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I love YaBB 1G - SP1!
As this is my first post, I just have to say that this site is awesome. It's great to actually be able to WATCH a record rather than just seeing a number.

Now to business... As my first foray into speedrunning, I've been working on one of my favorite games of all time, Castlevania II. I've investigated pretty much every possible route I could think of, and I'm 99% sure that the route I've settled on is the most optimal humanly-reproducable one (without using warp glitches as in the TAS). However, since this game hasn't seen a lot of discussion on the forums (at least not that a search revealed), I'd like to get some feedback from others about possible techniques.

First off, I'm assuming the fall-through glitch is banned here, since it's sort of a "get outside the level" type glitch. Another glitch that I'm curious is legal or not is one I found in room where you get the flame whip. If you avoid holywatering the highest block of the entrance, you can use the bobbing platform with a well timed jump to jump up through the celing without having to backtrack across the platforms, which should save maybe 30 seconds or so. Does this seem like it would be acceptable here?

I currently have a taped run that comes to about 40:05 (with a few more screwups than I'd like, and without that ceiling glitch) which I'll probably just send in to TG if I decide to do another run, since it's "good enough" but feels a little rough around the edges, but that might just be perfectionism nagging.

This post is getting a bit long, so if anyone wants a detailed account of my route, just say so, or if you have any insights or techniques about this game you're willing to share and think would help shave off some time, I'm all ears.
Thread title:  
Let's fight to computer!
Another glitch that I'm curious is legal or not is one I found in room where you get the flame whip. If you avoid holywatering the highest block of the entrance, you can use the bobbing platform with a well timed jump to jump up through the celing without having to backtrack across the platforms, which should save maybe 30 seconds or so. Does this seem like it would be acceptable here?

If you could make some screenshots or something, that would help those of us who aren't intimately familiar with the game decide if it's legal or not. From the description it sounds fine.

Anyway, sounds like you've already done some pretty awesome work, since that 40:05 is almost nine minutes faster than the run that's up right now.
I love YaBB 1G - SP1!
These images should hopefully illustrate what I'm going for.

Step 1Step 2Step 3

I did some time tests and it only saves about 20 seconds, but that could be invaluable in securing a sub 40 run.

And something i forgot to mention in my first post, is this run does use a tactic that may or may not be considered a death abuse, so the current run might not necessarily be displaced. Basically I use a technique where I gather hearts very quickly during the first game day, but in so doing I incur unavoidable damage, and just accept the death that results, but the death in and of itself doesn't explicitly benefit me.
Fucking Weeaboo
It kinda looks like a 2d version of a "jump, pull up to a platform, jump off that up higher, pull up to that one".  I think it's fine, but I'm not the judge after all.
Talk to the Hand
Looking at the pictures, I don't see why it would be banned, but like everyone who isn't Radix, I'm not the judge.
dinosaur from the past
Unintentional deaths are just fine, as long as they don't hurt your run enough to make it bad. The current run gets a game over, doesn't it?
Sleeping Terror
That trick should be fine. It doesn't even look like a glitch to me; just a clever way of using a couple conveniently positioned blocks.
I love YaBB 1G - SP1!
YES! I think I finally got it. By SDA timing rules it comes to about 39:57, which is just barely within the threshold. My only major gripe is that I got stuck on the stairs in laruba mansion for a good 3 or 4 seconds (I blame the controller). In general though I think this run is much smoother looking, even if it's not dramatically faster. This game may not be very difficult on the surface, but there's quite a lot that can go wrong in a run, especially when trying to limbo under an arbitrary whole-minute barrier.

Anyway, when I get around to sending it off, I hope at least a couple people find it entertaining.
PLEASE get my own run off of SDA. I feel bad because I shouldn't have sent it in so early and waited until it was better... I am really looking forward to seeing your method so that I can be a better CV2 runner.

I shouldn't be off SDA long though, I just sent in a VHS of Jaws for NES in about 4:49.
I love YaBB 1G - SP1!
I started trying to run this game as soon as I saw the video of the current run, because I saw some very simple ways to improve the time.  If I had seen this post before I began, I probably wouldn't have bothered.  Should have checked the boards more thoroughly.

That said, I have clocked some times very close to the 40 minute mark (but not under it - yet).  I am very curious to see this run, as I am sure that you know some tricks that I don't, and I (maybe) know some that you don't, and if we all pool our resources we can probably improve the time further.

Any path or strategy details that you'd like to share here before the video actually goes up would be appreciated, although I can sort of understand if you want to keep it TOP SECRET.  I am perfectly willing to discuss my route and ideas down to the finest details, if you, or anyone else, is interested.

Some specific questions:

- What is your path?

- I assume you attack the pink guys west of the first town to die for hearts in order to buy both the White Crystal and Holy Water before the first night.  How effective are you at this?  How much life do you have left when you finish?  How far do you get before nightfall?

- Do you ever die on purpose?

- I often have trouble getting enough hearts for everything I need, particularly the Morning Star.  Have you solved this problem?

- Laurels?  How many?  When?

- That flame weapon - do you get it?

- The Reaper - do you kill him?

If I am particularly lucky with hearts I get times a minute or two above 40 with my current path.  I suspect it may be that I just sort of suck at the game, or I'm overlooking a key point, because I think my path is pretty good.  I am toying with a plan that involves skipping the Morning Star entirely, but the fifth mansion is VERY difficult with only the Chain Whip and accessories.  I am not ready to give up on the idea yet, though.

If you want to answer my questions, awesome.  I'll answer any you have for me.  In the meantime, I'll keep trying to beat you  Smiley
Edit history:
JPatrick: 2006-07-18 08:49:22 pm
I love YaBB 1G - SP1!
Hey, thanks for your interest. As it turns out I haven't actually submitted the run to SDA yet. I forgot about it for about 3 months, but now that I have a capture card I've encoded it and just need upload it somehow. If you want to see the full thing I could upload the low quality version to google video or something, just let me know.

As for my route, I'm more than happy to share it. This game is very interesting to plan, and I welcome any input. Here are the answers to your questions:

Here is my route in exact order, organized by game day:
1st day:
Jova (white crystal, holy water)

1st night:
Veros woods (farming hearts).

2nd day:
Veros (chain whip)
Dabi's Path (sacred flame)
Aljiba (blue crystal)

2nd night:
Rover mansion
Berkely mansion

3rd day:
Bram's mansion (gold knife)
Aldra (1 pack of laurels, red crystal)
Oldon (morning star)

3rd night:
Joma marsh (flame whip)
Laruba mansion (free laurels, 2 oak stakes)
Bodley mansion

4th day:
Castlevania (in game timer is 3:13:48)

As for the creatures in Belasco marsh, yes, that's exactly what I do :). I sacrifice my first life, then most of my second until I can take no more damage, then I attempt to buy the items. This has a success rate of about 1 in 10 or perhaps even less, but it's right at the beginning of the run, so it's acceptable. Night falls as I climb the first hill in Jova woods. The first level up while farming hearts during the night takes care of the low life problem.

In my recorded run I die twice. The first to the heart farming, the second time is in Bram's mansion because I didn't do very well and had 1 hit left by the time I got back to the stairs where you MUST take damage, so I just walked into the spear armor to get a fresh life.

Heart gathering is the single most frustrating aspect of the run, my strategy was to kill every enemy that was reasonably in my way, but never actually "stopping" to gather hearts (except during the first night when I'm forced to wait for day to buy the chain whip anyway). Several runs ended in failure because of lack of hearts, but the likelihood of success is great enough that I got 3 successful runs in a relatively short time. In fact, in this run, if even ONE less heart had dropped during pretty much the entire second half of the game (until I buy the final oak stake), the run would have failed.

I buy one pack of laurels in Aldra (just to the right of the crystal knight) and use them both to cross Joma marsh, then get 4 more from the guy who gives them for free in laruba mansion. I use 3 of them to cross Joma marsh (the 3rd lets me skip several enemies, but perhaps there's a more efficient use). I use the final laurel in the woods just before Ghulash to breeze past the creatures and that marsh pit.

I do get the sacred flame, as the time incurred is not terribly great, and doing so forces me to kill several more enemies and thus get more hearts. I use it here and there in mansions, and got one extremely lucky hit with it against a blob in Sadam woods, saving me much grief. It's possible that skipping it could result in a faster run in optimal conditions, but it would force you to be more lucky, and so I just chose to get it and keep my sanity Smiley

I do kill the reaper, as I required the golden knife to kill dracula (I'm out of laurels when I get to him). I also use it to kill Camilla extremely quickly and later on in the wilderness to kill a few enemies without stopping. I haven't done extensive time tests to see if not obtaining it and instead getting more laurels somehow would help, but killing the reaper really doesn't take that long if you mash attack fast enough, and I'm pretty sure it's worth it.

So yes, I'm very much open to any comments/ideas you may have. Incidently, one of my earlier paths skipped straight from the thorn* whip to the morning star later in the game (let me tell you how much of a pain in the ASS that was). Another interesting route was one where I bought the white crystal right at the beginning of the second day and bolted to Aljiba to exchange it all in 1 game day (yes, it is possible, but you have probably less than 2 seconds to spare). Boy was I glad that my new route didn't include that Smiley

*EDIT: Oops, meant thorn whip instead of leather whip, that would have been even worse...
I love YaBB 1G - SP1!
My route is exactly the same as yours, right down to laurel use and purchase, except for one thing.  I buy two oak stakes in Bram's Mansion and do Bodley before Laruba.  It seems to me that this should save time since the oak stake vendor in Bram's is more conveniently located - but it explains why I have more serious problems with heart collection than you do, since I buy the double stakes before the Morning star.

I also die more than you, which helps explain both the heart trouble, and the longer time.  In my best run I killed my remaining two men on purpose after buying the oak stake in Rover, since I normally have very few hearts there.  This gives me the luxury of an extra man later, although it wastes time (as does actually using the extra man later).  I need to stop doing this.

Where exactly do you farm hearts on the first night?  I usually do it on the top level of the screen just west of the stairs leading down to Veros.  I like this place because if you walk back and forth in the correct pattern you alternate between killing one skeleton on the left, and two skeletons simultaneously on the right.  The problem with it is that there is sometimes enough activity on the screen to result in slowdown.  I'd be interested to know if there is a better place.  I also sometimes end up quitting farming and going to Veros too early.  Do you time the day/night cycle, or somehow tell by the music or heart count when to run for the whip?

If you don't mind posting your run somewhere, that would be great.  I feel like I may have tips on very specific instances in the game, but without having a reference I don't know if you need them  Smiley
I love YaBB 1G - SP1!
I farm hearts in the exact same place, and timed out in an emulator exactly how many times I should go back and forth before running for the whip so that I'm standing right in front of the door to the merchant just as day breaks with no wasted time.

I also do a neat little trick I found in Veros where you can kill 4 things at once with holy water, it's difficult to describe how to do it, but I'm uploading it to google video, I'll post the link when it's live.

As for the two stakes thing, I agree that the Bram's merchant is tempting, but the reason I don't use him because of the limitation of 256 hearts. If you have max hearts when you get to him the first time, that means after buying two stakes and some laurels you'll have 106 left, which means you need to earn 94 hearts between buying that first stake and getting to the morning star merchant. This is much too short a time without slowing down significantly to gather.
I love YaBB 1G - SP1!
Well, I look forward to seeing the video.  I still feel in my gut that there is something else that can be skipped or postponed to improve the run, but a part of me doubts it.

Could come back for Holy Water later, but then you'd have to do without the sacred flame and chain whip.  This is highly impractical and could never work.

Could get HW and WC, then get the sacred flame and skip the chain whip?  The main problem with this seems to me to be the reliance on heart use for combat, and the length of time it takes to beat the reaper (not to mention minor enemies) with the flame.  This is highly impractical but I guess might work maybe... not really.

More creative use of laurels?  Unlikely due to their high cost.

Use of dagger/silver dagger/diamond?  Unlikely due to cost and/or location and/or crappiness.

Could skip the morning star/flame whip?  This seems somewhat plausible to me.  It would allow you to painlessly get a second stake in Bram's mansion rather than Laruba, it would cut out the actual acts of getting the morning star and flame whips, it would potentially allow the purchase of more laurels, and it would make hearts less of a concern.  The only drawback to this is having to navigate Laruba and the last parts of the world with essentially just the gold knife - which is, admittedly, a serious drawback  Smiley

Anyway, let me know when you get the video up.
I love YaBB 1G - SP1!
The video FINALLY passed google video verification, and can be viewed here:

I apoligize for the blurriness, I think they do some kind of transcoding that causes the quality to take a hit, but it should be clear enough to illustrate what I do. Let me know what you think.

As for ideas for route changes, I think skipping the flame weapon is definitely possible, and perhaps the easiest improvment to make. Skipping the morning star and flame whip MIGHT work with some golden knife trickery, but the time it takes to get the morning star is small enough that the execution would have to be extremely tight to save time, if it's even possible.

I think I'm gonig to take another look at some more off the wall ideas and see if something is crazy enough to work.
I love YaBB 1G - SP1!
I'm stuck on dialup for the summer, so the video has been downloading piece by piece when I could afford the bandwidth.  It's finally done and I've had a chance to look at it.

First of all, very nice.  You do a heck of a job avoiding damage.  Are you always this precise?  How many runs did you do in order to get this one?

I've been practicing a bit and feel ready to try recording some, but I am having VCR problems (it will record my SNES fine, but not my NES for some reason - it keeps wildly auto-adjusting the tracking while recording no matter what I do), so I don't know if I am going to bother continuing with this.

I have some recommendations/questions/comments:

- You already kill the pink guys the smart way: hitting them three times, then purposely waiting for them to hit you and knock you back so they die close to you (instead of killing one immediately with four strikes, and having to walk to get the heart).  Nice.

- You only need to get 13 hearts from the pink guys before moving on.  It’s very easy to count them by sound as you fight.  I realize you have to wait for the first night to end later anyway (and that you have the heart farming in Veros Woods down to a science based on the timing of this), but you have less chance of dying, get to travel more by day, and should end up with more hearts overall if you blow town ASAP.  I have gotten lucky enough (more than once) to get the required number of hearts with only two hits on my second man, and have made it all the way to where there first fishman jumps from the water before nightfall.  It is theoretically possible to do even better, though not terribly important.

- Again in the first town: don’t climb the first stairway up after getting the hearts, run to the second one facing the right direction, it is smaller.

- I also equip the crystal and water while falling off that ledge.  It is actually pretty eerie how similar this whole recording is to how I play.

- Neat move in Veros  Smiley

- In Dabi’s Path, when you jump from the third platform over the lava/swamp/acid, you can kill the skeleton at the top of the little staircase platform with a whip in midair.  Then you don’t have to wait for him when you climb the stairs.

- Isn’t it faster to take the lower route with the moving platforms in the section just west of the lake leading down to Rover?  Are you just after more hearts? Why do you ride the edges of platforms like that?  Is it faster than jumping off them when they get close enough?

- When you are leaving Bram’s mansion, you skip the staircase that you came up when you entered and use holy water and kill the skeleton on the far left to fall down.  On the ledge above the skeleton you can walk through the bottom of the right wall instead.  This is faster than the route you take, I think.

There are some other minor things which are hard to describe, and there are some things I learned from watching (the jump-onto-a-block-that-is-normally-out-of-reach-by-whipping trick comes immediately to mind).  You also kill some guys that I skip, but I'm sure it's all in the name of hearts.

I have satisfied myself that you have the right idea with the stakes and mansion order.  The fact that our paths were so similar to begin with sort of indicates to me that this is at or very near optimal.  I have also satisfied myself that skipping the Morning Star is not worth it.  Time saved is not enough to make up for the difficulty.  In fact, even if you played everything perfectly without it, I'm pretty convinced you'd end up losing time anyway.

As to the flame, I'm pretty torn.  It is a very handy weapon, and it often saves time when coming down stairs or ledges.  It is especially critical in Bram's mansion for the sequence with the two gargoyles followed by the two trident-wielding stabby guys.  If there were some way to do that part reliably without the flame and without dying it would be no problem to skip, but it's practically a guarantee that you are going to get poked into the spikes at the bottom of that staircase.

Anyway - good job.  I'll let you know if/when I beat your time, even if I can't record it  Smiley
I really wish one of you two would send a good run into SDA already. I don't want to "cover" someone else's route just to have a better run on SDA, you guys have done your own homework, you should have your run up. Please, somebody send in a better CV2 than my own.
I have to agree with kareshi here. This is an excellent run of the game.
"I like to watch"
I don't time it or anything, but I grab big hearts from the gargoyle guys at the bottom of the first mansion for hearts.  That probably isn't as good as whatever you guys do though.
I love YaBB 1G - SP1!
Heh, sorry about that guys Smiley

After posting it on google video I pretty much figured that was that, since this game is usually bandied about as one of the most boring examples of speedrunning. However, since this is the second time this topic has risen from its grave, I suppose it's time to just bite the bullet and submit it.

Unfortunately, my capturing pc died, taking the encodes with it. The real kicker is that the drives themselves are fine, but the array is irrecoverable because raid 0 is apparently proprietary and non-transferrable, but I digress...

I still have the tape here somewhere, so if I hurry I guess I could make it before the VHS cutoff, if you guys really do think its worth the bother. Either way, thanks for the kind words.
It definitely is worth the bother! Not saying that kareshi's movie is bad (in fact, it's also excellent in terms of speed running), but your movie improves it a lot.

I had the idea about a month ago to switch the first and second mansions (as the white crystal isn't needed to get into the first mansion--all it does is allows the player to see the platform, but the blue crystal also allows the player to see it.) The problem with this is the day/night transition. Your video implements that, and improves what I thought about improvements to kareshi's run a year ahead of that.
I love YaBB 1G - SP1!
Hmm, It occurs to me though that even if I do send this in, it might not knock off Kareshi's run. Sacrificing myself to earn hearts more quickly might count as death abuse.

I've done a little more reseach, and if you get the holy water right off the bat, it IS possible to kill the demons without taking damage, but you have to be much luckier to get the 50 hearts in time. What's more, after that you are a little behind and have less time to gather hearts for the chain whip before the second day. After that, the run would be exactly the same.

I would be up for trying this, but I no longer prossess the means to run this game. If someone who can run it wants to use the route, go for it. A little nod in the comments would be appreciated Smiley
Talk to the Hand
I could've sworn that Kareshi actually used Death Abuse in the run, but it WASN'T labeled as such for some reason. I remember Radix or whoever did the update commenting on the deaths, and Kareshi saying something like "Um....those were on purpose." I'll see if I can track down the update.

Ah, here we go. Get to this page and ctrl-f for Castlevania II to get Radix's stating something about the "embarrassing deaths". I don't remember exactly where Kareshi said they were on purpose; it may not even have been on SDA (He and I both frequent another board; he may have made the comment there).
When you game over, you lose all your hearts. I game over'd myself in a spot where after that I'd be able to collect all the hearts I need for the mourning star without worrying about game overing on the way to it. Then after that I died once accidentally. It wasn't a very good idea and certainly doesn't belong in a speedrun.
Edit history:
JPatrick: 2007-12-28 12:26:45 am
I love YaBB 1G - SP1!

Nevermind, I missed the deadline. If someone wants to just use the route to do a new run on a DVD-recorder, go ahead. I'd appreciate a mention in the comments, but it's not a big deal.

If someone does redo the run, I recommend trying for a no-deaths run by getting the holy water first and using that to kill the demons in the beginning as I mentioned above. To do it without getting hit, whip the first demon 3 times, then jump and throw the holy water as soon as you leave the ground. You'll dodge the fireball, kill the first demon, and stun the second one. When you land, just start whipping the second demon to finish him off. Wait until the stun is about to wear off though, otherwise your whip will do no damage and he'll hit you for sure.

Good luck to anyone who tries, you'll definitely need it for heart drops.