I wanted to open up this topic to pool together ideas for getting around some of the current obstacles in the Suikoden II speedrun route. These are mainly for the "any%" version of the run, which means completing the game as fast as possible regardless of character recruitment and otherwise. The "108 stars" category also has some open problems, but I'll list those separately. I've thought through as many cases and scenarios as possible for the below obstacles, but have not been able to determine any options that are more efficient or more consistent than the current approach. However, I am also already in too deep with the current way of doing things; some fresh eyes may yet be able to help out on some of the problems. Remember though: the goal for a speedrun is to do things as quickly and efficiently as possible; this means minimizing the numbers of recruits, area visits, shopping, battles, etc. For a reference on what we currently do at specific points, you can watch one of my runs here:
Part 1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BbyRf3_tEe0
Part 2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XGyFvME0qFs
=====================================1. Power-leveling Jowy in Sindar.
Currently, we set up a very specific experience chain so that Jowy is still Level 9 when we get to Sindar Ruins. This allows him to jump up to Level 30 in a single battle with either a group of 4x Salamanders or 5x Megawatts. Getting to that level allows us to dispatch Double Head easily, and preserves Riou and Nanami's experience at low levels. The problem is that getting the required fights for this level path are random and often uncooperative. The first step is finding either a group of 5x Spiders or 3x Snails in Ryube Forest to condition Jowy and Riou levels properly so that Jowy will still be Level 9 after the 2 required Fort fights (he is otherwise Level 10). This by itself is a crapshoot for the one brief trek through the Forest. The other problem is that the Sindar Ruins fights are very short-term (only appear after placing the Triangle piece) and often quite dangerous since Jowy needs to be the last one standing. A better approach to either leveling point, or increasing the consistency of either, would help a good deal.2. Tai Ho and Chinchirorin.
Try as I might, I have not found a way to skip or make consistent Tai Ho's gambling sequence. At this point, I don't think it's actually possible, but it's worth enumerating anyway just in case.3. Consistent fast kills of Star Dragon Sword and Abomination.
Overall I'm pretty satisfied with our current approach, which kills SDS and Abom in 2 turns and 3 turns, respectively. However, given Eilie that is lucky enough to have 60 MAG at level 19 (about 16.4% chance) for a cast of Bolt of Wrath, I can reduce both of those by 1 turn which saves about a minute. The question, then, is how might we be able to get those faster kills without relying on that low chance? Some ideas include fighting an encounter of Minotaurs in Cave of the Wind or Neclord's Castle. There is a MAG stat stone available in Sindar, but since Eilie is automatically boosted to 19 when she joins at Coronet it is only effective after she gets a level. Other possibilities include grabbing a Fire orb somewhere, grabbing an extra Fire Wall scroll in Cave of the Wind, or relying on a Nanami Bolt of Wrath, which may backfire.4. Nanami leveling/TECH stat for Luca battle.
Luca is mostly figured out, however there is still some risk. The main thing is that Nanami needs to have her normal attack hit him on the first turn, which with average TECH growth and level 38, means she will have about an 78% accuracy. It's certainly better than a coin flip, but pretty unnerving when so much hinges on getting that hit off. Every point in TECH she gains will add 1% to that number, ideally getting up to 90%+. Alternatives include relying on other damage sources for the equivalent of her damage output (about 1400 raw damage, so effectively 700 on Luca), stopping in Gregminster (or Highway) to buy a Thunder Badge for Hit+15, or finding a different battle boost her level significantly, say into the 40s. It may also help to have a different party setup in either Flik or Viktor's groups to deal the necessary damage, but those battles would have to be consistent while still ending quickly (ie everybody getting KO'd).5. Optimal Pest Rat fight.
Currently, Pest Rat is fought with just Riou, Luc, and Rina. If I get an encounter with 6x Land Sharks on the way through the sewers, I can finish the fight in 2 turns (hooray!). However, if I do not get that battle, it takes 3 turns (boo!). Are there other potential parties that would be able to consistently finish Pest Rat in 2 turns with little to no leveling? If doing calculations for this, assume Riou is level 55 with a Lightning rune (aka, has a level 4 spell). The current strategies are consistent, but the rate of getting that Land Sharks battle is fairly low. Pest Rat's turns also tend to take quite a while, making turn reduction a priority. Given the other recruits available at this point (note you can't take Flik with you to Two River), how would you get through this battle?6. Tinto boss optimizations.
There's a little bit of fidgeting to get through the three bosses in Tinto in 1 turn, currently. It needs some menu organization, party swapping, and a little bit of luck to finish all of the bosses off in one turn. Can anybody think of a better alternative that would remove some of the guesswork? The older route here gave Shin the Kindness rune which allowed him to dish out a solid 2700 damage in one hit. Unfortunately, it is somewhat time-consuming to swap the rune back and forth between Shin and Nanami, so much so that it costs more than it saves. Revisiting this idea may bear new fruit, but the setup times just didn't make it worth it. Alternatively, introducing a different party setup (perhaps removing Nanami) may lead to better results as well. Flik is again unavailable for this scenario.7. Optimal recruitment route for 108 Stars.
This is a big one, but applies only to the 108 Stars category. Recruiting everybody has to happen at some point, but there's only one point where having the right amount of people REALLY matters: prior to Gregminster. Because many recruits are tied to Castle Level, it's quite a tricky puzzle to settle on the exact right way to go about recruiting such that you have just enough when you go to specific areas for story purposes. Gregminster is critical because it has a number of recruits that require Castle Level 3 and is very time-consuming to revisit for any reason (approx 5 minutes round-trip). On the other hand, many recruits are much more efficiently collected after having access to Viki and the Blinking Mirror, which you get in Gregminster. This leads to 2 diverging paths: do you not bother getting non-essential recruits until after you can teleport and thus eat the loss of having to revisit Gregminster, or do you aim to hit Castle Level 3 right before heading to Gregminster? I'm convinced it's the latter, however the current record does the former. How would you solve the puzzle? This means hitting 62 total stars before Gregminster (can only miss 4 available recruits), or figuring out how much time is saved from picking up remaining recruits at some later point in the story. Good targets for the "remaining 4" are combinations of (Hix, Tengaar, Yuzu), Sid, Wakaba, (Futch, Humphrey), Yoshino, Millie, Templton. Additionally, you need Castle Level 2 before going to Greenhill if you want to recruit Emilia, which is another consideration. 8. Optimal end-game party setup.
I really like the current party setup for L'Ren, but there are still some problems. The first is that Seed and Culgan are not guaranteed to be taken out in 1 turn, and in fact will usually take 2. The second is that the Beast Rune fight may yet have room for improvement. Much of the strategies here rely on the Rune Unite bug, which unfortunately has a separate speed bug that will mess up some plans. I've given up on finding a consistent 1 turn Beast Rune kill, but the current 2 turn strategy is remarkably consistent. Can you think of any strategies that would result in a consistent, quick Beast Rune KO without extra leveling?
I may update this listing with a few more as I recall them, but this should be plenty to get started on. I can also provide clarifying details where necessary.