The Doppelganger is a recurrent boss in the Castlevania series. It is a demon that takes the form of another being, usually its victims. The idea of humans having doppelgängers comes from Egyptian mythology. It is said that if someone ever meets their doppelgänger, its intent is to murder them so it can take over their role in life.
A doppelgänger is a look-alike or double of a living person who is sometimes portrayed as a harbinger of bad luck. In some traditions, a doppelgänger seen by a person's relative or friend portends illness or danger, while seeing one's own doppelgänger is said to be an omen of death.
The name is a loanword from German "doppelgänger", consisting of the two substantives doppel ("double") and gänger ("walker" or "goer").
In Ancient Egyptian mythology, a ka was a tangible "spirit double" having the same memories and feelings as the person to whom the counterpart belonged.
The Doppelganger was first introduced into the series at the end of the villa stage in Dracula's Curse. It is initially found in an amorphous, blob-like state that soon takes the form of whoever character the player is playing with at the moment (either Trevor, Sypha, Grant or Alucard), and attacks constantly while moving relentlessly toward the player. If the player selects another character while in battle, the Doppelganger will also take that form. This allows for some strategy, allowing the player move to a better position to fight back while the Doppelganger is in its morphing animation, or by letting them choose which form to fight against.
The Doppelganger will form from Simon's reflection on a mirror and break out of it to attack. Again, it will attack relentlessly while moving toward the player. Upon defeat, the Doppelganger will vomit a barrage of mirror shards while struggling for its life.
Additionally, both Dopplegangers have a very limited artificial intelligence that can be exploited. Just running in their direction, jumping and attacking in midair will make the Dopplegangers take damage and get knocked back, allowing the player to repeat the process until they're defeated.
The Stopwatch can also make these fights trivial, as using it completely freezes the Doppleganger, leaving him at the mercy of Alucard's attacks, as it won't have invulnerability upon taking damage. On the other hand, the player should avoid using the stopwatch right after hitting the Doppleganger; if they do, it will be stuck in its invulnerability state for the duration of the effect.
Doppleganger is also vulnerable to the Curse status effect: in the first fight, hitting him with the Red Rust (which is obtained near the beginning of the game) will prevent him from attacking with anything but his knife sub-weapon.
The Doppelganger boss (referred to as "Leon Fake" in Joachim Mode and Pumpkin Mode) is fought twice in this game, where it serves as a mid-boss for both levels in which it appears.
He is first encountered in the Dark Palace of Waterfalls. Here, he utilizes a copy of Leon's Whip of Alchemy and a variety of other attacks. The Doppelganger can quick step, execute a three-attack or seven-attack combo using the whip, execute a flaming leap charge that propels the Doppelganger forward, throw unholy water either at its feet or toward Leon, or use a duplicate of Leon's Cross Blazer (Holy Water + Purple Orb) attack, causing a cross-shaped flame to erupt around it.
Once defeated, the Doppelganger will flee into the sewers.
In Crazy Mode, Leon must simultaneously battle two Doppelgangers, both of whom utilize this move-set.
"A monster that looks like Leon. The weapons are not perfect copies."
He reappears as the mid-boss of the Pagoda of the Misty Moon. Palette-swapped with a red tint, he boasts more health than in the previous encounter, and has abandoned its copy of the Whip of Alchemy in favor of flaming fist attacks.
While still retaining its quick-step ability and its three unholy water-based attacks, the Doppelganger has replaced its whip attacks and leap charge with four melee attacks: a downward kick, a fast two-hit punch combo, a single punch, or a three-attack punch combo.
While the player does not physically fight the Doppelganger in this game, Soma can obtain the Doppelganger's soul in the Garden of Madness. This soul allows him to switch quickly between two sets of equipment, gear and souls.
A doppelganger also appears during a cutscene that takes place in the center of the castle, where it takes the form of Mina Hakuba. In a gambit to turn Soma into the next Dark Lord, Celia Fortner kills this doppelganger, enraging Soma and almost letting himself turn, although Arikado arrives just in time to inform him of the truth. Shortly afterward, the soul of Dmitrii Blinov escapes Soma's body and inhabits the body of the slain doppelganger, using it to revive himself.
While no Doppelganger makes a canonical appearance in this game, in Trevor Mode both Trevor boss fights are replaced by battles with the Trevor Doppelganger.
He fights exactly as Trevor did in the main game, although he's differentiated from the real Trevor by his pale blue hue and weakness to Light. Additionally, during the first fight, his health must be depleted entirely, rather than one-fourth depleted as in the first Trevor fight.
During the second encounter with the Doppelganger, it's also resistant to the Dark element.
The Doppelganger can be found in the deepest level of the Nest of Evil. The form this foe takes for the battle is random, whether it is Jonathan or Charlotte.
To drastically decrease the difficulty of this battle, the player can remove all equipment from both characters before entering the room and re-equip the items after entering, as the Doppelganger will only copy the player's equipment as it was when they entered the room. To increase the difficulty, the opposite can be done and players can wear their best equipment upon entering the room (skills used by the Doppelganger will never be mastered).
A good tactic for starting the fight consists in casting 1,000 Blades immediately upon entering the room; doing so will inflict many hits, usually enough to send the Doppelganger into its recovery animation and maybe even slightly knock it back if the hits prove powerful enough. In contrast to other games, coming into contact with the Doppelganger will not deal any collision damage.
Once the Doppelganger has been defeated in the Normal campaign, the player can enter the next room and claim the Greatest FiveDual Crush, the final and most powerful crush in the game.
The Trevor Doppelganger in Dracula's Curse will throw the red version of the Banshee Boomerang. However, in the Japanese version of the game, it throws the regular Banshee Boomerang that Trevor uses.
Besides the two Doppelganger boss fights that take place in Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, the player also faces yet another boss battle at the middle of the Reverse Colosseum where they must fight fake versions of Trevor, Sypha, and Grant. Unlike the Doppelganger, who is a monster that can take the form of other living beings, these are in fact a trio of zombies impersonating their eponymous characters.