Released in March 1994, Bloodlines is the first Castlevania game that lets you choose your character from the beginning. One of the characters, Eric Lecarde, usually known as "spear dude", is the first spear wielder in a Castlevania game. Spear dude can pole vault 15 feet in the air from a still position, but apparently never took swimming lessons. Years of bleaching have obviously taken a toll on spear dude's hair; his hair is green in every stage, but blonde in every cutscene. The other character, John Morris, or "whip guy", obviously never went to a D.A.R.E meeting about steroids in high school. Also, there is blood: lots and lots of blood. Of course, Europeans don't bleed (scientific fact!), so Konami removed blood from the European release.
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Single-segment on Expert as Eric Lecarde: 0:31:48 by Tom Israels.
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Hello! This is my first game I speed run on and I was really excited to finish it. Now I'm sharing this experience with you guys and I hope you enjoy it. Im not so good at english (Im from Finland) so I will try to keep it simple and straightforward.
This stage took a lot of time to get done properly. Many many things can go wrong here. #1 You have 50% chance to get powerup from the book. #2 The sub-boss can have an awful pattern and unblockable. #3 You have to stay on a right spot to special jump in front of three bonedragons. #4 The last bonedragon can be so pain in ass and block the path to the stairway. #5 Finally the boss is completely random. I got a bad boss and I lost couple of seconds there from a perfect stage 1.
This run is pretty straightforward, no mistakes. Skipped the 2nd sub-boss and killed the 3rd quick. Only thing to mention is that bonedragon again that blocks the way.
Everything went fine, even the birds acted like they should and didn't give me headache. Bossfight could been better but I went on, I felt pretty comfortable at the moment so I was ready for stage 4.
This level is the hardest of them all. There are 2 glitches in it that saves time and I managed to get them both. Too bad I missed two hits on the Boss so he went for the 2nd pattern that cost me about 5secs.
Pretty straightforward here too. Lost the powerup on purpose and got it back right before the boss.
This stage is my best one, all the bosses went pretty fine. The 2nd Dracula boss went for a bad pattern but I managed to kill him pretty quick anyway. I was so happy to get the last orb in the game.
I practiced this game about 20days and then tried to do WR attempts. It took me 20days and #1117 attempts to beat it so I'm pretty happy when I finally got it. There is still some improvement to be made and I hope someone is willing to challenge me so it motivates me to play and beat a better time.
Thanks to everone who followed me on the stream (http://www.twitch.tv/prod1gy84). Big thanks to Hawkanfff and Mkoxx who supported me and followed me from the first beginning. Also a big thanks to the SDA community and specially Stanski and Klaige for information about the game.
Single-segment on Expert as John Morris: 0:30:46 by Travis Nible
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For 6 long months in 2011 I decided to strive for a real speedrun, one that would be memorable and enjoyable for viewers that i could be proud of on SDA. That journey ended with my first Bloodlines submission. A solid run, but a run with mistakes and missed opportunities. At that point burnout had won and I decided to submit and be satisified with what I had accomplished: A Deathless complete run.
Then this past March out of boredom one day I watched the run again after it was posted to SDA. I realized how much I left on the table and how far I was from getting "That Run", the run i intially set out to do. So I dove back into the fray and really grinded out everything I needed to get a true John Morris run. After days and days of streaming and 1000+ attempts later: this run was the result.
Now I can say I am truly satisfied.
Castlevania Bloodlines is a lost treasure in the franchise. The only title to appear on the Genesis it has been somewhat regulated to cult classic status. It's tried and true Castlevania style with it's own wrinkles mixed in. I addition to not being as well known as it's NES or SNES counterparts, it also happens to be one of the more difficult Castlevania games. This difficulty ramps up in spades when attempting to Speedrun for a variety of reasons. This game has been my project for the better part of a Year. Even when I wasn't actively running it I was learning routes and glitches and often considering what I could do to improve my original run.
The difficulty behind this run is mostly execution based. There is a fair amount of RNG to this run (especially stage 1 and the beginning of stage 3). but for the most part it's on me as the runner to hold my own and hit my marks. The key to speedrunning Bloodlines is the 3rd and final whip upgrade that can only be obtained through 2 methods:
1. Finding a hidden bible in a breakable wall, which has a 50/50 chance of giving you either 20 sub weapon ammo, or fully upgrading your whip and subweapon.
2. Breaking 30 candles that do not contain subweapons which will drop the standard upgrade icon and again give you the 3rd level whip and super subweapon.
The fully upgraded whip does incredible damage, and the super subweapon for John Morris has a ton of utility for a speedrun and just playing the game in general. Because so much of this run is killing bosses, sub bosses, and various enemies, the increased damage is paramount to getting a good time. So once you have the upgraded, what makes the run so difficult? Well unfortunately once you take a single hit of damage, you lose the upgrade and super subweapon, reverting back to the 2nd level chain whip and whatever subweapon you were carrying.
There in lies the big difference for this run compared to many other classic Castlevanias: Damage boosting becomes almost impossible to utilized due to the fact that losing the upgraded whip costs so much time against what you gain by utilizing a damage boost. This makes calculating a route very challenging and requires that the runner play on point throughout the game because even a single mistake that takes a hit can essentially end a run. This ups the intensity by a great deal, because while hitstun on taking a hit is very short and only sets Morris back maybe half a second, the loss in damage is a time loss that cannot be overcome through any means.
This run improves my original SDA run by 50 seconds. The biggest improvements come in stages 4 and 5, but time was also gained in stages 2, 3, and 6 through better execution. Stage 1 is almost exactly the same as my SDA run, there is slightly better lag management and slightly better luck that improved that stage by about 1 second. However other than more favorable RNG, there is little I can do to improve that stage with my current route.
To break down where the time gains are, here is the stage by stage rundown of the major goals and how the run went. If you want to learn more I encourage you to listen to the audio commentary of my run as well. It has a few snippets of information that aren't vital to understand the run, but are fun if you want more in depth knowledge of the game itself!
This stage is where the vast majority of resets come in. 50% of the time I will be force to reset 30 seconds in due to the bible not giving me the whip upgrade. The loss in time from not having the upgrade and the super sub-weapon is not something I can overcome so I am completely at the RNG's mercy here. It's an exact 50/50 and is not manipulatable by any means. Even the TAS mentions that they could not find a way to manipulate the drop. On top of the bible RNG, this stage is by far the most random in the game. Many of the skeletons can take various paths and lots of bad luck can instantly end this stage due to taking a hit after obtaining the upgraded whip.
The Hellound sub-boss has 3 possible patterns in the time it takes me to kill him. Howl first (fastest), Fire Breath twice in a row (next fastest), Fire Breath then howl (slowest). Just like my original run he gives me the slowest pattern which costs 2 seconds. Since there's no reliable way to manipulate this I do not reset when I get the pattern as that's simply asking for a ton of pure RNG to even get a run started. The reason howling first is the fastest pattern, despite the lag it causes, is that i never have to stop attacking the boss. Maybe one day I'll do a run for submission where he cooperates!
I utilize slightly better lag managemetn in the room with the swinging pendulum to save a tiny bit of time over my original run. Not using the whip swing on the second platform avoids a ton of lag, and the whip swing only saves time if the skeleton does not jump to the lower platform in front of where I swing, which is very rare. This is worth probably .75 seconds or so. Nothing major, but notable.
The armor-battler boss at the end of the stage is the real key to a successful beginning of the run. He's very random and can decide to end my attempt before it even gets off the ground. This fight is absolutely ideal, having him jump right next to me and then never jumping again. Outside of TAS level strats I literally cannot ask for a better pattern than what he gives me in this fight. Between this fight, the lag management, and a better merman room pattern, this stage was 1.5 seconds faster than my original run.
This stage has by far the least changes from my original run. This run is all aboute execution and holding onto the upgraded whip. Between the auto-scrolling and general lack of places to use creative tricks to gain time, this stage is all about killing the 3 sub-bosses quickly and navigating the extremely long corridor after the final auto-scrolling section of the stage.
The 3 mini-boss rush is rather comical for what it is. The water mage is a joke (as you can see), then at the next point you are supposed to fight 2 golem sub-bosses back to back. However the first boss can be skipped utilizing a glitch. If you throw an item-crash axe, he will back up infinitely, once he's far enough off screen this triggers the next sub boss to appear. An axe happens to be right there making this glitch very easy to include in the run. The last sub boss dies before ever getting on screen. This is a perfect fight this go round and saves a second or two over my original run.
I'll need the super subweapon back to do the large corridor after the downward auto-scroller, to re-obtain the super subweapon you merely have to pick up the same subweapon you are already holding while still having the level 3 uprgaded whip. There's an axe early in the long corridor so i snag it and get the blue snake sub weapon back to deal with the bone dragon and 3 tiered bone pillar at the end of the stage. The timing on throwing the super sub weapon is key because it uses auto-tracking and will target anything with a hitbox, including candles. So I have to be sure i'm at the right point on screen to have it actually attack the enemies I have in mind.
The stone Golem boss at the end of the stage is a prime example of why the super subweapon is so useful. It allows me to whittle down the Golem at the start of the fight. I have to wait for the water to lower as if you jump into it and it goes above your head by too much you take damage and thus lose the whip. Once the platform is lowered I can proceed to wail on him, this fight goes almost perfect. I gain around 3-4 seconds in this stage over my old run from the better sub-boss fight and a slightly better fight with the golem.
The beginning of this stage is hell, because harpy's are one of the most random enemies in the game. Not only do they sometimes fly out of range of the whip, but they can randomly have thier heads pop off on a killing hit, which is a huge hit to the run because of 2 things. 1. They take an extra hit to kill. 2. The bleeding animation lags the hell out of the game (gogo blast processing).
In my old run I got awful harpy luck and lose 5-6 seconds in the first section easy. In this run they cooperate beautifully. The section goes flawlessly and is a huge time saver. The other major time saver is the improved fight against the bone-dragon sub boss. By moving further forward i can get 2 hits with the first axe i throw, where as in my old run my first axe actually misses. So this was a 2 second improvement.
The rest of the stage is a lot of auto-scrolling. I have a minor hiccup getting on the stairs in the mummy room, which costs me a second. The boss is consistent with it's pattern until the final phase which is easily manipulatable. Yet again another perfect fight. So a solid gain in this stage over my original run.
The Stage. It is the widomaker, it is the stage that causes the most resets aside from stage 1 and is the most technically difficult stage in the game. In my old run i screw up the damage boost I have planned and didn't use another glitch i've since implemented. Understanding how this stage works takes some explaining so hopefully I can help you understand why this stage is so brutal.
This is the only stage in the game where utilizing a damage boost is a huge time-saver. By taking a hit early and losing the upgraded whip on purpose I can set up this boost because not having the fully powered whp costs almost no time in this stage until the final platforming section and the boss at the end. My plan is to run into one of the barrel skeletons in the first section, which will allow me to break enough candles to re-obtain the fully powered whip right when i need it at the final platforming section of the stage.
For the first time I can remember the skellys don't cooperate, so i have to backtrack a second to take the hit. That was probably worth a second. After that the real difficulty sets in. This stage played normally is really difficult for morris. Enemies do a ton of damage, and the platforming is stressful. On top of all this, i have to consistently break candles, and make sure i break enough to get my whip back, but not get the upgrade too early, otherwise i won't get to use the damage boost as I would lose the whip again and not obtain it for the boss in time.
The next major point of this stage is the zip glitch in the piston room. I knew about this glitch from the TAS by Samhaim-Grim, but didn't think it was speedrun practical when I did my first submission. After grinding it out on emulator I found i could hit it fairly consistently. So I added this to my requirements for a perfect stage 4. I hit it exactly as planned and gain over 8 seconds from this new addition.
The room right after is a nightmare for morris. I've practice this room more than almost any other, because between skeletons everywhrere, medusa heads, and the tons of platforming plus having to break candles it is a real execution test. I actually was having one of my best runs through the room until i short-tossed an axe against that last medusa head, setting me back 3 seconds. To add insult to injury i miss the jump up the stairs and cost myself another second. Easily this is the ugliest part of the whole run. That being said, this stage is still amazing for me.....beacause:
The giant blade room: AKA the real widowmaker. This is the room where I utilize that damage boost I was talking about. The first blade utilizes a skip I also learned from the TAS. The blades have really dumb hitbox detection. Essentially each side of the blade has 4 single pixels equally spaced along it's edge that act as the damage point. With enough timing and practice, you can actually jump through the gaps in the hitboxes, and walk through the blade. I miss this skip in my original run, this time I nail it perfectly. This skip is worth almost 7 seconds.
I kill all but one of the flying enemies by the 2nd blade to set up the damage skip. I let him follow me through to the final blade, and hit me through it. This is worth almost 10 seconds, and makes a huge improvement to the original run. I get the whip upgrade just in time to tackle the moving platform section which is nightmarishly slow because of the bat spawns. I'm forced to let that one bat fly over my head, as dealing with him requires frame perfect timing and would make stage 4 even MORE difficult than it already is. The route i use is only 2-3 seconds slower, and is far more consistent so I utilize it.
The gear boss has some of the most hp in the game, and is the reason I have to get the whip and super sub-weapon back. I alter my strat for him a bit from my original run, and get a perfect final pattern and perfect fight, so I was stoked for that. This stage is a gigantic improvement, I hit all the glitches and skips, the end of the clocktower room is ugly, but doesn't nearly take away from what is probably the most technical and entertaining stagei of the room. I gain over 15 seconds in this stage.
This stage doesn't have the skips or tricks stage 4 does, but it's a stressful execution heavy stage. Most enemies have to be killed because there aren't easy ways around them. I made a small mistake in my old run by taking a hit at the end of the wine cellar room, in this run I avoid that, and never lose the upgraded whip, making for a much better stage. You'll see the super-subweapon get a huge workout in this stage as it's insanely useful.
The chandeliers in that long corridor can hurt you, but they prove quite useful as they one-shot all enemies, so I use them to move through that section quicker. The super sub-weapon allows me to totally skip the giant bone tower which is a trick i also learned from the TAS.
In the wine cellar I hit all my whip swings and don't take the random hit at the end I did in the original run. This allows me to get all the way to the first mini boss with the upgraded whip. This boss is actually the same kind of boss I skip in stage 2 with the item crash glitch. If you attempt that here the room never opens up and you are stuck there forever and have to reset!
The next section is much cleaner than my old run, and i gain a ton of time by not screwing up the 2 face sub boss. In my old run I don't hit him 4 times in a single cycle (which is trickier than it looks for Morris), so I'm forced to let him do an entire extra cycle of shooting lasers. This fight is a 8 second improvement over the old run.
I also improved the princess moth boss fight quite a bit. Unfortunately she takes a pattern I'd never seen and moves forward at me (No joke, in all the runs I had done I'd never seen her do anything but fly backwards). So I lose the whip early in the fight. Losing the whip is actually intended as I like to start the final stage with the regular whip, I'll explain why later.
So while she's a low HP boss and doesn't cost me a ton of time by losing the whip, it's still shitty and probably worth 3-4 seconds. Other than that mishap this stage was an amazing improvement! Probably 15+ seconds over the old run.
The final stage is some goofy eye tricks and then the huge boss rush at the end. As I said I like to start the stage with the regular whip because it actually has faster startup on it's attack. This allows me to handle the inverted room with the orbs on the platforms much easier. Not having the upgraded whip doesn't cost me but a second or two total than having it. It's also handy because the room with the armor battlers before the boss rush is random for it's spawns. While I can always time a jump attack to kill them before they run into me, it's tricky and a single hit with the upgraded whip is run ending because not having the upgrades for the boss rush costs literally minutes of time.
First up in the boss rush is Death and the refights of the bosses from stages 2,3, and 4. All the re-fights take double damage, so they drop quite fast. They're all pretty easy except for the re-fight of the stone golem. The problem there is that I don't have super subweapon here (I need the axe to re-fight the bat gargoyle). And he doesn't have the idle animation since you start the fight with the water already drained. This boss is very very random in his patterns and I have to play it very safe to avoid getting stuck in an unblockable situation. Rocks will never fall from the cieling at the back of the stage so I utlize that fact to have a safety zone when he decides to be a dick. That fight goes well, as do the other re-fights.
Death is a pushover in this game with the upgraded whip. Going down in 5 hits. Really boring honestly.
Next up, the fight I hate, I hate it so much, all because of one. single. jump.
Medusa's pattern is consistent and boring, it's not hard to dodge her fire attacks, and other than having the most health in the game she's rather easy to fight. Except for that goddamn tail-whip. Tail-whip has a very tight timing to jump over and if i miss it, i lose the whip and the run is dead. I lost 3 different potential world-records to tail-whip before I got this run. This time I hit my mark and continue on.
Elizabeth Bartley in her human form is insanely boring. The only hits that do damage to her is the hit that breaks the last magic orb she summons in each phase. This means i am required to go through that many sequences. It's a really uninspired fight for such an important character in the game. What can you do though. She goes down without incident and It's on to Drac himself.
Drac has 3 forms in this game, the first is the traditional teleport and shoot fireballs pattern from classic CV's Unlike older games, his teleport pattern is consistent, and as long as I hold the whip out during my jump any projectiles he fires will run into the whips hitbox and keep me safe.
The second form is random but not hard to manipulate. If you fire off the super subweapon he'll always come back down in range to be hit by a jump whip. He gives me a very friendly pattern and goes down after his 2 fireball attack, which is a really fast fight, and a big improvement over my original run.
Final form drac has a lot of health and requires some spacing practice. I have nerves take over and I jump away after I get to him, but this actually plays into my favor as it causes him to switch to his fire-breath phase while the bone projectiles are still on stream. This means I only have to deal with 1 flame breath instead of 2. I end up getting hit by the first flame breath, but that's actually ok, because I can kill his final phase just as quick with the regular whip and axe. The final phase goes down crazy fast, and I let out quite a celebratory yell on my stream, having finally gotten the run I set out to obtain over a year before.
So that's CV: Bloodlines as I intended to bring to the SDA masses. This run isn't without errors, but I hit every trick I wanted, play extremely well, and complete a very very difficult run. With this route I'm guessing I left about 8-9 seconds on the table assuming the same level of friendly RNG in the run. I think this run will be very very difficult to top without serious route adjustments or adding some frame-perfect tas strats.
I'm hella proud of what I accomplished here, so I hope you enjoyed it. I could not have gotten this run without the support of my fellow runners from SDA and especially the regulars in my stream. My stream really came through for me when I lost some heart-breakers and kept me moving towards my goal. They made me laugh and kept things light-hearted even when I was really flustered. They also gave birth to the most important part of this new run: Warren Sapporris! Listen to the commentary for more explanation on that one!
Also shoutouts as always to Josh the Funkdoc for inspiring me to get into speedrunning, and for being an OG guilty gear player. Shoutouts as well to Stanski for his original Bloodlines run with lecarde, he helped lay a lot of the groundwork for what I've accomplished with this game. As well to Samhaim-Grim for the amazing TAS of bloodlines which helped me learn all kinds of things about the games programming and route/skip ideas. A shoutout as well to BootyGay from SDA who developed a lua script for the game so I could test and understand hitboxes better, especially the hilarous discovery of how the stage 4 blades work.
Of course many thanks to the SDA staff, they give us a place to share these amazing runs. And of course to you the viewers, you give us a reason to go after these world records, and you all rock!
I'm on a break from speedrunning and back playing arc-sys fighting games but I will go back into the fray at some point. This was really my ultimate goal, and It made super happy to obtain it! I hope you all enjoyed and thank you again. Stay tuned for future projects guys!!
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