Nathan Graves pwnz Dracula with even more powerful big-bones!
This improves the currently published  GBA Castlevania: Circle of the Moon "warp glitch" by Cardboard in 05:21.58 by 227 frames thanks to "new tricks" and optimizations.
Table of contents
- Emulator used: VBA-rr v23.6 svn480
- Aims for fastest input time.
- Abuses programming errors in the game.
- Manipulates luck.
The game has at least 3 versions: the original Japanese release (J), the North American release (U) and the European release (E). Besides the language localizations, there's a notable difference in gameplay which makes the original Japanese release unique: It takes much less EXP to LEVEL UP in this version than in other versions. In fact, it's the later releases that increased the EXP requirements for all levels by 20%, which makes usual gaming harder. (Yes, that is the tradition.)
It's said there has been a Japanese re-release, but I didn't find much information about it and don't know if it changed anything.
For this run, the (U) version is chosen because the timing rule allows to ignore the disvantage of longer dialogues in the (U) version but not the extra 2 LEVEL UPs on Dracula in the (J) version.
Glitches and tricks
- Attribute glitch
The "new glitch" that doubles the power of the big-bones thrown by Skeleton was actually pretty old. It works under the same mechanism as the famous "Mars + Black Dog"-4x-attack-power boost. Not only does the game wrongly compute the STR with the card combination currently selected (except for certain attacks), but also does it determine the attribute of the attack with the current card combination. That is to say, although the big-bones have a fixed STR as 3000, its supposed DARK attribute could be turned off with a non-DARK card combination, which avoids having the attack damage halved due to the enemies' DARK resistance.
As a result, Nathan can deal "doubled big-bone damage" on DARK-resistant enemies like Dracula, which saves some time if it doesn't cost too much time to switch the cards.
- Skeleton Sliding Attack
Not new either. This just allows the all-mighty Skeleton to "slide" forward on the ground while throwing a bone. Triggered if the Skeleton have any horizontal momentum just before landing and attack on the next frame.
- DSS activation during wall ejection
Wall ejection is not paused when Nathan is activating DSS card combinations. Since the activation is long, doing this saves the time for wall ejections.
- Immediate Dracula 2nd form death animation
In the final fight against Dracula, if Dracula's HP is decreased to 0 in his "humanoid/demon form" instead of the "eyeball form", the long "morphing back" animation before his true death animation will be skipped.
Stage by stage comments
I'll only comment on improved parts.
The lags here are very annoying. The key to reduce them is to manipulate the Skeleton Bombers' action timers so that Nathan can get rid of the Skeleton Bombers before they throw bombs.
The first Skeleton Bomber always has enough time to attack as Nathan is too far away from it when entering this room. The second and the third ones can be manipulated before they are activated. It turns out that I need to manipulate the maximum value of the timers to avoid the attacks. However for some reasons in the (U) version it doesn't reduce any more lagged frames to avoid two both bombs than to avoid just one. So I revert to avoid just one and let the other the bloom.
Sliding is faster on gorund and slower on 45-degree slopes upward than walking. What if it's on half-ground-half-slope? It depends on the situation, and here it's still a bit faster.
On the way back to the left, I start sliding on up-slope. The purpose is to align Nathan's position to the peak of the slope in the next (or previous) room.
Not much to say about looting the cards. Just luck manipulations without losing time.
Back to the shaft and all the way to Dracula
The sliding pattern optimization from the previous room eventually saves time at the first platform. I also optimized the platforming part carefully as well as the timing of DSS activation during an edge ejection.
Subpixel optimization is employed for reducing the sliding distance when Nathan gets on the roof of the initial room, which allows him to enter the Ceremony Room earlier.
I used the attribute glitch to double eveny big-bone's damage, which helps using 1 less bone on Dracula. The glitch doesn't cost any time as I'll have to switch the cards for a later activation anyway.
The "Skeleton sliding" glitch is used for the second big-bone-throw to hit Dracula 3 frames earlier.
The EXP award is only enough for Level 25 in the (U) and (E) versions compared to Level 27 in the (J) version, which is better as we don't actually need leveling up in an any% run. It's still long to sit through 25-1=24 LEVEL UPs though.
The "first round" has a fixed time for every kind of Dracula's attacks. I manipulated him to do the meteos attack that takes the shortest time.
Since Dracula becomes invulberable when his HP drops below 1500, I only used the attribute glitch for the last hit this round. As the minimum count of Dracula's ramming attacks is 2, but Skeleton unfortunately can't even evade the first ramming attack, Nathan must dodge in the human form and re-activate the Skeleton morph later, which means that the attribute glitch in this "first round" is cost-free.
For the "second round", it's faster to abuse the attribute glitch for 1-hit-KO than to hit dracula's eyeball twice. The former is faster even at the cost of the extra menu operations because it finishes off Dracula directly in his "humanoid/demon form" instead of the "eyeball form", which skips the long "morphing back" animation.
Thanks to all previous players who demonstrated the basis and tricks of the any% strategy.
Also thanks to hellagels for the Nicovideo encode.
Memory: Optimization seems good, improvement on the published run.
This movie was entertaining due to the various tricks, old, new, and "new". It was well received by the audience as well.
Accepting to Moons as an improvement to  GBA Castlevania: Circle of the Moon "warp glitch" by Cardboard in 05:21.58.
Spikestuff: Why do vampires chew gum? Because they have BAT breath!