Submission #2509: Kriole's GBA Castlevania - Aria of Sorrow "100% souls" in 28:01.58

Game Boy Advance
(Submitted: Castlevania - Aria of Sorrow)
100% souls
! Movie begins from a reset; should begin from power-on.
0999 - Castlevania - Aria of Sorrow (U).gba
Submitted by Kriole on 12/24/2009 12:03 AM
Submission Comments
Merry christmas!
General Information
  • Emulator: VBA Rerecording, 1.72 v20
  • Takes damage to save time
  • Manipulates luck
  • Aims for fastest time
  • Plays on hardest difficulty
  • Starts the game from SRAM
  • Collects all the souls in the game
This is a warpless run with a little twist - it collects all the souls in the game. There are 120 collectable souls in the game, 110 which drop from enemies, 6 ability souls and 4 other soulholder souls.
The reason to why this run is only 15 seconds slower compared to the old warpless run is because it is played on Hard, which requires me to start with SRAM. There are some fundamental differences between Hard and Normal: Soma has less ATT/DEF on Hard, you can skip cutscenes on hard (actually this is not entirely true - you just need to have finished the game once to be able to skip cutscenes) and there are 4 pretty cool items lying around in different places in the castle which are only available in hard mode (although none were actually picked up in this run). It seems hard has always been favored for the all-soul runs, since it counterweights the fact that Soma does become quite powerful towards the end. And the removed cutscenes adds alot of momentum to the run.
There is little to comment on about the game mechanics, most fundemental things have already been covered in earlier runs. Instead, I decided to cover all the individual areas, maybe comment on some souldrops, what do I know.
Before I start it might be good to know that it is hard to appreciate what's going on unless you have played the game. Some souls have extremely low droprates, which might be impressive to experienced people, but those who don't know what's going on will probably think less of it.
Here are some terms which might erase some question marks:
  • Light Weapon - Weapons which cancel the attack animation upon landing
  • Heavy Weapon - A weapon which does not cancel the attack animation upon landing. Instead, backdashing can be used as soon as the hit connects.
  • Cooldown - When an enemy is hit the enemy becomes invurnerable to damage for a set amount of frames (there are a few different counters in the game, cooldown is mostly refered to when talking about weapons). This varies alot between weapons and it really helped me determine which weapons are better for what. For example, Ronginus' Spear has a 31 frame cooldown (the highest one in the game, I believe), while Mystletain has 12 frames.
  • RNG (Random Number Generator) - A system which determines the souldrops, itemdrops or enemy actions. Enemy actions in turn garble up the loot tables, so when bruteforcing a soul it is important to always have it act the same. There are a ton of ways to manipulate RNG, but the most common ones used in this run are: Swinging, backdashing (including small changes in backdash pattern), using the Kicker Skeleton soul, wobbling with the Black Panther and using Guardian souls.
Allow me to begin. (The original idea was to add a list of all the souls that are collected... but then I figured that that would be stupid)
Castle Corridor
Souls I skip:
  • White Dragon (Too much hp, killing it would be slower than doing it after Great Armor)
  • Rock Armor (Only 1 opportunity to harvest it, there are several in The Chapel)
  • Killer Doll (I can't even reach these)
  • Flying Armor (Picked up in the end of the clean-up)
Not much to say here, the hardest souls were probably Axe Armor and Peeping Eye. The rest had pretty much room for manipulation.
Boss - Creaking Skull
This is actually not really a boss, it's a higher level enemy which was put early in the game, therefore its soul does not have a 100% drop chance. This also goes for Manticore, Great Armor and Big Golem. I used Skeleton to get additional high-damaging hits.
The Chapel
Souls I skip:
  • Dead Warrior (Too off)
  • Bone Pillar (Too off)
  • Zombie Officer (Awkward placement)
  • Ghost Dancer (The window of opportunity is small, harvested in the clean-up)
  • White Dragon
I aimed to get level up before reaching Manticore, that's the reason why I'm using the Tiny Devil soul on 2 Bats and a Ghost.
Boss - Manticore
Slash, slash, slash, slash, ooooh, dead, moving on. Pretty boring boss.
The Study
Souls I skip:
  • None
While there are many opportunities to get the Ectoplasm soul, its dropchance is still ridiculously low. This is the only encounter in the game, so naturally getting this one was a pain.
Boss - Great Armor
I really dislike this encounter, because of the delay to get its soul. While it is acceptable, it really is an annoying inconsistency. I had the Minotaur drop a Battle Axe, a heavy swing weapon. It has a 21 frame cooldown but more than twice the damage that Combat Knife does, which has a 12 frame cooldown. The damage per frame is 1.8 and 1.4 respectively (Battle Axe does 38 damage, while Combat Knife does 17). I used the Bone Pillar as Guardian soul, due to its versatility. Now, for the soul, as I mentioned earlier, different enemy behavior gives different loot tables, it just so turns out that this pattern had him drop his soul nearly 120 frames earlier than the other one, making this one the obvious choice. On the downside, I had to take damage. Also, all the swings during the backdash movement were not for the poops and giggles, they were to force him into this pattern.
The Chapel
Souls I skip:
  • Ghost Dancer
  • Dead Warrior
Warp to the Castle Corridor.
Castle Corridor
This place again, with a slightly different movement pattern. I change in the first Skeleton room to the Bone Pillar to be able to oneshot all the Skeletons. I made them all drop souls for the poops and giggles. I failed to uphold this consistency on the next Skeleton encounter, but whatever.
Floating Garden
Souls I skip:
  • Gorgon (Awkward placement)
  • Golem (Too tough)
  • Disc Armor (Picked up during the clean-up)
  • Mandragora (A more convenient placement in Underground Reservoir)
  • Dead Warrior
I do an impressive 8 damage on Golem, so naturally it was skipped (it has 200 hp). I come back later to steamroll this bugger. Steamroll might not be the correct term, even then it still takes 3 hits to die.
Kicker Skeleton is hilarious the first few seconds, no doubt a big improvement to the old backdash stuff. It is important not to overestimate the downward abilities of this soul - the distance you can travel in a kick before Soma enters his fallstate is very short.
I also demonstrate the power of Imp on the Werewolves and the Devil. Imp is a Guardian soul summon that pushes the RNG once/frame. Other manipulation here is really easy, since you can cancel attacks on the elevators until the RNG is favorable.
Clock Tower
Souls I skip:
  • None
This place was fun, especially with the Kicker Skeleton soul. Mystletain was picked up since it's an awesome weapon. It has nearly 80% more damage output than the Battle Axe, due to difference in cooldown. Also, it's a light weapon, which ups the versatility. Not to forget that it's a holy weapon, which is no doubt an enormous bonus.
Boss - Death
This is an Undead, called Death, yet still he is not weak to holy. Ignoring that, I really love this bossfight. The rhytmic sound of the hit, backdash , hit, Bone Pillar, is really cool. Lightning doll was used in the first round to manipulate him to act accordingly.
On the way out I have a Bomber Armor drop me a Steel Plate, more on that later.
Warp to Castle Corridor.
Castle Corridor
Yet again, a short visit to make it to the Underground Reservoir.
Underground Reservoir
Souls I skip:
  • Sky Fish (Need Chronomage for this bugger)
  • Flesh Golem (Too off, too tough)
  • Dryad (Not enroute, unlike during the clean-up)
  • Fish Head (Too off, more convenient placement when entering The Arena)
  • Dead Crusader (More convenient placement in The Arena)
This place is really short and very actionpacked. I love it. Except Mandragora - you have to wait for it to be above ground before it can drop its soul. Annoying timewaster. A quick peak into the warproom so I can warp here later for the clean-up.
Underground Cemetary
Souls I skip:
  • None
The Werejaguar challenged me to a duel in agility, I believe I won. It is faster to do it this way because of his short stature, else you would have to delay the hits in the air to have them connect.
Boss - Legion
I used Valkyrie on this boss, it costs alot of mana but it is Holy element, which Legion happens to be weak to. The vigorous soulswitching in the middle of the fight is to switch to Arc Demon, which refills mana when damage is taken. The Steel Plate allowed me to take 2 hits, giving me an additional of 6 hits with the Valkyrie.
At the end of the fight, you can see me delaying about 20 frames. This is not to manipulate anything, this is to trigger his quick death animation - his cage falling to the ground immediately (there are only 2 specific frames during his entire rotation which allow for this quick animation). Otherwise it would hover over the ground for nearly 3 seconds.
Legion must lose all of his 4 shells before he awards his soul.
I get a Laevatain on the way out from the Flame Demon, since it's much better in the Arena.
Underground Reservoir
Souls I skip:
  • Sky Fish
  • Flesh Golem
  • Dryad
  • Dead Crusader
Watch Graham penetrate Yoko. Hah. Sex-joke. Actually you don't get to see it, since I skipped the cutscene.
The Arena
Souls I skip:
  • Red Minotaur (Too off)
  • Giant Skeleton (Too off, too tough)
  • Lilith (Too inconvenient, harvested in the clean-up)
  • Succubus (Too inconvenient, harvested in the Top Floor)
  • Bael (Too inconvenient, harvested in the Top Floor)
I get Muramasa from the Lubicants since Ronginus' Spear is crapsauce. Seriously, 31 frames cooldown? Muramasa has 14. An additional Killer Mantle was killed to get level just before Balore.
Boss - Balore
This guy looks like some giant dwarf of some sort. Anyways, I used a soulsetup of Nightmare/Great Armor/Lubicant, with Muramasa as weapon. Muramasa can hit twice in one swing, therefore it has slight edge over Laevatain here.
Nightmare during the first phase was used to force his 2nd phase way... waaaay earlier. Equipping Erynis soul just before the last hit to gain an additional 3200 experience.
Quickly getting away from the death animation to avoid some lagframes.
Warp to Clock Tower.
Clock Tower
Just quickly running through this place to get to the Top Floor.
Castle Corridor
Using Giant Bat to make it up the shaft here.
Top Floor
Souls I skip:
  • Stolas (More convenient placement in the Chaotic Realm)
I used Killer Mantle on the Final Guard. It is unrivaled, since it ignores armor.
Boss - Graham
During the first phase, I used a combination of Laevatain and Bone Pillar. This required me to manipulate him to the edges since else the Bone Pillar won't hit. Graham's hitbox is so unfortunate, it does not allow the Final Sword to hit twice.
If you're quick enough you can hit him before his very first teleport, which is shown here.
Flame Demon/Giant Bat/Succubus were equipped before the last hit to trigger the best ending.
During the second phase, I used Final Sword together with Great Armor to make quick work of him.
You will see me running around with 6 hp the rest of the game, having any less does not add any stats from Lubicant soul.
Behold, Black Panther. This commences the clean-up. Sadly, the Black Panther dramatically reduces the manipulatibility (this word does not exist) which Imp had. Therefore, wobbling was used in a few different situations. This changes the RNG once/frame, which is really neat.
It is also possible to alter the old Kicker Skeleton movement pattern to change RNG without losing any significant amount of frames. It consists of turning Black Panther off and on after landing from a Skeleton Kick.
Inner Quarters
Souls I skip:
  • None
Massive wobble at the Lilith. The longest wobble in the run, wobbling was actually only used, noticably, 4 times.
If Disc Armors are killed at a very particular frame (first frame of the attack animation) their discs fly around like holy hell. I had to use it, even though it cost me a couple of frames.
Swinging while entering the Chronomage corridor causes it to attack as soon as possible, making it vurnerable earlier.
Boss - Headhunter
Moving on to the Dance Hall.
Dance Hall
Souls I skip:
  • None
Not much to say, I'm not sure if I was lucky on Tsuchinoko or not - I never had a chance to tell.
Boss - Big Golem
This guy has a huge arm that blocks his hitbox, therefore Red Minotaur was used on the poor fellow. I really need to address this soul, it's just ridiculous. I usually refer to this as a 3-handed axe.
Warp to Underground Reservoir.
Underground Reservoir
Souls I skip:
  • Sky Fish (Harvesting it before the warp to Castle Corridor)
Really content on how Flesh Golem turned out, I spent alot of time on him.
Quickly change souls to Devil/Undine to be able to enter the Forbidden Area.
Forbidden Area
Souls I skip:
  • None
Forbidden Area is the only place in the game with Mudmen, visiting here was inevitable.
Here I did something many probably will not appreciate, comprehend or whatever - I got the Claimh Solais. Having Black Panther does however justify this... somewhat. It has the edge over Final Sword for 2 reasons - it is a light weapon, and it is holy elemented.
Underground Reservoir
Souls I skip:
  • None
Sky Fish requires Chronomage to be killed. Not much to add.
Warp to Castle Corridor.
Castle Corridor
Souls I skip:
  • None
The Hippogryph ability is faster than the Flying Armor soul, so I had to make it look a little awkward.
On to the Floating Gardens.
Floating Gardens
Souls I skip:
  • None
And thus, the last souls outside of the Chaotic Realm have been collected. Nice!
Boss - Julius Belmont
Julius gets stunned and goes invurnerable every 4 hits, not counting spells. Final Sword was used since Julius is tolerant to holy. Claimh Solais did an impressive 39 damage.
Nightmare was used as bullet soul, with Great Armor as guardian soul. Not much to say, manipulating him was so incredibly easy it's not even worth mentioning.
On to the Chaotic Realm.
Chaotic Realm
Souls I skip:
  • None
Claimh Solais really shines here, due to most enemies being weak to holy (Giant Skeleton, Mimic, Demon Lord, Shadow Knight, Stolas). It still is inferior to the Final Sword on Chaos.
Some enemies were kicked and Black Panthered since they have about 30-60 hp left after a set amount of swings, to avoid swinging again. It also garbles up the RNG nicely.
Boss - Chaos
I really like how the first phase turned out. Chaos steals all your souls, so naturally you are a little handicapped.
Even though your souls are returned when a statue is broken, it is not worth it using them on the first phase.
The second phase was pretty tricky, due to all the million different ways to approach Chaos. I chose the Red Minotaur approach since it hits all the targets for massive damage. I tried hitting the lower targets twice, but never managed to do so. I believe this is because they are so close to the ground.
Great Armor was used to save time, but carefully not to waste damage on overkills.
On to the credits. Unlike all the other cutscenes, this one is not skippable.
Route discussion
I feel that I quickly have to address why I chose the route I did. Thinking about it, there are actually only 2 decent warpless route:
1. Great Armor, Big Golem, Headhunter, Death, Forbidden Area, Legion, Balore, Graham, clean-up, Julius, Chaos
2. Great Armor, Death, Legion, Balore, Graham, clean-up, Headhunter, Big Golem, Forbidden Area, Julius, Chaos
The first one being the textbook route, there are no sequence breaks whatsoever. Pretty straightforward, but still very good. The pros are early Claimh Solais (especially vs Legion) and overall being higher level for Balore, Legion and Graham. The con is the detour for Flesh Golem. There is no way to make it up there without Hippogryph.
The second one, the one used in this run, is a little more refreshing. It uses the double jump sequence break for early Death, to get Skula to gain access to Underground Reservoir. The pros for this run are much earlier clean-up (more fastpaced steamrollage), while the cons are being weaker for Legion, Balore and Graham.
The 2nd one was the obvious choice, having Black Panther for the entire Inner Quarters and Dance Hall is much better than saving one or two hits on a boss each.
Chaos Ring
For those who don't know about the Chaos Ring:
Once you have collected all the souls, an item called Chaos Ring appears in the room adjacent to the room with the first Alastor. Chaos Ring gives unlimited mana (which is not entirely true - it actually only gives incredibly high mana regeneration, thus it will not allow using souls such as Red Minotaur under level 15). I did not get this, since it's so late in the game. The only 'big' difference would be Chaos' 2nd phase, I deemed it not worth it. My apologies to anyone who disagrees with me.
Special Thanks
  • arkiandruski - For feedback, helping me plan the route and generally commenting on my gameplay and stylistic choices.
  • Gocha - While he did not directly help me, he provided some useful memory addresses in one of the Aria of Sorrow thread.
  • klmz - For providing me with basic tricks, memory addresses, boss tactics and tipping me about Kicker Skeleton.
  • moozooh - For helping out a newbie, pointing me in the right direction and telling me who to turn to. Also for providing me with feedback on my stylistic choices, my soul setups and overall gameplay.
  • Spoofer - A person from the Super Metroid community who watched and gave feedback on the earlier parts of my run.
  • Taco - Another Super Metroid name, but this is my go-to guy in the TASing world. The only person who got to watch the completed run prior to christmas.
  • Zene - For watching my run and providing me with positive feedback. Also pressuring me for progress and updates.
  • The people over at GameFAQs - Providing me with enemy statistics, such as weaknesses, tolerances, HP, experience rewards and drops. Also for soul maps, item maps, walkthroughs, general tips and tricks.
Huge thanks to all these people, you really helped me keep my motivation topped for this project.

adelikat: Accepting for publication with the intent of obsoleting the published warpless movie.
Last Edited by Kriole on 12/27/2009 5:09 PM
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