SDA logo

The final Castlevania for NES was released in September 1990 and takes place before the other two. In the 15th century, Trevor Belmont makes his way towards Dracula's Castle and can choose to team up with one of three possible spirit partners: Grant, Sypha, or Alucard, each with quite different abilities. With many paths to take through the game, there are many ways to play.


Runs on the US version:

Runs on the Japanese version:

Return to the Game List, the FAQ, or the Home Page.

No Partner: 0:29:36 by Josh Ballard.

Get Flash to see this player.

Author's comments:

I hadn't originally planned to improve this run since I figured nobody cares about this category, but the 30+ second mistake in the last level was just too much for me after a while. The discovery that it's faster to use the cross in levels 3 & 4 sealed the deal for me, and I ended up finding various other improvements that led to the time you see here. Here's a list of new things found in this run:

Overall I am extremely pleased with this run and was surprised at how improvable the old one really was. All the new strategies were my own this time, but I still have some thanks to give:

Mike Uyama, for giving me his CV3 cart (not to mention general SDA stuff)

The rest of SDA and SRL, for doin their thing

Zapf, for giving me another NES (even though it turned out my original one is fine after all...CV3 and its weird frame rules messing with level times)

All my stream viewers, for helping me put up with the resets

If you're interested in more speedruns of old-school Castlevania and other various retro games, follow my stream at !

With Alucard: 0:27:54 by Josh Ballard.

Get Flash to see this player.

Author's comments:

___________________________________INTRODUCTION _____________________________________

Castlevania 3, from the moment I played it, has remained my all-time favorite NES game, and I have long had interest in speedrunning it. When I looked at the schedule of the first SDA marathon and saw no Castlevania 3 or 4, I decided then that I would learn both games and run them at next year's.

I have spent much of this year learning the game, with its many routes and characters and precise tricks, and during the summer I received an opportunity to record runs for SDA (as I could not do so myself at the time). Specifically, fellow SDA members Kareshi and PJ DiCesare both offered me to stay with them and use their consoles and equipment, and I ended up going to PJ's. All of the speedruns that you see on this page were performed over the span of 3 days at his house, with Grant & Sypha completed on the second day and Trevor & Alucard on the third.

NOTE: If you see any awkward pauses in any of these runs, chalk them up to the controller I was using. It had issues with diagonals and quickly changing directions, so sometimes I wouldn't move at all. None of them are all that bad, but figured it was worth pointing out.

Level Notes:

Level 1:

-I suggest reading the Sypha comments for more details, as well as any general game-engine points you have questions about. This goes very smoothly throughout.

Level 3:

-The owls behave pretty well this time. The Sypha run is near-perfect in this area, and you can't expect that every time.

-I used to get meat if I had less than half life before the branching path, but I decided I didn't want to get any unnecessary meat in any recorded run. This means I can only afford to take one hit in the next level, but that meat costs quite a bit of time.

Level 4:

-Official name: The Murky Marsh of Morbid Morons. Ah, old-school Konami...

-This level isn't hard at all, but it is probably the most random level in the entire game. The frogs appear randomly and jump around randomly, and the mudmen and some of the bats appear randomly.

-The opening frog section went pretty well. I wait on that last one because he can jump either left or right. I actually don't care if I get a bad weapon drop then because there's another holy water shortly afterward and I can get the triple shot back by the end of the stage.

-The section with the two mud pits in a row and the bats is even more annoying than the frogs. This is why I waited on that frog back at the beginning ? I knew I would need to be able to take a hit here.

-The boss is a complete joke, though positioning yourself so you can throw holy water and not climb the stairs is a bit tricky at first.

Level 5:

-We're in for a long one here, with two bosses and a branching path.

-The part leading up to Alucard is the only non-random section of the game, as you do the same thing every time here.

-Killing the flame man ends up being better than damage boosting because of how it affects the positioning of the spike crushers. I used to wait until the crusher was near the top and jump off to the next ledge, but eventually figured out that it was faster to drop straight down and climb the stairs.

-Thanks to Tom Votava for figuring out the Alucard fight on his own. Standing where I do manipulates him to appear where you can burn his head with holy water, and it works every time. Taking him out that quickly is tricky to learn at first, watch what I do very closely and you'll get it.

-After the fight, the run gets a lot more interesting. I quickly switch to Alucard and power up his normal attack fully, which allows him to deal as much damage as Trevor's whip if you can hit all 3 fireballs. You also see some early flying here. The flying using around 1 heart per second, Alucard is invincible while transforming into & out of the bat form (birds will die if they run into you during this!), and you can transform even while getting hit. Additionally, you can press A to "jump" upward with the bat; he immediately drops back to the level he was at previously, so this is only useful to reach the top of a ledge and immediately transform back to normal.

-At around 177 on the timer, I get stuck inside that ledge for a bit. It's rare to avoid this, and you can die if you reach the bottom of the screen as the bat, so this part requires careful movement.

-The part after the branching path is self-explanatory. Watch for the small visual glitch when I transform back into Trevor! And yes, this part and the catacombs level combined still take less time than the Sunken City.

-The skull knight here is arguably the toughest boss in the game. Each time you hit him, a bone appears and flies at you, and he can only be damaged when there's a bone on-screen. Triple holy water still takes care of him without too much trouble, though. Note that Alucard is terrible for most bosses, so you're better off switching to Trevor the vast majority of the time. It's actually possible to kill this guy quickly enough with Alucard to save a very small amount of time, but that takes extraordinary luck.

Level 6:

-One of my favorite levels, this has one of the coolest tricks in this run.

-I pressed down too early and got hit by that skeleton early on, which changed my strategy for the next part. Without that hit, I would run straight through the mummies and take 2 hits, which saves a small amount of time since you stop for the 2 transformations.

-If you wonder why I climb the stairs to that moving platform instead of flying, flying doesn't save you any time there. You would still have to wait for the platform to move forward in order to pick up the two big hearts.

-It can be faster to take the low route instead of running into the axe armor, but you need to be extremely lucky to fit through that gap before the knight hits you.

-The stopwatch + flying trick at the end is rather difficult, as fitting the bat through 1-block-wide gaps takes good positioning and a bit of luck. Saves a nice chunk of time, though.

-Yes, believe it or not, it's better to fight Frankenstein with Alucard. He's such a big target that it's easy to hit him with all 3 fireballs, so you can deal decent damage here. This fight takes 11 seconds, you would lose around 9.5 seconds for switching characters twice, and Trevor takes a bit longer than 1.5 seconds to kill him.

Level 7:

-Hated this level as a kid, since I always used Trevor the whole way. Look at how long it takes here, then remember that Alucard saves much more time here than anywhere else in the game.

-Yes, in that area where I take my first hit, Alucard can't fly over that wall since the bat can't go up into the top part of the screen.

-And here's the only other boss I use Alucard for! Not perfect but much better than it could have been.

-Just look at how much I fly right after that boss, then imagine what you would have to do there without Alucard. Yeah.

-Remember earlier when I said you can kill birds with your bat transformation? Well, here it is in action! It only works with them because they die upon contact with you.

-Taking that hit on the staircase scared me, but luckily the Cyclops behaved pretty well and the other bosses are never a problem.

Level 8:

-This level provides the only opportunity to use the coolest trick in this run: Using a damage boost and the bat transformation to glitch yourself onto a ledge from below. It's easy to do, just transform when Alucard's head is above the ledge and you've got it. The second one requires some luck, and the axe armor behaves perfectly for me there.

-There is no way to get enough hearts to successfully fly under the bridge at the end without wasting a lot of time, and you would only save around 15 frames by doing that.

-Death is the same as in the Trevor/Sypha runs. Alucard's fireballs hit the second form twice each, but that isn't enough to make him worth using.

Level 9:

-This level is nowhere near as scary with Alucard as with the rest of the cast. You can fly right through the worst parts of it.

-It's difficult to aim your shots at the flea men while moving forward, but well worth it. Not having to worry about weapon drops is huge here.

-Yes, you have to go a bit out of your way for hearts in this level, but it's well worth it with all the flying shortcuts. Skip the whole water bridge section? I'm in there!

-The Doppelganger fight is the same as usual, since Alucard is horrible against him.

Level A:

-You want to stick with Trevor for the bulk of this level, as you'll need to pick up the axe near the end. There's only one timesaver with Alucard and it isn't worth switching for.

-After the axe, on the other hand, Alucard is a must for obvious reasons. He's extremely bad against Dracula, so you'll need to switch again, but the shortcuts here are easily big enough to be worth it.

-The Dracula fights all go near-perfectly. You don't need to get hit by the first form, but I screwed up the positioning for that a bit. Still cost hardly any time, so I'm not complaining.

_______________________________CONCLUSION & THANKS__________________________________

Overall, this is easily the strongest of my 4 runs, with less than 10 seconds of realistic improvement possible, and it's also the only one of my runs that beats the (likely savestated) emulator speedrun on Youtube. I got a 28:17 on my first day at PJ's, and kept that while I worked on the other ones. I knew that wasn't an SDA-worthy run, though, so I made it a point to finish the others with enough time to go back and improve this. I'm very happy with the way that decision worked out!

If you enjoyed this and like other old-school Castlevania games or random obscure stuff, follow my Ustream channel for live speedrun practice & attempts with commentary, and check out my Youtube page for various speedruns (from Maximum Carnage to Jim Power: The Lost Dimension in 3-D and Skull & Crossbones).



Thanks to:

PJ, for making this whole thing possible.

Kareshi, for offering me his place. Unfortunately it couldn't work out, but the thought is much appreciated.

Tom Votava, for doing some very good runs before SDA accepted console games or tasvideos even existed. Some of the coolest tricks here were taken directly from him.

Bablo, for pointing out a trick in the Grant run I had missed before.

Samhain-Grim, for the CV3 TAS's. A number of the tricks you see here were either taken directly from them or adapted slightly to be practical in a real run.

TheZeth, for making Youtube speedruns that, though probably savestated, still offered many useful strategies. This was especially helpful for playing Trevor, since the TAS's barely use him at all.

ArekTheAbsolute, for the Grant vs. Doppelganger strategy.

Mike Uyama, nate, & co. for keeping SDA going and rekindling my interest via the marathon.

All the stream monsters, for watching my practice, record attempts, and random poverty games.

The rest of SDA, for being a solid community and giving me things to watch as I study & go to sleep.

With Grant: 0:30:43 by Josh Ballard.

Get Flash to see this player.

Author's comments:

This one seems to be the biggest crowd-pleaser of all the CV3 categories (though I wonder what happens when I start on the new Sypha run), and it's not hard to see why. High jumping, air mobility, wall-climbing...and even boss fights that don't degenerate into spamming subweapons for a couple seconds!

I had never really thought about improving this record until I beat it during an AGDQ practice run (using very conservative strategies). After I had already been practicing for a while, Scrimpeh was nice enough to show me his TAS WIP, and things really broke open from there. I'll quickly go over the basics of Grant, then explain the many new things in this run.

Grant walks noticeably faster than the other characters, but his speed in the air is the same as everyone else's. He jumps higher and can change direction in midair, and he can climb walls and ceilings. His normal attack is a short-ranged but very fast stab which is deceptively good on bosses. His subweapons include the dagger, axe, and stopwatch, and he can obtain the double and triple shot. He has lower defense than Trevor and Alucard. Finally, the reason I use Grant on so many bosses is because it takes rather long to switch characters; if I were to switch to Trevor on a boss, I would have to go right back to Grant afterward. All in all, he's the most difficult character to use but strong all-around in the right hands.


All in all, I'd say this is easily some of my best work. The luck was kinda bad overall, but I was pretty much on point throughout the game. Heck, this is a larger improvement than my original record was over Votava's! Thanks go out to:

Mike Uyama, for giving me his CV3 cart (not to mention general SDA stuff)

The rest of SDA and SRL, for doin their thing

Zapf, for giving me another NES (even though it turned out my original one is fine after all...CV3 and its weird frame rules messing with level times)

Bablo, for being an all-around classic CV guru and telling me about the TAS WIP

Scrimpeh, for sharing said WIP with me and answering all my questions

All my stream viewers, for helping me put up with the resets

If you're interested in more speedruns of old-school Castlevania and other various retro games, follow my stream at !

With Sypha: 0:28:55 by Josh Ballard.

Get Flash to see this player.

Author's comments:

Ah yes, back to the tried and true for me. For the longest time, we had believed that this category was pointless; the fastest known strategy for the Sypha run was to never use her at all! That changed in early 2012, as Scrimpeh found many new uses for the ice spell over the course of working on his TASes for this game. After reading about this, I figured out the skips in stages 9 and A, and I also worked on boss strategies that would allow me to keep Sypha for all of the final 3 stages. Throw in some of the improvements from my new Trevor-only run, and the result is what you see. If you were wondering why this run with the nerfed lightning spell is faster than my Japanese version run, the skips really are that big a deal!

Up until stage 8, this run is mostly similar to my previous record. The biggest difference is using the cross on stages 3 & 4, which saves over 10 seconds thanks to the two Cyclops fights; holy water is almost useless against him since his weak spot is the eye. I also get through the stage 3 owls a bit faster (and riskier!), and I get the holy water back early in stage 5. I use the knights in the autoscrolling section there to rack up lots of "hits" on my subweapon and pick up the II and III multipliers quickly. Stage 7 also shows a faster way of performing the second skip with the ice spell - the window to jump onto the fireball that way is pretty tight! My execution in general is tighter than before on these stages, too, with stage 7 having the only obvious mistake I can recall.

Aside: I have been asked a couple times why I don't use the ice spell for some possible skips in stage 4. There are indeed two big ones there, but in the US version it is impossible to find ice until stage 5. There is an ice spell before Medusa in the Japanese version, though, so this would be a nice addition to that run if I ever get the chance to do it on console again.

Stage 8 is where things get way more interesting. I used to pick up the lightning spell at the end of stage 7 and use it on Dracula, but the new skips in this stage make it well worth keeping ice. They're both very obvious when you see them - all I can add here is that they're much easier when you freeze an object and jump straight up onto it. I think the game pushes you on top of the object even if you didn't quite reach the top with your jump, which doesn't happen if you try to jump onto it from the side. Ice is completely worthless against bosses, so I switch to lightning for Death and the beginning of stage 9. When using lightning in this version, you don't want all 3 orbs to hit at once or else you'll do no damage at all, which should hopefully explain that fight.

Stage 9 was the run-killer to end all run-killers. Lightning makes the first half much easier and even saves a bit of time, but the big skip with ice spell in this stage is the most luck-based thing in this entire game. It can still be done a good bit faster if the bird cooperates, but Doppelganger made up for some of that. That fight is also very luck-heavy since I don't want to switch to Trevor and waste lots of time with the switching animation, and I hit the jackpot with that AI loop the boss was stuck in. This loop is nowhere near as guaranteed as the one in the Grant run, and I have lost good attempts to this guy (gal? thing?). This is also the first time I get to show yall that fire spell doesn't suck, but definitely not the last...

...because we still have the final stage! There are a lot of not-so-obvious strategies here that I figured out on my own, as the TAS plays the Japanese version with its broken lightning spell. Without that luxury I had to scramble a bit here, and I am very pleased with how this turned out. The stopwatch + damage boosting method for bone pillars is best because they take too long to kill with the fire spell, and that last ice spell skip to get onto the pendulum early saves easily over 5 seconds. The Dracula fights might be my favorite part of this entire run, as I never would have guessed that fire would be better than lightning! Though you do lose some time on the first form with fire, it's better on both the second (mostly because lightning causes lots of slowdown here) and third forms. As it's just barely possible to get the quick kill on Drac 2 & 3 with fire, it makes for a dramatic and stressful end to the run!

On the whole I am extremely happy with this run, especially since I broke my sub-29 goal without getting great luck on the stage 9 skip. I've had other attempts with a faster skip but more mistakes elsewhere, and I'd much rather have it this way. This can certainly be taken down to 28:4x with a better bird skip, but that would be much worse for my sanity than the CV1 run...

Many thanks to Scrimpeh for finding ice spell skips and singlehandedly getting me to run this again, Samhain-Grim for the previous TAS, Tom Votava for his original speedruns on this (made before any of the TASes, with some surprisingly advanced stuff), Mike Uyama for giving me his CV3 cart back when mine didn't work (needs lockout chip disabled for some reason), and everyone who's watched my stream and helped keep me going through all the bad weapon drops!

Speaking of which, if you enjoy old-school game speedrunning, come watch my stream at ! It runs the gamut from all-time classics to hidden gems to the bottom of the barrel.

Japanese version with Sypha: 0:28:24 by 'kmafrocard'.

Get Flash to see this player.

Author's comments:

When I initially started learning Castlevania III, I did not have intentions of running the Japanese version. The main reason being is I did not feel the need to sink money into a Famicom to learn one game. That changed when Funkdoc offered to loan me his and all I needed was the cartridge. I was willing to purchase the cartridge so now I was good to go.

To start off, there are several differences between the Japanese and the U.S. versions of the Sypha path. The main being that in the Japanese version, sub weapons are more readily available and there is an Ice Spell on Stage 4 which enabled me to add an ice skip that was not in the previous SDA run. Also, as you will see in the run, the Lightning Spell does a huge amount of damage on bosses when all 3 orbs make contact simultaneously enabling the ability to one or two shot many of them.

The main differences in this run compared to the previous SDA run are few, but huge in saving time. Being able to obtain an Ice Spell on Stage 4 enabled me to do a skip right after Medusa which saves about 15 seconds in total, but also enforces me to fight Medusa with Sypha’s staff. The goal with Medusa is only to take 1 hit in order to have enough health later on in the level to do the damage boost and one-shot the mummies. Fighting Medusa staff only is still faster than switching to Ralph for the boss and then back to Sypha.

The other big difference is the Stage 9 ice skip. This skip is a pain to set up and is highly luck dependent on birds positioning themselves in the right spot and fast enough to save significant amount of time. I was pretty fortunate with the Ice Skip and was able to hit it pretty quick saving quite a bit of time. Doppleganger setup nicely here for the quick kill with fire (no way to get Lightning back without losing all the time saved on the skip). The Fire Spell Dopple has does not reach as far as yours, so I was able to stand at a safe distance and easily defeat it. An interesting note is that Doppleganger’s fire spell does SIX HP damage to Sypha so don’t get hit by it J

I use fire on Dracula as it is just as quick as the previous SDA run using lightning for the simple fact of not having to change characters twice to enable a one-loop third form. The hardest part of the fight is killing 1st form before he teleports. It takes 5 fire spells to defeat 1st form and landing all of them in time is pretty tight. You have to land the 1st one has he is getting up, the next 3 before he shoots a flame up from under Sypha and then move left and shoot one more to kill him before he moves. The other 2 forms are easy once you know the setup for them, so the pressure was off after defeating form 1. There is another way to kill Drac that would be faster with Lightning and only have to do 1 character change which has Ralph finishing off 3rd form, but it only saves 4 seconds and if not done perfect ends up wasting more time than the fire spell.

As far as mistakes in the run, I made 3 small ones that are relatively minor, but did cost about 4-5 seconds in total. I did not hit A properly to jump near the end of stage 5 by the last Axe Knight. Typically I would jump and shoot the lightning spell once and then when right in front of the Axe Knight, release another lightning spell eliminating him. On stage 6, in the lowest area of the level, I hit up, but let off right too soon so there was a slight pause before the stair case which caused me to have to use 2 Ice Spells (normally only 1 Ice Spell is needed). The 3rd mistake made was on Stage 8 near yet another Axe Knight. If timed right, you can release the lightning spell from below and kill the Axe Knight before you get to the platform and head back left without stopping. I hit the spell slightly too late which meant I needed to use a 2nd spell and when I went to jump up and around, an orb was still present on the screen causing the staff to come out and Sypha taking damage. (Sypha can only have one spell release animation on the screen at 1 time which actually can become annoying as lightning orbs like to hover around random sprites rather than going off screen.)

All being said, I am extremely pleased with this run. I figure another 8-10 seconds can come off of this run legitimately and possibly an additional 15-20 if an extremely lucky Ice Spell drop happens on stage 8 before you walk through the 1st door which would enable you to do the Ice skips used in the U.S run. (It is slightly faster to kill the Stage 7 bosses with lightning rather than keeping Ice for the stage 8 skips and using Ralph to kill the Stage 7 bosses)

Biggest thanks go out to Funkdoc (for the comments he left on the previous run and borrowing me his Famicom so I could do attempts) and the viewers who were there while I was doing runs which is always greatly appreciated. You can follow me at

Return to the Game List, the FAQ, or the Home Page.