was not a big hit and didn’t sell anywhere near as many copies as Circle of the Moon did. In spite of that Harmony of Dissonance still remains a firm favourite among fans of the series to this day.