Castlevania: Harmony of Despair

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This entry in the Castlevania series, released in August 4, 2010 for the Xbox 360's Live Arcade, and in September 27, 2011 for the Playstation Network. It's the first original 2D Castlevania for a home console since Symphony of the Night, with a heavy focus on online gameplay. The "plot" involves a cursed book known as the Grimoire, where the story of Castlevania has come to life within. However, the written personas of the various heroes and villains of the series have also come to life and must fight to put an end to the curse (or take over the book.) There is up to six-player online coop on both versions, and up to four-player local co-op on the Play Station 3 version, and while players do not have to stick together, it is somewhat encouraged due to the Dual Crushes and the difficulty.

Initial reactions were mixed, between So Cool Its Awesome and So Okay It's Average. However, it has gained a larger amount of appeal due to the DLC characters, stages, and even music.

Besides characters and stages, there have also been 2 music packs of five songs each. If you want more information on the music in this game, check out this link.

Tropes used in Castlevania: Harmony of Despair include:
  • Ascended Meme: Every character has 2 quotes they say if they're the ones to land the last hit on the boss. Guess what Richter's are? Yup, you got it: "Die, monster!" and "You don't belong in this world!".
    • A lot of the other Narm Charm dialogue is also referenced. If you have not bought the full game, a skit with either Jonathan and Charlotte or Soma and Alucard will play. Alucard says "I'm interested in this.", his original line when asking for something from the Master Librarian. The fans finally got what they wanted, essentially. New voices, same old hilariously bad dialogue.
  • Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: Menace, the boss of the third chapter, and Beelzebub, boss of the ninth chapter.
  • Badass Boast: When revived, Shanoa says "Hell could never hold me."
  • Big No: This.
  • Bragging Rights Reward: The secret items in each stage. Also extends to leaderboard since they only exist to provide a large point bonus.
  • Cherry Tapping: Whoever managed to beat Menace with Paper airplanes has too much time on their hands.
  • Chest Monster: Mimics are back, and they sometimes show up in place of the brown chests.
  • Competitive Balance: On December 20, the game received a large overhaul in both netcode and gameplay. Here's some examples of what was changed.
    • Several weapons had their damage outputs and properties strengthened and weakened, respectively. Of note is the Blender nerf. Not only was the Yasutsuna's damage output decreased, but its multiple hit ratio has been drastically reduced, making the Valmanways a much more preferred method. The Valmanways, however, also deliver hits slower, but the rate remains the same. The Alucard Sword and the Muramasa, two largely overlooked weapons in favor of the Blenders, have now been massively buffed in damage output so that people would use them instead of Valmanways and Yasutsunas.
    • Subweapons for whip users (and Maria) now require a smaller amount of MP to use, making them much more effective in lieu of the whip.
    • Charlotte's Infinite Healing is now impossible to do thanks to an altered hitbox and a higher MP requirement, forcing her to go on the offensive.
      • Not entirely impossible. After enough spell grinding and with the right gear, it is still possible, but anyone who manages to pull it off will usually only match the cost, if they don't just barely exceed it, meaning a Charlotte with enough INT can still use Infinite Healing in multiplayer, but at best will only be able to heal herself for 1 or 2 HP at a time outside of potions. Still makes SSJ Charlotte insanely impractical.
    • Netcode has been updated so that connections are more accurate, and it is now possible to open the game in the lobby for new players to join. The menus have also been updated in accordance.
  • Crisis Crossover: Alucard, Jonathan Morris, Charlotte Aulin, Soma Cruz, and Shanoa are the starting characters. More are planned to be released as DLC.
  • Combination Attack: The Dual Crushes from Portrait of Ruin make an encore appearance, with most of them being new to the series. Of special note: pairing up Jonathan and Charlotte is the only way to recreate the Thousand Blades attack, while having Alucard and Soma initiate a Dual Crush results in none other than Dracula's Demonic Megiddo (albeit on a smaller scale). While previously they were Awesome but Impractical due to their large MP cost but far lower damage than their appearance would suggest, they've been greatly improved in the update, both in damage and lowered MP cost, making them a viable option to use against bosses.
  • Death Is Cheap: In multiplayer, you can still go around as a skeleton after you're killed (and continue doing so), meaning the game won't end until the last player actually dies. However, there are a few problems with being a skeleton: not only are you weak, limited in mobility, can't interact with switches or treasure chests or get the latter's contents and can only attack through throwing your bones, but each time you get killed as a skeleton, three minutes are removed from the timer and you respawn wherever you were killed, which might be halfway across the level if you tried following another player who was making their way to a Water Of Life and got hit by a stray attack in the progress. But still ...
    • Can also be taken literally, since Death moves around the most out of any boss and is thus generally the hardest boss to not to get hit by and to kill the fastest.
      • And he tours outside of the boss room to attack players while they're on their way to him! Death Is Cheap indeed, although not cheap enough to have Collision Damage outside of his room or spam his scythes without considerable startup.
    • Being reduced to a skeleton is not as much of a handicap anymore thanks to the update, which gave them the ability to crouch and slide, meaning the only general action they don't have access to is jump kicks... but then again, Charlotte and Yoko don't have them either. Any skeletonized players are also now automatically revived when someone opens the boss chest, meaning they won't be screwed out of a possibly rare item if nobody has any leftover Waters of Life after the bossfight.
  • Degraded Boss: Among others, Dullahan has been reduced to a powerful enemy.
    • Gergoth has been reduced from a strong candidate for That One Boss to an easy first boss. (He can still crush newbies pretty easily, though. So don't expect to not be killed the first several times you go through Chapter 1!)
  • Denial of Diagonal Attack: Semi-averted by some characters, but Julius Belmont averts the trope fully, in the style of Super Castlevania IV. Plus, he can whip-swing.
  • Distracted by the Sexy: Dracula's final form has a special heart attack which can brainwash female characters if it hits them: against males, it just does large amounts of damage. Charmed females can hit other players and be hit by other players, and killing a charmed player counts as an achievement, but it isn't particularly smart to do it otherwise, since revive items are scarce and it wears off on its own.
    • Funnily enough, when Charlotte snaps out of the charm, she says "What a jerk!"
      • Astarte can do the same thing, except for males. And since the majority of the characters are male, this would pose a problem if only it were less easily telegraphed and the fact that you can dodge it with relative ease if you're either outside the boss door or if you time your jump right and you're right on top of her while doing so.
      • It should be noted that killing a charmed player just accelerates their death, as a charmed player isn't likely to survive the rest of the battle. So if you have a Water of Life, it'll simply be quicker to kill them yourself and then bring them back.
        • In single-player, being charmed just renders you unable to do anything for a fairly long time. Seeing as Dracula and Astarte can both dish out a lot of damage... yeah, the previous statement isn't far off the mark.
        • If a player holds Up as Shanoa to absorb a glyph too long, she lets out a sarcastic huff as if the player is just trying to Male Gaze at her epic Sexy Backless Outfit.
        • Charlotte on the other hand will twirl and pose for the camera, saying "you like that?"
  • Dungeon Bypass: Soma can use a combination of moving platforms, a tall vertical wall, Puppet Master soul, and a well-timed double jump to use the game's collision detection against itself and glitch his way through a solid ceiling to reach the other side of a normally one-way door and bypass a very large part of the otherwise marathon-length chapter 10. He can then, of course, flip the switch next to the door and let the rest of the team join in on the fun.
  • Grandfather Paradox: Soma (Dracula's reincarnation) is able to gain dominance on Dracula's soul. It's a damn good thing the game has no story.
    • They take it Up to Eleven; he can do the same thing to the 8-Bit Retro Count!
  • Guest Fighter: Getsu Fuma.
  • Hey, It's That Voice!: Pretty much all of the previous VAs reprised their roles from past 'Vanias, both in Japanese and English. In some cases, the old voices from the Symphony era stepped in once again.
  • Idiot Ball: There are a couple of weapons available for Alucard and Soma, the Yasutsuna and the Valmanway, that allow you to attack while moving, because they don't have an attack animation -- they just make some slashing effects happen in front of the character. Granted, the Yasutsuna only works that way when used by Alucard, but the Valmanway works the same for both. While seasoned players will with no doubt look at this and think they can get many attacks in while still remaining agile, the far more common response is that people just forget to dodge entirely, because they can deal damage as fast as they can mash the attack button(s). If it weren't for this, they'd be straight up in Game Breaker territory.
    • Smarter players also tend to pair the said weapons with Berserker Mail, which doubles both the damage you deal and take, since this is a significant boost to otherwise low damage one of the said weapons does per hit: since not getting hit at all is vastly preferable both in regards of getting higher scores and better items from bosses, the doubled damage isn't as much of a handicap as it'd seem.
  • Infinity+1 Sword: Well, you can't get much more literal than having better versions of best weapons of several weapon classes with better stats that are just named <original name>+1, can you?
  • Kaizo Trap: In chapter 9, if some of Beelzebub's flies are still around after its defeat, they can still kill you.
    • As can R.The Count's projectile spirals if you kill him while he's in middle of using one, but it's a lot less likely to happen since you're generally too busy evading it to attack him then.
  • Large Ham: The Puppet Master ("YOU, TOO, SHALL BE MY PUPPET!") and Brauner ("THIS...IS ART!!!").
    • The former can become very irritating due to its boss status, played every time you start that scenario. Noticeable in that he's the only boss with an intro like that.
    • Brauner's always been a Large Ham.
  • Leeroy Jenkins: Any player that charges into a boss room without waiting for everyone else, which can be devastating if said boss is the Puppet Master.
  • Lethal Joke Character: The 8-bit characters may initially seem like this, but both of them possess strength comparable to other characters:
    • Simon's whip ends up being just as strong as Jack's with length comparable to all other whip users, and he attacks the fastest out of all whip users in the game as well as having an always-available ranged attack, and he can use all the same subweapons as well.
    • Meanwhile, Fuma's sword swing has the shortest range in the game, but the flames that shoot out with every swing give him the largest normal attack coverage in the entire game, and at point blank range, all 3 of them hit the enemy along with the blade, giving him respectable damage output. His unique subweapons also have plenty of uses and include a powerful piercing attack, a powerful bomb that spreads in 5 directions when it explodes, and a rapidly-moving wall of shurikens for large enemies or getting rid of hard to hit small ones in his way. His taunt can also cause minor damage to enemies right above him and his Double Jump also damages anything he comes in contact with, which may end up saving the day, especially when fighting the boss from his own game. And finally, both of them are smaller targets than the other characters, meaning they'll have an easier time avoiding some attacks.
  • Level Grinding: Subverted; unlike the Metroidvania-style games, no traditional form of leveling is involved. That being said, all sub weapons get stronger with either repeated use or collecting more copies of them, which in turn increases that character's base stats, and in Charlotte's case, upgrades the range and coverage of her normal attack.
  • Luck Stat: Perhaps the most interesting aspect of this game compared to other 'Vanias. Finally, Konami has officially revealed that Luck DOES actually affect the rare drops you get...if you have half of a team using luck builds. Also, the person with the highest luck needs to kill the boss and open the chest.
  • Marth Debuted in Smash Bros: With the worldwide release of Getsu Fuma and his stage, this is the first time he appears in any (non-card) game outside of Japan.
  • Mega Manning: Soma Cruz, Charlotte Aulin, and Shanoa can all do this.
  • Menu Time Lockout: Oh so painfully averted. Once that 30-minute timer starts, there is absolutely no way to stop it. Whether it's pausing, fiddling with your inventory at the Grimoire, everything keeps going in real time. Yes, that means the gameplay keeps going, so if you're pausing, you'd best make sure no enemies are nearby.
  • Metroidvania: Subverted; even though the rooms are laid out like previous 2D Castlevania titles, they now play out as a single joined stage, where enemies can travel and attack between rooms. Think of it as a perfect mixture of Classicvania and Metroidvania.
  • Nerf: See Competitive Balance.
  • Nintendo Hard: Limited healing items? Alucard's Soul Steal not as effective as it was before? No save points that give full HP/MP mid stage? A 30-minute time limit for your exploration of each stage?!? Yeah, this is going to suck for some people.
    • Not to mention, Dracula... Oh good Lord, Dracula and his triangles of death...
    • Hard mode is dubbed by some fans as Ultra Hard Rape Mode for a reason.
      • Normal mode, on the other hand, is not. Go figure.
    • Chapter 10, based on the entire original Castlevania, is this regardless of difficulty. The map is huge, requiring a lot of time to get through (unless a Soma glitches their way through the ceiling in the room with moving platforms and opens the door for the rest of the team, allowing them to bypass around 60% of the level), treasure chests are in difficult to reach places (including the blue ones that have the Water of Life in multiplayer), and both of Retro Dracula's forms can have new insane attack patterns and tricks up their sleeves.
      • Hard Chapter 11 has stopped Chapter 10 in terms of difficulty. First, you have to beat all 3 minibosses before fighting the actual boss, which takes quite a while and will cost you a lot of health (and Super Potions) and each one you defeat powers up the other 2 and makes their attacks harder to avoid. Then, when you get to the boss and kill his first and second forms, he turns into a giant dragon skeleton...thing that suddenly starts filling the screen with fireballs that can either curse, poison, or petrify you. Oh, and you can't hit him multiple times, either. You have to wait until his heart is exposed, and even then you only have a limited window of time to attack. Ridiculous.
  • No Fair Cheating: On Hard Chapters 6 and 10, both Dracula's have measures to prevent idling at the boss door. Normal Dracula will summon pillars of fire outside the door if he detects someone standing near the entrance after transforming into his second form. Retro Dracula, however, is less forgiving. If he detects someone outside the door and the one person fighting him is dead, he summons a HUGE fire spiral that goes across the whole stage and cannot be dodged or avoided. And it goes on forever and will kill you in 3 hits.
    • Death does this as well, but to a lesser extent. He just summons random scythes around the boss area.
  • Nostalgia Level: The recently-released Chapter 9 is a replica of the first few areas from Symphony of the Night.
    • Chapter 8 as well. It's a replica of the Catacombs, Abandoned Mine, and Underground Caverns.
    • Chapter 10 is a replica of all of the levels of the very first Castlevania. So it's essentially the whole game in a single level, complete with being in 8-bit.
      • And along with it, Simon, who's a nostalgia character.
  • No Plot, No Problem: Some of the playable characters lives are centuries apart, one is the reincarnation of one of the boss (who he can absorb the soul of). Nobody cares.
  • One-Winged Angel: Dracula, as always. The battle against him features him using all three of his Symphony of the Night forms.
  • Panty Shot: Just like in Portrait of Ruin, Vacuum + Charlotte = Fun. However, due to the effects (you're frozen for a few seconds), this can make playing as Charlotte in the second level a bit more difficult if your initial spawn is in the "right" place.
    • Also works with Yoko.
  • Pink Girl, Blue Boy: Upon death in multiplayer, guys get tombstones with moss, girls get wooden crosses with floral wreaths.
    • Both get ornate Japanese gravestones with Ghost Lights flying around them if they die enough times, Getsu gets them by default.
  • Poison Mushroom: There are some food items that poison you if you pick them up, so you have to pay close attention to what you're grabbing.
  • Prop Recycling: Nearly all of the sprite art and quite a few of the sound effects/voices are recycled from previous Castlevania games (especially the 3 Nintendo DS iterations).
  • Randomly Drops: In full force here. What's more, hacking the game has revealed that in order to reduce the likelihood of getting tons of second-best items from the boss chests (as opposed to the best items, which are generally the ones you'd really want), it's ultimately beneficial to reduce your luck as low as possible, which goes against all video game logic ever established: to be fair, in order to be more likely to get the best items from boss chests, you'll instead need to just be able to play the game well by finishing the stage quickly and taking no damage. However, when you are with multiple people, the likelihood of getting good items goes up (and having a higher luck stat can get you better treasures than everyone else).
    • Shanoa's weapon glyphs are only found in Boss treasure chests, and it's random if you get one or not. Be ready for a lot of frustration if you're not happy with the default rapier...
    • Jonathan's subweapon drops are random. Note that he doesn't improve unless he gets more subweapons.
    • Charlotte's spells are both acquired and upgraded through a random-drop based system, with the random element shifted from whether you get the spell you're looking for or something else entirely to whether the enemy you get the spell from feels like using the attack in question, and whether you need to absorb 1 or 1000 of their projectiles in question to ultimately learn or upgrade the spell. Like Jonathan, she doesn't improve unless she gets more spells.
  • The Dev Team Thinks of Everything: In Chapter 9, after getting across the drawbridge, there is a platform next to the Dullahan. If you attack it, it reveals a secret area with a green chest. This area is the entrance to the Underground Prison in the Saturn version of Symphony of the Night.
    • They also remembered the Sword Brothers glitch where you can get out of the castle and go beyond the boundaries, letting you get over 400% map completion. Now you can do what you always dreamed: jump on the entrance walls and take a shortcut to the boss!
  • The Voiceless: Simon and Fuma do not speak at all, as they are 8-bit.
  • Timed Mission: Each level has a time limit of 30 minutes. For the longer and more linear levels (Chapters 6 and 10 come to mind), this is actually very unforgiving.
  • Time Travel: Shanoa's game takes place sometime in the 1800s, Jonathan and Charlotte are from 1944, and Soma is from 2035, so it kinda goes without saying. Alucard's year of origin isn't stated, but it doesn't really matter much, since he's effectively immortal.
    • By the way, Julius and Yoko are from 2035 as well, and Richter and Maria come from 1792.
      • The justification is that these are living incarnations of a book chronicle of Castlevania. Someone wrote down what all of these heroes and villains did in a magic book; and then the characters inside the book came to life and teamed up to take the other side down.
  • Took a Level in Badass: "Psshh. Retro Dracula? Like this is going to be any kind of challen-Did he just fire underarching fireballs? Did he just Back Dash into me? DID HE JUST UNLEASH Bullet Hell AGAINST ME?! DID HE JUST CHARGE AT ME WHILE FLYING?!"
  • You Fail Physics Forever: There is a glitch on Chapter 10 with Soma involving Puppet Master which involves going into the elevator room after what is technically stage 2 of the original Castlevania, throwing the puppet at the right time, then jump kicking at the right time. You will begin floating upward and towards the clock tower room, at which point if you jump at the right time you warp through the ceiling into it, essentially skipping half of the level. Good riddance considering the godawful drop pool.
    • Richter can do the same thing with his Spin Kick.
    • And now so can Shanoa, and any character with a drop kick, for that matter. It's easier to do with Soma and Richter, though.