E3 - Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance Impressions
Next to huge displays for Suikoden III and the new Contra games, was a little kiosk with Konami's next Castlevania game, Harmony of Dissonance (changed from the Japanese name of White Night Concerto). While not nearly as heavily promoted as some of the other games, it has the potential to be at least as good.
Similar to Konami's previous GBA offering, Circle of the Moon, HoD plays like the PlayStation's Symphony of the Night. As usual, your character is equipped with a whip and a secondary weapon, which can be picked up and exchanged during the game. The control is fairly good. While not as spot-on as SotN, the game plays slightly better than Circle of the Moon.
Visually, the game is very impressive. CotM was praised for its visuals all-around, except for the overly dark graphics. With the GBA's somewhat dark screen, playing it without an optimal light source proved difficult. Now, however, thanks to a brighter palette of colors, that won't be a problem. Your character is much more detailed this time around, and animates better (though not quite as fluid as the PSX game). Enemies and their animations seem nearly on par with the PSX game. What's really impressive are the bosses. Some of the bosses are actually so large they don't fit on your screen. While overly large, they aren't lacking in any of the quality that anything has has, and due to being made up of multiple 'parts', Konami has been able to do a lot with them.
Another thing returning this time is your inventory, and the ability to equip weapons, armor and items. One thing of note is that your whip is listed as well. While it's not known if you can change your whip during the game, it seems like you may be able to.
One new addition is the inclusion of maps. While the castle was mapped out beforehand, showing you where you have and haven't been, there's now an item to pick up before anything besides visited rooms shows up on your map.
There doesn't seem to be a way to run this time (in CotM, you could tap forward twice to run), but in its place, the L and R buttons let you do a quick dash in either direction. It's not known if this is a default ability, or one that was just in place for the E3 demo version. Either way, it's a nice feature, and helps you get around faster than walking.
Gamers who have played either of the previous Castlevania games have a good idea of what to expect. Konami has said that this game is expected to actually be twice as large as Symphony of the Night, an already massive game. If that proves true, this one could take awhile to finish.
Look media for Harmony of Dissonance later this week, and keep checking RPGFan for more E3 news.