Note: After this article’s publication, the validity of the world record (and others at the event) have been called into question. At this time, assume that all world records before 7/4/17 at SGDQ are not accurate. I apologize for the misinformation.
World record runs aren’t very common at marathons, as most runners choose less risky strategies for the sake of the show. However, runner Dr4gonBlitz brought us our first world record of SGDQ 2017 on the first day. Running the fan-favorite Castlevania: Symphony of the Night on PSX, Dr4gonBlitz pulled out all the stops and made history
Game: Castlevania: Symphony of the Night
Category: Any%, Glitchless
Let the Games Begin
Castlevania: Symphony of the Night is similar to the last game we covered, Luigi’s Mansion, in one major way. Although Symphony of the Night is a pretty glitchy game, the main time savers are found in movement mechanics. Dr4gonBlitz’s run started off pretty bare bones, using only his fists and backdashing. Backdashing is one of the fastest ways to move in the game in early sections, and when combined with a technique known as “shield cancelling”, gives us quick movement early on.
Up until the first boss, most of the run is mainly movement optimization and hoping for lucky stat increases. When you level up in Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, your stat boosts are somewhat random. Since you can’t see the amount of damage you’re doing (without a specific item), Dr4gonBlitz has to figure out how well off he is in the strength category. Despite some mediocre luck in the leveling department, he presses on without issue. Later in the run, he picks up the Moonstone item, which increases your stats during the game’s night cycle. Since the entire run takes place during the night cycle, the Moonstone is more like a permanent stat boost.
Anyone who has played games like Castlevania and Ninja Gaiden know just how annoying the enemies can be. Since Dr4gonBlitz isn’t wearing much armor and could easily get stun locked, he often chooses to damage boost over an enemy. This means he simply runs into the enemy on purpose, using the brief time of invincibility to pass them up.
Dr4gonBlitz eventually picks up the wolf form which allows for extra movement tech, but not before taking on the Doppleganger boss. The Doppleganger is the only boss weak to the stop watch item, which Dr4gonBlitz uses to quickly beat him down.
The Wolf and the Bat
After getting the wolf and bat forms, Dr4gonBlitz uses them instead of backdashing for main movement. In comparison, the wolf is a bit easier to use than constantly backdashing, although he’s a bit slower. The bat, on the other hand, allows for insanely quick movement.
Around this time in the run, Dr4gonBlitz claims that he set a new world record in the practice room at the event, but wasn’t recording it. Knowing now that he would set a world record on this run, it was a funny bit of unintentional foreshadowing.
The bat form really instills the importance of mana conservation, as using the form costs mana. A lot of Dr4gonBlitz’s route choices and strategies primarily aim to save mana for when it’s needed. Usually, mana is used for the bat form and holy water (more on that in a bit), but he uses some magic items on occasion.
Dr4gonBlitz’s main source of damage comes from the combination of Shield Rod and Iron Shield, which is very different from what I remember using as a kid. I considered myself more of a bruiser than a magic user, but Dr4gonBlitz shows off just how powerful the magical arts can be. Utilizing the leap stone for a pretty awesome movement technique, Dr4gonBlitz executes a dive kick directly into a bat transformation. When you transform into the bat, you keep all horizontal momentum. Since the dive kick propels you at a substantial speed, he is able to transfer this speed into the bat form, breezing past rooms in seconds.
The Inverted Castle
Before entering the Inverted Castle (which signifies the run coming to a close), Dr4gonBlitz makes quick work of the Richter Boss battle. Since he grabbed the Holy Glasses item earlier in the run, this boss fight becomes infinitely easier. An orb appears in the middle of the room which he unleashes a two spell combo on. This effectively deletes the boss’ health in a spectacle of effects and explosions.
For the most part, the Inverted Castle is a culmination of all the techniques we’ve seen thus far. Precise movement, damage boosting, and absolutely wrecking bosses using holy water and other magic spells. The shield rod and iron shield a powerful combination, rolling over bosses like Medusa and Death with ease.
As Dr4gonBlitz lands the final hit on Dracula himself, he sets a new world record for the “glitchless” category. Considering how difficult Castlevania: Symphony of the Night is for a casual player, watching this master destroy it in under 33 minutes is mind blowing. Without the slightest hint of nerves, Dr4gonBlitz nabs SGDQ17’s first (and potentially only) world record.