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Castlevania: Harmony of Despair Review
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This past week we received the third game to be released as part of Xbox 360’s “Summer of Arcade”. Konami is treating us with the 34th installment (including international releases) of Castlevania, with Castlevania: Harmony of Despair. The series has had a lot of ups and downs over the years, and with this game Konami looks to go back to its 2D roots with a classic style NES type platformer that I remember playing with my father as a child. Can Harmony of Despair live up to my childhood memories of kicking Dracula’s ass with nothing but my cunning wit and ancestral Belmont Whip?

One of the first things I noticed when I began playing was that this game is not only difficult but extremely unforgiving and frustrating. For starters you don’t get any lives or continues. You could have just spent the last twenty plus minutes traversing a level, only to be killed by the boss and have to go all the way back to the beginning. You do however get to keep any loot or items you have collected, so that you can use them later in the shop to purchase useful items such as weapons and healing potions. You will also be forced to start over if the thirty minute game clock runs down to zero.

Harmony of Despair features six-player cooperative mode to help make playing this game more enjoyable and a little easier. When playing in co-op, players retain the ability to revive fallen teammates with the “Water of Life”, which you can find in blue chests. If your team is not able to get to you in time, you will be able to spawn up as a skeleton that can inflict minor damage on enemies by throwing bones. If you do keep dying and getting revived it will cause a time penalty against the entire party. It should also be noted that, depending how many players are in your party, the difficulty of monsters and bosses will increase.

The decision to include six-player co-op has forced the developers to cut back a little on presentation. You can view the entire level by panning out and making the screen look like a Castlevania ant farm. Luckily you can control the three different levels of zoom by a click of the right thumb stick. And I know this is supposed to be a throwback to the NES days, but the combat and movement could have been a lot more fluid.

castlevania2 Castlevania: Harmony of Despair Review

Castlevania Ant Farm

The soundtrack for this game is top notch. Every instrumental sounds like it was produced by the Trans Siberian Orchestra. The mix of heavy metal with orchestra instruments really fit’s the game well and I often found myself just sitting there head banging to the song rather than playing the game.

As far as achievements go they are pretty straightforward. Harmony of Despair has twelve achievements in all totaling 200 gamerscore. The most difficult of the achievements would have to be Hunter Legend, which requires you to beat the game on hard. I was quite surprised and disappointed to learn that this game didn’t have any avatar awards, considering the fact that both Limbo and Hydro Thunder, the two previously released “Summer of Arcade” titles, both had them.

If you are under the age of 18 or never played a Castlevania game before you probably won’t find much for you here. Hell, I’m 26 years old, grew up playing these types of games and I still didn’t like it. This is the type of game for the nostalgic gamer who really loves playing old school games and probably hasn’t advanced much with the rest of us. If this was 1988 I would probably give this game a 5/5, however it is 2010 and there are much better arcade games out there for you to spend your 1200 msp on.

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Rating: 7.8/10 (4 votes cast)
Castlevania: Harmony of Despair Review, 7.8 out of 10 based on 4 ratings
  • https://?u=admin James Ireland

    Cheers Craig, an excellent start to a new day here! Two great pieces of content since we’ve came back online. Woot Woot!

  • https://?u=craigbaker Craig Baker

    make that three. Just put up an epic Black Ops multiplayer trailer

  • Lazaro

    Thia game sucks

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