Castlevania: Harmony of Despair: Leveling Guide

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Castlevania: Harmony of Despair

                        Levelling Guide
                              
                                  by Option

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VERSION HISTORY

December 10 2010: Version 1.0

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INDEX

0. About this Guide [ABT]
1. General Techniques and Information [GTI]
2. Survival Etiquette [SVT]
3. Jonathan Morris [JNM]
4. Julius Belmont [JLB]
5. Richter Belmont [RCB]
6. Shanoa [SHN]
7. Yoko Belnades [YKB]
8. Maria Renard [MRR]
9. Thanks and Copyright stuff [TCS]

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0. ABOUT THIS GUIDE [ABT]

This guide is written for the Xbox Live Arcade game, Castlevania: Harmony of
Despair, or Castlevania HD/CVHD for short. This game is a multiplayer-geared
game featuring different characters from the famous platforming series. There
has also been a lot of downloadable content (or DLC) released for this game
already, including a new level and a whopping 4 characters!
These characters all have different abilities, and all of them can be made
stronger. While there are some characters who become stronger with each copy
of a spell they find, 2 of the 5 original and all 4 of the DLC characters
become stronger by levelling up their weapons through using them.

Thus, so called "grinding" has been born, playing the game purposely only to
power up your weaponry.

This guide has been written since many people do not know how to level up
their weaponry properly, and highlights the current best ways to do so. I do
not claim to be completely right about everything, however, I am writing this
to the best of my knowledge and will try to give you pointers at how it's done
at least now. Should I get my hands on new information, I will include that
into this guide.

For now, though, I think this guide should suffice if you are new to the game
or using a character requiring this type of levelling up.
I will also provide you with a general overview of the 6 characters and the
location of each of their skills should you still need them.

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1. GENERAL TECHNIQUES AND INFORMATION [GTI]

If you are reading this guide, I assume you know how the basic controls work,
so this part of the FAQ will introduce you to the different techniques and
strategies to level up.

Note that I will always assume standard controller layout. If you have
changed your controls, this will obviously not be reflected by my button
inputs.


1.1. HOW LEVELLING WORKS

The characters who are able to level up their skills through using them are
Jonathan and Shanoa in the base game, and all 4 DLC characters who have been 
released to date, so that means Julius, Richter, Yoko and Maria.
The other 3 characters (Soma, Alucard, Charlotte) level their skills up by
getting more copies of the respective spell or soul.
However, except for Yoko and Maria, who start out with all of their spells,
the use-based characters have to get extra copies of their skills. I will
detail this further in the section about the characters themselves.

Now onto how levelling for the use-based characters ACTUALLY works. It's easy.
For every hit your sub-weapon or spell makes, you gain an experience point.
The more experience points you gather with that skill, the fuller the bar with
the different sections becomes, which you can see when assigning skills on 
your character. One of these sections equals 1 level, and the more experience
you gain with that skill, the more it grows towards the next section, so you
can see about how long it'll take you to reach a certain level.

As for the hit, this is counted through the amount of damage digits you deal
to your enemies. This also includes the GUARD hits on Dullahans or Axe Knights
with shields. So if your weapon touches an enemy but does not deal visible
damage, it does not count as a hit towards your experience.

It is still ambiguous as to how exactly damage per hit influences your
progress, and it seems that this even depends on which skill you are actually
using, so this is pretty much the only part I am not sure about. Hence I will
tell you the most widely accepted way.

Your characters' will also increase their attack power, both physical and
magical, as you level up their skills.

Or, for a tl;dr version:
Hit, gain experience. Don't hit, don't get experience.


1.2. BACKDASH CANCELLING

This is probably one of the most, if not THE most important thing to know
when levelling up, and one of the most vital things in the game, anyway. When
it comes to sub-weapons/spells, it's actually not that difficult to do.
You assign the spell you want to backdash cancel (BDC for short) onto the slot
for Down+B. If you want to BDC, you then hold down or diagonally down into the
direction you want to use on your D-pad or control stick and start alternately
mashing the B button and the LB button (backdash button). If you do it 
correctly, your character will start throwing out the spell in very rapid 
succession.
It might take you a little bit to get used to it, but it's very easy to get 
the hang of, and you should be able to learn it quickly.


1.3. SLOT ALTERNATING

That's my personal name for it. It doesn't have an actual name, but I think 
this suits it pretty much the best. This works only if you have more than one
copy of a spell or sub-weapon. The problem with some of these skills is that
BDC'ing does not work because their hit detection is different from that of
those that can be BDC'd. If you BDC them, you will see that you will get only
1 hit for, say, 7 axes of any of the whip wielders. Of course this is not what
we want when going for levels. We want every axe to hit.
The first thing that comes to mind is to throw only one axe at a time. 
However,there's a little tidbit of knowledge that makes levelling these 
skills soooooo much easier. Every slot's attack is counted individually.
So the axe thrown with Up+B is not counted as the same attack as the axe 
thrown with Down+B. So what you do is to assign one of the skills you want 
to level into one of your skill slots and rotate throwing them out. 
You can, for instance, roll the control stick, thus finding a rhythm.
This will speed up your progression with these weapons a LOT.

Note that not all skills are good to be used with either of these techniques,
but I will specify them in the character sections.


1.4. SURVIVAL GRINDING

This is probably one of the most common ways to level up your characters'
skills. Get a partner and host a survival game. There's only Chapter 1, but in
both Normal and Hard. Choose ONLY HARD. Do NOT use Normal. Normal will gain
you absolutely nothing when survival grinding. Now, the difference is that in
Hard Survival, aside from the players, there's also Gergoth. You have two
options to go here - either hit another player or Gergoth. Your player will
gain your skills no experience, but hitting Gergoth does - even in Survival.
The second thing is: You cannot die in Survival. Well, you can, but you will
respawn almost instantly.
Now, if you are in possession of an Astral Ring, you can pretty much already
start going to grind in Survival. You can grab one of those in Hard Chapter 6
from Green chests and when going Single Player, Blue chests. They're pretty
common, so you'll get one very quickly even when not killing Dracula.

What the Astral Ring does is that instead of using your MP, you will use your
HP. You can spam the hell out of your spells or subs and then jump into 
Gergoth or the other player's attacks and you will respawn with your full HP 
again. Hooray!
The whole process speeds up if you equip a Master Ring. Every character who
levels skills through using then can gain those from the shop after clearing 
Normal.

Now, what is helping your survival grinding out a lot as well is keeping your
INT stat as low as possible, and your HP stat as high as possible. Low INT is
more important than higher HP, so if the highest HP-raising equipment also
raises INT, just use the next best one.
Higher INT makes the damage of your sub-weapons and spells grow, so lower
INT means less damage which, in turn, means more hits you can get! Comprende?

I know that not everyone has this gear, but the best gear for the characters
to equip for Survival grinding is easy to summarize.

Jonathan should equip:
Head: Simon's Bandanna
Chest: Simon's Plate
Legs: Simon's Sandals (technically, but I prefer Winged Boots)
Cape: Paludamentum
Accessory 1: Astral Ring
Accessory 2: Master Ring

Julius and Richter should equip:
Head: Shogun Helmet
Chest: Simon's Plate
Legs: Simon's Sandals (technically, but I prefer Winged Boots)
Cape: Paludamentum
Accessory 1: Astral Ring
Accessory 2: Master Ring

Shanoa, Yoko and Maria should equip:
Head: Fedora/Velvet Hat
Chest: Robe Decollete
Legs: - (there are no HP-boosting shoes for the girls)
Cape: Paludamentum
Accessory 1: Astral Ring
Accessory 2: Master Ring

Remember that this only works for Survival!


1.5. OTHER WAYS OF GRINDING

For those who don't have a player to grind with readily available, or no other
XBox LIVE Gold members to play online with, you can level up your gear through
means other than Survival, albeit they seem to be less effective and slower.
There's pretty much 2 of them.
First is to use them "legitimately" during normal gameplay. This is obviously
ridiculously slow, especially on higher levels, for your skills, and you
wouldn't read this guide if you wanted to do it that way, obviously.

Second way is to sit next to a Dullahan or Menace (Chapter 3's boss) and use
them repeatedly in a similar way to Survival grinding.
In this second case, make sure that you don't hit the Dullahan's head or
Menace's weakspots so you only do GUARD on Dullahan or 1 damage per hit on
Menace.
The equipment here depends on how you want to do that - do you just want to
use your MP and have yourself regenerating slowly and use Mind Ups or so, then 
go for gear that gives you more MP. If you want to use HP and use potions, 
use stuff that boosts your HP and the Astral Ring, but remember that once you
die, you're dead and have to restart the stage.
Note that when using the MP version, you can equip 2 Master Rings.

I don't have too much experience with doing it this way, to be honest.
Survival still is the best way to grind your characters' skills, so only go for
this method if you don't have any other choice.

Speaking of this method, if you DO have another player and don't want to do
Survival for some reason, you can grab another player who uses Charlotte and
have them heal your HP up when using the Astral Ring, basically simulating how
Survival works.

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2. SURVIVAL ETIQUETTE [SVT]

When playing in Survival to grind, there are a few things that should be
common sense, but I still see a lot of people ignoring these little things
and essentially looking like douches.
If you have a microphone and your partner does too, this makes things a lot
easier, of course.

- Tell your partner which way of Survival Grinding you want to do, and which
weapon you want to grind. Do you want to take turns or are you alright with
both players attacking Gergoth at the same time?

- If you settle on the second option, do not use skills that can hurt your
partner or that get into his way. For instance, if your partner would like to
level the Axe, don't level the Bible, but instead use the Knife or the Holy
Water. If your partner levels a close-range weapon like the Holy Water, then
don't use the Bible or Cross, because they couldn't do anything since your 
sub-weapons would block their way.

- Use spells that home or cover a lot of space only if your partner is aware
of them. This includes Shanoa's Fulgur, Yoko's Holy Lightning, the whip users'
Ricochet Rock and all of Maria's spells but Hymn.

- Don't attack Gergoth with your normal weapon. Nobody will complain about an
accidental hit or you jumpkicking off of him to avoid him killing you right
away, but purposely causing damage that doesn't level your character up is
extremely impolite. Unless your partner is fine with it.

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3. JONATHAN MORRIS [JNM]

Jonathan is one of the 5 base characters and the only whip user, unless you
get DLC. He is from Portrait of Ruin and is one of its main characters,
alongside Charlotte.
In CVHD, Jonathan is a great user of both whip and sub-weapons, and has
a pool of martial arts to use. He has a total of 12 sub-weapons to use, and the
most things he has to level up. His playstyle revolves around his versatility
with both sub-weapons and martial arts, despite the fact his whip is the
shortest and weakest out of the 3 whip wielders.

The sub-weapons he can get are:
Axe: Drops from the Axe Knight enemies.
Bible: Drops from Chapter 2.
Boomerang: Drops from Chapters 2-4 and Gurkha Master enemies.
Cross: Drops from Chapters 5 and 6.
Grenade: Drops from Chapters 1-4 and The Creature enemies.
Holy Water: Drops from Chapters 4-6.
Knife: You start out with this.
Kunai: Drops from Chapter 4.
Paper Airplane: Drops from Chapter 1 and Fleaman enemies.
Ricochet Rock: Drops from the Lerajie enemies.
Shuriken: Drops from Chapter 5.
Wrecking Ball: Drops from Chapter 3.

All of these sub-weapons will drop on both difficulties and from chests of the
colors Green, Blue (if playing Single Player), Purple and Gold (Boss).

Weapons that are BDC-able:
Knife, Kunai, Paper Airplane, Ricochet Rock, Shuriken

Weapons that need Slot Alternating:
Axe, Bible, Boomerang, Cross, Grenade, Holy Water

When levelling Cross in Survival, it's best to not stand on the ground while 
using it, but rather jump into the air so the attack hits more Gergoth's body 
rather than his feet only, getting in more hits.

Wrecking Ball is a special case because there are several things you can go for
with that one in order to level it. The weapon requires only the use of 15 MP
only once, and as long as you hold the button and not get hit, Jonathan will
swing the chain. So there are 2 better solutions than using the general setup
with Astral Ring.

Solution 1 works best if your Jonathan is not levelled up yet, and if you equip
low-INT gear. For this, you don't use Survival at all. Instead, you go to
Single player and then Chapter 1 Hard. Equip the Wrecking Ball and make a few
steps forward and turn around so that if Jonathan swings the chain, the ball
will hit the Zombies in the corridor, but the guys won't bump into Jonathan.
Then put some duct tape onto your button or find some other way to hold down
the button and leave the thing running for 30 minutes.
The fun thing is that Zombies will recover their health if they slide back
into the ground. And Wrecking Ball will not power up until you break off the
current swinging and restart it. So you will have a Level 1 Wrecking Ball
still attacking the Zombies even if the weapon is already of a higher level.
This results in the guys surviving and recovering their health.
Obviously, this will only work once, so definitely use 2 Master Rings for
this.

After that round, you will go for Solution 2, which goes back to Survival.
Equip another Master Ring instead of the Astral Ring and put a few 
High Mind Ups into your item slot instead of leaving it empty.
Then use the Wrecking Ball until Gergoth is about to damage you, then restart
Wrecking Ball when you're placed again. Since it only takes 15 MP once, you
will not constantly lose MP except when restarting Wrecking Ball, and 2
Master Rings will obviously speed up the levelling process quite a bit.

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4. JULIUS BELMONT [JLB]

Julius hails from Aria and Dawn of Sorrow. In both games, he was playable
through a hidden "Julius Mode." He is the one Belmont to truly kill Dracula in 
1999.
In CVHD, Julius is similar to Jonathan, however, he has quite a few differences
in his gameplay. Instead of having 12 sub-weapons, he only has 6 (the classic
"Belmont arsenal"), and he also does not acquire as many martial arts as
Jonathan (or Richter, for that matter). His whip is the longest out of the 3
current whip users, however, and the second-strongest in terms of raw damage.
He can also use it to whip into all 8 directions and swing from certain points
in the stages.

The sub-weapons he can get are:
Axe: Drops from the Axe Knight enemies.
Bible: Drops from Chapter 2.
Cross: Drops from Chapters 5 and 6.
Holy Water: Drops from Chapters 4-6.
Knife: You start out with this.
Ricochet Rock: Drops from the Lerajie enemies.
Shuriken: Drops from Chapter 5.

All of these sub-weapons will drop on both difficulties and from chests of the
colors Green, Blue (if playing Single Player), Purple and Gold (Boss).

Weapons that are BDC-able:
Knife, Ricochet Rock

Weapons that need Slot Alternating:
Axe, Bible, Cross, Holy Water

When levelling Cross in Survival, it's best to not stand on the ground while 
using it, but rather jump into the air so the attack hits more Gergoth's body 
rather than his feet only, getting in more hits.

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5. RICHTER BELMONT [RCB]

Richter is from Rondo of Blood and Symphony of the Night. He was the main
character in Rondo and a hidden character in Symphony. He was said to be the
strongest of all Belmonts (at least at the time) and is father of the
legendary "Die, monster!" quote. He is also unlockable in Portrait or Ruin.
In CVHD, he is similar to Jonathan, but he uses different martial arts gearing
far more towards offense than defense. He has the second-longest and strongest
whip of all 3 whip users.

His sub-weapons are exactly the same as Julius', so refer to his section for
this part.

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6. SHANOA [SHN]

Shanoa is the main character from Order of Ecclesia, and is a very powerful
mage wielding glyphs into battle.
While she doesn't have as big of an arsenal in CVHD, she is a very competent
mix between fighter and mage, and her spells get the job done pretty well.

The spells she can get are:
Ignis: You start out with 1 copy, more copies can be absorbed from the 
       Aliorumnas enemies
Fulgur, Grando: Absorbed from the Aliorumnas enemies
Nitesco: Absorbed from the Nova Skeleton enemies

To get the copies of Shanoa's glyphs, you have to wait for the enemies to
prepare their spells. You can see that when they start having some blue mass
above their heads. Hold Up as soon as you see that and until you have absorbed
the glyph, and with some luck, you'll gain a copy of the spell.

Shanoa can BDC Ignis, Grando and Fulgur. Remember that Fulgur homes into the 
other player when playing in Survival mode.
Nitesco profits the most from Slot Alternating. Try to have all of the 3
possible hits register.

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7. YOKO BELNADES [YKB]

Yoko is a supporting character in Aria and Dawn of Sorrow, and playable in
Dawn of Sorrow's secret "Julius mode." She mimics Sypha from Castlevania 3 with
her playstyle.
Although she only has 3 spells and no RB skill in CVHD, Yoko's damage output 
is MASSIVE, and she is easily able to tear through stages without any trouble.

Yoko already starts out with 4 copies of her 3 spells.
Blue Splash is BDC-able.
Holy Lightning requires Slot Alternating. Like Fulgur, it homes into the other
player in Survival mode, so make sure to stay away far enough.
Holy Flames is actually the weirdest. Albeit being BDC-able, it does not really
progress her experience with it, so you're best off shorthopping and having
both hits of the spell hit him, and then do it again.

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8. MARIA RENARD [MRR]

Maria is a supporting and playable character in many games. The child form she
uses in CVHD is most notably playable in Rondo of Blood and alongside Richter,
unlockable in Portrait of Ruin.
In HD, her playstyle is really hard to determine, but she seems to excel at
avoiding damage or minimizing the damage she does recieve. Her spells are very
fast and allow her to cover herself easily, except for Hymn, which seems to be
her main damage output, but also turns her into a sitting duck.

Just like Yoko, Maria already starts out with 4 copies of each of her 4 spells.
Hymn is her only BDC-able spell, and the other 3 require Slot Alternating. All
of these can easily hit your Survival partner, so with Maria it's best to
actually take turns.

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9. THANKS AND COPYRIGHT STUFF [TCS]

Konami for this game.
The All-Stars for playing, grinding and generally being awesome.
ShiitakeWarrior for correcting my spelling (cause I'm foreign y'know).
LordKaT for introducing me to this game.
Meos for grinding and the Master Ring x2-solution on Wrecking Ball.

HOSTED WITH MY PERMISSION AT:
www.gamefaqs.com
www.neoseeker.com

Copyright 2010 - Option (itsoption@gmx.net)
My nick on GameFAQs: AuT pBo Romulus

This FAQ was created by me, Option. It may freely be saved to your hard
drive, or printed, if it is not used for monetary transactions. You may post
it on a Website if you e-mail me first to inform me of this, no changes are
made, and that I am given credit for this FAQ. I reserve the right to
require any website hosting this work to remove it.

Castlevania: Harmony of Despair developed by Konami 2010. All Rights Reserved.

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