Castlevania: Rondo of Blood (PC Engine)
Rondo of Blood is the 5th main Castlevania, released 1993 in Japan only, for the PC-Engine CD. The stages are fairly linear, but with several secret exits and hidden characters to rescue. The main character is Richter Belmont, who plays like a classic NES Castlevania character, without most of the control subtleties of Super Castlevania IV. Still, the enemies are designed to force the player to get the most of the control options and sub-weapons in the game. The levels are detailed and well-designed, with great graphics and animation. In my opnion, this game ranks among the very best of the Castlevania games.
Castlevania: Rondo of Blood
 Started playing the original Rondo of Blood / Dracula X (Chronicles) / Vampire's Kiss for the PC Engine, known as the TurboGrafx-16 in USA. I prefer this 16-bit version to the 3D graphics remake on the PSP - it just looks better. I'm playing it on the mednafen emulator, which works well despite a slightly confusing interface.
 Playing around with mednafen settings, I found these:
pce.stretch 0 ; don't stretch the image, use [xy]scalefs instead
pce.videoip 0 ; disable pixel interpolation
 I completed stage 2/8 and was a bit nervous to find a 'CONTINUE' number in my save game. However, it seems the number is counting up, not down, so I guess I do have infinite continues.
 I tested deleting everything but the 2K .sav file in the save dir, and it worked. So that should be all I need to store.
 I started a new game of Rondo while on the trip from Copenhagen to San Fransisco. I found the key in level 1 and unlocked Maria, another playable character. She's unbearably cute, uses birds for weapons, and recovers health from ice cream.
 Completed stage 3/8. That old minotaur got whipped.
 The headless knight Dullahan boss fight is causing me problems.
 Completed stage 4/8, and started a new game, streaming stages 1-3 to YouTube.
 This was my christmas game this year, replayed Stage 1 and found the secret area, with the drop down to the alternate boss fight, which is introduced with a cool little background animation. Using the Holy Water super attack when the dragon thing stays up for a while seems extremely effective.
 I also found some maps.
 Completed stage 1 alternate boss and stage 2'.
 This should be the overall structure, every stage x in 1-4 has two exits, leading to stages (x+1) and (x+1)', respectively:
2 - 3 - 4 - 5
/ \ / \ / \ / \
0 - 1 X X X 6 - 7 - 8
\ / \ / \ / \ /
2'- 3'- 4'- 5'
 Aha! The second hole after the first gargoyle leads down to a boat man.
 Two tricks for dealing with the Mermen on the ferry ride: a) Don't jump. b) Use axes to kill Mermen that are too close.
 I found the alternate exit from stage 2' and unlocked stage 3', which is *hard*.
 Control mapping info:
I jumps, II attacks, SELECT is Item Crush (super attack)
 Stage 4 notes:
- There is a Pot Roast after the crushers to the right of the Flea Man sitting on a button and another one to the left of the giant Pillar of Bones.
- If you take the non-Flea Man-button-path to the right, you enter the rolling boulder area, and at the top right is secret room with a boulder-rolling giant. This area leads down to more secret stuff.
- The Pocket Watch helps greatly with the Axe Armor enemies.
 The Pocket Watch also seems very powerful against the Stage 4 headless knight boss, Dullahan.
 I completed stage 4/8 (again). What exactly makes the Pocket Watch appear in Stage 4 is a bit confusing.
 I completed stage 5/8 in the train from Aalborg to Copenhagen. Here are a few discoveries:
- The big metal thing in the ship can be pushed from the left to enable entry from the right. This effectively swaps a Pot Roast for an Extra Life, obtainable by destroying the ship's engine for some reason.
- The Axe is great against the bird-mounted Flea Men and the big green armored dudes. The armored dudes take 5 hits, approach them with care.
- The bottom-left area of the boss entry screen has a Pot Roast.
- Throughout the first stage of the Death boss battle, I kept throwing the Cross above Richter to both protect against scythes, and to hit Death.
- During the second stage of the boss fight, Crosses will be blocked and result in a special counterattack, so they should not be used.
- I beat the second stage by keeping Death at the edge of the screen, and punishing every normal scythe attack with a quick whip strike. When he is kept at this distance, his rotating attack would fall just out of range.
 I just streamed stages 4-6 to YouTube, defeating the Castlevania I retro boss rush and Shaft, that bad mother...
 Completed stage 7/8, streaming to YouTube. After watching Vinny Caravella play his way through this stage on Giantbomb.com, it wasn't too bad. The stage seems extremely intimidating early on, but knowledge of the enemies and power-ups greatly simplifies everything.
 Completed the game with Richter (Mednafen).
Yes! Dracula is dead, and Richter rides along on his horse. That's the non-100% ending, I guess.
 After defeating Dracula, my completion level was 72%. The next step was embark on a rescue mission to find Sera in Stage 3' and Iris in Stage 4'. Stage 3' is a cemetery swamp that's a lot of fun to play. After knocking through a secret wall and finding a secret staircase, Sera was rescued. After running around stage 3 for a while, confused about where to go, I finally figured out that the trick was simply to not fall down in area with the trap doors. After defeating a big skeleton dude under a bell, I was in a new area with giant candles. Several times in a row, a little dude stole my throwing axes so I couldn't use the elevator. When I succeeded, I beat the big 'Madball' on my first try.
 I had then unlocked Stage 4', an area ripe with horrible birds and frogs. I activated two frog statues and found a secret area containing the adorable Iris.
 Completed the game with Richter (Mednafen).
Now with all 4 girls rescued, I went back and beat Dracula once more to get a different ending featuring the girls.
 Now I have 88% and might as well go for the full 100%. First order of business was unlocking stage 5' by using the giant bomb in stage 4 (an actual bomb, not the website) and defeating Carmilla, a relatively easy boss fight, as long as you stay on the left plateau in the first stage of the fight.
 Accomplished Stage 5'.
- Stage 5' is a horrible nightmare of Fishdudes, tiny platforms over deadly water, birds, Medusa Heads, trap doors, purple spearmen, and Axe Knights. Two large knights appear as a very tricky and pretty Dark Souls-y mini-boss, followed by an annoyingly long bridge and then the final gauntlet of non-stop Medusa heads, spearmen, trap doors, and a final Axe Knight. My main problem was keeping my cool, forcing myself to play slowly and methodically.
 Completed the game with Maria (Mednafen).
I went and defeated Dracula with Maria as well. The fight is much easier with her, she ducks below Dracula's fireballs, the birds can hit twice like a Boomerang, and just destroyed his second form. The ending scene was Maria escaping from the crumbling castle with all her little animal friends.
 96%. The final 4% turned out to be the alternate boss of stage 2. I thought playing stage 2 again would be easy, but the little underground area turned out to be a horrible nightmare of fishdudes, eyeballs, and bats. When I finally got through it, I had a sliver of health and several monsters chasing me, just barely reaching the door. The Bone Golem boss turned out to be pretty fun and a cool graphical design.
 Accomplished 100%.
- And that was it. I completed everything in Rondo of Blood.
 Completed the game.
I visit Playdead and played through the whole game with Erik in one sitting. The game is also challenging and great the second time.
 I installed this on my MiSTer and copied my Mednafen save file over, and it worked.
 I played a tiny bit of this on my MiSTer. I don't have the translation romhack installed, so it's all in Japanese.
 I showed Bjørk this on the MiSTer.
Screenshots marked with 🍒 are created by syltefar and are considered public domain, free to use for anything. If you want to, you can note where you found it and link to this page.