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CONCERTO OF MIDNIGHT SUN
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diplo



Joined: 18 Dec 2006
Location: Brandy Brendo's bungalow

PostPosted: Sat Mar 19, 2011 7:49 am    Post subject: CONCERTO OF MIDNIGHT SUN    Reply with quote

CASTLEVANIA: HARMONYOFDISSONANCE




Out of the three Castlevanias released for the Game Boy Advance, Harmony of Dissonance might be the most difficult to like. Circle of the Moon, despite its formally mundane castle, has a soaring spaciousness to how it directs your movement around the big-roomed building; and Aria of Sorrow is arguably the most well-paced Metrovania, as long as what you’re looking for in that pace is briskness. Between the two, there’s Harmony of Dissonance. With its red-curtained, stormy-skied opener, as viewed through the eyes of Juste Belmont, the game would seem to satisfy what’s typically expected of Castlevania. One can tell that Harmony’s developers were eager to return to the visual motifs and graphic styling sported by Symphony of the Night – even the textual opener mimics Symphony’s (admittedly, so does Circle’s, but Harmony’s is a closer match). Pushing against this “return,” however, is a variety of beholden touches that slip into a peculiar niche of their own. The geometric container in the save rooms is back, but, instead of rotating, it pulses like an organ. There’s the scarecrow enemy, again, but the pole on which the man is impaled is bloodied rather than clean. The stratospheric chapel reconfigures, but the clouds now move by at dizzying speeds. To say that Harmony is the Metrovania most and least like Symphony would be, I think, an accurate characterization; this probably has had a hand in the quieter reputation the game still holds. Again, Circle has an often cited factor of difficulty (I think the claims of toughness are exaggerated); and Aria is a return to variety in offensive options outside of the magic system and a more balanced aesthetic, in addition to an attempt at controlling item overflow (the maximum numerical capacity for any item is nine). Harmony is much easier than Circle, only lets you use the Vampire Killer whip, and has a flickering gaudiness in both visuals and sound that sometimes borders on unpleasant – or “difficult,” if one prefers. While these are brief generalizations, I hope that they help to set up a differential point.



Harmony behaves like an excessive apology for Circle of the Moon’s literal castle (“a castle is a place that has bricks and pillars, right? got it!”), and the form of that apology is KCET’s first Castlevania since 1997 that hasn’t quite figured out how, or doesn’t want, to thematically differentiate itself from Symphony. There are two castles. Jewels are the only salable items. Dracula can be confronted if the player assembles his remains. A would-be-hero has been corrupted. Backgrounds and smaller environmental touches unique to SotN reappear (not literally; pure background-ripping would not happen until Portrait of Ruin). The final battle takes place in the castle’s center. A couple elevators run along two towers’ sides. Several capes change Juste’s after-image’s appearance. At a certain point, it becomes nearly impossible to level-up any further. The super-jump is executed by pressing down, then up on the d-pad + the jump button (even though Circle simplified the action by making it up on the d-pad + the R button). Et-cetera. These things being noted, it’s my view that Harmony is actually defined by all its in-betweens, its “mistakes” and “not-quites,” the squiggles and scrunches in the indebted patterning. Even if this is entirely accidental, it feels relevant: Harmony perpetuates the stylistic rebirth of the series that arguably began with Rondo of Blood (but was most ardently explored in Symphony), but it is a chronological leap backward, acting as the quiet third part and conclusion to Simon Belmont’s saga. In these leaps and more (including the issues of modeling a GBA game on a Playstation title), certain aspects in the aesthetic constitution have been gained and lost. The result is sensually strange.



It might be a surprise for someone who doesn’t play these games as often as I do to go back and find that Harmony’s castle has a deserted character. It was upon Aria of Sorrow’s release that the Metrovanias took on a more compulsively stocked demeanor, probably to make soul acquisition a likelier event, and every subsequent 2D title continued this, as well as letting enemies drop items plus some magical variable (in Dawn, it’s the same as Aria; in Portrait, it’s the sub-weapons; in Ecclesia, it’s the glyphs). With Symphony, there is a kind of breathing room not felt since, especially within the inverted castle (I appreciate that SotN treats item-drops as a silent aspect; even the bestiary requires you to make a trip to the Master Librarian to access it), and Circle’s rooms are often expansive enough so that, even if the game’s total enemies are dense in number, they do not dominantly read as such, excepting instances such as the Underground Gallery. Harmony of Dissonance positions itself in a place close to Symphony’s echoing inverted castle and Castlevania 2’s non sequitur mansions. It’s probably the last Metrovania that doesn’t feel compelled to justify every dead end with a prize and somehow (slightly) gets away with it, if only because of the surrounding atmospherics. Like I noted in my prior write-up for Aria of Sorrow, it’s difficult to make definitive claims of intent in parts of the level design -- but what really matters is what is present, and Harmony’s less easily anticipated distribution of space adds a dimension to the game’s emotional invocations that’s hard to put into words. This is a game where skeletons remove their own heads and fling them at you, yet there are split seconds tucked away among the bustle of the buzzing music, snaps of Juste’s whip, and hustle of chunky monster sprites that speak of a yearning, faded sigh that I’ve waited to see mined. Of course, this “sigh” is probably the result of a having played these games so much that I’ve developed a personal, impermeable emotional mythos that reaches into some kind of hyper-subjectivity. So.



A bit more on the level design: not counting Aria’s sequence break, Harmony puts the least directional force on players of any handheld Castlevania. Though we may have gotten used to the “exploration” in Metrovanias being about investigating the space of areas introduced in a fixed or insular order, Harmony has a handful of junctures that offer a split in route. There is always a Right Way to proceed (e.g.: from the Castle Treasury, you can enter the Luminous Cavern before the Skeleton Cave; however, you need the double-jump relic to get as far as necessary in the Cavern), but I welcome the option of short-term diversion. Harmony is also the last 2D Metrovania to allow any irregularly-shaped rooms (i.e., rooms that are not a square or rectangle) to appear on its map. In relation to the quality of level design, this trait isn’t necessarily causational, but I have noted that Circle of the Moon easily has the most irregular map and the least boxy-box interiors of a 2D handheld Metrovania. Lastly – for this paragraph, anyway – the general design isn’t as crazy as certain people say, or crazy at all, really. The rooms are airier than Aria, whose structural nearness I’ve recognized, and there is at least one case of bizarre backtracking (after you’ve defeated Shadow), but the only truly weird thing about the level design is the procession of backgrounds in Castle B, which . . . isn’t exactly level design (though I figure many conflate the skin and skeleton of a game).



Let’s also talk about the secondary castle. Harmony is the only post-Symphony title to succeed a little in endowing its Secret with mystery, ironically because said Secret isn’t a big ol’ spoiler. One of the incomplete endings for Dawn of Sorrow has Agent Alucard lamenting, “I had assumed that [Soma] would have equipped the Talisman from Mina… It would have protected him”, which is the game straight-up telling you what to do after you re-load the file and try again, and it’s boring. In Portrait of Ruin, it’s established at the beginning of the game that the castle belongs to Dracula, so when you defeat the vampiric sisters, you know it’s not the proper end. And if you kill Order of Ecclesia’s Albus without having gotten all the obtainable glyphs, you ultimately get a big, fat Game Over, and, again, there’s no question that you’ve underperformed. There have been a couple of legitimate surprises, like Aria still giving you an ending if you lose to Chaos, wherein Julius Belmont arrives to do battle with a corrupted Soma Cruz – but it seems impossible to ignore all of these barely-secret secrets. Every 2D KCET title since Symphony has felt obliged to have a Beyond-The-End dilation, and, at this point, both the products and their players have an expectation of such a feature; there’s a winking tired self-knowingness, free of doubt or discovery. Harmony’s Secret unfolds with a quiet queerness alongside the story, complimented by a couple observations from the protagonist. It is finally exposed during a scene in the clock tower where our revelation is also Juste Belmont's revelation, accordingly reflected in the map splitting into two parts. It is not earth-shattering, and it will happen if anyone plays the game far enough, but its minor revelatory release is worth more in ambient poundage than Portrait showing you that you have four remixed stages waiting past a dining room.



It’s just too bad that Harmony’s castles are structurally identical, barring a room or two. For me, there is power and allure in the idea of evolving architecture, of architecture as super-anatomy. Symphony’s Alucard calls the castle a “creature of chaos” to explain the metamorphosing contents of Dracula’s home, yet Harmony is the only title since 1997 that’s tried to build on this description by stating that the castle has a true form, and letting you explore it. Maybe this was never a goal, and Alucard’s comment was just an isolated contextualization for something players have always accepted as a game-y property (side note: the first Castlevania and its remakes make me think it’d be interesting if they were viewed as differing accounts of a legend, where the castles’ dis- and similarities were a result of folk’s exaggerations or underestimations; perhaps this could be turned into a game which would shift its material as unseen people sat around an unseen campfire, cooperating on the telling of the story). A lot could be done with the concept, especially if one entertains psychological connections, the most obvious being dissociative identity disorder. In addition, granting the castle autonomy would mean that each area is not only a physical space, but a psychic space, meaning that the collective aesthetic of an area could be read as a “mood” or “ideal” realized temporally (I think this’d put a fun bit of faux-complexity in the standard chapel area; why would something chaotic have a sector of religious glorification?). As it is, Harmony’s Castle A is almost only separated from Castle B through (sometimes underwhelming) alternate background graphics, provided items, and monster selections.



Categorizing the soundtrack is still a challenging exercise. With the original Metroid, composer Hirokazu Tanaka apparently wanted the music to resist a direct lyricism; this is detectable in most of the soundtrack, excepting the themes for Brinstar and Kraid. Whatever Harmony’s composer, Soshiro Hokkai, may have been shooting for, it feels like an unannounced extension of Tanaka’s goal. Many of the tracks’ melodic forms are distinct in notation, “Successor of Fate” especially, but duplicating their exact tone and harmony by humming or pure recollection is very difficult. Within the series, Super Castlevania 4’s composers, Masanori Adachi and Taro Kudo, might be Hokkai’s closest musical relatives, in that the three tend to blend winding counterpoint with jazz-derived elements. The result is as though unrelated keys are being juxtaposed, with wide spacing in between relative minors and majors. For example, compare Hokkai’s “Premonition” from Aria of Sorrow with SCV4’s “The Submerged City” (specifically the part where the upright bass and flute take center stage) and pay attention to the way the voices interact. Compared to the usual Castlevania scores, Hokkai’s compositions have a relatively modal quality, i.e., his harmonies can deemphasize “logical” chord progressions and focus on discrete notational combinations that allow unusual turns of phrase. Listen to “Shrine of the Apostates”, “Luminous Cavern” or “Skeleton Cave” (mislabeled on the OST as “Aqueduct of Dragons”) for healthy instances of this. Exceptions exist, and included among them are the epilogue themes, which sound like a combination between Baroque stylings and string-based works done by, say, Martinu or Enescu. All in all, it’s a puzzling score, made more puzzling by being a part of the package that’s supposed to be a celebrated return of The Team Who Brought You SotN, a game whose easy-to-love music is sometimes identified as its most remarkable ingredient. Hokkai returned to contribute only seven songs for Aria of Sorrow, and -- unless he’s adopted an alias -- hasn’t appeared since.

WALKTHROUGHTIME



After you've beaten HoD once, its title screen colors turn purple and red.



Oh, boy. Are we ever ready to go.



If you consider the windows' size on the castle, it's . . . the size of a house.



Talos, a mechnical giant, chases you towards the castle's entrance. If you do nothing as the drawbridge starts to raise, the game automatically makes Juste clear the gap (which Talos falls into). You can keep hopping up the bridge until it's nearly vertical.



Once inside, the first thing you do is smash apart a statue to let down a metal beam. It's an action that feels oddly truncated. The dark-eyed deer heads with the empty frames below are awesome.



And the first "platforming" that's presented involves jumping on top of an bafflingly situated bookshelf. Again, weird.



A hanged figure dangles from an arch in the background. I love that there's a little lookout shelf on the top right of this room. The gold, dimensionally-flat pillars contribute to a synthesis of ruin and elegance.



Some zombies are surrounded by flies (the green specks near the one on the right).



diplo, re: the painting, wrote:
Because of the figure's attire and the skull, some have speculated that this is Carmilla.




Harmony's entrance is pretty tiny but among my favorite Castlevania areas. There's something about the interior, set against that low sky and coniferous mass, that suggests the musty smell of rain.



A save room, essentially a brighter version of Symphony's with some details removed or rearranged. After Harmony, the save rooms would stop cutting out the area music -- and with Portrait of Ruin and Order of Ecclesia, the save rooms are only identifiable through a save statue.



Death sports his cloak's color from CV2. That mysterious darkness in the room's center...





This room is so gorgeously and minutely detailed and it just comes out of nowhere. The purple brickwork on the border, the embedded wooden beams separated by a dirty green -- the grotesque heads on the pillar, the giant skeleton in the background -- it's so great.



A lot of the figurative representations in this game have a chunky, heavy rendering.



With no precedent, lava spills down the side of this chamber and runs below its base. The super-repetition of the folds in the liquid reminds me more of an NES game than something on a subsequent-generation system.



What do you know -- an enemy, in a strategic spot! The background here is weird, because it only matches your movement horizontally.



There's a cute effect in Harmony and Aria where items drop from the air when you enter a room. I suppose the developers just left in the code for how items behave when they fall from an enemy.



Minor marginal disruptions in a room kind of interest me. Why did the developers decide to put that space up there?



A cloud of bats swarms away and reconstitutes itself as the Giant Bat, from Castlevania's first level. Behind Juste, a staircase leads up to a tombstone marked by a cross.



The skull & drape designs, and the alcove balconies beyond, come from a hallway in Olrox's Quarters.



Harmony's recurrent distinction between grays and a couple nearly-neon colors provides another link to Simon's Quest.



Totally dig this background -- a huge, grim wall of wooden boards that's falling part. That's Vlad's Ring, floating atop the ledge.



You might not remember, but Symphony has a few enemies that never re-appear once defeated, such as the Armor Lord in the Outer Wall. Harmony has some, too, the Victory Armor pictured above being an example. Its death animation is pretty neat: turns to stone and crumbles.



One of the curiosities of these games is the inclusion of meaningless platforms. The one, here, doesn't even serve a visual function. It just hovers in the air. I don't know if this was an unsuccessful attempt at referencing the structures only reachable by Grant in Castlevania 3, since the area as a whole is a nod to that game.



I kind of want to document every item-supporting pedestal in the Metrovanias. My favorites are the ones in SotN with the descriptive plaques affixed to the pedestals' front.



Are the hills to the right as big as the adjacent buildings? The ambiguous depth of vision and size makes the scenery seem prop-like.



Lament of Innocence wins in the realm of dramatic area names, but Harmony has a few standouts.



I like it when platforms are shown to be fragmented architecture. It grants them (and the castle) a historical and impressionable element. Not sure what this staircases is resting on, though.



With the double-jump relic, the tan ledge is accessible. The candle holds a $100 sack. There is nothing else like this in the game.



More senseless platforms, ahoy.



Harmony's White Dragons have beak-like mouths. More proof of evolution. Where is the eye socket?



Again, fine architectural detail, while the statues' anatomy is exaggerated and wobbly. This boss stumbles backward after being hit three times. This means that he will probably only be able to attempt an attack once in the whole fight.



Backtrack and use the Lizard Tail to slide into this nook. You can reach the ledge Juste is standing on with a single jump, but there's a little bump on the bottom right of the floor in case you . . . I don't even know.



Whose coffin is this? Looks like it's for a very tall person.



Like the classic Castlevanias, the Medusa Heads will pass you by if you keep walking and don't stop. Unlike the classic Castlevanias, there's no tension to the prospect of stopping. It's a referential fragment that never gets beyond simple visual tribute.



get them summer clothes



Can't stand this room. Slide through its entirety as fast as possible to lessen the pain, right under that vertical protrusion, which is where your head is supposed to explode from the amazing usage of your new relic.



kingdom hearts



Welcome to Castle B, where oh hey are those volcanoes. Yes. One of the best backgrounds ever. The Feather Demon can take you out if he hits you a few times. Those bright, blue wings are so much better than the black wings of the Malphas/Karasuman variant.





Climb up to the top and knock this giant suit of armor back. It'll fall down and crush a group of rocks that block the entrance to the first shop.



The merchant is basically worthless, since the only things you can sell are minerals/mineraloids/whatever that are dropped by monsters. If you want money, find a room with a fat-sack-of-cash candle near an exit and grind on that candle to your heart's content (I recommend the tower next to the Entrance's teleporter room).



A rare occurrence of a cooperative enemy combination. The zombies parade, the Bomb Armor chucks, and the Peeping Eye hovers.



<3 transparent structures. Is the "treasure" in the Castle Treasury all of these crystalline formations?



Here is your first piece of furniture! Congratulations.



At this point, the map depicts the castle as singular.



Symphony's elevator was useful if you were ascending or descending because it was fast. Harmony's elevators are slow. They are only good for going up (until you get the moon jump), and if you want to descend, you can kick-jump down the shaft on the left. Funnily, the elevator will rush down to meet you as you pass each entry/exit tier.





Juste’s Furniture Room before the gorgeous storm. I didn't notice that stairwell between the pillars on right until this playthrough.



Players entered the mouth of a giant sculpted lion head in Symphony's Abandoned Mine. Here, the Skeleton Cave is preceded by the gaping skull of some enormous creature.







There's some funky layering going on, here. If you wait, the Skeleton Spider passes through the wall on the left. It eventually reappears by walking through the wall on the far right.



This passage is guarded by Bone Soldiers. It ends with nothing. Yes, the skull in the background is from the three-eyed mini-boss in Rondo of Blood.



Juste stands on what appears to be the remains of a mega-Minotaur. I'm not sure why, but the Skeleton Spider in the ROM version of Harmony has more hit-points than the one on the GBA Double Pack.



The gap on the bottom right can only be crossed by whipping this giant humanoid skull and using it as a platform.



Is this a reference to Super Metroid's Crocomire?



Exactly.



The cylindrical towers (here, backed by innumerably pocketed walls) first appeared in Symphony's Underground Caverns. That might be a guillotine in the center.



Appearing from behind a shield that wobbles and rights itself is the Skull Knight, who was the first boss in CV3.



If you aerially touch the falling, post-boss orb at a certain time, while whipping, you'll receive complimentary text (the one present being the best). One time, I tested to see if getting EXCELLENT!!! on every boss yielded a secret. It didn't.



I like how the only interactive object in this room is a busted up dresser/chest.



I don't know what skeletal form is being rendered here, but the shading gives it a great, satisfying weight.



It's impossible to get to this room without the double-jump, yet you are still being offered platforms as if you could jump once. It is possible that KCET was considering how you can turn relics off (unsure why anyone would), but there are many rooms later on that, having a succession of single-jump platforms, conclude with a jump that requires a double jump -- so there's no consistent evidence for such an explanation.



King of the Hidden Rooms in a Metrovania. You gotta moon-jump through the top of the Skeleton Cave's save room!



A definite reference to CV2's Carmilla; only, now, the mask is snarling.



Here we are, whipping bats in a Luminous Cavern. This was my least favorite locale back when I had a milder interest in Harmony. The reveal showing stacks of lakes and cascades does not follow character movement. The chief graphic aspect being rocks, it's a rather nondescript place.



Subterranean, massive, arched hallways remind me of The Lord of the Rings' Moria. I still don't know if that formation above the flow of lava (or blood?) is supposed to resemble a skull.



Once past the Golem's room, you're supposed to flip a switch and ride a raft up a shaft as the space fills with the blood of an unseen victim. Go, you. However, you can jump-kick the materializing Ghosts to ascend through that space in the upper right of the screenshot, and eventually acquire the Walk Armor. You can also see the monster whom you've crushed . . . before you've crushed it. Take that, trusting developers!!





Here's what normally happens. ...It's a lot of blood.



Another queer marginal carving. I will curl up in it and make it my home.



If it were up to me, I'd make the floor of this room be toothed by spikes. And you'd have to jump-kick the Scarecrows to bypass it!



Juste takes a teleporter out of the Cavern and ends up at the Sky Walkway. The contrast could not be greater. KCET's dreamy, cathedral-type environments are always among my most admired places of the games they show up in. Is the painting showing a violent struggle? Is the figure on the left presenting a demonic head on a platter?



I'll often hang around for a few minutes, waiting to see if a downed Flying Bone will drop a Crimson Cloak. This item makes Juste's after-image red instead of blue.



The arrows of Harmony's Bone Archers travel faster than in any other game the archers inhabit.



An occasional objection to KCET's Metrovanias is that they stray too far from the gloominess of the older titles. Personally, I'm all for contradictions. The lack of contrast is one of the reasons I'm not interested in Lords of Shadow, whose aesthetic identity comes from other games and adhering to a slavish, normalized consistency, rather than from referencing a variety of external sources for an actually unusual combination.



This Ruler Sword can be difficult to take down on Hard Mode.



You have to brave the darkened, spike-lined interiors of two passageways to reach the Aqueduct of Dragons. It's a breeze to manage the trip without getting hurt, but if you're concerned there's a pair of illuminating glasses on the other side of the Sky Walkway's boss room.



For some reason, the Mermen and Fishmen reappear if you kill them, travel a certain distance from their resting spot, and then return to it. The Aqueduct is arguably the least enjoyable spot in the game, on account of its utterly brain-dead level design and limited nuances in graphical touches. Good thing it's a small place.



I've never figured out what that screen above Juste is. Is it supposed to be a Japanese wall scroll?



A whole bunch of Slimes pop out of their container between stopping. If you're at a level where everything gives one experience point, this is probably the room where you can collect the most EXP in one go -- but you have to wait for all the Slimes to emerge.



The game continues to distribute unnecessary platforms.



Thanks to how far the camera extends at this "dead end," it's easy (at least if you've played (certain) video games enough) to know that this is a fake wall. Dracula's Nail awaits!



If you have the Chaos Ring equipped, and are using Holy Water, the Giant Merman goes down like nothin'.



Taking the lower entrance, we've made it to the Clock Tower. I don't doubt that some people have never acclimated to the music here.



ho ho ho. This room was made just for this totem of Bone Pillars.



Thirteen humpers guard a scrap of map.



On Hard Mode, the Harpies are kinda fun to fend off. The reason for that ledge on the left is as much a mystery to you as it is to me.



Standing in front of the lamps in this room makes you unaffected by the Medusa Heads. Why? Who knows!



An attic that stores a machine with whirring gears. You'll see its spiritual counterpart, soon.



This hall originally appeared in Symphony of the Night's Marble Gallery. You might recall it most for the golden Guardians it hosted in the Inverted Castle, which were that game's most powerful minor enemies. Uniquely, Harmony switches its location between castles: in Castle B, it takes the place of Castle A's boss room for Max Slimer.



I guess it's unfortunate that this guy was backed against such a violent mechanism, but what can you do. After he explodes and the screen distorts, the cogs spit out four pieces of equipment that'll probably be the most powerful at that point.



oh god yes a table. r.i.p. harpy #953.



Max Slimer is . . . a big Slime. Rarely, it will migrate to the ceiling or alter its body's color, thereby affecting its status effect. I've only seen it do either maybe thrice, and I've played HoD like a billion times.



Masterful dialogue, as usual. Here is where the castle's two-faced nature is revealed. Follow Death through the portal, press the select button, and marvel at the map's colorful fracture!

BREAK



Last edited by diplo on Sat Mar 19, 2011 8:04 am; edited 2 times in total
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diplo



Joined: 18 Dec 2006
Location: Brandy Brendo's bungalow

PostPosted: Sat Mar 19, 2011 7:50 am        Reply with quote

CONTINUE



I remember when Curse of Darkness hadn't come out yet, and there was a screenshot of Hector standing atop a tiered structure in the presumed-to-be Clock Tower. And people screamed, "Look! Level design!! Holy shit!!!" Then we played the game and it was, like, literally one of three spots where you could interact with the environment. What I'm trying to say is that I like hitting huge gears to make notched gates open.



I like the extended low ceiling in this entry hall. And the tiles. A lot.



Harmony's largest room has you racing a steel ball to reach the end of a "maze" before it crashes in front of a the entrance to a niche with a couple of items. Hello, geocities background.



Steel Ball Run's annex is only reachable in Castle A by sliding through this wall. Really had me stumped my first time.



Remember that dead end with the table? Well, with Castle B, after a monster-less descent (there are Medusa Heads, but they only emerge if you hang about), you only get the dead end.



Another boss that's an enlarged minor-type, Peeping Big collapses into a bundle of Peeping Eyes upon defeat.



Here's that attic. Juste peers out at the red, frothy clouds that scroll by. Can the ground be seen at this altitude?



The skeleton of a figure who met their unfortunate end on a shattered portion of this gear reacts to the mechanism's rotation.



Aria, Dawn, and Portrait feature the Kaiser Knuckle as weapon, but it first appeared in Harmony as a defensive item. What a teeny-tiny exterior shack.





Whipping this corkscrew cylinder lets you collect the Crushing Stone, used to knock down destructible barriers (and the only destructible wall in the game).



Coming upon the B-side of the Walkway and Chapel, you'll find broken statuary, damaged architecture, and pea-soup skies. It's my favorite alternation, next to the Entrance.



Legion/Granfaloon [sic] returns in smaller and less gruesome a form than its SotN appearance. Now and again, miniature Legions will detach from its body and flutter towards you. Smash the orgy-orb apart to reveal the tentacled core.



I like that the bed (for Juste's room) is collected at the top of this tower. That's an organ, below.



You can stand on the edge of this box in Castle B, but not in Castle A. Hm!



Behind the wall of the Walkway's save room floats the Heart of Vlad. Whereas, with Castle A, a steady stream of bright water pours from a slit in that wall, Castle B's source has dried up.





Similar to Link's Awakening's final boss, Harmony's Shadow assumes several forms -- a panther, a sword, and a moth -- during the fight. I suppose it's one corporal manifestation of what's been possessing Maxim. The background in this room is awesome.



Once you defeat Shadow, you need to backtrack to the Clock Tower, switch castles, and then return to Shadow's boss room to talk to get an item from a shaken Maxim. It's the most out-of-the-way required sequence in the game. Before, I skipped the Castle A Walkway boss, so I'm entering its room from the back, here.



These pots grant Juste temporary invincibility, just like in some of the Classicvanias.



The ascent begins. Up we go!



An exquisite mingling of wood and warmly colored brickwork. This stack of corridors makes no attempt to be anything other than poised, and I am completely okay with that.



Shades of Symphony's Royal Chapel, with its cramped halls that connect the towers.



Juste breaches the Chapel's uppermost structure. The obsessive, organic details on the windows resemble what you might see in an illuminated manuscript, such as the Book of Kells.



Is the robed figure Mary? The imagery at the bottom of the window is too unclear for me to hazard a guess of its content. Because of the tusked protrusions, red/pink coloration, and scarred markings in the base's left and right squares, it feels violent to me.



My cloak of choice, the Emerald Cloak turns Juste's after-image green.



Don't wait to get the Griffin's Wing! You can jump-kick the Flying Bones right now to snag the Eye of Vlad.



There's a 3D effect on the tower. It's so slight, though (or, rather, the distance you have to walk up the steps is too short), that it almost may as well not be there. Now that I think about it, I don't know where the clock's head is in the Clock Tower.





Pazuzu is a boss from Castlevania 3, like the Skull Knight. He busts out from behind the wall of the throne room . . . which, actually, isn't so much a throne room. The seat's usual spot is replaced by a circular, cracked seal that is leaking purple liquid. Second image (from MAXIM MODE) provided by DAIS.



Oh. I forgot to mention -- Juste and Good Maxim are trying to find Lydie, a girl who is a girl and their friend. When Maxim went insane after assembling Dracula's remains, he brought her to the castle. And then forgot where she was. Juste finds her here, past the fight with Pazuzu, but Death appears, is all "lol no," and takes her away.



This is the only Castlevania where any rooms beyond the throne room link back into the castle, rather than leading to a dead end. The clouds here are really cool, especially with the top layer's lit up underbelly.



The exterior views of Castle A's Top Floor get progressively gloomier as you advance upward. Since we're descending, it's the other way around. This background makes me think of Circle of the Moon's Eternal Corridor, a place which had some stuff I gave half of a shit about looking at.



That . . . thing that's about to fly into Juste is an Arabaki, and its behavior resembles the Schmoo's. Strong beams of moonlight -- so strong that they might be mistaken for sunlight -- penetrate this chamber.



What a room for a boss! The Lv2 Minotaur sure is a lucky guy. Believe it or not, this can be a tricky fight. The Minotaur will pressure you into a corner unless you attack. However, there is no discernible pattern for when the Minotaur will reel back from a string of hits, so you can actually get caught against a wall, regardless of your fierceness. And, if you're playing on Hard, it'll only take a couple of hits from the Minotaur or his weapon to kill you.



We've already established that Harmony's elevators are dumb, but the rooms they're in are kinda dumb, too. On the right side, they repeat a structural sequence, piece for piece, like, four times.



Items that are dropped by enemies never disappear until collected. This is a Kettle Hat that an Axe Armor yielded.



Discerning (or insane) people may notice that this background was inspired by Symphony's Entrance (please excuse the modified colors).



Disrespecting more Bone Pillars.





This has to be one of the game's strangest rooms. The lower you go, the more blown out everything gets, like you're approaching another sun.



Wonderful color scheme -- warmth within coolness. Reminiscent of Super Castlevania 4's library and a few parts of Curse of Darkness' Garibaldi Temple. And to think, this backdrop's opposite is a volcanic wasteland.



Covering new, yet old, ground, Juste enters the Skeleton Cave B. An enormous Medusa skeleton wraps around a distant pillar.



Someone I know thought that Dracula's final form in CV3 was wearing a hat, but I'm 99% sure it's . . . not a hat. Is it hair? Is Dracula an adoring fan of Paul Phoenix?



Fossils of Slogra and Gaibon are obscured by the foreground. Skeleton Glasses (Harmony's translators didn't do a very good job at putting words where they should go) give a lot of experience for a few levels, so you're bound to level up during your walk down this hall.



Bloody tears drop from the left eye of this statue and turn into Red Skeletons. Also see: Castlevania Chronicles (2:15).



The blue, squat Mimic mirrors Juste's actions, right down to his death animation. My first experience with copycat enemies in a video game was with A Link to the Past's Goriyas, the green and red rodent-headed things in the Palace of Darkness.



Behold: gravity. Really, though -- box puzzles are the last thing Castlevania needs. Did KCET think they were a reason why Circle of the Moon was a hit?





Behaviorally, Legion Corpse is HoD's lamest boss (it hovers in the room's center, releasing maggots that inch their way towards you), but it is deliciously messy to behold. The enclosing folds shielding that skeleton won't open until its tough outer shell is whipped enough. One of the scant opportunities where dangling your whip is helpful.



Any guesses as to what animal this was in life?



Juste's corner of the castle gets gaudier and gaudier. Also, yes: that is a Tanuki statue, titanic testicles included.



This Pixie (Luminous Cavern A) always flies out of reach if you approach her. The blues make the cave a lot easier to tolerate this time.



Here's our friend from the beginning of the adventure, now sporting a weak spot on his left leg. At his size, I imagine that getting around the castle is no easy task.



That's some mighty big water you got there son. I think the sculpted lion head is particularly great; it resembles early, inaccurate depictions of the animal where the face is more suggestive of, say, a bear -- or human, even.



Help me to understand. This dude just stands here and lets you whip him while he swings his blade back and forth. Other Blaze Masters slide along the ground but not this guy. He's too cool.



Death spells out his name above himself before executing a beams-o'-light attack. Because he can, I guess. I . . . didn't capture a good moment from the magic spelling.



Death's second, and last, form is less of a menace than his first. His tail's stinger seems to have inconsistent recognition of Protagonist Contact.



So now we have the moon jump. I'm now doing a bit of castle hopping. The Castle B throne room is significantly worse off.



Note that the object on the table has changed. Little touches!



Being the default level Minotaur, this guy topples over lickety-split. My holy cross + ice spellbook familiar lends a hand.



Diversions aside, let's head on over to The Wailing Way B, the place you're most likely to die in the game. A few hits from most of the enemies leads to fatal consequences. Thank goodness for owls, spinning their heads around and whatnot, even if they do want to kill us.



The second-highest level minor enemy in the game is the Simon Wraith, a skeleton that cosplays as Juste's grandfather.



Here's an example of a room whose build differs between versions. With no ledges on the shaft's sides, Juste needs to moonjump to bypass this wall. Too little, too late, developers!



A windy, autumnal glow is cast over the Shrine of Apostates B.



What does the Jp in "Jp Bone Pillar" stand for? . . . Jumping? Candidate for Cutest Monster.





tribute overload. Re-introducing CV3's Cyclops-san. The second screenshot is from a hack, whose name I've forgotten, that makes everything in the game darker.



Here is a Spriggan, Harmony's most visually confounding creature. It has no arms, and boosts itself forward using a wave of energy that's ejected from its back. Observe the red eyes of the mounted stag head.



Two dangling souls take the place of one. In a series that takes pride in unrealistically close lunar shots, the relative realism of the moon's size, here, just makes it more bizarre. To the point that I wonder if it's even supposed to be the moon.



When Talos first chases Juste, you pass under the opening to a levitating, L-shaped tower. With the moon jump (and the Crush Boots), you can finally access it. A tattered fog permeates its ruined interior.



So good. So good.I'm not even going to write anything.



Blood in a glass, and an eye in a frame.



Harmony is the last 2D Castlevania to have this brand of imagery.





Switching between dimensions to nab the Lure Key (it lets you open glowing doors that guard some teleporter rooms) and the Platinum Tip.



The A-side of the L-shaped tower. Juste's body brightens as he walks into the light.



This pillar exists to make your life hard, until the moon jump. Hooray for functionless barriers!



A long, zigzagging, vertical passage connects the Entrance to the Skeleton Cave. In Castle B, several items litter the way, including the Pretty Vase. The flowers are fake, so don't get too excited.



I forgot to take a screenshot of the Sky Walkway A's boss, so here he is in the Marble Corridor B, after he's been turned into a standard enemy. Except he retains his original amount of HP (2,176). Guess how much EXP you get if you kill him now? That's right -- one point.



just gettin a thrill from the colors here don't mind me



Here's the final aura-affecting cloak! And it has the best description of them all: "A pitch-black cloak that creates an air of darkness around its user."



The Pike Master has the highest level of all minor enemies, so he'll continue to give a bit more EXP than anything else once you're in the early 50s. Splendid colors on that armor. And what a helmet crest!





Harmony's highest room is a chamber that bears what can only be an intentional resemblance to the one above SotN's throne room. Both versions hold collectibles and power-ups, but Castle B's includes a sculpted hand holding a veined orb. Whip it for vague text telling you that a passage somewhere has opened.



Obviously, this can only mean that our quest is nearing its end, so we take a less direct route to the final destination. A thunderstorm surrounds a portion of the Chapel of Dissonance B. Occasionally, the flashes will expose shadowy faces from behind the windows.



These fellows hop out of the mirrors once you pass them by.



I don't know precisely why, but I like it when a large section of a room's border is shown. Maybe because it has a suggestive quality. Even after I've invested unknown amounts of time in this game, it retains the ability to make me hope for more than what's been found. I rarely have video game dreams, but I have had one or two where I discover a passage into a whole other world in Harmony.



If they're not killed immediately, Melty Zombies will vomit out gelatinous messes that turn into weaker clones.



Aqueduct of Dragons' B boss room (populated by respawning Mermen and Fishmen) supplants A's statues of mermaids with ones of whales.



Here we are, at the weirdly unassuming entrance to the Heart of the Castle.



But I wanna show you all of the endings, so I've switched over to Castle A. The Gorgon enemy appears nowhere except here.





If you were crazy enough to play Curse of Darkness to the Infinite Corridor, you may notice a similarity between the second screenshot, above, and the Corridor's rooms where there are green cubes. I have no clue as to what the crystal represents. As far as I can tell, it's just a nifty detail someone threw in.



Possessed Maxim asks Juste to kill him, but Juste refuses. So, via MAGIC, Maxim transports the two of them into this horrible, hideous room for the final fight.



MY FURNITURE!!!! ...i mean oh dang i killed maxim whoops



Let's try that again, in Castle B.



Inexplicable crystals are cool, but inexplicable egg sacks are better.



uh sure



Hooray! The worst ending. Everyone is dead, except Juste.



However, if you equip Juste with his and Maxim's bracelet before the finishing blow --



-- Maxim collapses, and the remains of Dracula that you've collected take on a will of their own, combining and giving rise to Dracula Wraith.



It's arguably the easiest Dracula battle of them all, especially since you can jump-kick Dracula's head.



are you sure you're okay dracula-san



Really, the only way you can get hit by his final form is if he lunges out with his tentacle while firing his eye laser.



you've been killed like a million times why is this something you just realized



Putting a cap on this baby with Style.



...

MY FURNITURE!!!!



CASTLEVANIA: HARMONYOFDISSONANCE

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fairy godmilf


Joined: 05 Dec 2006
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 19, 2011 8:14 am        Reply with quote

best thread ever
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analogos
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 19, 2011 8:17 am        Reply with quote

Quote:
MY FURNITURE!!!!


Hi this will be be my favorite thread when I wake up and read it.

Love,

Ralph C. Belmondo
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chevluh



Joined: 05 Dec 2006
Location: Switzerland

PostPosted: Sat Mar 19, 2011 8:43 am        Reply with quote

Quote:
I've never figured out what that screen above Juste is. Is it supposed to be a Japanese wall scroll?

It's a big rusted pipe
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Broco



Joined: 05 Dec 2006
Location: Bestburg, Cobrastan

PostPosted: Sat Mar 19, 2011 9:01 am        Reply with quote

Thanks for taking the time to write this. In my fantasy world we'd have a thread like this for all kinds of games. Most discussion about games is just general impressions and a few mentions of memorable scenes, but games like this just have so many nuances and detailed work put into them that deserve unpacking. Although at some level I appreciate Igavanias mainly for their artwork, I don't really have a fine eye for it and let it mostly wash over me as a general impression, so I appreciate your drawing my attention to notable details. Eloquent general criticism in your first part too.
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Levi



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PostPosted: Sat Mar 19, 2011 9:31 am        Reply with quote

The most telling music from this game is the mutantly awesome Marble Corridor
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ella guro



Joined: 11 Mar 2011
Location: pokeland, ca

PostPosted: Sat Mar 19, 2011 9:59 am        Reply with quote

Wow! I've only read a little bit, but this is great so far.

As a side comment, I want to say that this game has one of the best soundtracks I've ever heard. Amped-up Stravinsky chiptunes is one way to describe it.
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Lick Meth



Joined: 05 Dec 2006
Location: A constant state of flux

PostPosted: Sat Mar 19, 2011 10:53 am        Reply with quote

Levi wrote:
The most telling music from this game is the mutantly awesome Marble Corridor

The first time I remember stopping progress explicitly for a song in a game, no shit.
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Baseballkappe



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PostPosted: Sat Mar 19, 2011 11:26 am        Reply with quote

Yeah, the music in this game is amazing. I love how it uses NES-sounding instruments and sawtooth waves and such.
It's catchy, strident and harmonically daring, like all videogame music should be.
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JamesE



Joined: 05 Dec 2006

PostPosted: Sat Mar 19, 2011 11:49 am        Reply with quote

Can't find my cart. I've been wanting to play this one for a while, so I guess I'll have to clean this whole room until I find it.

The sound isn't often enjoyable but it's interesting and sometimes wonderful. It's a little too abrasive for something you'll be spending hours with. This is probably the only Castlevania game that's aimed for a sense of genuinely horrific headfuck and insanity so it's certainly appropriate. I love what they were going for with the art assets.

This was the third Metroid-like Castlevania and the second one with IGA helming and that's really important. He'd been away for half a decade and certain concepts hadn't solidified yet plus (like you said) he was trying to downscale from PSOne to GBA so it's just really really odd. The Aria sequence is kind of like a shonen anime spinoff of SOTN in comparison. This is the first and only no-shit horror game in the series.
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Persona-sama
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 19, 2011 2:42 pm        Reply with quote

Comment on the slowness of the elevator: my friend theorized that the elevator in Harmony of Dissonance was so slow because Juste was just a human and the castle was compensating for his weakness by moving slowly while for Alucard and Soma, the castle just doesn't give a shit and sends them flying at a million miles per hour.
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Schwere Viper



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PostPosted: Sat Mar 19, 2011 3:30 pm        Reply with quote

Harmony of Dissonance is a pretty fitting name given it's often pointed to as the "odd one out" in the GBA trilogy.

Great thread diplo. This kind of outrageously in-depth look at games always makes me smile inside and out.
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Mr. Mechanical
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 19, 2011 3:37 pm        Reply with quote

I love these kinds of threads. Great work, diplo!
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luvcraft
buy my game buy my game me me me


Joined: 05 Dec 2006
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 19, 2011 4:42 pm        Reply with quote

wow, lots of screenshots! I will re-read the op later, but I had to come comment to say that I definitely prefer HoD to CotM, because at least HoD doesn't require you to get a specific randomly dropped item to proceed through the game.

In other news, Mr. Mech, my daughter thinks your avatar is a bathtub man.
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brckrd!



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PostPosted: Sat Mar 19, 2011 5:08 pm        Reply with quote

Mr. Mechanical wrote:
I love these kinds of threads. Great work, diplo!

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T.



Joined: 11 Mar 2009

PostPosted: Sat Mar 19, 2011 5:32 pm        Reply with quote

yeah, this thread is seriously incredible. well written, good points, good taste in screenshots. thanks man.
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Loki Laufeyson
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 19, 2011 5:37 pm        Reply with quote

Broco wrote:
Thanks for taking the time to write this. In my fantasy world we'd have a thread like this for all kinds of games.

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Laurel Soup



Joined: 05 Dec 2006
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 19, 2011 11:46 pm        Reply with quote

All these little weird details are why I love the SotN-style Castlevanias. They're like interactive Bosch or Brugal paintings. This is perfect.

I really enjoyed the light puzzle rooms in HoD--knocking the giant into the grinding gears and whatnot. I wish more of the series did that. I'd totally be down with bouncing across a field of spikes on scarecrows. Come to think of weird Castlevania puzzles, I don't know if I ever figured out what to do in Curse of Darkness' bowling alley... I think I have a mission this week.
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Moogs



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PostPosted: Sun Mar 20, 2011 12:39 am        Reply with quote

diplo wrote:








tribute overload. Re-introducing CV3's Cyclops-san. The second screenshot is from a hack, whose name I've forgotten, that makes everything in the game darker.


That second shot is so nice!
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diplo



Joined: 18 Dec 2006
Location: Brandy Brendo's bungalow

PostPosted: Sun Mar 20, 2011 3:00 am        Reply with quote

chevluh wrote:
Quote:
I've never figured out what that screen above Juste is. Is it supposed to be a Japanese wall scroll?

It's a big rusted pipe


Oh, hey. You're right. I took the darkened edges to be shadow, rather than negative space.

luvcraft wrote:
I definitely prefer HoD to CotM, because at least HoD doesn't require you to get a specific randomly dropped item to proceed through the game.


But CotM doesn't require such a thing. What item are you talking about?

Laurel Soup wrote:
I don't know if I ever figured out what to do in Curse of Darkness' bowling alley... I think I have a mission this week.


Hint: It involves one of the abilities of a (fuzzy) Golem-type Innocent Devil.
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Pijaibros



Joined: 04 Dec 2006
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 20, 2011 8:04 pm        Reply with quote

i am just posting in support of this glorious revisiting.

btw, do you know (or have) where to get this "darker" dissonance patch? i am curious enough to want to playthrough this version.
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Loki Laufeyson
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 20, 2011 8:13 pm        Reply with quote

there seems to be two different palette hacks on romhacking.net, i'm not sure if either of them are that one, though
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lolipalooza



Joined: 05 Dec 2006
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 20, 2011 8:30 pm        Reply with quote

Amazing thread, diplo!



Oh man I hate this room. It fills up completely on the map once visited and I always have trouble to find it again when I have the necessary relics to get the ring.
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Toups
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 20, 2011 8:40 pm        Reply with quote

diplo you are some kind of crazy genius
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diplo



Joined: 18 Dec 2006
Location: Brandy Brendo's bungalow

PostPosted: Sun Mar 20, 2011 9:22 pm        Reply with quote

Pijaibros wrote:
btw, do you know (or have) where to get this "darker" dissonance patch? i am curious enough to want to playthrough this version.


No, I only had the screenshot. I don't know what the hack is called.
Edit: It might not be a hack. Apparently, No$GBA naturally darkens ROMs, so try that out.
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Tlon



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PostPosted: Mon Mar 21, 2011 12:09 am        Reply with quote

Laurel Soup wrote:
All these little weird details are why I love the SotN-style Castlevanias. They're like interactive Bosch or Brugal paintings. This is perfect.



yeah, it's more fun just hanging out in the castles, observing the weird little enemies, chilling.
what i remember most about this game is the odd sprite and how quickly and fluidly you moved

thanks for the thread!
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Pijaibros



Joined: 04 Dec 2006
Location: Casino Night Zone

PostPosted: Mon Mar 21, 2011 12:22 am        Reply with quote

this reminds me, i wouldn't mind doing one on Simon's Quest. My personal favorite CV to think about, watch others play, but never actually play again myself. I recently learned of a Simon's Quest: Redacted. But part of me loves the fact that regular villagers lie and tell the crazy man who wants to collect Dracula's parts to just go away and hit their head on a cliff. I probably would if some weirdo clad in leather was asking me where to find Drac's nail.
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Levi



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PostPosted: Mon Mar 21, 2011 2:04 am        Reply with quote

Pijaibros wrote:
this reminds me, i wouldn't mind doing one on Simon's Quest. My personal favorite CV to think about, watch others play, but never actually play again myself. I recently learned of a Simon's Quest: Redacted. But part of me loves the fact that regular villagers lie and tell the crazy man who wants to collect Dracula's parts to just go away and hit their head on a cliff. I probably would if some weirdo clad in leather was asking me where to find Drac's nail.


The only helpful villagers being grayed out dopplegangers of Simon is a profound mystery.
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internisus
shafer sephiroth


Joined: 04 Dec 2006

PostPosted: Mon Mar 21, 2011 2:11 am        Reply with quote

I'll have to read this monster later, but I want to say that I think I hate this game. Some time ago I decided to play through all 6 GBA and DS Castlevanias in chronological order during times when I am trapped sitting in a box. Circle of the Moon was alright, though nothing really special, but Harmony is so dispiriting. I've wasted a stupid amount of time wandering all across the entire map trying to figure out where I can go next. It has the worst level/overall castle design I've ever seen.

Although, yeah, the track called Offense and Defense is fucking rock. Most of the music is extremely unremarkable, but that one song stopped me dead. I gave it a prime seat during my Halloween Castlevania music Facebook Youtube link share countdown last year.
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Levi



Joined: 05 Dec 2006

PostPosted: Mon Mar 21, 2011 2:15 am        Reply with quote

Select Button
I gave it a prime seat during my Halloween Castlevania music Facebook Youtube link share countdown last year.
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diplo



Joined: 18 Dec 2006
Location: Brandy Brendo's bungalow

PostPosted: Mon Mar 21, 2011 2:31 am        Reply with quote



Pijaibros wrote:
But part of me loves the fact that regular villagers lie


Yeah, it's neat because the villagers aren't necessarily lying -- they're going on hearsay, which feels completely appropriate, given the prevalence of superstitions in Simon's time. It's relevant to building up a virtual culture, and it's one of the things I'd never change about CV2. Why should everyone in a game's world have to conform to the protagonist's needs, or distribute banal, safe information about themselves? The Redacted hack's site also incorrectly attributes the villagers' misleading text to a translation error, when it's really an aspect that's shared across all versions of the game.
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negativedge
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 21, 2011 6:56 am        Reply with quote

Man, I love this kind of work. In my head this is the kind of stuff people writing a thesis or a dissertation on video games do, rather than the garbage they actually do.

HoD is such a strange game. Every inch feel like there was both no thought and a whole lot of thought put into it. It's a lovely mish-mash of a game visually and aurally. The level design makes no sense, and makes even less sense with your in depth dissection of it here; but it is the lack of sense that makes it compelling. I am with you in appreciating how the castle is a little less fluidly designed than something like Aria or Super Metroid--you can get lost, you can make some meaningful decision in where to go, and there's just an overall sense that you aren't being shoehorned through the game. That's a hard thing to pull off, because it's easy to make it just look like the level designers weren't competent enough to do the thing metrovanias have come to be known for (which is in itself a kind of paradox; fans talk about "exploration" and "open design" and all of this, but the games that are usually singled out as exemplars are not designed in this manner at all). Part of the appeal is simply a heightened version of that SotN thing: the level design may not flow all that well, the cohesiveness of the castle may be non-existent, the enemies may not do anything special or be positioned in a thoughtful manner (I mean really, you point out an instance of enemies seeming to co-operate together: that should be the norm, not the exception), but through it all the game just controls well and always presents something interesting to keep you moving forward. The juxtaposition between this game and Aria is pretty striking.

(aderack come home ;_; )


Last edited by negativedge on Mon Mar 21, 2011 7:56 am; edited 2 times in total
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protoblax
bootleg pokemon


Joined: 08 Mar 2011
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 21, 2011 7:37 am        Reply with quote

This is pretty freaking amazing, and there should be many more projects like this. Maybe four times a year, like an academic journal? Because this alone justifies Select Button as Important To Video Games.
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Martial Loh



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PostPosted: Tue Mar 22, 2011 12:02 pm        Reply with quote

Amazing post Diplo.
Harmony was the first Castlevania I ever finished - even if I didn't bother collect all of Dracula's parts..and I murderised Maxim..

I still miss the left + right shoulder button directional dashes in other CV games :(
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boojiboy7
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Joined: 04 Dec 2006
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 22, 2011 2:41 pm        Reply with quote

diplo wrote:
Pijaibros wrote:
But part of me loves the fact that regular villagers lie


Yeah, it's neat because the villagers aren't necessarily lying -- they're going on hearsay, which feels completely appropriate, given the prevalence of superstitions in Simon's time. It's relevant to building up a virtual culture, and it's one of the things I'd never change about CV2. Why should everyone in a game's world have to conform to the protagonist's needs, or distribute banal, safe information about themselves? The Redacted hack's site also incorrectly attributes the villagers' misleading text to a translation error, when it's really an aspect that's shared across all versions of the game.


For years I thought it was a translation error myself, but I like it so much better as active lying/hearsay. CV2 terrified me as a kid (to the point of hiding the game so I could sleep at night) because of how well it completely undermines the basic feelings of safety people have in video games. It's the perfect counterpoint to something like Dragon Quest, a game in which everything is built around eventually being solved by a player, and every person exists for the player. CV2 finds Simon in a world entirely hostile to him, and builds everything around that. Even just having bottomless pits in towns created a fear in kid-me that doesn't go away easily. Taking away the potential of towns at night for safety made me actually feel the 'lonely game' feeling a lot more than just being alone in other games ever did.

The pieces of Dracula being relics is probably my favorite little culture-building detail there - implying that in the time since Dracula's death, he has become some sort of revered, near saint-like figure for some, and that a cult has grown up around the protection of these relics. There are entire mansions built specifically for these relics, and built in such a way that says they are not meant to be seen as much as contemplated. It's this perfectly bizarre Dark Ages Christianity analogue. I love it.

I really should replay this game. Pijai, if you want to, we can make a day of doing just that in the near future. Maybe then I can stop being so goddamned scared of it.
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Tlon



Joined: 25 Sep 2008

PostPosted: Tue Mar 22, 2011 11:44 pm        Reply with quote

Gorblax wrote:
This is pretty freaking amazing, and there should be many more projects like this. Maybe four times a year, like an academic journal? Because this alone justifies Select Button as Important To Video Games.


the metrovanias are good for this because the world is big enough to be interesting but small enough to be easily apprehended. it's like a miniature awesome dollhouse that exists in my hand
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Loki Laufeyson
fps fragmaster


Joined: 05 Dec 2006
Location: Beneath the Mushroom Kingdom

PostPosted: Tue Mar 22, 2011 11:52 pm        Reply with quote

i'm considering a thread like this for soliel, but it won't be anytime soon, because i'll need to play through it again to take screenshots. it also won't be as detailed, and will have a different focus.
so what i'm saying is that at an indeterminate time, i may make a long, screenshot heavy post about soliel.
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negativedge
banned


Joined: 04 Dec 2006
Location: secret b& forum

PostPosted: Wed Mar 23, 2011 12:08 am        Reply with quote

you have made me play this game again, diplo. I was supposed to be playing other things.
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diplo



Joined: 18 Dec 2006
Location: Brandy Brendo's bungalow

PostPosted: Wed Mar 23, 2011 1:23 am        Reply with quote

huaheuaehauehaueha

More Things:

- Here is the Walkway/Chapel's opening, rewound.
- Harmony's giant knights are so prevalent that they could be seen as a theme. I wonder what inspired this.
- Considering possibilities, the large skeleton with the sloped back in the Skeleton Cave A might be the werewolf, who is best-buds with the minotaur.
- As mentioned on SBDN before, collecting all the furniture makes Lydie lean against Juste in the Happy End.
- That orb-holding claw in the Top Floor also shows up, along with duplicates, in Curse of Darkness. Also, HoD and CoD have the same director. Before I knew this, I felt an atmospheric connection (a thick mixture of gaudiness and gloominess) between the two. This may be a parallel that has nothing to do with shared staff, though.

DAIS linked a folder of screenshots he'd taken a few nights ago. Here are some that I liked.











Last edited by diplo on Wed Mar 23, 2011 1:31 am; edited 3 times in total
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Sniper Honeyviper



Joined: 30 Aug 2009

PostPosted: Wed Mar 23, 2011 1:24 am        Reply with quote

diplo wrote:
- As mentioned on SBDN before, collecting all the furniture makes Lydie lean against Juste in the Happy End.

whoah!
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