|Completion Date||May 21, 2015|
Self timed single segment run at 7:59. Transcodes are on YouTube, but I can provide my original encoding (720p60, 25Mbs) for submission.
Game capture only: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rAL3E2PCwiA
Archived livestream: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=doW9zddmGmo
You can always go faster, it seems. Even after submitting my first sub8 Maria run, I had to keep pushing the category lower. For most of attempts, my route and strategies were the same as Marksoupial's old attempts, and incorporating some of PKSL's movement optimizations. After getting a 7:59 I decided to start exploring new strategies, and here we are again 10 seconds faster, with my personal "good enough" run of 7:49 (RTA).
One of my first optimizations was to jump over Medusa as the fight began, allowing me to kill her from a position closer to the exit. In an RTA timed run, sacrifing this little bit of time before the fight actually saves over a second after the fight due to the quick escape, as the lag generated by the vessel sprites is pretty nasty.
I also independently discovered you can buffer some simple inputs during the transition through blue doors, although I found out shortly after this discovery that it was widely known in the SotN speedrunner community. Despite this, I was able to optimize it for Maria, by buffering a turn and a backdash, which the game applies correctly. This allows you to be propelled forward during an animation in which you briefly lose control of the character.
Next, I was able to save somewhere in the neighborhood of a second during the out-of-bounds clip by going backwards immediately after getting clipped out. How exactly this works involves some weird zipping, but it essentially teleports you a screen's length forward for free.
The last two discoveries go hand-in-hand. First, the Hippogryph fight. It's horrible. His attacks are based on RNG, and not getting crits can easily cost 5 to 10 seconds. Instead of softening him up with some melee damage then casting the fire spell, I started to cast the Four Beasts spell immediately before the fight, then unleashing a fury of uppercuts as he flys. It turned out to be a faster strategy, even if you get bad crit RNG, and has the bonus of killing Hippo on his take off, placing him far from the exit, thus reducing lag during your escape, similar to the Medusa strategy. Unfortunately, I got a pretty bad Hippo fight in this run because I messed up the last uppercut that most likely would have killed him midair. That's two or three seconds that someone can save eventually. Even more time could be saved with god crits here.
The Four Beasts spell is pretty over powered, but it comes at the cost of consuming more mana than the fire spell. I discovered this the hard way later on in my first attempt implementing 4beasts strats when getting to the reverse coloseum. The tried and true RTA strat is to use Guardian Knuckles on the first minotaur. Unfortunately, Maria's faster moves consume a slight bit of mana. It's not much, but it's enough to prevent mana regeneration during some portions of the run. If you go 4beasts on Hippo, cast fire on Medusa, and have perfect uppercuts during the OoB section, you have little to no mana by the time you reach the colosseum, and nowhere near enough to cast Guardian Knuckles. I ended up developing a method of damage boosting through the first minotaur which turned out being faster than casting knuckles, and nearly as fast as TAS.
If I go back to this category, I would love to acheive this level of execution, with a few notable improvements in some areas. The first chapel did not go very well. I meant to follow up my drop kick with a high jump to divekick, but I somehow missed the jump, causing me to slide on the middle platform. Recovery was shaky there. Probably lost a second there. The next notable mistake was in the reverse colosseum. After the room with all the werewolves and minotaurs, there are a series of drop kicks, followed by a slide. My positioning for the slide was bad, and instead of being able to follow it up with another drop kick, I fell into the pit with the life and heart vessels. This was probably less than half a second lost, but still a pain point for me in this run considering I had enough HP to finish the game already. I missed an impressive looking zip in the beginning of reverse Olrox quarters, but not much time loss there. All things considered this was a great run.
Many people have contributed to this run and I wouldn't know who they all are if I tried to thank them individually. The first Maria speedrun I watched was Marksoupial's 8:15. ArukAdo's TAS contains some RTA viable strats that I tried to implement in my attempts. Turbodog702 gave me valuable pointers on Maria's movement and encouraged me to keep pushing my times lower. PKSL optimized a lot of the movement in his emulator runs and was there for many of my attempts, helping me out with frusterating areas. Zexxxxxxx was the first runner to clue me in on the OoB clip after the Medusa fight. TalicZealot contributed to developing a reliable setup for the clip. Thanks to the continued support from my fellow Twitch streamers, to all the watchers of runs and especially to Aaron, Chris, and Willie. I stream all my attempts on my Twitch channel (http://twitch.tv/3snow_p7im). If you want to see more speedruns, be sure to stop by and follow.