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The game that launched the Castlevania series was released for NES in May 1987. Join Simon Belmont on an 18 stage quest to take down the famous vampire Dracula, and a few other famous monsters on the way. The game introduced the standard knife, axe, holy water, stopwatch, and boomerang special weapons used in many future games.


Run: 0:12:06 by Josh 'funkdoc' Ballard

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This is a great example of why recorded runs often don't say much about skill - almost all of my improvements over the previous record come from tricks and strategies that are luck-based. I hated doing this, but as I had already learned the game for Awesome Games Done Quick I figured it was worth a shot. If you're interested in learning this game for racing and such, don't follow the strategy you see here! Look up Bablo's previous record on, as the game is infinitely more consistent and enjoyable the way he does it.

There are a few noticeable differences from the previous record, each of which I will describe: Improved and consistent level 1 boss strategy, using the cross in levels 2 & 3, the damage boost onto the ceiling at the beginning of level 4, and a much riskier and more aggressive Dracula strategy.

The level 1 boss is very simple. Walk off the ledge with the stairs, hit the block with the II multiplier, but don't pick it up until the bat moves. If you do it correctly, he will give you a good pattern every time. This is the only new tactic that I would recommend using in a race or live run, as it's extremely easy.

The cross usually costs less than a second compared to holy water in level 2, but can be faster if you get perfect luck on Medusa. It also adds a bit of luck with the bone pillar near the end, as its fireball timing is random and you can't just walk through it like you can with holy water. Level 3 is where the real time is saved from this, as the game has a glitch that proves to be useful on the mummies. Specifically, if a projectile connects with 2 overlapping objects, it hits one of them alternately on each frame. This is yet another significant luck element, as you need the mummies to cross paths quickly to save time from this, and it also adds more luck to the level itself (via the section near the beginning with all the birds in a row). Definitely looks cool if you get it, though!

Level 4 is the reason I've used the short whip throughout the first 3 levels. The damage boost here is probably the coolest-looking trick in the game, but yet again it's highly luck-based. You use the stopwatch once to prevent the bat from spawning until you reach the ledge near the top with the holy water, and you need the bat to spawn high instead of low when using the 2nd stopwatch in order to successfully boost onto the ceiling; the short whip is necessary to prevent you from hitting the candle with the holy water too early. The bat's spawn point is completely random, and this saves less than 7 seconds total, so don't try it in a live run! One other trick worth noting in this level is whipping the bone dragon near the end to make it move downward so you can jump through it instead of damage boosting. And in case you didn't know, flea men can drop axes and have ruined quite a few of my attempts with that, and another hidden luck factor is receiving lots of hearts from the flea men and losing a bunch of time waiting for them to count down. Without a doubt, the least fun level of this run for me!

As for the Dracula fight, here's how the double holy water trick works: If you throw a cross so that it hits both his head and his body simultaneously, you will gain enough kills with the cross to reveal a II multiplier from a candle. You need a lucky pattern from Dracula to collect the holy water and then make it back across to the II, plus more good luck from him to survive the fight. Thankfully the second form is a joke with double holy water, but this fight can still be done a couple seconds faster with even better luck.

Overall, this run can be improved by 3-4 seconds with better luck on Dracula and maybe 1 or 2 other things, but sub-12 won't happen unless you start landing the critical hit glitch on bosses (check the TAS to see what I mean). I have no desire to do that anytime soon and am very pleased with this. Hopefully you enjoy watching it as much as I hated recording it!

The biggest thanks go out to Bablo, for teaching me the ins and outs of this game, and Phil Cote & Morrison for their TAS which showed me the cross glitch and level 4 damage boost. Also thanks to everyone who's watched my stream ( for the uninitiated), and you guys had better start racing in this!

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