Well, completing this game in a satisfactory manner sure took a lot longer than expected, and even now, I'm still not 100% satisfied with it. I do, however, think this run here is good enough for the time being, and I don't see myself returning to the game anytime soon.
Before the actual run comments, some notes regarding the game version and category. This run was played on the Complete version, which is the predecessor to the newer Chronicles (PSP and PC) and Chronicles+ (PC) versions. There is also the Eternal version, which is basically the same as Complete, except it contains a couple useful bugs, most notably regarding the Time Stop magic, one of which allows Druegar to be skipped. At the time this run was recorded, I thought getting the Time Stop magic and abusing said bugs would be too much of a detour, but I later found out it's probably worth it after all (at least I think so, but it's something that needs more testing). The Eternal version does seem to have slightly decreased walking speed for NPCs, which is most noticeable during the Tarf escort mission (a time loss of ~25 seconds), but I think it'd still be a faster version overall.
One disadvantage both the Eternal and Complete versions have is not being able to hold cancel to speed up the text. Instead, the only way to make the text appear quicker is to double-tap confirm. Holding cancel might be enough to make the Chronicles version faster (probably not Chronicles+, given that Japanese text usually displays faster than English), but Eternal and Complete do have a couple small benefits that Chronicles and + don't. For instance, they can quickly access the equipment and inventory subscreens without having to go through menus first. You can also cycle through inventory items on the fly, provided an item is first equipped manually. You are also allowed to move around as the warp menu loads, potentially being able to cut off the 4 second item jingle when you warp (requires very precise timing). Finally, being able to move around as the warp menu loads produces a very unusual "warp" if you do so when entering the doorway leading to the final boss, saving about 10 seconds.
Also, while it may not be evident, this game does kind of have a "New Game+" mode, which contains about ~1:40 of extra mandatory cutscenes. Without uninstalling the game, these cutscenes occur every consecutive playthrough, so it's obviously better to use first playthrough settings, which is what this run does. For this version, a similar principle applies for using the Beastiary Potion; if you find it in one playthrough, its effects immediately carry over to all other playthroughs, even if you don't finish the playthrough it was obtained in. This is the reason why you can see the monster stats, as well as the potion grayed out in my inventory, despite never obtaining it this run.
As an aside regarding "New Game+", the Complete version (and to my knowledge, only that version) contains a bug that essentially allows you to complete story mode just by attempting to exit Time Attack mode at a certain time. There is also another bug where you can die in Time Attack, but quickload a file before the game returns to the title screen, causing all sorts of weird behavior. As incredible (and confusing) as these bugs are, they require completing the game first to unlock Time Attack, and so this run doesn't take advantage of them.
OK, on to the actual run comments. Much of this info can also be found on the SDA Knowledge Base.
Ruins / Mine
- Buying the Short Sword as opposed to getting it from Leggs in the Ruins of Moondoria is very slightly faster (I forget by how much). While getting it from Leggs would save 200 gold for purchasing the Talwar, it also puts me down a level for Velagunder. Due to how EXP scales in this game, it's not a huge deal, but Velagunder is twice as fast at level 12 compared to 11.
- Grinding to 4 in the Ruins is more efficient than going straight to the enemies in the Sanctuary / Mine. Level 6 is required to kill the rock golems with the Short Sword. If the Long Sword is somehow purchased early, only level 4 is needed, but there's no known way to purchase that without backtracking. Not to mention, it'd put you down gold for the Talwar, which is needed at least for Gelaldy, and certainly helps for Tyalmath as well.
- If dying and leveling up at the same time, Adol is able to walk through enemies / NPCs. This makes it possible to grab the Staff of Divinity without killing the rock golems guarding it, but this also means that you can't talk to Astal to get into the Sanctuary / Mine, so you need to do that before performing the glitch. Due to that, it's necessary to do the glitch right below Astal, and the enemies usually don't follow you that far in a timely manner. In addition, because this is on the Easy difficulty, Adol can only be damaged by an enemy bumping into him or a projectile attack, but not from head-on damage as in other difficulties if your angle is bad. So, that makes the glitch a lot trickier to set up. Also, grinding is still needed for Velagunder, so enemies still need to be killed. I'm not quite sure of the time save, but if my segmented run in progress is any indication, doing this looks to save ~10 seconds.
- Moving diagonally against the rubble trapping Dr. Flair for some reason doesn't activate his text where he requests you to find a Mattock.
- An Herb is collected for use against Dalles. Very painful fight without them.
- I grind to level 12 for Velagunder both to make the battle go a bit faster, and also to accumulate the necessary gold to purchase the Talwar after finishing the area. Going into the fight, I want 1160 gold. The remaining gold comes the last several enemies, and also from selling an Iron Ore.
- Missed a 3 round kill on Velagunder. Very precise strategy, would save a couple seconds if successful. Contrary to popular belief, Velagunder moves and acts the same way each time, provided your movements are the same.
- Possible to save 4 seconds by having the warp menu fully loaded at the exact same frame the Light Magic chest is opened, which would skip the item jingle. Very hard to pull off, and only applicable to the Eternal and Complete versions, as far as I know.
- Gila's Basement is cleared for a fixed 400 EXP, plus another ~400 from the enemies themselves. Due to the scaled EXP system, you can still reach the level you need to for Gelaldy (26), and probably also Tyalmath. However, there's a peculiar quirk when attacking enemies under-leveled: your hits don't land quite as fast, even if you have them pinned up against a wall. I forget exactly when, but not clearing the basement eventually loses time because of this somewhere in the Moat of Burnedbless.
Ice Ridge of Noltia
- After using the Misty Ice Drops, the game doesn't actually unequip the item until I exit the screen, meaning I can freely cycle to another item without going to the subscreen. Only applicable to the Complete version.
- The Hawk Idol is obtained to help with extra enemy kills, most notably here in the Ice Ridge and in Solomon Shrine.
- The Marle Flower is obtained so I can fire my shots a bit faster during the Tyalmath fight.
- Another Herb obtained for Dalles.
- After obtaining the Stone Shoes, it's faster to warp back to Lance Village instead of backtracking through the Ice Ridge to reach the Anti-Illusion Mirror.
- Possible to save 4 seconds by doing the warp trick at the Stone Shoes chest. Again, very hard to do.
- Possible to save a few seconds on Tyalmath if he doesn't jump at all, but it seems to be random whether or not he'll do so.
- The hidden 1000 gold chest in Tyalmath's lair is skipped, thanks to all the extra enemy kills for gold. For this route, I want 3634 gold entering the Tyalmath fight. This saves ~11 seconds from not needing to grab the chest.
Moat of Burnedbless
- Another Herb grabbed for Dalles.
- Possible but slower to ring the Evil Bell to trigger the Roo at the same time Adol feels like he's being watched when entering the area. Instead, the bell is rung right up close to the Roos' Nest entrance, as this causes the Roo to head right back inside instead of looking around a bit for the source of the noise. I step inside the Roos' Nest just enough to make sure the area is added to the warp list.
- When getting Ruba to tell you about Tarf, it's possible but very difficult to switch Adol back to human form when first talking to him. Probably wouldn't save more than a second, but still.
- Faster to warp to the Roos' Nest instead of backtracking when finding Tarf.
- The Roda Leaf technically isn't necessary to getting through the poisonous corridor. You can actually get through with 3 Herbs, or some other combination of healing items, but it's extremely difficult to do so. Even then, it's not worth it, because if you enter the corridor without the Roda Leaf already equipped, there's a brief stall to load up a text box. That, combined with the small detours taken to get the Herbs in the first place (about ~1 second each), is just enough to make skipping the leaf not worth it.
- The 2000 gold chest before Gelaldy is also skipped, which is also an ~11 second detour. In order to skip it, I want 6736 gold before rescuing Tarf, which will ensure that I have 7900 going into Gelaldy. The other 100 comes from the Jyn during the Gelaldy fight. I actually ended up with a bit more gold than necessary, but only because the last Scorlun was right in my way.
- For Gelaldy, it's possible to hit him at the edges of his mouth as he releases the worm thingy, though you either need to arc your shots with the Hawk Idol, or otherwise have a very precise angle when firing. Damage can also be done right as he releases the Jyn, but it's hard to time properly, otherwise the Jyn will just absorb the shot. With extremely precise shots, Gelaldy can be killed either the 3rd time he re-absorbs the worm thingy, or the 4th time he releases it. Would save about ~10 - 12 seconds, but I've so far been unsuccessful in doing so. Grabbing the Roda Fruit from the Roos' Nest for full MP in this fight doesn't seem to make the fight any faster, so I skipped it. I did lose a couple seconds here from not killing the Jyn before he re-absorbed the worm, but as Gelaldy was right in the way, there wasn't much I could've done about it in this instance.
- Hyper Cutter purchased for early Shrine / Druegar.
- Cruberries obtained for a small MP boost fighting Druegar, and also as a safety measure for Darm. About a ~1 second detour each time.
- The cutscene where Adol tricks the guards is skipped by turning into a Roo at the very spot the cutscene would activate. This needs to be done each time when entering the Shrine through the front door.
- It's faster to warp back to Ramia and re-enter the Shrine at a few points, rather than backtracking from the current location.
- When overhearing the password, you normally need to be in Roo form with the Whisper Earrings equipped. It's possible but very difficult to switch Adol to human form just as the cutscene is triggered. Since it's faster to warp back to Ramia Village at that point, it'd save a second or two by already having the warp magic equipped after the cutscene finishes.
- Runaways' Hideout warp picked up before turning back to normal to save backtracking.
- I grind to level 38 for Druegar, which is 3-4 levels higher than necessary, but I do it mostly to help the grinding process for Zava, who I face at level 45. I used the canal enemies because they can be respawned very quickly, and because they're the best source of EXP up to that point, outside Zava's minions (who take too long to kill, and are also not anywhere close by). And since boss EXP is always a fixed amount, it's better to get it at higher levels.
- Possible to save 4 seconds each by doing the warp trick at both the Silver Pendant chest and the Black Pearl.
- For Druegar, uncharged shots do the same damage as charged shots for some weird reason. The reason for using the Cruberry before the fight is so I have more MP to work with. It's possible to save ~10 seconds by letting him pin you against the wall right away (though it's advised to make boss fights inescapable in the Options menu - not possible in Chronicles or +), but it's extremely risky. For that, full MP via a Roda Fruit is recommended, though with some luck, it can be done with the amount of MP I had here.
- Battle Armor chest picked up to help survive Zava, Dalles, and Darm. The Battle Sword is more or less necessary to kill Zava efficiently. The Falcon Idol is picked up for the same reason, mostly due to its ability to hit multiple targets in that fight.
- Goddesses' Palace warp grabbed early to save backtracking from the Bell Tower.
- Not much to say about Zava, except to make sure your shots connect. As mentioned, Druegar could be skipped in the Eternal version via using Time Stop magic (although you need to exit and re-enter the fight). From there, probably the best grinding method would be Zava's "normal" form, and you'd kill that by using Time Stop magic at the beginning of the fight, then doing collision damage. It'd require doing that multiple times to get the needed EXP, but I think it would be faster than grinding on the enemies in the canal / outside the Bell Tower. Zava's boss form still needs to be killed as normal, though.
- When grabbing the Cleria Sword, it's faster to use the canal entrance near the Goddesses' Palace, rather than starting from the Runaways' Hideout.
- Dalles can be hit 3-4 times each appearance. Getting 4 hits I think requires knockback from one of the meteors right back into Dalles, which is obviously very risky (not to mention precise). On top of that, some time can be saved by attacking Dalles immediately each appearance, but as I only have the Battle Armor for protection, it's extremely risky to do so. Even with the Battle Shield (not sure, but I want to say it costs ~15 - 20 seconds to grab), it's still not very safe.
- Shield magic picked up to make Darm easier. As it is, he simply hits you way too much, so without it, the fight would need to be played a lot safer.
- When entering the doorway leading to Darm, calling the warp menu as you make the transition for some reason warps you straight to the Darm battle, instead of having to go through the screen with the collapsing platforms. No idea why it happens, but it saves ~10 seconds. To my knowledge, this is only possible in the Eternal and Complete versions.
- For Darm, it's possible for Adol to get stuck on him. I'm not sure, but I think that happens by him attempting to move to the exact same spot you are. It's quite rare, and I've only had it happen during his second form, but if it does happen, then your hits will land super fast.
There were several botched enemy kills throughout the run. I'm not 100% sure, but I estimate they add up to around ~20 seconds, given that one of my unsuccessful attempts was ahead by that much going into the Zava fight. On top of that, every single one of the bosses can theoretically be improved by varying degrees, but in my opinion, they all went pretty well for a single segment run. In addition, I didn't even try to utilize the rock golems glitch, just due to its difficulty and chance of success, but it'd likely save ~10 seconds (though it would also alter the grinding plan a tad). I'm not sure, but I think I should've killed less enemies after defeating Zava, as I want to be level 47 for Dalles, and 50 for Darm, but I was already level 47 upon undoing the petrification spell. Not much of a time loss, I don't think, but still. Finally, it would be possible to avoid grabbing armor altogether, even though the armor I did grab is just a ~5 second detour.
In all, I'd guess that there's around 1 minute, perhaps even more that could come off this time for this version, but realistically, I don't see much more than ~20 - 30 seconds being saved. Overall, I'm very happy with the way this run turned out.
In addition, it's likely that making use of the Time Stop bugs in the Eternal version is also worth it. More testing needs to be done, but my initial estimations are that it'd save ~40 seconds from grinding on Zava's humanoid form instead of in the canal / outside the Bell Tower. Also, skipping Druegar initially, but then killing him on the way to Dalles could provide an extra level for both Dalles and Darm, potentially saving another ~20 seconds. However, the Eternal version has one notable drawback, which is that the walking speed of NPCs is slightly decreased, which is most evident during the Tarf escort mission, resulting in a time loss of ~25 seconds. In all, the Eternal version looks to save around ~35 seconds over Complete, though I've yet to complete a decent run of that version to properly verify this. Hopefully, I'll get around to that at some point.
- BlueArremer - Seeing his Time Attack videos several years ago and thinking "I can do better" is what helped get me into speedrunning.
- Hachrt - For asking lots of questions regarding my route choices, even though it's sometimes hard to re-examine certain things.
- Nightwolve and Deuce - Say what you will concerning the drama surrounding them, but they are responsible for me initially being able to play this and some other Ys titles in English.
- Ancient Land of Ys - A community of Ys / Falcom fans, and throughout the years I learned many things about the series while browsing their forums.
- The Ys speedrunning community - Seeing more and more people getting involved with this series helped motivate me to get back to making serious attempts at this game.