Submission #6993: strizer86's PSX Castlevania Chronicles in 25:56.02

Sony PlayStation
BizHawk 2.5.2
Akumajo Dracula (Castlevania Chronicle) (JP).img
Submitted by strizer86 on 1/1/2021 10:12 PM
Submission Comments
Welcome to Castlevania Chronicles, the much lesser known CV Playstation release. It's a linear game and remake of a Sharp X68000 Japanese only title simply called Castlevania. Included are two modes; Original & Arranged. Arranged offers the players options like turning off the timer and a 3 frame window to jump after walking off a ledge. The same luxury is not provided in Original Mode meaning we are subject to timer countdown at the end of stages and the jumps are much tighter. About 1:17 is lost to timer countdown throughout the entire run which is the reason Original Mode is slower compared to Arranged. Original Mode also has typical knockback which will be used for the purpose of multiple time saves not available in Arranged Mode where Simon simply gets knocked upwards. That in mind when focusing on the points that require player execution and input Original Mode easily comes out as the faster mode between the two due to the multiple damage boosts used throughout the run.
Game objectives
  • Emulator used: Bizhawk 2.5.2
  • Firmware used: ps-30j.bin
  • Aims for fastest time
  • Takes damage to save time
  • Manipulates luck
  • Ends input early
  • Genre: Platformer

With Commentary:

Canceling Whip Animation
Unlike a normal whip attack hitting the ground while whipping down or diagonally downward cancels out your animation immediately. This allows you to use your whip several times within a single jump.
Subweapons While Moving
This is done by cancelling a downward, or diagonal down whip attack by landing. The amount of frames left in the animation will be the number of frames Simon is locked in place for the next sub weapon throw. In short, if there is one frame left in the downward whip animation when you land, you only remain frozen in place for 1 frame next time you use your sub weapon.
Hitting Enemies Behind You
Sub weapons spawn slightly behind you and can be used to hit enemies without turning around. They also spawn the direction Simon was facing when it was activated. Canceling a whip animation allows us to turn around for a single frame then continue the original direction causing the sub weapon to be thrown behind Simon.
Stunning Enemies
When enemies are damaged their hitbox becomes incactive momentarily which allows Simon to pass through unharmed. While this time is not typically enough to get through an entire enemy hitbox it can be made useful by first jumping over part of the enemy before the damage, or jumping out of the enemy hitbox before it becomes active again.
Damage Stack
If multiple damage sources are overlayed on a boss when they become vulnerable, either initially or when recovering from an attack, they will take damage from all of the sources simultaneously. This is the technique that will be used on all of the bosses save the first.

BLK-1 (Stages 1 - 3)
Jumping loses 2 frames of horizontal movement so it will be minimized throughout the run. This first block is optimized simply by killing certain enemies while avoiding others to minimize spawns, meaning less jumps. The dagger on the 3rd panther is thrown at a specific time to prevent the 2nd one from coming back on screen to attack you saving an additional jump. This will be the only boss where the cross isn't used. Normally when struck the bat boss will split into smaller bats and take time to reform preventing additional hits. The stopwatch is used to freeze him in place allowing the boss to be killed without ever splitting.
BLK-2 (Stages 4 - 6)
Here you will see the fruits of my labour when it comes to RNG research, the forced Cross drop. Like the swimming mermen in Block 1, the "green goo" changes the drop RNG every frame when nearby. This effectively allows me to farm whatever I want from the bats by killing them on a particular frame. The older Arranged Mode TAS and RTA runs would typically use the Stopwatch at the start of this block, grab a dagger along the way, and finally the first cross via a candle just prior to the boss. Although you would think the early cross would be a huge time save on the upcoming boss it actually only saves me two thirds of a second. 23 frames are lost to the early cross grab and farming of the triple. This is a combination of 1 frame cross throws and lag due to the enemies and music, which is not normally present when you have the stopwatch. The time is made up on the fight where 64 frames are saved because I can kill him in 3 damage stacks opposed to 4.
BLK-3 (Stages 7 - 9)
This block is more of the same regarding minimizing jumps and manipulating enemy spawns. A small ride on the moving platform helps give a small boost forward. This is where the version differences really start to come into play. In the original JP release the hitboxes of Simon's Dagger & Cross are larger. In other versions when reaching the boss the player is subject to waiting out the entire duration of the first attack. With the larger hitbox a quad stack can be done the moment he first becomes vulnerable. This fight is done in 4 hits but thankfully his time between disappearing and reappearing is short. Quad stack, single, double stack, single. There is a short delay before the double stack but it's much less time than it would take to wait an additional hit. My position is used in this fight to influence his position and pattern.
BLK-4 (Stages 10 - 12)
Care is put into climbing stairs because pressing up too quickly can lose you up to 10 frames. This is because although it will pull Simon towards the stairs to start the climb, it does so at the reduced climbing speed. This is where Original Mode really benefits from knockback. Although the first of many this damage boost saves the most amount of time. A 4 frame boost off the bat at the start of Stage 12 prevents having to walk to the left and all the way back to the right. Medusa is the other main reason for the use of JP over other releases as she lacks proper iframes. This is exploited after an initial quad stack by overlaying crosses over her head and tail which drains her health.
BLK-5 (Stages 13 - 15)
It wouldn't be Castlevania without the Clock Tower. More stairs means more precise climbs. I opted to take damage early on while climbing the stairs despite it only saving 6 frames. Stunning the Bone Pillars allows me to move past them without getting damaged. The big win for Original Mode here is a damage boost off a gear up onto a ledge. This prevents having to go to the left and climb a set of stairs. I barely squeak by at the end making it up the stairs with only 1 frame left before the Peeping Eye kills me. Werewolf fight was optimized by forcing her to jump into the bottom right for her 2nd attack, allowing for a quad stack then two doubles with no time between iframes. Other patterns result in her to going to the top of the screen and have a brief period where she is vulnerable.
BLK-6 (Stages 16 - 18)
The Tower of Dolls, Original Mode's time to shine! Timed jumps are used to manipulate the Medusa head positions. Once we reach tower itself I looked for not only where I could take damage boosts up, but which would result in the least down time be it time to setup, or waiting for iframes to wear off so I could take more damage. I manipulated the enemy positions precisely on the way up and was able to take 3 quick boosts at the top of the tower. Final section minimized jumps with crosses to take out the mirrors. Doppelganger goes down with a simple quad stack followed by two doubles.
BLK-7 (Stages 19 - 21)
Block 7 is home to two more damage boosts. Both are actually taken in Arranged, but there's no benefit due to the player being sent straight up. In both cases I was able to get damaged in the direction I was already moving to gain some ground. Crosses are used throughout to stun or kill enemies throughout until we finally reach Death. I would be lying if I said I understood how his iframes work. I start the fight by stacking 3 crosses and a whip, but am able to get another whip in before his iframes kick in. I stack 2 more crosses once he becomes vulnerable, followed by a cross and whip.
BLK-8 (Stages 22 - 24)
Here is where it all comes together. The enemies in this stage are aggressive and placed close together it makes it difficult. It took a lot of care to manipulate the shield enemy to not block my cross on the second screen and the ball & chain enemy was a nightmare. A damage boost in the flaming chandelier room saves me a modest 6 frames. The one after the big bridge however is a significant time save. I was able to manipulate when the persephone above activates with my jump. The result is a frame perfect boost off her attack as I continue left. Dracula phase 1 is set and sadly cannot be cut down to a 2 cycle. I manipulated a flame pattern in phase 2 by killing certain fireballs in phase 1. Despite him standing in the center I was able to avoid damage from his final attack and hitbox making my jump my final input.

Useful RAM Info
Before I moved to JP I started with the NA version. In addition to the info in scrimpeh's 2014 Arranged Mode TAS I was able to come up new RAM information should anyone want to still use the NA version. The drop table seems to be based on address 00059316. It's 2 bytes and unsigned. I was able to use this to not only figure out what impacted the drop tables such as the mermen swimming & green goo, but actually find the drop values.
Subweapon Drops (every 56 increments)
  • 9D2E to A18C (Dagger)
  • 9824 to 9CD8 (Cross)
  • 9370 to 97CE (Axe)
  • 8EBC to 931A (Holy Water)
  • 8B0A to 8E66 (Watch)
  • 8554 to 88B0 (Herb)
  • 1C2E to 84FE (Whip)
  • 1724 to 1BD8 (Rosary)
  • 121A to 16CE (Jar)
  • 0908 to 121A (L Heart)

Final Notes
Thanks for considering this TAS submission. Scrimpeh was right in stating there was merit for an Original Mode TAS, I just didn't realize how much until I dug in. Big thanks for the work put in on the 2014 Arranged Mode TAS as it gave me a great starting point and stood as inspiration to explore the game's potential further. I've attached a video of the TAS with no commentary and plan to attach one with audio commentary in the next few days. This was my 2nd TAS and I figured it would be a great way to kick off the new year. Looking forward to exploring my next game.

arkiandruski: Judging
arkiandruski: When judging this movie, I realized the first question I had to answer for myself was whether it was worth adding a new branch to the game. Obviously this run plays the game in a different game mode (and a different region) than the previous run. This mode comes with its own physics and mechanics which do change the gameplay. It also goes through the exact same levels as the previous run and uses largely the same route.
To start with I watched the runs together, and I have to say, there are very few places where the different mechanics actually lead to different techniques when going through the level. I think this is really far away from enough difference to qualify for a new branch.
Since it wasn't going to be a new branch, I then had to decide whether it could be an obsoletion. This was made a little bit more difficult due to the emulator and region change, but the author mentions that this run does come ahead for in game time, so I decided to check whether that was right. Based off my check, it looks like this run is about 2100 frames faster when ignoring level transitions, give or take. Actually, it's most likely more since psxjin seems to give the previous run advantage in terms of how lag is implemented or with room loading.
Based off of this, accepting this run as an improvement on the published run.
Last Edited by adelikat on 11/5/2023 6:49 PM
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