The next level past the bat seemed way deeper into the castle that it seemed. The bricks were much redder, the air much staler, the atmosphere much thicker.

A knight in full plated armor stood facing the door. Simon's hand immediately went down to the whip hanging from his belt. He didn't even know why he put it back. It wasn't as if monsters weren't everywhere in Dracula's Castle. Even the corridors between levels. Supposedly.

He relaxed his grip on his family weapon when he noticed how the "knight" moved below him as he walked up a staircase to the floor above. The suit of armor moved with disconnected jerks, seemingly unresponsive to any stimulus in the environment around it. It was as if it were a puppet, borne aloft on invisible strings. Somewhere above, its puppeteer waited.

The floor above held another animated suit of armor, along with what appeared to be a vampire bat hanging upside down from the low ceiling. Mere seconds into its aerial charge towards the vampire hunter, both flying rodent and suit of armor froze in their tracks. Simon counted down the seconds on his stopwatch as he passed their unmoving forms to go up another staircase.

The floor above seemed way more complicated than the castle's previous level. The staircase led up onto a platform. On the other end was a door that Simon surmised he had to get through. In between was a collection of platforms, pits, breaks in the floor that led to certain death, and more of the knights.

Right up ahead, a malevolent-looking bat charged at him through the air. Almost instinctively, the experienced monster hunter jumped over the bat, and landed an inch from the edge of the floor he was on. In front and below was an armored knight, waiting for him to fall into the pit. Using the momentum from the previous jump, Simon pushed upwards with all his might, leaping over the pit and leaving the knight behind. The suit of armor did not even acknowledge its would-be victim as it marched back-and-forth in the tiny hole it had been stationed in.

Simon continued jumping, first up onto a higher platform, then over a bottomless hole. That jump was accompanied by a whip strike against a candle. A bag of money fell right onto the vampire hunter, moments before he leapt once more over another suit of guardian armor. One more jump had Simon land on a floating platform and another sent him crashing into and through the doorway deeper into the castle.

Upon clearing the door, something felt amiss. There was something new. Something different about this level. There. From the far end of the hall, something was flying through the air towards him. Simon jumped over a tiny gap in the floor, closing the distance towards the new enemy. It was a head. A disembodied stone head with what seemed like snakes in place of hair. The head of the legendary gorgon, Medusa. It arced through the air in a certain fashion.

From the way they moved, Simon realized their pathway was predictable. He timed his next jump so that the beast passed harmlessly over his head, a small heart falling on the vampire hunter from the candle he had hit while in the air. The medusa head continued flying past him. Another medusa head arced towards him but thanks to a predictable trajectory, simply passed through the floor below Simon, and reappeared well behind him.

Another animated suit of armor marched ahead of the vampire hunter. Simon found himself leaping onto an elevated part of the walkway, then using that additional height so simply bound over the six-some feet of rusted steel walking his way. He spied a staircase leading up at the end of the corridor. Another large heart added another full stopwatch burst to his arsenal, thanks to a candle right before that staircase.

Upon reaching the floor above, Simon spied several gaps in the floor that he would have to leap over. The way deeper into the castle required him to get to the second level above where he stood. And the only way up there appeared to be across the gaps in the floor, towards the far end of the room where there seemed to be platforms that one could use to reach the level above. The way back of course had several moving platforms, a fall from which would send the less dexterous down past the floor gaps to certain death below.

To complicate matters, there were more medusa heads headed in his direction. A single touch could send the stalwart vampire hunter flying backwards and into one of the many pits that led to the floor below. In his metal and leather armor, that meant certain death to the vampire hunter.

But Simon Belmont was no ordinary vampire hunter. He quickly snapped out with his short chain whip as a buffer to help him with his timings. He leapt over the first gap in the floor, precisely timed so that the first medusa head flew harmlessly under him before continuing on its merry way. As a second head was fast approaching, Simon quickly jumped over another break in the ground, landing on a platform that was slightly higher than the previous ones.

With the approaching medusa head almost an arm's length away, the experienced monster hunter spun on his heels, turning to face the other direction. With all his might, he leapt into the air, his head and upper torso actually clipping into the floor above. The timing was perfect. The medusa head slammed into his lower extremities with so much force that he was thrown backwards into certain death. At least, he would have been if he had not already half-clipped through the floor. The hit sent the vampire hunter up and through the floor, completely skipping the complicated and treacherous pathway that lay ahead of him mere moments before.

He landed on the upper floor and almost immediately headed left towards the door that led to the castle's inner sanctum. A medusa head flew towards him but missed by inches, passing down into the floor below before it clipped through and reappeared several feet behind him.

Simon leapt and whipped before reaching the door, causing the next medusa head to spawn higher, completely missing the vampire hunter as he landed on his boots exactly in front of the door.

The next room opened almost straight into a twelve foot drop, one that Simon made with very little effort. Behind him, one of the floor blocks smelled strangely of food. Another wall meat cache, he surmised, as he looked ahead at the corridor of mechanical crushers waiting for their next victim. The crushers were wicked looking devices, huge spiked iron ceilings that dropped down over and over again, impaling and crushing and would-be adventurer that walked underneath them. There were already bones scattered all over from the crushers' past victims, and it was pretty obvious that Simon was next up on their list.

No such luck for the lord of darkness. Simon leapt onto the elevated corridor right below the first of three crushers. Above him, the iron devices suddenly all froze in time. All sounds stopped as well. Only the ambient ticking of the stopwatch that the vampire killer held in hand echoed against the red brick walls of this part of the castle. With that very same leap, Simon also lashed out with his whip, releasing a holy water from the candle that held its essence. The monster hunter walked over and took the bottle of holy water, ditching his stopwatch in the process.

He continued past two more crushers until he saw a new set of enemies waiting for him to approach. On the floor above and another one on a floor ahead of him, stood the bone pillars. They were two large dragon skulls, one mounted on top of the other, with each skull facing in opposite directions.

Under the platforms and ahead was the staircase leading up to the floor above him, conveniently guarded by another demonic vampire bat hanging upside down from one of the hall's low ceilings. Behind him, a flea-like apparition as large as a man began floating towards the vampire hunter.

Using the same trick as before, he jumped once, bonking his unarmored head against and through the ancient blocky ceiling to awaken the bat. The creature wasted no time stretching its leathery wings and swooping in the direction of its victim. Simon jumped once more as the bat passed though the floor above his head, colliding with the bat precisely as his upper torso touched the granite blocks. The force of the hit drained some more of the monster hunter's life energy, but sent him conveniently upwards onto the floor above, bypassing the staircase in front of him. That must have saved a few seconds at least.

There was no time to think, however. The vampire hunter landed right on the platform where one of the bone pillars stood. Only his temporary invincibility frames protected him from another hit, and these weren't going to last for long. He leapt up onto the main floor that held the staircase going up God knows where, and found himself face-to-face with another bone pillar.

The eyes of the dragon skull facing him began to glow red. The experienced monster hunter had seen these before. A single fireball from that toothed maw could tear an ordinary man into pieces. He also knew their weaknesses. The moment his feet hit the wet, granite surface, Simon hurled a holy water vial at the pillar. The tiny bottle, no bigger than his palm, broke at the base of the statue and exploded into hallowed flames. The statue's charge-up phase stopped, interrupted by the holy vial. The vampire hunter then walked through the bone pillar as if it were nothing, and headed for the staircase. With the flea ghost hot on his heels, he leapt twice over the fireballs that the pillar sent after him before heading up the staircase without so much as a single glance back. He hoped this would be the last one this level.

As he reached the top of that staircase, he spied a large chamber in the distance, with a tiny door set in the far end. This must be the monster's lair, he surmised. But there was still the matter of crossing the long hallway to get to his destination. He ignored the first two candles he passed, but leapt to whip the third one. A large block with the Roman numerals 'II' fell from the broken candle and conveniently onto and into the vampire hunter's crown. Simon smiled as he felt renewed energy surge through his body. Now he could throw two vials of holy water at a time.

Two medusa heads arced towards him and were ignored completely as the vampire hunter simply headed for the chamber and the door. The screeching half-ophioid spheres disappeared through the ochre-stained stone blocks that lined the floor of the corridor and reappeared a ways behind the determined human.

Finally, he reached the end of the hallway. It was a massive chamber of stone. The same stained rocks rose around him like natural walls, offset by purple bricks as it seemed like someone had built the room into some sort of dark cathedral. Stained glass windows adorned the back wall, rising towards the ceiling some fifty, maybe eighty feet up.

In the middle of the hall stood a gigantic bust of a woman. It gave Simon an eerie feeling. It was as if the statue's eyes followed him as he walked towards the door on the far end of the room. The head itself was huge, much larger than his torso. But what truly spooked the experienced monster hunter was the bust's hair - or lack thereof. In the place of where a lush head of hair would have been were dozens of tiny stone snakes bursting forth from the statue's scalp. It looked like a larger version of the medusa heads that had been assaulting him since the start of the level. It was a statue of their mother.

Without hesitation, the vampire hunter prepared himself for the worst. As expected, the far door was locked. It was a trap. And right as he turned around, the statue suddenly sprung to life. What was once marble was now pulsing flesh and scales. The tiny snakes that was the creature's hair began wriggling - and then stopped altogether.

Beneath the Medusa, holy flame was already licking at the stump that hung from its disembodied head. Simon whipped three times and then reached into one of his pouches. Another flame burst up from the floor as a vial of holy water broke against cold hard stone. The vampire killer shot out from the Belmont's grip, striking the Medusa several more times. Simon alternated between the holy water and the whip, leaving the monstress staring at him helplessly as he whipped it into oblivion.

Simon Belmont was already under where the giant Medusa head dissolved into flames when the customary crimson orb dropped right into him, ending the level.

He shook his head as he thought about attempting a critical hit next time he was here. Could have been faster, the veteran monster hunter shrugged.