Your main method of attacking will be the Hunter Whip, however there are also several secondary weapons (called sub-weapons) that you can find throughout the castle. Unlike the whip, these weapons consume hearts when used, so you have a limited supply. However, hearts can be found in the vast majority of candles and many enemies drop them. That, plus the fact that you can hold a large number of hearts (you start with a maximum of 50 on most modes and it goes up very quickly), means that you generally don't have to worry about running out of ammo.
You can only carry one sub-weapon at a time, so if you pick up a new one you will discard the old one. However, since the discarded weapon remains on the ground for a few seconds, you can pick it up again if you change your mind. Generally speaking, you're best off carrying the axe or boomerang with you at all times and only switching to the holy water or stopwatch only when needed. The exception is the Shooter, who should almost always use the Magic Dagger.
- Strength: The relative power of the weapon.
- Hearts: The number of hearts normally consumed per use. Some card combinations modify this value.
- MP: The amount of MP consumed only when using Pluto/Manticore.
- Range: The weapon's range — some traverse the entire screen while others land at your feet. Some weapons may have varying range depending on height.
- Hits: Whether or not a weapon can hit multiple targets/pass through walls.
The axe flies in a high arc and then comes back down, passing through ceilings, floors, and walls. As it is especially useful against flying enemies and is the only sub-weapon that can hit enemies below you, the axe is one of the most useful sub-weapons (not to mention one of the most powerful).
Players having experienced other Castlevania games may find this axe arcing a bit different. Be careful.
AKA the crucifix. Another good all-around weapon — neither the best nor the worst in all categories. It is strong, but not as strong as the axe; fast, but not as fast as the dagger; longer range than the axe, but not as good as the dagger. Since it returns to you it can do extra damage if the enemy is still in its path when it comes around. Plus, since it is somewhat slow, it can get multiple hits in against large enemies in each direction. If you manage to time it so that the enemy is on the very end of the boomerang's range, it will deal three or four hits instead of just one or two. Jump over it and it will continue on, hitting things behind you. Once you get the hang of it, the boomerang is probably going to be the best sub-weapon in the game.
The weakest of the sub-weapons and, not surprisingly, the first you find. The dagger flies straight forward until it hits either an enemy or a wall. The only advantage that the dagger has over the others is that its Item Crush causes considerable damage for relatively few hearts and is particularly useful against many bosses.
The magic dagger is a special form of the dagger, and only available to the Shooter. To get the magic dagger, simply pick up a second dagger when you are holding one (since you find them in candles, just leave the room and go back to the same candle).
The magic dagger is by far the most useful weapon in the game because it homes in on enemies. Just shoot the dagger and it will pick a target, generally alternating between all enemies on the screen. Since sub-weapons all do considerably more damage in shooter mode than in others, the [magic] dagger does 1.5× to 3.0× as much damage as the whip. With the extra power, the dagger (even without the homing ability) is more useful than even the boomerang due to the longer range and the speed at which you can throw it. Get the first one you can find (bottom left of the first room of the Catacomb) and don't let it go until very late in the game.
Be aware that if you pick up another sub-weapon and then grab the dagger that you just dropped, it will be a regular dagger. Be very careful to avoid standing directly under candles when you break them, lest a sub-weapon drops on your head. Also, the magic dagger hits slightly weaker than the standard one.
A small vial of water is thrown at your feet and burns for a few seconds. Very useful against slow moving enemies and bosses, or anything at lower level, however it is not the best for every day use. Generally speaking it isn't worth giving up your axe or boomerang for, as those sub-weapons are also effective against the same enemies.
AKA the clock. Stops most enemies in their tracks for ten seconds, allowing you to run away or beat them to death. Don't bother trying to use this against bosses, as it is primarily designed to avoid the annoying flying enemies like Medusa heads. Also note that stronger enemies (Wind Demon for example) can only be slowed down. It would be nice to always have, but due to its high heart consumption and the fact that carrying it means you can't carry something else, the clock is another weapon that is only good in special circumstances.
Several DSS card combinations affect your sub-weapons.
- Pluto/Salamander: Item Crush
- Pluto/Serpent: Throws two sub-weapons simultaneously (no increase in heart costs).
- Pluto/Golem: Creates a mimic of you — if you use a sub-weapon so does it (no increase in heart costs).
- Pluto/Manticore: Uses MP instead of hearts (cost in hearts + 5)
The special move first introduced in Dracula X: Rondo of Blood modifies your sub-weapon to hit harder and a larger number of enemies at once, but at a higher heart cost. To use, equip and activate the Pluto/Salamander combo and input this command:
Do this in one fluid motion, and you'll use the Crush instead throwing a standard sub-weapon. If you mess up or are too slow, you'll fire the sub-weapon instead as the game will think you just pressed + .
- [Empty-handed]: (100 hearts) Numerous projectiles will home in on enemies for high damage.
- Axe: (8 hearts) Multiple axes fly outward in a circular motion, hitting everything on the screen at once.
- Boomerang: (15 hearts) A pillar of light appears and crosses/boomerangs spin around you. Only useful for hitting enemies directly above or below you; in order to hit an enemy that's next to you, it has to be so close that it'll probably hit you first, disrupting your button sequence.
- Dagger: (20 hearts) Throws hundreds of daggers directly forward for ten seconds. Each one does normal dagger damage. Note that even with magic dagger, this item crush still throws standard daggers.
- Holy Water: (20 hearts) Rains holy water on the entire screen for a moment, hitting everything multiple times. While it does hit everything, the total damage to each enemy is relatively little, so this Crush is best used for clearing out large numbers of weak enemies at once.
- Stopwatch: (40 hearts) Four clocks will appear and start ticking. After 10 seconds, they will charge into nearest enemies for damage. It works on all enemies (including stronger enemies but not bosses, and is helpful in killing the Mimic Candle) if you do not have enough attack.
Interestingly enough, despite being the weakest sub-weapon, the dagger has the most useful crush. The axe and boomerang crushes generally only hit enemies once, which isn't usually worth the heart cost. The holy water can hit more times than normal, isn't powerful enough to bother with in most situations. As for the stopwatch, ten seconds is generally enough time to kill the enemies or run away, unless it is a very tough enemy like Mimic Candle, where you would like to use the crush twice. On the other hand, the amount of damage that the dagger can do is outstanding, especially against bosses, which generally have hundreds – or thousands – of hit points, but don't move around as much as normal enemies. You can interrupt the dagger's Crush at any point by jumping, but it'll still cost you 20 hearts.
Special Note regarding the "empty-handed" Item Crush — using it requires that you do not have a sub-weapon. Since you can never discard your sub-weapons entirely (only swap the current one for a new one), as soon as you pick up a sub-weapon you will be unable to perform this particular Crush again.
When the Pluto/Serpent combo is activated, using your sub-weapon will result in two items being fired. The heart cost is the same as it is to fire one weapon.
- Axe: One axe is thrown in the normal arc, the other at a lower one. If the enemy is above you, chances are that both will contact with it, however if you're throwing at something below or in front of you, then it is likely that one will miss.
- Boomerang: Fires one boomerang forward and one behind you. Possibly the most useful of the doubles as it help when you're surrounded. Jump over both and all enemies on your level will get hit at least once.
- Dagger: Fires one straight forward, as normal, and the other at a 30 degree upward angle. Not particularly useful unless you're throwing wildly at a swarm of flying enemies or are so close that both daggers hit the same target.
- Holy Water: Throws two vials, with the second one going much further than the first. If they're thrown onto a flat surface, the two fires won't touch. Can be useful depending on the terrain and enemies you're fighting at the moment.
- Stopwatch: Effect lasts for 20 seconds instead of 10.
Regarding the name of the boomerang — it is sometimes called the crucifix. The naming confusion is supposedly due to Nintendo of America's old censorship policies. When the first three Castlevania games were brought over to the US for the NES, Nintendo required that certain religious imagery be removed. As a result the crucifix was relabeled the boomerang. Or, so the story goes. However, as those games also contained a cross item (which instantly killed all enemies on the screen) and the sub-weapon actually functioned as a boomerang, this may just be an urban legend.
Regardless, of the history, the sub-weapon is referred to as a boomerang here because of its functionality and to avoid confusion with the insta-kill item found as far back as the original Castlevania and as recently as Curse of Darkness or the sub-weapon found in games like Symphony of the Night.