Beta Version 0.3 | Beta Version 0.5 | European Beta Version

Beta Version 0.3

Over the years, two Bloodlines prototypes have been leaked. First there was Beta Version 0.3, which leaked on July 1st of 2018. As the information's provider, ZeroTheEro, tells us: "On July 1, 2018, a v0.3 prototype of Castlevania: Bloodlines was posted in the Castlevania Dungeon Discord channel, having apparently been in the possession of collectors for some time prior. Only two stages are implemented at this point, which unfortunately means that the zeppelin and molten steel areas seen in the famous v0.5 prototype are nowhere to be found." This information comes to us by way of The Cutting Room Floor.

Here I'll be providing screenshots and some notes.

 

General Differences

The intro scene is stripped down to one screen: the one in which the Belmont ancestors size up the castle. Though, the visual's rendering is very different from the finalized version's. Its color-scheme is instead a simple tetradic mix of red and blue, and the characters and the environments are uniquely rendered. The heroes, in particular, are indistinguishable; the pair is portrayed as a generic warrior and wizard, whereas in the final version they're clearly Trevor Belmont and Sypha Belnades.

The title screen has no background graphics, and it features a different title-screen theme--one that's exclusive to this demo.
There's no game-starting intro sequences. Rather, after selecting "Start" in the title screen, we immediately jump into action.
Also, there are no between-stage transition screens. Once a stage is completed, and the score his been tallied, the game immediately sends you to the next stage.

The password screen features a rudimentary design. There is no background visual.

If you enter the Konami code (up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, B then A) on the title screen, you'll unlock a level-select option. It appears on the title screen's top portion. You can manipulate the number by pressing the A, B and C buttons. A increases the number by one, B increases it by ten, and C decreases it by one. Only selections 0-24 load stage sections; if you select anything beyond, the game will crash after the character-select screen fades out.
The options screen offers Easy and Normal difficulties, though there doesn't seem to be any difference between the two modes.
Observing the options screen, we see that "Easy" is the default mode, and the starting life-total is 4 rather than 3. The "Press Start to Exit" text is missing. The SE value stops at 98, whereas it goes up to 206 in the finalized version. The BGM value stops at 19, whereas it goes up to 30 in the finalized version. The Stage 4 and 5 tracks (which aren't heard during the demo) have different instrumentation. The chilling-sounding BGM9 track is exclusive to the demo and particularly to this options screen. And, oddly, the stage-clear track is missing from the BGM selection.
You can further manipulate the beta by inputting commands on the second controller. There are three things you can do: (1) Stage warp to the proceeding or the previous stage by holding up or down on the d-pad and pressing the A button, respectively (note that if you attempt to warp to a previous stage while on 1-1 or warp to a proceeding stage while on 2-6, you'll arrive on a glitched, platform-less version of 2-5 and immediately fall to your death; you'll then restart on 2-5). (2) Replenish all of your health and max out your gem-total by pressing the B button. And (3) toggle off the music and sound effects by pressing the C button (they won't toggle back on until you enter a new section or die).
This build is rough around the edges. There are minor graphical glitches (discolored objects and some sprite-flicker). The action moves slower and with a slight jitter. Character movement is a bit stiff. There are collision-detection issues: platform edges aren't always solid, and sloped surfaces sometimes feel bumpy; the heroes' stair-climbing is most affected by this, the action's animation observed to be very choppy. The hero characters fall forward a bit when they drop from a platform, and at the same time they become unresponsive. And the frame-rate dips significantly when more than six characters are onscreen and when multiple death animations are occurring at the same time; when this happens, the music, too, slows down.
There are some noticeable palette differences.
The sound effects are somehow more primitive- and squeakier-sounding.

        

The character-select boxes feature more-basic background graphics--more-simplified brick patterns.
The "Stage Start" and "Pause" title cards are missing

You can't jump off of stairs. Also, you don't walk down stairs automatically and have to instead hold diagonally downward when approaching a staircase.

        

Strangely, if the first candelabra you strike is one of the sub-item-holding variety, it'll drop a coat-of-arms power-up rather than a sub-weapon.
If you refrain from inputting commands after John or Eric lands on stairs, they'll
be viewed in an exclusive idle pose; the poses appear to be variants of their normal turning sprites.
When the hero takes a hit, the damage doesn't register until he hits the ground. In the finalized version, the energy reduction is instant.
The first few frames of John's whip animation have smaller hitboxes, which prevents him from doing what was possible in the finalized version: whipping candelabras or other objects that are just overhead.
Eric's spear-twirl move isn't yet implemented. When you press left or right when holding down the attack button, he instead executes a more simplistic spear-swing move.
Eric rests the spear on his shoulder as he walks, whereas in the final version he carries it at his side.

Eric's super-jump move carries him forward a bit after it hits its apex. The move has no attached sound effect.
Both heroes hold their extension attacks (executed by holding down the attack button after it's pressed) for an extra second. When Eric does this with the trident, it results in the weapon's disjoining animation becoming more pronounced.
The sprite for Eric's character-specific special sub-weapon
There are only two stages available (the Ruins of Castlevania and the Atlantis Shrine). When the second stage is cleared, you're looped back to the first stage.
For some reason, the HUD tracks your time.
Certain musical themes have slightly different instrumentation.
The action freezes the moment you make contact with the stage-clear crystal.

When John dies, he doesn't fade away as he does in the finalized version. Rather, he falls to the ground, turns into a skeleton, bounces back, and then breaks into bony pieces.
After dying, you restart with half your gem-total plus one, whereas in the finalized version you lose all of your collected gems.
There's no death ditty.

Obtained gems and sub-weapons ascend up to the HUD and settle into the corresponding locations, and the animation of such is accompanied by a unique sound effect.
If you collect a gem when your gem-total is at 99, you'll earn an extra life. This only happens the first time you collect a gem while the total is at 99.
The HUD's blue gem flashes when you have enough of them to use the currently owned sub-weapon.
When you pick up a third coat-of-arms symbol, you receive only a whip/lance upgrade. The character-specific special sub-weapon can only be procured by alternate means (for how to do it, please refer to the second bullet point after this one).
You can't execute an item-crash by simultaneously pressing up on the d-pad and the sub-weapon button. Rather, you can only execute an item-crash under the following condition.

The demo features an unimplemented power-up system. When you procure a sub-weapon that's already in your possession, you power up that weapon to a second level. The sub-weapon's HUD display changes form and color--to a deadlier-looking, fiery blue version of it--signifying that it's been powered up. From then on, a simple press of the sub-weapon button will unleash the weapon's item-crash attack. By picking up the same weapon a third time, you'll earn the character-specific special sub-weapon (the Crystal for John and the Spear Head for Eric), which functions as expected.
The spear head earned via the power-up system won't be lost when Eric takes damage.
Eric's spear doesn't become enflamed when he's in possession of a spear head.
The earning of 20,000 points leads to the replenishment of your health.
There's no sound effect to accompany a pot roast's replenishing of your health.
Item-placement differs. In some cases, there are additional candelabras present.
Enemy-placement differs. Some enemies are shuffled around. And certain enemies have different HP-totals.
Enemies can drop screen-clearing mirrors.
If it also serves as accompaniment in a following stage section, a stage's musical theme will restart after you transition over to it.

The demo contains an exclusive item: a skull-adorned book whose procurement produces a random effect. It will do any of the following: Cause the music to switch to one of the three classic tracks (Beginning, Bloody Tears or Vampire Killer, any of which will continue playing for the duration of the stage or until you die). Fully replenish your health. Render you invincible. Provide you five gems. Or even punish you with one level of whip regression! It was probably intended to be a "Wild Card"-type item.
Continues are unlimited.

 

Stage 1

There's a 1up candelabra hidden atop the screen, amongst the treetops, in the stage's opening area.
There's no invisibility crystal in the first hallway.

A peeping eye is placed on the final screen of the first hallway.
A skeleton, rather than a peeping eye, occupies the first screen of the between-hall connector area.
In the between-halls connector area, the aforementioned "strangely adorned book" is hidden in the breakable wall in place of a pot roast (the screenshot depicting this can be seen above, the "General Differences" section).

        

The fish men and the hellhound boss sport different sprite designs.
The water in the fishman section is missing its surface foam and the resulting rushing animation.

The last candelabra in the fishman section holds a 1up. By leaving and reentering this section, you can collect it again and again.
The Hellhound battle differs in that fewer windows shatter when the beast howls and all of its attacks can be canceled out--the animations completely preempted--by whip/spear strikes. Thus the Hellhound can easily be backed into a corner and pummeled without interruption. When its death animation has completed, you simply move on; you don't have to first finish it off by administering a finishing blow.

1-6's skeletons are of a blue-colored variety. There are only three of them compared to six in the finalized version. Also, the room's bat is placed more to the right.

1-7's spiked gears sport a red hue. Also, this section is missing its third background layer--the visual of a castle wall; in its place is only blackness.

1-8 is also missing its third background layer--the blue brickwork; in its place is only blackness.
Mace skeletons die in one hit.
Also, their attack animation lasts longer due to an added swinging cycle.
The 1up candelabra is missing from the penultimate stage area wherein you ascend by traversing up a dragon's spine.

The final section's--the castle keep's--background imagery is different. The sky is cyan-colored, and the full moon is completely lacking for detail; it's merely a light-blue circle (likely a placeholder).
John can kill the castle keep skeledragon in two hits whereas in the finalized version it takes three hits to do it.
The Mecha Knight is less active and can be beaten more easily. It's possible to crowd it, too, into a corner and pummel it with interruption.

 

Stage 2

There are no bone pillars present in this stage.
The helmeted golem knights are more defensive and can't be destroyed with body blows; rather, you have to strike their exposed legs.

In 2-2, the flood section, golem knights replace minotaurs. Also, there are no platform-circling balls of destruction in this section.
2-2 and 2-4's water has no surface foam and instead series of glitchily animated rectangular objects.

At about 2-2's halfway point, there's a candelabra containing another one of those "strangely adorned magic books." It's found on the left side, overhanging a gap.
2-2's 1up candelabra is missing.

The Water Magician fight has no boss-music accompaniment and doesn't utilize the Enemy meter. Also, the Water Magician dies in only three hits.
You can bypass the Water Magician fight altogether by simply continuing to head right and exiting via the stairway. All the while, though, he'll continue to make the water rise.
The Armor Lord and Red Armor Lord bosses don't appear.
The platforms you traverse upon in 2-4 have a different look: green barnacled blocks. These are wooden rafts in the finalized version.

Medusa Heads sport a different sprite design.

        

Section 2-5 contains harpies (of the regular and spear-carrying varieties) and more minotaurs in general. Also, minotaurs replace bone pillars and the lone skeledragon that's strangely missing. All such minotaurs attack with weapons, including parts of broken pillars, which they're not supposed to wield until Stage 3--the one that actually contains the white pillars that they rip apart; they have no charge attack.
2-5 has some structural differences: some platforms differ in height, including the final of those you have to clear away with a weapon-strike.
2-5's breakable wall can't be fully destroyed. This appears to be a result of its containing pillar being too short in height, the contraction robbing the breakable wall of a necessary fourth destructible tile.
The finalized version's penultimate screen, which contains those three charging Minotaurs, is missing; instead, the final horizontal area empties right into the Golem's boss room.

As you lower into the Golem's chamber, there's a brief period (about three of four seconds) in which you're unable to attack it with sub-weapons. The throwing animation will play, yes, but no sub-weapon will be released.
You can take damage from the Golem during its death animation. If you allow yourself to be pulled into the animation's center, you'll suffer multiple before you can escape.

 

Stage 3

        

Well, actually, you'll find that there's more to the beta if you explore it thoroughly. You'll discover that it includes additional stages--or "stages," as it were--three unimplemented, unfinished stage sections that you can only access via the aforementioned stage-selection code (the Konami code). The first is Stage 3-1, which you can access by selecting number 26. Strangely, though, 3-1 we find that it's actually an unfinished version of 2-1's opening bridge section. As you explore it, you'll observe that the section is lacking several assets: texturing, background and foreground visuals, and enemies. Though, it does feature the correct Stage 3 music track: Discolored Wall. That's all there is to it.

And once you exit the section, you arrive at a normally functioning 2-2.

        

If you chose 27 on the stage-select screen, you'll be taken to unfinished version of 3-2. The section is visually and structurally similar, yes, but there are notable differences: Some platforms are missing, their absence depriving you of access to two of the room's stairways, while others are graphically glitched. There's an extra stairway on the room's far-left side. And the second-from-the-left stairway extends all of the way to room's ceiling. And there are no enemies. You can access the second-from-the-right stairway by dropping off the room's top platform and pressing up at the appropriate moment, but there's not much you can do once you've accessed it; descending to its base drops you to your death while climbing to its top presses you up against the screen's border and crashes the beta.

        

When you exit the room, you're taken to extremely unfinished version of section 3-3. The room is motionless, background elements are missing, textures are discolored, and there are misplaced objects everywhere. Some parts of the misplaced objects are traversable while other parts are intangible. You can pass through the intangible parts and maneuver your way downward through more misplaced objects. Once you pass through a couple of layers of them, you'll drop into an endless abyss and continue falling into you either reset the beta or utilize the stage-warp . You can otherwise access this section by choosing 28 on the stage-select screen; though, if you choose to access it using this method, you'll arrive at a version of 3-3 that contains none of the misplaced objects and only the endless abyss, down which you'll immediately begin to drop. And again, you can only exit the stage by either resetting the beta or utilizing the stage-warp.

 

Beta Version 0.5

The following screenshots illustrate changes made in the proceeding beta version: Version 0.5. Unfortunately, because the person who snapped these shots wasn't the subtle sort, we can see his name, TARA200, plastered over the images in giant letters, the message's presence only serving to distract from their visual content. Oh well--it's better than nothing, I guess.

Some notes from the sender, Carlos "The Gargoyle": "This was a beta version of the game. It was the preview version made for gaming magazines (so that they could review the game early), and one such reviewer apparently took screenshots and a photo of the cart."

All of the notes from above apply here, though Version 0.5 features two additional stages (a zeppelin and a steel factory), both of which were cut from the final version. This would explain why the game seems a bit abbreviated--at least in comparison to the other 16-bit Castlevanias. A fast-arriving deadline, it seems, became an issue.

This beta version was won on an eBay auction, whose descriptive text has also been supplied by the sender: "THIS IS A SEGA MEGADRIVE CASTLEVANIA BLOODLINES PROTOTYPE. THIS IS AN ORIGINAL AND NOT A HOAX. I GOT THIS WHEN I WAS WORKING FOR A VIDEO GAMES MAGAZINE. GAME CONTAINS UNSEEN LEVELS - BOSSES AND SPRITES NEVER USED IN ANY OF THE KONAMI CASTLEVANIA GAMES. EXTREMELY RARE - PLEASE EMAIL ME FOR FULL INFORMATION AND SCANS -- ON -- (e-mail address deleted) INTERNATIONAL BIDDERS ARE WELCOME BUT I CAN ONLY ACCEPT US DOLLARS CASH AS PAYMENT. NO MONEY ORDERS OR INTERNATIONAL CHEQUES ACCEPTED. HAPPY BIDDING!"

The auction was apparently never won, so the owner, TARA200, simply kept it for personal use.

The images below were posted to Internet forums by the demo's owner, who snapped them using an emulator. The screenshots were sent in by Phil.

     

     

 

European Beta Version

In 1993, before the official Bloodlines release hit the European market, an unfinalized-but-largely-faithful beta version made the rounds. Listed below are the noticeable/obvious differences. (Thanks to Amar Youkai and The Cutting Room Floor for some of this information.)

 

General Differences

On the title screen, "Password" is instead written as two words: "Pass Word."
The default play mode is "Easy," and there is no "Expert" difficulty. The "Expert" difficulty code instead unlocks the level-section option.

This version, too, includes a level-select code. If you enter the Konami code (up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, B then A) on the title screen, you'll unlock a level-select option. It appears on the title screen's top portion. You can manipulate the number by pressing the A, B and C buttons. A increases the number by one, B increases it by ten, and C decreases it by one. Interestingly, if you access a stage using this method, you'll find that invincibility will be awarded and one of the three classic Castlevania tunes will play after you've procured a third coat-of-arms power-up.
Inputting the extra-lives code on the options menu (instructions for which are available on the "Codes" page) will instead net you 30 lives.
In the options mode's sound test, the classic Castlevania tunes lack an attached pickup sound.
In comparison to the finalized version's, the beta's sound test less in the way of music tracks and sound effects--a total of 28 music tracks and 168 sound effects. The finalized version's has 30 music tracks and 208 sound effects. The two missing tracks are Stage Clear and All Clear.
The "Stage Start" title card and the final-score tally are colored black and white.

The "Final Stage Start" title card doesn't flash onscreen.
The heroes can sometimes continue functioning when their energy meters are fully depleted; in all such instances, an additional hit will be required to kill them.
When your score is tallied following stage completion, any remaining bars of health will earn you 10 points rather than the normal 100.

Certain mid-bosses aren't absent from in Easy mode, as they are in the finalized version.
There are some minor graphical glitches. As TCRF says: "This can be seen in Eric's fully-powered spear when fighting Death, one of Elizabeth's frames, and in the sparkles that fall down after defeating Dracula."
Some sound effects differ. The Zombies' death sound, for instance, is prolonged and sound more engulfing-sounding. Some sound effects are missing entirely. (Thanks to Danny for some of this information.)
Blood skeletons, balls of destruction, the wheeling knight, and the giant sword knight do not appear in the beta.
The heroes' hit-detection is worse, and they sometimes receive damage for attacks that didn't come close to overlapping their hitboxes. An example of this inexplicable coding decision can be found in the Munitions Factory. In 4-8, you have to negotiate your way beneath its second spinning bladed gear in one go, where in the finalized version you can crouch beneath it for safety.
Enemies dish out more damage than normal even on the Easy mode.

Excluding Frankenstein, Death and Elizabeth Bartley, most mid-bosses don't use the supplied boss-energy meter.
Eric's diagonal thrust will suddenly halt if you tap the attack button. It'll execute properly only if the attack button is held down.
While Eric Lecarde does not impale himself with the spear when he dies, the "stabbing" sound effect can still be heard in accessory.
Fleamen run away from Eric rather than attempt to pounce on him.

Stage 1

In the finalized version's opening section, there's a zombie corpse upon which crows are feasting. This zombie is missing from the beta.

 

Stage 2

Minotaurs' death animations are glitchy
2-2's wateralls differ visually from those seen in the finalized version.
When Medusa heads emerge from the water in 2-4, the attached visual effect is glitchy-looking
The Golem's death animation is different; he doesn't raise his arm into the air while he crumbles. Also, making contact with him during his death animation will damage you.

 

Stage 3

     

None of the harpies in 3-1 carry spears, as illustrated in the screenshots seen above. Only one specific harpy in 3-3 can be seen wielding one.
Eric will become stuck if he enters into the cleared space of 3-3's breakable wall, and his only recourse will be to move right.

     

The platforms in 3-7 are narrower, making for much more harrowing platforming.
3-8's musical theme has been replaced by Stage 4's main track.

 

Stage 4

The candelabras in 4-2's secret area are missing.
All of the piston animations in 4-4 are synched.

     

Certain background and foreground structures, like the blue steel walls and chains of Stage 4 - 5, have slight color variations.
The munitions skeletons death animation is incomplete.
In 4-8, as mentioned, you have to negotiate your way beneath its second spinning bladed gear in one go, where in the finalized version you can crouch beneath it for safety.

 

Stage 5

     

The "stone rose" enemy on the Versailles stage doesn't spray poison powder, its absence negating the reverse-control predicament. Furthermore, the stone roses aren't even active enemies; they're merely background elements.
The grass seen at the start of 5-1 use a different color-scheme: a red-and-light-teal combination.
Some platforms are missing in the fountain area of 5-1.
Mid-boss music plays in the Pillar of Bones room in 5-2.
The flames resultant from the bag slave's death can harm the heroes.
The Blue Armor Lord boss is much tougher (due mainly to the terrible hit-detection) but lacks its grab-and-damage move; its room is bereft of the expected seven candelabras; and you can simply bypass the battle entirely by exiting right at any time.
The Evil Tower Guardians fire out metallic-looking rings rather than open- and closed-circle fireballs, and they instead release them three at a time.

 

Stage 6

The "Final Stage Start" title card is missing.
Candelabras in the Stage 6 only drop red gems.
Medusa heads, crows, axe knights and balls of destruction do not appear in this stage.
Sections in Stage 6-3 and Stage 6-4 have been swapped.
The trio of bosses faced during the Death battle retain their normal palette colors. Though, the fleamen summoned by Elizabeth Bartley sport an incorrect palette scheme.
The full moon is missing from 6-11's background.
All three of Dracula's forms share the same energy meter, the Count twice displaying his transformation powers after a certain amount of damage has been absorbed.
In the Dracula battle's second phase, he retains the previous form's color scheme; the second and third phases use his pink color scheme from the retail version. During the third phase, there are no background graphics.
Dracula's death animation is glitchy, and it's accompanied by an unfamiliar screaming sound. Also, there's no victory music to be heard.
The expected ending and credits themes do not play during the course of gameplay; they're instead relegated to the game's sound test.
The ending scene is glitchy, its final few frames looping for some reason, and there's no credits sequence despite the music for it appearing in the sound test.

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