This is a miniature reference guide for enthusiasts. The information here does not necessarily ascertain to how to play the game, but contains information that may be relevant for fans looking to have a fun time exploring and collecting.
Attributes and Explanation
The game gives you four attributes describing your character: Strength, Intelligence, Defense and Luck. Defense requires little explanation as it is one of the least useful stats in the game, but the other three require a little bit of background.
- Strength - determines BOTH your Whip, subweapons and Magic damage
- Intelligence - determines the rate at which your MP recovers
- Luck - determines the rate at which items are dropped from foes
This game is heavily favored for Strength users, because more strength = more damage, more damage = faster time to kill on bosses/enemies. Intelligence can be optimized for on low INT characters so they can maintain certain spells, but on some classes this is irrelevant. Luck is reserved for pretty much one class of character, and gear won't matter much there.
Classes and Strategies
There are five different types of classes to play from, each one requiring the subsequent class to be beaten. They can range from very fun and amusing, to downright brutal and challenging in bosses.
- Vampire Killer - default first run class, average stat gain
- Magician - all magic spells unlocked, high INT, low everything else
- Fighter - high STR/DEF, but no magic spells are allowed to be used
- Shooter - bad stats, starts with bonus hearts, extra subweapon damage
- Thief - horrible stats, insanely high Luck, enjoyable experience
Vampire Killer: very basic playthrough that teaches you how to play the game and what is best to use. Pick up a cross, never let it go, grab a few magic cards, and defeat Dracula. See the card section for some easy combos that work great.
Magician: abuse Pluto/Unicorn to get around places, use Uranus/Thunderbird for high summon damage output on almost every boss, except for Hugh. Hugh you will absolutely struggle on if you mechanically can't whip hit and dodge him accordingly, so maybe just spam crosses.
Fighter: grab a cross at the castle gate and destroy every boss with little trouble. Your defence is stupidly high so you take almost no damage anywhere.
Shooter: grab a cross and prepare to struggle just about everywhere. Maybe use an emulator to speed up collecting hearts, since your Luck is abyssmal, you don't get the luxury of portable heart items to fill up casually.
Thief: quite simply the most enjoyable experience. Collect as many items as you want, beat bosses using whatever means necessary, and throw crosses until every boss is done. You really can't die with the amount of healing items you will stumble upon, so this is objectively just the most fun and mildly challenging run.
Card Locations, Best Combos and Ratings
This will be three parts: locations, useful combos, and ratings of God cards based on overall impact. I will also be talking about the unlock progression based on bosses completed so far.
- Mercury - Bone Tower (Catacombs)
- Venus - Slime (Catacomb/Abyss/Audience Room)
- Jupiter - Heat Shade (Machine Tower)
- Mars - Flying Sword (Chapel Tower)
- Diana - Man Eater (Underground Gallery)
- Apollo - Arc Demon (Underground Storage/Catacombs)
- Neptune - Ice Armor (Underground Waterway)
- Saturn - Fallen Angel (Battle Arena)
- Uranus - Trick Candle (Machine Tower (Golem room post-Camilla))
- Pluto - Trick Candle (Catacombs (Cerberus room post-Camilla))
- Salamander - Bomb Skeleton (Catacombs)
- Serpent - Earth Demon (Catacombs)
- Mandragora - Axe Armor (Abyss/Audience Room)
- Golem - Lightning Skeleton (Audience Room)
- Cockatrice - Stone Armor (Machine Tower)
- Manticore - Thunder Demon (Machine Tower/Chapel Tower)
- Griffon - Skeleton Athletes (Audience Room)
- Thunderbird - War Panther (Chapel Tower)
- Unicorn - Holy Armor (Battle Arena)
- Black Dog - Devil Armor (Battle Arena)
Useful combos don't really start until you have Jupiter unlocked, so around Machine Tower is when you'll feel a little bit useful.
- Jupiter/Salamander - since magic is based on Strength, these two little spinning fireballs will hit just as hard as you do, and make it much easier to get around places. You can kill Trick Candles with ease using this as well since they will rotate around you and do damage based on game ticks.
- Jupiter/Mandragora - the laziest way to heal if you're in a bind. Run into a saferoom or doorway entrance with no enemies loaded, and emulate/speedup to heal up to full (it does take a while based on INT).
- Venus/Thunderbird - normally Venus/Salamander will enhance your STR, but this enhances your STR based on map completion rate. This can result in a few hundred plus STR points if you're late into the game (which you have to be for Thunderbird).
- Jupiter/Manticore - a few tough bosses throw a ton of projectiles at you; this turns the difficulty down to zero. This spell emits constant poison clouds which can destroy things that take 1 damage to destroy (like Death's sickles of Adramalech's poison blobs, or hell, Dracula's red blobs). We call this Stink Man Mode because you can leave this spell on and run around the castle and never drain your MP entirely.
- Uranus/Thunderbird - by far the most useful summon as it does the most damage and has the highest potential to hit often. Very useful in Dracula/Camilla.
- Pluto/Serpent - one of the most useful Pluto combinations in the game, allows you to throw double subweapons. There is another more useful one, but I find this to be very helpful in the last phase of Dracula. Because the eyeball is difficult to hit and moves far, crosses in opposite directions of travel I found have better odds of hitting (and remove bats better).
- Pluto/Manticore - uses MP instead of hearts for subweapons. Throw crosses all you want for exp grinding or item farming.
- Pluto/Unicorn - pretty much walk the entire Castlevania map and not do anything. Very useful in Magician mode to just... not fight anything.
- Pluto/Golem - the absolute most devastating combo in the game, allows a Shadow Nathan to appear to mimic your actions. He will throw double subweapons, but for crosses it is thrown in the same direction instead of opposite. This can obliterate Dracula in a few cycles very easily.
I'll only rate the God cards, as monsters can't be blamed really.
- Mercury - a very plain card that'll get you through the first two bosses at least.
- Venus - a meh card with meh effects except for Venus/Thunderbird.
- Jupiter - good effects with Salamander/Manticore/Mandragora, not much else.
- Mars - funny weapons, but they aren't very useful because of the animation lengths. You're more likely to take hits due to the silly animations taking ages to finish.
- Diana - meh card that is expensive MP-wise to keep up and make use of.
- Apollo - I have never found a use for this card. Half-circles inputs for... grenades?
- Neptune - by the time you get this card, it's maybe useful for just getting through the annoying area it's in, and that's about it. Pretty worthless.
- Saturn - as fun as pets are, they aren't very good at anything in particular.
- Uranus - VERY useful for Magician mode.
- Pluto - easily just the best and most fun card in the game.
If you aren't a Magician, this section may be of use. I will talk about what cards you get BEFORE a boss, so you know what you have at your disposal. Battle Arena is an optional place to get both Unicorn and Black Dog, but is most likely not worth it for two reasons:
- If you're high level enough, you most likely don't need the effects of Unicorn/Black Dog to win
- Battle Arena is very annoying for certain classes (Shooter...)
So on normal Vampire Killer/Shooter/Thief runs, your progression will be as follows:
- Before Cerberus - Mercury, Venus, Salamander, Serpent
- Before Necromancer - Mandragora, Golem
- Before Golem - Jupiter, Cockatrice, Manticore
- Before Adramalech - Mars, Griffin, Thunderbird
- Before Zombie Dragons - Diana
- Before Death - Apollo, Saturn
- Before Camilla - Neptune
- Before Hugh - Uranus, Pluto
So in this I wanted to talk about the best gear you could obtain for certain stats. It doesn't pay off too much to have balanced high stats, and it makes more sense to optimize for much higher stats in one than in another. If you want to blast a lot of summons, you want high INT so you don't have to pot up to recover MP ever, for example. I will include the four top-tier gear loadouts per stat, then talk about the final loadout for the best average gear on most classes.
- Highest Strength - Soldier Fatigues / 2x Strength Armbands, +250 STR
- Highest Defense - Dark Armor / 2x Defense Armbands, +750 DEF
- Highest Intelligence - Sage Robe / 2x Sage Armbands, +700 INT
- Highest Luck - Rainbow Robe / 2x Gambler's Armbands, +215 LCK
Since STR is the best thing to go for in every class, it's safe to say the best hybrid mix-up of armors is Dark Armor + 2x Strength Armbands, for a whopping +190 STR and +550 DEF. Dark Armor gives a tiny bit of deduction from STR, but the high DEF is too much to overlook. Optional swap would be Shining Armor to get more STR but lose out on a bit more DEF.