VC Weekly 332

Welcome to VC Weekly, N-Europe’s guide to the wonderful world of Nintendo’s download service. Written by Sam C Gittins

Two platforming titles of very different flavours from two much loved third parties. Anyway enough from me and on with the games!
Available for download this week we have...     

Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance
Super Ghouls 'n Ghosts

Price: GB £7.99, EU €8.99
Publisher: Konami
Developer: Konami
Released: 2002
System: GBA

Going from only having a couple of Castlevania titles spread out over a significant period of time to having more than double the amount within a few weeks, the Wii U Virtual Console is now a thriving resource for many of your vampire hunting needs. Continuing the solid tradition of excellent portable platforming, Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance puts you straight into the nineteenth century following the death of Dracula thanks to the ever-vigilent Belmont clan, this time you take on the role of Juste Belmont who along with his companion Maxim journey to an apparently abandoned castle in order to rescue their friend Lydie who has been captured; then the penny finally drops that this is indeed Dracula's Castle so you know how it goes from this point onward, it's an excuse for an amazing platform-based adventure.

Obviously I shall not spoil the story but it does manage to keep things interesting throughout especially as things don't exactly progress in an obvious way which is nice, you have a far superior central character this time around as Juste Belmont is infinitely more interesting than Nathan Graves from the first portable game; in short you feel more compelled to carry on from the start which is always a positive sign. As you explore the surrounding area your character will level up, gaining further abilities as you progress which is pretty standard, however you can also obtain items which will enhance your natural skill-set including the Sylph Feather giving you a double-jump or even the Lizard Tail granting you the ability to slide which opens up the gameplay a bit more; there are also relics to obtain which will augment things further to your advantage and of course all of the upgrades to your whip, sub-weapons, Magic/Health upgrades... it's all here.

Definitely the best element of this title though is the sprawling level design which spans two whole castles owing to some cross-dimension shenanigans related to the story - which I'll leave you to enjoy - which means you get to explore these two similar in passing castles which have a rather intricate layout thanks to them being linked, so your efforts in one castle may unlock a path within the other one. It makes for a really interesting dynamic keeping things fresh thanks to the different feel to each of the castles, it can become a little confusing at times but if you've played a Castlevania title before it shouldn't cause you too much trouble; there's a whole host of extras to unlock once you finish the main game too that you'll have to see for yourself, suffice to say it's worth the effort.


While the graphics in Circle of the Moon - the first GBA title in the series - were famous for being rather murky, compounded further by the original system's screen, this time everything is suitably presented in a bold, bright fashion but not to the extent of becoming outlandish or even garish as that just wouldn't do; no instead there is an amazing amount of detail put into each environment so all that you see from the background, foreground, enemies plus even your main character work together on the screen in perfect... harmony, it really is a joy to behold. Sadly the music doesn't quite reach the lofty heights attained by previous entries though which is a shame as Castlevania is typically famed for it, now I'm not going to say that the soundtrack is terrible because it still just about holds up, it just never aspires to be anything more than unremarkable owing to most of the space on the original cartridge being taken up by the delightful visuals; so what you're left with is an unfortunate trade-off rather than a nail in the coffin.

There's a great adventure to be had in Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance which is one that still holds up very well even today, fans will enjoy it even knowing that it's not the best Castlevania title they will play overall yet still a highly regarded one while newcomers shouldn't find it too daunting either. If you enjoy modern "Metroidvania" titles then you'll surely enjoy this, plus if it's a game you've always wanted to own but couldn't justify the hefty price of an original cartridge then this is surely worth buying just to experience it for a fraction of the outlay.  

Verdict : A classic Castlevania title that remains a close compromise to its home console counterparts.


Price: GB £6.29, EU €6.99
Publisher: Capcom
Developer: Capcom
Released: 2002
System: GBA
Sequel to the original arcade classic, Super Ghouls 'n Ghosts is in my opinion, the original survival horror. The game involves running from one end of the stage to another. Get hit twice, and you're dead. Simple as that! This game is tough as nails. Even finishing the first level on standard difficulty can be tough, as the enemies which move faster than you do. So the big question is, are you up for the challenge?

The game does have a story; you play as Arthur an intrepid young knight who must save the princess from certain doom, there are a couple of cut scenes to set the story up, but this game is more about action than anything else. Jumping, running and throwing your trusty weapon is the only way you can avoid anything in this game, it is relentless and unless you learn the levels they will constantly surprise you.

Its weapon system is quite in depth and robust, there are a few main types; all are projectiles but vary quite a lot, some have a longer range,  while others act more like grenades, while there are even weapons that only hit things in the air, these can however be upgraded, twice in fact. With the different suit types, Arthur's move set drastically changes, your weapons become stronger, by gaining a longer range or simply becoming faster to use, then with the final suit, you gain the ability to perform powerful charge attacks... if you get far enough.


Visually the backgrounds and sprites are quite simple, but the effects used at times are fantastic, the ground terraforms to allow you to jump or even miss other jumps; later on the sea destroys parts of the stage making for some challeneing moments indeed; sadly this GBA version does lack some of the original clarity though. Aurally the composed score is fantastic, the first level music will stick in your head for a long time to come and it has a great tone to it, while the sound effects are also equally impressive, helping to add that extra layer of immersion.

So, should you buy this game? Most certainly.... If you feel up for the challenge, as although it may be incredibly difficult, the amount of charm and character this game has is astounding making its purchase entirely justified as it's one of those titles which you simply must experience. Just keep in mind that you will most likely have a tough time finishing it, but with the addition of save states that are easy to use on the Wii U this shouldn't prove an impossible task so long as you pick your moments, in fact if you've ever played this classic in the past but found it too difficult then this may as well be a huge selling point, as belive me that with a game like this it makes the world of difference. Plus you'll need all the help you can get if you wish to get through the new arrange mode in this version.  

Verdict : Tough as diamonds, but incredible fun, visuals dip in this version, though there's more challenges to be done.

That's it for another installment of VC Weekly which will return again soon. So until then, enjoy the rest of the week and Game On!

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