Why do People do Speedruns?
Symphony of the Night: Romscout’s Speedrun
Symphony of the Night Highlights
For such a short run, there’s a lot going on. From the get-go, expert tactics are employed. A precise amount of hearts are collected and then used up in the first Dracula fight. This not only gives Alucard a full heart replenishment but nets a heart refresh item which will come in handy for a glitch later on.
Pretty soon after, the infamous “death skip” is utilized. This allows the player to skip entirely past the first meeting with Death. This keeps their original equipment and boosts their power. All in all, this makes the rest of the speedrun a lot smoother and is basically essential for a competitive score.
Speaking of glitches, the wolf trick, faerie trick, Richter skip, and relic skip also make an appearance. The first two allow the early and infinite collection of the garnet item, which is exploited to obtain an obscene amount of money almost instantly. This allows Romscout to buy the duplicator item straight away, giving unlimited item uses, such as the powerful buffalo star. The final two tricks allow the gamer to entirely skip the Richter fight and a large portion of the inverted castle, giving early access to the final boss battle.
Overall, the execution of these glitches is perfect. This is particularly impressive because even one glitch alone can be incredibly hard to pull off, even for the most seasoned player. Achieving all of them in a speedrun is an outstanding feat.
The run isn’t without its flaws, however. Romscout unnecessarily collides with enemies and platforms, e.g. at 2:44, a few times. This does add some dreaded seconds to his final time. This doesn’t take away from the majesty of the run as a whole, though, as shown by the fact the record went unbeaten for just over 4 years. Even today, the world record is only 22 seconds faster than Romscout’s attempt, which sits comfortably at 3rd place in the any% leaderboards.
What glitches were used?
If you’re not doing a glitchless run, exploiting bugs is crucial for achieving an impressive score. Here’s a quick rundown of the most game-breaking glitches that have been used.
- Death skip – This glitch relies on collecting over 40 hearts at the beginning stage, but not any more than 42. These hearts must also be completely consumed when fighting Dracula so that Alucard begins the main game with a heart refresh in his inventory. In the next couple of rooms, no more than 3 zombies must be defeated to control the next level up. Then, by breaking a block, performing an awkward back dash, and then casting a spell, the encounter with Death can be skipped entirely by moving to the next screen.
- Garnet exploit – This item can be obtained before the high jump upgrade by manipulating the wolf’s jump ability and jumping through the screen transition. By activating the faerie card before entering the librarian’s room, the inventory can then be accessed while inside his shop. This allows an equipped garnet to be sold, which bugs the game and leads to an infinite supply. These are then sold to buy the duplicator item very early in the game.
- Clock room bug – It’s possible to access the high area prematurely by activating the wolf form, deactivating, and then using the suddenly available dive kick move to bounce off a candle.
- Richter skip – This is a complicated glitch that involves positioning the wolf on a very specific frame, doing a half jump, and then transforming into the bat to skip the boss fight.
- Relic skip – By using the heart refresh on a particular frame and back dashing to the door, the final boss fight can be reached earlier than expected.
History of Symphony of the Night Speedruns
Symphony of the Night is an extremely common game to speedrun. This is largely due to its enduring popularity, as speedrunners must be passionate about playing a title to dedicate so much time to master it. The game does lend itself nicely to a speedrun, though, due to its abundance of glitches and skill level required for precise movements.
Speedruns for the game go back as far as 2005, according to online records. The first title holder for an any% Alucard run was Adam Grise, taking 55 minutes. This is a far cry from the sort of scores we’re used to seeing today. When the main skip methods were discovered, around 2011, the time decreased to around 22 minutes, shaving over half off the original record. Scores only got better from then on, until Romscout broke the 17-minute barrier in 2015 and grabbed the top spot. Time will tell if these runs will get anywhere near less than 16 minutes, but it feels like we’re reaching the limit of what a human can do at this point.
Extra Info About Romscout
Romscout has been in the speedrunning scene for a while. Although mostly known for his Castlevania speedruns, he has run many other titles. These include Elden Ring and a selection of retro games, including Ninja Kun and titles from the Shin Megami Tensei series. He also holds the 3rd place record for Alucard runs for Symphony of the Night, as well as the 2nd place record for a blindfolded run. You can check out more about him on his Twitch profile.
Symphony of the Night was a diamond in the rough upon its release. But, it’s been polished over time due in part to the enthusiasm and experience of speedrunners. No one would’ve thought the game could be completed at lightning speed, but here we are. Only time will tell if Romscout will improve his score further. Maybe he could even take back the top spot he once enjoyed. It’s safe to say he’s put a lot of love and effort into this, as his top 3 titles show.