Now a days with people using cheat codes, FAQs and save states beating a NES title isn’t all that hard. Personally I’ve shied away from using these types of crutches (cheating is cheating) and tried to get through a game with the absolute minimum of help. Simon’s Quest was no exception. Here are a couple of tips I learned along the way if you want to beat the game with no help.
1.The game’s ending is solely based on how long you take (using the in game time). Under 7 hours gets you the “best ending.” This is not particularly easy but it is possible.
2.If there is one cheat to use, it’s get a map. As I’ve said in my earlier posts about this game it’s really an RPG more than a classic Castlevania title. Having a map is a huge benefit because you can get super lost super easy. I spent an hour in prep time drawing one out by hand (just blocks with a description of what is there). It saved me a TON of time.
3. There is a lot of cryptic moments in this game. This means patience first and foremost and you’ll probably want to have a couple playthroughs before trying a speed run. Dropping garlic, equiping the right crystal and in one case the Heart of Dracula are found through 100% trial and error.
4. Skip buying the thorn whip in the first town – Waste of hearts. If you walk to the right, the very next town has a chain whip which is stronger anyway for less money.
5. Mansions are your true friend – When inside a building (in town or a mansion) time does not progress. This is huge for speed runs since you want to minimize the amount of time you spend wandering around. If you need to farm hearts and/or experience do it inside a mansion where you can respawn enemies over and over without wasting time.
6. ALWAYS have max hearts – If you ever go outside with less than 256 hearts you’re going to get screwed. As I played through my final run I ended up continuing outside. This screwed me up and cost me about 3 days of grinding since I needed to buy things and had zero hearts (when you continue you lost all your hearts and experience). Having enough hearts to buy things will save you a huge amount of time.
7. Minimize town time – Towns for the most part are useless. I rarely used the church to heal, and outside of buying items I ran through them as fast as I could. Talking to people is 100% useless and just wastes time. As much as you want to I’d recommend also using stairs when you can. The worst thing ever is if you fall in some water in town and have to continue. Anyone grey is worth talking to, anyone else is useless.
8. Nighttime grind – If you have to grind do it at night. You get more hearts, plus outside of getting to a mansion you can’t do much since towns are closed. I usually like to get one or two screens away from a mansion, grind for a bit, then go in the mansion. That way I come back out and it’s a minimal amount of time before you’re in daylight and can get what you need from towns.
9. LEVEL LEVEL LEVEL – Each time you have to travel to a mansion you have the chance to level. I found out there are a total of 6 levels so the mansion before Castlevania, you can level twice. I personally took the time to max out. You get more health and a reduction in damage. There is no excuse not to since mansions don’t effect time. Find a spot where you can just walk back and forth and beat up on some enemies. Yes it takes time but it is worth it.
10. Practice jumping – Jumping is the #1 killer in this game. There is no doubt about it. Every time I died it was because of jumping. The worst are the moving platforms over lakes. You have to practice. Often I found I had to talk to the point where I was about to fall before I could make a jump. You just have to practice to get used to it. The blocks, jump when they’re going down. In my experience it works best.
11. Garlic and Laurels – You only need 2 pieces of Garlic to beat the game (You have to drop it in two of the graveyards to find a guy to give you stuff. Laurels I stocked up on and I probably did not have to. Laurels make you invulnerable for a time and it let’s you walk through the pink water which slows and damages you normally. I think you could probably survive with like 4, but I always brought extra. It seemed to help once in a while on boss fights.
12. Get the golden dagger and the diamond – These two weapons I used a lot. The Golden Dagger I got off of the first “boss” in the game. It was super easy with the flame weapon. The Gold dagger gives you range on enemies, and it’s very strong. It’s very easy to get and 100% worth it. The Diamond you get off of some random guy you give garlic to. It’s a weird weapon in that it always flies at an angle. However when doing areas where you’re jumping down it’s very valuable. I found I was using it a lot with Mermen. Plus you can just let it fly and it’ll bounce around causing mayhem wherever you go.
13. Holy Water – The Golden dagger and diamond are good optional weapons you would be completely insane to skip the holy water. It gives you a top down weapon which is helpful for jumping down situations, but it also can reveal the 2nd most annoying part of this game: Traps. You learn about traps in the very first mansion. You’re walking along having a good time when suddenly you fall through the floor. No, it’s not a glitch it’s a set of traps. Spamming out Holy Water allows you to see traps since the bottle will fall through (you can also see them sometimes when enemies randomly turn around in the middle of a pathway). You will fall through at least two and curse the programmer that put them in the game. Holy Water can save you a lot of frustration.
14. If you’re stuck try a crystal – There were at least 4 points in the game where I was on a map and had no idea what the hell to do. The first mansion has one right away since you start in a place with seemingly no place to go. That’s when it’s time to start equipping random items. More often than not taking your crystal and kneeling down does the trick. I’ve heard Dracula’s eye can do the same but I never used many of those items along the way.