Quick note about the audio
There are two audio tracks in the video. I realized too late that there was a really bad white noise in the recording. It's due to a bad cable, which has now been scrapped. The first audio track is a noise-reduced version, which is the one I recommend. However, I have also added the original audio as the secondary track for reference.
08-Feb-2014 - 0:13:26 by ktwo (http://archive.org/details/2014-05-28-SDA_Speed_Runs/
27-Aug-2014 - 0:12:57 by ktwo (http://www.archive.org/download/2014-11-23-SDA_Speed_Runs/
For information about speedrunning Solomon's Key and to get a better understanding of what's going on in this run (including the name of tricks mentioned below), go to the sda knowledge base (referred to as sdakb in my comments below):
After my last update in 2014 of both the any% and the best ending runs, I thought I was done with this game, but apparently I had another improvement in me! It seems like there is or has been speedrunners for pretty much every half-decent Nes-game out there, so I'm surprised that no one had picked up Solomon's Key to see if the game could be pushed further. It's not a perfect speedgame, but it's still very good and imo better than many other games with a bigger speedrun scene. The only other players I was aware of were from Japan, but they're using more basic strats, so there were (seemingly) no attempts from them to go faster. That was until this summer (2016), when yogidamonk started learning the game. During his practice, he found a way to ensure good RNG in room 29 (I previously thought it was a coin toss worth 0.5 seconds). That finding alone wasn't enough to get me back, but with the "Best of Nes" marathon around the corner (a marathon I have missed the two previous times) and a wish to diversify my play time to something more than just Ikari Warriors, the pieces started to fall in place. Relatively quickly, I found new routes in room 15 and 31 for a total time save of 3 seconds, which pretty much convinced me that an update to my previous run was necessary. With more and more of my focus going into this game, I found minor time savers in a some of the other rooms as well. I'll detail that below.
Here's some comments of what has changed since the last SDA-run, but also things that went good or bad. All references to faster room solutions are demonstrated in the sdakb.
Room 1 - 1 frame faster than last time.
Room 2 - 1 frame faster than last time.
Room 3 - 2 frames faster than last time.
Room 4 - 1 frame slower than last time. It's all about how close you dare to go to the last sparkball.
Room 5 - 4 frames faster than last time. RNG plays a small role in this room. Depending on the initial movements of the gargoyles, you're sometimes forced to wait more or less on some levels. Both my previous and the new run had pretty much optimal luck.
Room 6 - 7 frames faster than last time. Mainly due to a head-bump on the last drop in my old run (8 frames lost). There is more time to be saved though. The cornering wasn't very good this time around (enough to sneak past the last ghost, but not by much) and it's also possible to jump over the goblin without pausing the horizontal movement mid-jump. There is a 6-frame window for making the jump over the goblin, so it should be fairly straight-forward. I did that in my attempts for a while, but finally abandoned it for risk-reward reasons.
Room 7 - 8 frames faster than last time. Both the sparkballs after the key block your path if you go too fast, which puts a limit to how fast you can clear the room with this route. It looks like I managed to play the part after the key a bit closer to the sparkballs this time around though, but I'm actually not 100% sure where in detail the time save came from. There is also one minor difference to how I play this room now. I break the blocks right above the exit in the opposite order to how I used to do it. This was clearly faster by a few frames during emu-practice, but I actually lost a few frames compared to my previous run because of this change. Worth to follow up for future speedrunners of this game.
Room 13 - 11 frames faster than last time. I had an unfortunate drop down to the goblin on the left side in my previous run, but managed to correct that this time.
Room 14 - 13 frames slower than last time. You can do a running edge jump over the column with the ghost in it, which is what I did last time. In terms of pure speed, that's considerably faster than breaking the block like in the new run. However, you both have to wait momentarily for the ghost and the Saramandor on top, which eats off the potenital time save. If you manage to get a corner landing or two, you can even completely cancel the time difference. I tried for corner landings, but unfortunately didn't get any this time and ended up with the time loss. For some reason, my success rate with the edge jump in this room is very poor. It's not different than edge jumps in other rooms, but somehow my timing is off here, so I decided to take the safer solution during my attempts leading up to this run.
Room 15 - Almost a second faster than last time thanks to a more optimized room solution. I knew of an equally fast room solution already at the time of my previous run, but it was very difficult to execute. The new solution is a bit harder than in my old run, but still not that hard and well worth the big time save.
Room 21 - Almost two seconds faster! The key here is to trigger the gargoyle's fire-breathing so early that it destroys the landing block of the demon heads. For this to happen, you both need to be fast, but also a bit lucky. The time window you have for this is typically 5-10 frames of unoptimized movements, which have to be shared between the jump to the key and then the subsequent climbing. I knew about this for my old run, but chose not to reset if I didn't get it.
Room 22 - 2 frames faster than last time. During my attempts, I found two possible ways to save 10-15 frames in this room, but at the cost of additional risk. I don't think they would be that hard to implement with some practice, but I still decided to go for the safer solution.
Room 23 - 10 frames faster than last time. Same solution, just a bit tighter movement.
Room 29 - Almost half a second faster than last time. I lost time in the old run because of bad luck with the initial movement of the gargoyle. Thanks to yogidamonk, getting the good gargoyle movement is no longer luck-dependent.
Room 30 - 6 frames slower than last time. No particular reason that I can see.
Room 31 - Just over two seconds faster than last time thanks to a new route up to the key that involves less block-breaking. This is by far the hardest room in the run, but it went pretty much perfectly this time. The old route was actually equally challenging, so in that sense there was no additional risk involved with the new route.
Room 37 - 14 frames faster than last time. It looks like I managed to get pretty much all of the horizontal movement during the jumps this time around and then finished it off with a corner landing on the last jump. I knew that the old run was slightly unoptimized in this room, so this time save was expected.
Room 38 - 1.3 seconds faster than last time. The start is different. The time comes at the cost of added risk though. It's a route I already knew, but didn't implement for the sake of consistency until now. While there is no visible mistake in the new run, I was ever so slightly hesitant in some of the turns and jumps, so it's still possible to be a bit more agressive and save a bit more time. With the new start, this has become a somewhat scary room though, so I'm not too upset about taking a bit of extra time here.
Room 39 - 4 frames faster than last time, despite an execution mistake (extra jump) when the ghost passed by. It's a fairly common type of mistake due to the controller layout. When quickly moving the fingers from right to left on the d-pad (or vice versa), it's easy to at the same time touch up (=jump). It was actually an almost ideal place for a mistake though. You're anyways forced to wait for the ghost to pass by, which reduces the time loss from that mistake. It still shook me up a bit though and I therefore mistime the jump down to the golden wing. However, the ghost is blocking your path if you get there too early, so in the end that mistake hardly mattered either! It still didn't look optimal though, so I think a bit more time could come off.
Room 45 - 1 frame slower than last time. The only thing that matters for the time is how fast you can create the final block (over the golden goose), which is determined by when the demon head pops out (cycle-dependent, non-rng). There is an almost one second faster solution that allows you to create the last block without waiting for the last demon head. However, it relies on pixel-perfect positioning (or two, with the right sub-pixel position), which in this game translates to a one-frame trick. I originally wanted to include this trick, but based on my success rate up until this point during my attempts, I decided to play it safe. I did however use it as a back-up strat to "gain back time", if necessary.
Room 46 - A little over half a second faster than last time. Same solution, but I jumped one frame too early in my old run and triggered the fire breath of the last Saramandor, which accounts for the time difference. I'm glad I managed to get it right this time, because this is possibly my favorite room solution!
Room 47 - 8 frames faster than last time. Same solution, but I hesitated a bit in my old run. I was actually a bit hesitant here as well, but not by much. I also got a corner attraction in the corner jump in the upper left corner (8 frames of horizontal movement lost). Considering how nerve-wrecking this room is, it's basically only about survival in here, so I'm not gonna complain.
Room 48 - 16 frames faster than last time. A few frames were saved by breaking the block under the rightmost blue flame (the upper one) earlier than in the previous run. In my previous run I also got a head-bump (8 frames lost). On the other hand, I got three corner attractions on the edge jumps compared to two in my old run, so there is still time to be saved in this room. There is also a new trick I found that can save an additional half second, but at the cost of added risk, so I decided to treat it the same way as the potential time save in room 45.
Solomon's Room - 1.3 seconds slower than last time. Disaster struck :-( . The actual time loss is actually 1.5 seconds, because I'm now also using a faster strat. I don't know if it was choking or an honest execution mistake on a tight trick, but the time loss is undeniably there. The room solution in here is actually somewhat scary. If you're too fast, you'll collide with either of the ghosts at the bottom level. This can also be more or less unavoidable if the ghosts take a random additional pause when turning around. I'm therefore usually slightly conservative in order to try to spot such an extra pause. This means there is only a small window for blocking the fire-breath on the right. In this case, I was in the right position, but didn't create the block in the time window I had.
I'm very happy with how things went up until the last room. It's very disappointing to fail so near the end though, but what can you do? Well, at least that (and the several time savers I voluntarily left out) leaves a bit of room for someone else to push the envelope of this game! Despite the frustration over this mistake, I'm still happy with the final time and having a new run that is representative of the latest routes. My goal was 12:51, which was mainly to account for a few expected mishaps with edge jumps or similar. I'm not sure this is the right place, but I can still mention something about the best ending run. Interestingly enough, the new findings have virtually no impact on the best ending route. Room 15 and 31 are solved differently. The only new findings that could apply are in room 48 (a couple of frames) and in Solomon's room (0.2 seconds).