Breaking Down The Intense World Of Castlevania Speedrunning

Castlevania is a punishing game. Getting hit at the wrong time might mean plummeting to a frustrating death. It’s a classic that requires precision to finish. Speedrunners have been challenging it for years, and a new video breaks it down from the early days until now.

Summoning Salt, who makes videos detailing the speedrunning history of classic games or the discovery of special tricks, could be called a speedrunning historian at this point. His videos draw thousands of views from viewers curious to know the fine details of their favorite games. What makes the videos work is how much they stress the larger story of the speedrunners. Speedrunning is like a sport, with hotshot rookies and back-and-forth struggles for the best times. His latest video, about Castlevania, really grabs on to that human element.

Like any game, the early days of Castlevania were defined by superior play before major tricks and skips were discovered. It was about knowing when to attack and how to charge forward without fear. Slowly, the run morphed into something more complex, often involving leaping onto enemies to get knocked to higher locations. The biggest trick is the “critical hit,” which allows players to do extra damage to bosses if they hit the boss at the exact moment the boss also hits them. This one trick led runners into a frantic race to beat Dracula as fast as possible—which would have been easy if the timing to perform the trick weren’t incredibly difficult.

Salt’s video is a great breakdown and a chance to learn more about the hard work that speedrunners put into their craft. Every game’s community has their stories. Castlevania’s grueling race for the fastest time is full of fascinating highs and lows. Check out the video, and prepare to see Castlevania in a whole new light.

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About the author

Heather Alexandra

Senior Writer and Critic at Kotaku.