Castlevania: Symphony of the Night Speedruns – Watch Romscout’s Incredible Journey!

Castlevania: Symphony of the Night Speedruns – Watch Romscout’s Incredible Journey!

A key player in the advent of the “Metroidvania” universe, Castlevania: Symphony of the Night wasn’t exactly a great hit upon release. However, through rave reviews passing down the gaming grapevine, the game would eventually become recognized for its excellence. It was a pioneer in the part action-adventure and roleplaying blend of genres. The non-linear exploration, expansive item collection, and variety of weapons would influence both future Castlevania games and the action genre as a whole. Symphony of the Night wasn’t content merely being a classic PS1 title, however. The game would soon go on to become a much-loved speedrunning title as well. Welcome to the world of Symphony of the Night speedruns!

The elaborate movements and tricky level designs don’t naturally lend themselves to a fast finish time. But a speedrun is definitely achievable. This is usually made possible by the use of glitches, some of which can drastically alter the gameplay. Today we’re going to explore one of the most memorable speedruns of the game, courtesy of Romscout. Let’s begin.

Why do People do Speedruns?

While gaming is just a relaxing pastime for some, it can be an intense sport for others. This is where speedruns come into play. These are playthroughs of games that the player is extremely familiar with, almost to the point of obsession. The aim is to complete the title in the shortest possible timeframe. This usually means taking advantage of a variety of glitches to speed on through. There are glitchless runs and those permitting strict levels of completion (from low% to any% to 100%.) After the dawn of online streaming platforms, speedrunning communities really took off. Players enjoy encouraging runners and chatting with other viewers. A lovely balance of competition, expert-level skill, and camaraderie typifies the speedrunning scene.

Symphony of the Night: Romscout’s Speedrun

A previous world record holder, Romscout packed a lot of perfection into this sub-17-minute run. There were a small handful of slip-ups, but overall, his performance was stellar. Here are some of the highlights.

Symphony of the Night Highlights

  • All glitches were executed successfully the first time
  • Beat his previous record by 11 seconds, which was a world record
  • Went unbeaten for 4 years
  • Only a few mistakes

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.

Mistakes made

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.
Romscout’s speedrun

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.

Wrapping Up

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.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are speedruns?

Speedruns are where an experienced gamer plays through a game as quickly as possible, using glitches, bugs and expert-level tactics to guide them. It can be considered a competitive sport, but also a community of gamers who share a love for the intricacies of their favorite games.

How long does a casual playthrough of Symphony of the Night take?

The average runtime of the game is around 8 to 12 hours for the casual player.

Is it possible to complete a Symphony of the Night speedrun without using any glitches?

Yes, it’s possible to do a speedrun without any glitches. This is known as a glitchless run. This will lead to a lengthier run, however, which will test your physical and mental endurance even more than a typical run. An even higher level of planning is also required. since there are many more variables to contend with.

Who holds the current world record?

The current record holder is Dr4gonBlitz, with a record of 16 minutes and 26 seconds.

What glitches are used in the speedrun?

The main glitches are the death skip, Richter skip and relic skip. These allow Alucard to skip huge portions of the game as well as keep his original equipment, which is far stronger than anything he can collect.

What restrictions are there on a Symphony of the Night speedrun?

The most common categories are any%, glitchless, all bosses, Richter and Maria. An any% run can use any glitches with any amount of completion, but glitches are forbidden in a glitchless run. An all bosses run dictates all bosses must be defeated, leading to a lengthier run. Richter and Maria runs must be completed with optional playable characters Richter and Maria respectively.

Where can I find Symphony of the Night speedruns?

If you’d like to watch more speedruns, YouTube is a great place to find them, as well as Twitch and the speedrun.com and castlevaniaspeedruns.com websites.

What's the best way to get started with a Symphony of the Night speedrun?

To begin, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with the game as much as possible, by playing through normally and committing the areas explored and items obtained to memory. Watching speedruns online is also essential, for understanding what tricks you must use and seeing how runs are completed in action. The online community is great for encouragement as well as providing advice that will be extremely useful in your endeavor.

What platforms is Symphony of the Night available on?

Symphony of the Night is playable on many platforms, including the original PlayStation,  Xbox 360, PlayStation Portable, PS4, and even iOS and Android.

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