Firstly I would like to thank Breakdown for his awesome run in 2009 that inspired me to get into speedrunning. The moment I found his run on SDA I immediately was intrigued and somewhat baffled at how little attention it was getting as a speedrun. I would also like to thank SDA for accepting the run and being very helpful and supportive throughout the long arduous process of properly capturing audio/video (looking at you Elgato).
Over the past few years off and on I have been working on optimizing this game and this run I'm very proud of. Barring some silly mistakes and not perfect RNG, this is a very solid run. That being said however, a low-mid 27 minute run, even sub-27, is absolutely possible and I will still continue to work towards that.
This was played on a model 1 Sega Genesis modded to be region unlocked and output S-Video. I used a Japanese cart and I recommend anyone that can afford it that wants to run this game to get one themselves. Technically the only time difference is roughly 2 seconds which happens in the American version of Automaton 1 where Ristar puts on "Anti-Gravity" shoes. This animation is absent in the Japanese version. The most important difference however is the mini-boss fight in Sonata 1. The bird heads randomly drop one at a time allowing a very slight window to grab them up to two times. In the Japanese version the head that drops each time is telegraphed by a musical note graphic that appears on their head. This graphic is absent in the American version. This allows for a fairly consistent one cycle since you don't have to guess and just hope it works out. If you miss the one cycle, the bird heads stop dropping while they bob to some music while orblets litter the screen and you have to wait about 15 seconds before the next cycle starts.
Thanks a bunch if you watched/enjoyed my run and if you are still interested in more details, keep reading for my stage comments.
Timestamp references are timed as seconds after Ristar's feet hit the ground in 1-1 (subtract 20 seconds from the video's timestamp).
"Shooting Star Mode" is what happens after you release from a pole swing after 6 revolutions (the one exception is in 5-1 where jumping onto a crystal automatically starts you in star mode and propels you at max speed). In this mode you can control your movement with directional buttons and lasts about 1 second. This duration can be extended by bouncing off of terrain. While I don't know the exact frames and timings I know that one bounce will extend it about 1 second and there are extreme diminishing returns after each subsequent bounce. There is a cap to the diminishing returns as you can theoretically have an infinite star mode (has happened accidentally in a few places quite a few times). You basically have to be perfectly flush against a wall/ground/ceiling shooting across it while holding towards the direction of said wall/ground/ceiling for that to happen. One other nuance is that after you are in star mode for about half a second you lose speed significantly. This timer can be reset by bouncing off of terrain before that point. There are a few pole swings throughout the run where aiming during star mode is not necessary and there is no terrain to maintain your base speed so cancelling star mode by pressing jump maintains your speed through the air.
1-1: Overall went very well. Had a slow release at about 11 seconds from the monkey bar costing a slight amount of time. Got the up+right grab up to the second branch at 19 seconds which is optimal and is fairly precise. The bunny's position at 30 seconds was not in the way which is perfect RNG as sometimes it can be impossible to pass it without damage boosting, losing a second or so. At 36 seconds I executed my normal strat perfectly but can be done about 1.5 seconds faster by only doing 4-5 revolutions on the pole and not entering star mode. This is very difficult to do consistently so I don't do it. Perfect RNG on the mini-boss. He can go one of three ways, left, right, or up. Left and right are virtually the same but if the snake goes up you can't kill him before he goes in the next hole and have to wait for him to appear again. This costs about 4 seconds. Exiting the stage with a 0 height bonus is ideal as it is the quickest but 100 is barely any time loss at all. All in all could've been about 2.5 seconds faster.
1-2: Best I've ever done on this stage ever so slightly. This is not to say it can't be improved. Flubs were certainly made. An accidental time save of about 3 seconds happened at the pole swing which made this possible. Leaving the enclosed area I bonked the ceiling and then the ground right after it and cancelled the flight before being reduced in speed and managed to make it on very top of the tree that you normally land at the base of and have to climb. This has never happened before and I thought I had barely missed landing on the branch and tried to up+right grab the top branch to get back up in my confusion. This cost about a second. It ended up being a net gain of 2 seconds. At 1:30 I swung up too high and bonked on the wall instead of grabbing the branch costing about a second. The timing made it so it was impossible to pass the orblet right after without hitting it costing another second. At 1:41 I waited too long and got hit by the gecko but made the time loss almost negligable by damage boosting through the orblet instead of jumping over it. Again ended with a 100 height bonus instead of 0. Could save about 3 seconds.
1-3(Riho): Very well done and only fractionally worse than my best possible time. While I haven't done extensive testing I'm convinced the key is waiting the proper amount of time before starting to climb the big wizard. Too soon and it delays the time it takes for Riho to come on the screen, hop on the wizard's back, and let you grab him. Too late and you can't climb high enough to get the first grab through the wizard in time to get the quick kill.
2-1: Went pretty well. There is a 1 second possible time save at 2:50 over my normal strat but it is I believe pixel perfect where you grab the pillar from maximum distance and make the water fill. If you walk right up to the wall however it is guaranteed to work on the first grab but I unfortunately was a little far away and lost a second from having to grab again. 3:24 accidentally hit the jellyfish instead of bypassing him unscathed. Was able to still catch the water cycle so only lost about a second. Got average RNG on the mini-boss which means the jellyfish on the last phase spawned in the middle when they could've fallen on the left or the right, right being obviously the best. Could've saved about 3 seconds.
2-2: My most disappointing stage of the run. I'm normally really good at this level but completely flubbed a couple of rooms. There was however some very clean movement elsewhere. I was able to get a 1 second time save at 4:40 by doing a perfect jump inbetween the frogs avoiding a hit which is pretty difficult to do. In the room at 4:58 I lost about 5 seconds of time due to an early horizontal grab at 5:05 which I honestly haven't done in a very very long time. Lost another couple of seconds at 5:24 due to some empty grabs. Got bad chest RNG at 5:33 where you need to open the chest with the star to proceed and it's random which one it is in. Lost a second to that. Can shave 8 seconds off that level.
2-3(Ohsat): Lost about 1 second to the first missed grab and a few seconds due to not perfect RNG but still an amazing fight. This boss accounts for the vast majority of randomness in this run and can lose you around 30 seconds with worst RNG. 4 second time save possible but completely reliant on perfect luck.
3-1: Extremely happy with this stage. RNG could have been better on the mini-boss but honestly could only really save about 2 seconds total.
3-2: This stage is one of the biggest run killers and I am very happy with this. First swing was pretty close to optimal but could be about a half second faster. Got the second swing on the first try which is awesome because it is by far the hardest swing in the game. That being said it could be about 8 seconds faster with a perfect swing but that is extremely risky. With the perfect swing you can land all the way up on the ledge at 9:28. Everything from 9:22 on is a new strat I found that saves about 7 seconds over the old strat when done perfectly. The old strat involved going underneath and walking the rest of the level. The third pole swing could have been about 2.5 seconds faster. 11 second time save possible but so insanely unlikely.
3-3(Adahan): Not very happy with this fight. Despite close to perfect RNG I lost about 7 seconds. 1 second was from the beginning rocks falling from the ceiling where one hit me. 2 seconds was at 10:06 where Adahan stayed in the air and you have to ride one of his claws up to him costing 2 seconds each time it happens. There are 4 chances for this to happen and it only happened once so that is pretty fortunate. The rest of the time loss is just flubbed grabs on him during his falling phases.
4-1: Another extremely disappointing stage. Did perfect up until 12:05 where I lost almost 5 seconds due to absolutely silly grab flubs. Then proceeded to lose another 5 seconds at 12:12 by missing the metronome grab to throw onto the next platform, having to walk back and try it again. I did however get the metronome swing at 12:32 first try which helped to make up some of the lost time earlier. Lost another second to grabbing some safety health before the mini-boss. Got perfect RNG on the mini-boss. 10 second time save possible
4-2: Best executed level of the run. With the exception of missing the grab on the ballerina penguin at 13:46, this stage was nearly perfect. Only about 1 second time save possible.
4-3(Awaueck): Lost about 4 seconds to poor execution and 5 seconds to bad RNG.
5-1: Sub-par stage. Lost about 1.5 seconds at 16:41. It's possible to grab the bomb thrower without grabbing the bomb. Snowball fight could've been a couple seconds faster.
5-2: Pretty happy with this stage. Lost around 3 seconds throughout the level with some sloppy movement but nearly perfected the ice slope grabs at 18:10.
5-3(Itamor): Standard fight. After throwing the hot food in his mouth Itamor goes to the left side of the screen and takes either 3 or 4 hops to start his next pattern, losing about a half second each phase that takes 4 hops. He only did one phase with 4 hops so that's certainly above average RNG.
6-1: Somewhat sloppy other than the perfect first try automaton skip at 20:39 which is very difficult to do. Lost about 3 seconds before the mini-boss and about 2 seconds to the mini-boss despite perfect RNG due to flubbed grabs.
6-2: Fairly average stage. Could save about 2 seconds at 22:55 by doing a perfect horizontal grab upon entrance on the platform but it can be very risky. Lost about 2 seconds at 23:05 due to the worst possible wallpaper RNG. Any one of the tears can contain the crystal you need to power the teleporter, and of course it was in the last one. Lost 1 second to getting hit by the orblet at 24:12 and another second in the next screen not making the swing all the way across the spikes to the teleporter.
6-3(Uranim): Very happy with this fight. Lost one second to mistiming Ristar's I-frames and getting hit once by Uranim.
7-1: Not bad. Suboptimal pole swing cost me about a second.
7-2(Eyebar-555): Mediocre fight. With perfectly timed grabs and grab cancels(you can negate the push back recoil after hitting the boss by grabbing the air either forward or down+forward) I could've saved 3 seconds.
7-3(Greedy): Lost about 4 seconds to the initial orb phase which has elements of luck but should never lose that much time. Missed a few opportunities to hit greedy as he is doing his flying around phase just to make sure i can clear the orblets and don't let them pile up. Lost about 6 seconds to that safety strat.
I'm fairly happy with this run but I am far from being done with it as it still has a long way to go to get it optimized. As you can see from the listed possible time saves, sub 27 is actually theoretically possible but requires perfect execution and RNG. That doesn't stop me from trying :).
Thanks again for reading/watching and I hope it was enjoyable/informative.