Two awesome games in one cartridge are well worth the purchase.
CASTLEVANIA: HARMONY OF DISSONANCE
Alright, you are playing as Juste Belmont, who has just been informed by his friend Maxim, that their childhood friend Lydie has gone missing. Their search for her eventually leads them to Dracula's castle, where they believe she is being held. I can't really say much more without spoiling anything, but with very little dialogue throughout the entirety of the game, there is really nothing too spectacular about this game's storyline.
Harmony of Dissonance stays true to the rest of the series when it comes to gameplay. The 2-D platformer style of gameplay give it a classic feel. The concept of the game is to go through Dracula's castle, and make your way up to Dracula with your vampire-killing whip. Of course you must first make your way through a myriad of undead and various other enemies who each take a different strategy to defeat. The numerous boss battles also take a great variety of strategys as some of them even can change their attack pattern after taking a certain amount of damage etc.. There is also a good deal of customization involved, you can choose which sub-weapons to use for certain enemies, and then perhaps combine them with an elemental spellbook to create numerous possibilities for attacks. You may also find relics, which may give you special abilities such as jumping in mid-air. There is also equipment, and power-ups that increase your Life meter, or maximum number of hearts (hearts determine how many times you can use a sub-weapon) hidden throughout the castle. The gameplay is definitely the main reason to play this game, which is why it deserves at least a nine.
In terms of difficulty this game is fairly challenging. While I think they could have made the boss fights a little more difficult, you may still find it a good challenge making it from one save point to the next (unless of course you are overleveled).
Controls 10/10 The controls are convenient, and easy to use. The R and L-dash are especially useful for going through a room quickly. You can even customize the controls to your preference if you like.
I really think they could have done a better job on the music. To me, it just sounds like well synchronized beeping. Still, the melodies themselves aren't too bad. I thought the sound effects were done pretty well though, which is why this manages a five.
The graphics really play a big part in this game. I think the backgrounds were done wonderfully, and really give a foreboding feel to the atmosphere. The character and enemy sprites were nicely detailed, but were a little rough around the edges. You could do many things on a second, third, or even fourth playthrough, such as trying to collect all the hidden equipment/power-ups, or maybe getting 100% on the castle. You can also go through the game as Maxim if you really want something different. Definitely worth at least a second run.
This game is definitely for anyone who likes the classic Castlevania feel, and if for nothing else, play it for the outstanding gameplay.
CASTLEVANIA ARIA OF SORROW
The game starts out with Soma Cruz: An exchange student to Japan in the year 2035. He is going to the Hakuba Shrine with his friend Mina, to see a solar eclipse. When he finally reaches the top, he finds himself in at Dracula's castle inside the solar eclipse. Now Soma must find a way out of the castle. This game contains plenty of storyline dialogue, and plot twists to keep the player interested. As is typical with Castlevania games, you explore through Dracula's castle, using a 2-D platformer style of play. This game also offers a wide variety of new additions that keep it fresh while still sticking to some old features. The most outstanding of these is the Soul system. You get souls by defeating enemies (you may have to try more than once). There are three types of souls: Attacking souls, Morphing souls, and stat-boosting souls. It is up to you to pick the best combination of the three soul types to best fit the situation. Some areas can only be reached by using certain souls. Also, as a kind of departure from the rest of the series, you can equip different kinds of weapons other than whips, such as swords, spears, or even handguns. The boss fights are actually quite difficult at times, and require good timing, choice of weaponry, and souls equipped. The game also has a boss rush mode, which is definitely a plus. I'd say that this game just slightly edges out HoD in terms of gameplay.
Unlike in HoD, a few of the bosses are indeed quite difficult. A few of the souls however, can make you somewhat overpowered, which of course subtracts from the challenge a bit. Also, after completing the game once, there is a hard mode available, which is actually considerably harder than normal.
Once again, easy to learn, and customizable to your preference.
Definitely a BIG improvement over HoD. Most of the area's melodies, along with the boss fight music, are well orchestrated, and quite catchy, and utilize the GBA's capabilities very well. The sound effects are also very nice, from the sound of a shattering chandelier, to the crumbling of a skeleton.
The enemy sprites, and backgrounds are done over smoothly and beautifully. I thought the character portraits looked very good too.
One of the first things you might want to do on a second playthrough would be to play through the game as Julius Belmont. You could also play as Soma again to try to get 100% of the souls, or try to get 100% on the castle map. Either way, you'll probably be playing this at least a second time.
In summary, these are two very good games that both are worthy of purchase. But luckily for you, they both come in one game pak!