Open Problems in Suikoden II Speedrunning

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Open Problems in Suikoden II Speedrunning

Postby Omnigamer » Wed Oct 26, 2016 3:26 pm

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.

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Re: Open Problems in Suikoden II Speedrunning

Postby Raww Le Klueze » Wed Oct 26, 2016 11:41 pm

You don't have to win against the Star Dragon Sword so it should be easier to just die.
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Re: Open Problems in Suikoden II Speedrunning

Postby Omnigamer » Thu Oct 27, 2016 12:25 am

With Riou at Level 55, it would take an exceedingly long time to be killed off. I didn't know that battle was an ok-to-fail battle, however, so that's something new.

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Re: Open Problems in Suikoden II Speedrunning

Postby ninjaluc79 » Thu Oct 27, 2016 1:53 am

1. You know, you can just do the Matilda Trick to get Jowy to Level 30. As a bonus, you can also get other characters to level 30-35 and breeze through the game for quite a while. But if you don't want to, well...

2. I have this habit of bringing high-LUCK characters with me when I go to recruit Tai Ho. In one of my recruitment drives, I had Freed (07), Millie (07), Chaco (06), Tsai (06), and Gengen (06) in my party, mostly because I need them to recruit Yoshino, Siegfried, Sid, Tomo, and Gabocha, respectively, all at once. It works most of the time, so I really never worry about not recruiting Tai Ho quick enough so long as I have a lot of high-LUCK characters in my party.

3. Unfortunately, none of the members of the SDS/Abomination party have higher affinities to Lightning. Eilie and Freed, however, have B affinities to Fire (+20% base damage excluding MAG). Problem is, they are saddled with pretty low MAG stats. Eilie has the best chance of getting to 60 MAG at level 21, while Freed has it at level 27. While *Fire isn't really more effective against SDS than Lightning, it is VERY effective against Abomination. You can try equipping Viktor with *Double-Beat + *Fire on weapon to increase the damage to SDS a bit and get a shot at killing Abomination in one turn with Viktor's Double-Beat Fire Sword + up to 3x Dancing Flames + Charm Arrow.

4. I assume you're using Nanami as the Spark bearer, right? She actually has pretty high TECH at rank 06, and I never had any problems hitting Luca at level 38+. And even if she doesn't hit, I made sure she's always at position 4 or 6 where she's safe from Luca's fire attacks which only affect the first row and slot 5, so she rarely ever gets hit at all. But of course, in a speedrun, time is precious, so...

5. You may try grinding Millie to level 45 on average for that 1 Thor Shot charge from *Lightning, she has the highest Lightning affinity among your recruits at that point in the game, and you only need to grind Riou to level 37 on average to get his first level 4 MP charge.

6. Stack your party with characters who have high affinities to Lightning and Resurrection. At that point, you have Killey, Meg, Millie, and mandatory party member Sierra as the only characters with A affinities to Lightning (+40% base damage). Now, Killey and Meg will only have their only level 4 MP charge at level 55 on average, and plus both are more suited as fighters anyway, so you're left with Millie, who already has at least one rune slot at that point. I don't know if you can replace Sierra's *Darkness with *Lightning at that point of the game before she is officially recruited, but if you could, you must do so immediately.

Mandatory party member Kahn is the only one with an A affinity to Resurrection at this point. Riou, along with Luc, Siegfried (large beast), Chaco, Karen, Nina, Tengaar, Tomo, Tsai, and Sid, have B affinities to Resurrection (+20% base damage). Now, Resurrection spells might look pretty weak, until you realize that against Undeads it's only a bit less powerful than Lightning. Kahn, for example, can deal up to ~1100 damage to Neclord with Charm Arrow, while Riou can deal up to ~900 damage with the same spell. That's about within same damage range Rina (C affinity to Lightning = normal damage) can dish out with Thor Shot.

7. I usually plan mass recruitment drives in advance before obtaining the Blinking Mirror, as there is really no more time to do so right after getting it, as you have to prepare for the Luca Blight battle right away. Pretty much the only ones you can recruit after getting the mirror and before Luca are Tomo and Bob. The former requires Tsai to be in the active party, while the latter requires 80+ SoD's. This sort of problem is the main reason why I couldn't finish Clive's Quest and recruit all 108 SoDs at the same time.

8. Have you already tried out the Ultimate Power and Ultimate Magic parties?

I never really thought how useful magicians can be in speedruns. People often dismiss magicians simply because physical fighters are simply far more effective, if only a bit expensive and time-consuming to build, than magicians in dealing damage. But of course, Auto-battle can get boring after a while, farming for *Double-Beat and *Double-strike will take huge chunks of time out of a speedrun, and you really can't build effective physical damage dealers until the final dungeon anyway.
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Re: Open Problems in Suikoden II Speedrunning

Postby Omnigamer » Thu Oct 27, 2016 3:26 am

1. RE: Taking side trips out to Matilda is an incredible loss in time and screws up the other character leveling, unfortunately. Being strong enough to survive is never really an issue since Riou comes out of the Border scene at Level 55 with the current route.

2. RE: For Tai Ho, I specifically mean the story-related sequence and not his recruitment. You are very limited in your character pool at this point in the game, and despite your anecdotal evidence I am relatively certain Luck has nothing to do with getting good rolls against Tai Ho.

3. RE: Affinities during the South Window events are far less important than hitting the 60 MAG threshold for a Level 3 spell. A 20% boost is almost nothing when you assume only 1 or 2 turns per battle. In a lot of those cases, you don't expect the character to survive past the first turn either. So a single 600 dmg spell is the key to a quick finish. Double-beat is also out of the question; literally no random encounters are fought other than those required to condition experience pre-Sindar. This includes no rabbit hunting.

4. RE: Nanami does have Spark for most of the game, but against Luca it doesn't have any purpose. Her safety isn't really in question, but the main issue is that a whiff isn't just a whiff but a counter. I set her up to proc Violence in the first turn via Luc Empty World. A counter has the potential of KO'ing her, or in the case of a Jizo, removing the Berserk effect. Either way, it translates into 1-2 extra turns which is 1 minute+ lost.

5. RE: Alas, Millie is not recruited. At minimum she would add 1.5 minutes to the route, whereas optimal Pest Rat only saves ~40 seconds. It again works out to who might be able to get a level 3 MP in only one optional battle. We do have 1 Bolt of Wrath scroll from Luc, but it's also doubtful most other characters you bring into the battle would consistently survive into Turn 2.

6. RE: None of the optional characters you mention are recruited, and many of which aren't even able to be recruited (game ends at Castle Level 2). Resurrection actually plays a pretty hefty roll in the current strategies, with Kahn and Riou's being used as needed. The main problem is that Kahn is never actually restored after the Abomination fight, so he will still lack a level 3 MP. Sure, fixed by a quick visit to an inn, but that's an extra 15 seconds that, at least as current strats go, is not necessary. Yes, the route is down to that level of optimization.

7: RE: Batches of characters post-Gregminster are usually recruited by order of their location and requirements. For example, it saves a fair bit of time to do Hix's Two River quest at the same time as getting Sid and then rounding out to pick up Bob. This is made somewhat easier by having Blinking Mirror, but you run into snags and end up losing time in some places by having to revisit areas you could have recruited characters during storyline events. It's a non-trivial puzzle for sure.

8: RE: Given the amount of time it takes to set up characters, it's generally preferred to keep them close to their default runes/loadout. There are also many things to consider in L'Ren, such as keeping up just the right speed stats to pull off the rune unite glitch and move faster than the bosses. While this means you end up with somewhat narrow options, there's still a lot of things to toy around with for damage sources and time tradeoffs. For example, Empty World is generally not used because the cast animation is twice as long as other spells, but it has some use cases that would align it with quick kills for some bosses due to complete lack of resistances. Earthquake is another spell that might be incorporated, but it needs to be balanced out in the Beast Rune fight so that you still affect each head roughly equally. Leveling individual characters in this phase isn't much of a concern since there are so many mob battles along the way, so you can get any (story required) character up to a good level for Seed & Culgan and Beast Rune.

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Re: Open Problems in Suikoden II Speedrunning

Postby ninjaluc79 » Thu Oct 27, 2016 4:51 am

Oh, so it's a minimalist speedrun. I thought it's a 108 SoD speedrun.

What setup did you use for a 1 turn KO on Lucia at L'Renouiile? In normal play, the least I can manage is 3 turns with a balanced physical and magical party.
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Re: Open Problems in Suikoden II Speedrunning

Postby Omnigamer » Thu Oct 27, 2016 9:14 am

I listed out in the second sentence that most of the points are for any% :p Also, it's not necessarily a fully minimalist run (often called a "low%" run). I do get optional recruits where they save time, for example Templton and Adlai both save more time than they cost to recruit. So picking up non-required characters is an option, it just has to be justified by saving more time elsewhere.

Lucia is dispatched by using two Blazing Camp rune unites and Tsai with Double Beat + Double Edge + Kindness underflow. Seed & Culgan use a variation of that strategy, however due to their resistances require one more turn with a Tsai attack unless he crits, or alternatively 2 additional Unite spells.

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Re: Open Problems in Suikoden II Speedrunning

Postby ninjaluc79 » Thu Oct 27, 2016 11:22 am

Some questions:

1. Is ~14h the record for a 108 SoD speedrun?
2. Are cheat codes allowed in a speedrun? Not the really game-breaking ones like infinite potch or maximum stats, just the item drop cheat to save time from farming Double-Beat and Double-Strike for physicals and higher-tier elemental runes for the mages (though the Tenzan Chimera cheat might be required to farm Cyclone runes for building Magic Repel).
3, Is it possible to make a speedrun without the Kindness rune underflow or with magic-heavy parties as opposed to balanced or physical-heavy parties?
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Re: Open Problems in Suikoden II Speedrunning

Postby Omnigamer » Thu Oct 27, 2016 12:28 pm

1. The current 108 star (also called "True Ending" run, as it saves Nanami and does the events with Jowy) is 7 hours 20 minutes and change. I have a number of criticisms about the route used in that run however, and I would estimate a minimum of 5 minutes can be saved from rerouting. For reference, the current fastest any% run is 5 hours 55 minutes.

2. Cheat codes or external cheat devices are not allowed for any run. The core routes for any% and True Ending are fairly close and would not benefit much from having a double beat in the early game. In fact the tradeoffs of fighting even one battle against the Rabbits extend pretty far as it affects the whole experience plan.

3. Yes, and in fact that is how Japanese players tend to speedrun the game. They mainly run a "glitchless" category which actively avoids Kindness rune underflow and Rune Unite glitch. Their route relies almost entirely on clever magic setups. The difference between their strategies and the current any% aren't that significant however, with the exception of a few specific battles. The fastest JP glitchless run that I know of is about 6 hours and 20 minutes by western timing. Running some of the other Suikoden II releases, namely the Chinese PC release or the Sui1+2 collection on PSP, has the Kindness underflow fixed, so they would need an entirely different route too.

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Re: Open Problems in Suikoden II Speedrunning

Postby srd_27 » Fri Oct 28, 2016 2:33 am

Hey Omnigamer, a bit of advice, it'll probably be helpful if you write up a brief explanation of the route, since most of the readers here are probably not really familiar with suikoden speedruns.

Also for reference, here's the 7:20 '108 stars' world record by Seya27 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fOubn65tsaA

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Re: Open Problems in Suikoden II Speedrunning

Postby Omnigamer » Fri Oct 28, 2016 9:18 am

I considered discussing the entire route, but it would simply be too long and too involved for anybody to actually read and understand it. The sample video I provided at the opening is meant for folks to scan around to the critical parts (mainly boss fights), and see/understand what is currently done that way.

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Re: Open Problems in Suikoden II Speedrunning

Postby srd_27 » Sat Nov 05, 2016 11:10 am

Hey Omni, I had a random thought, have you tried to see if there are OOBs that can be done in the PSP version with the diagonal movements?

Imagine if it's possible to go across the Muse-Highland border early on the game, which might allows us to go straight into L'Renouille.

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Re: Open Problems in Suikoden II Speedrunning

Postby Omnigamer » Sat Nov 05, 2016 2:43 pm

I have thought about it, but tools to do extensive testing for that kind of thing just don't exist right now. Unfortunately, for how the game is coded, a lot of potential skips just simply won't work out since the game is very story-event flag-driven. For example, a number of minor cutscene skips are known for various points, but skipping them prevents you from advancing in the given area or dungeon. Either way, PSP version would be a different category entirely just because of the diagonal movement, spell speed, and lack of certain prominent glitches.

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Re: Open Problems in Suikoden II Speedrunning

Postby BadPotato » Sat Nov 05, 2016 7:09 pm

On the PS1 version you can get out-of-bound in the actual "world map" as soon as you get a castle level-3. At the time where I found this glitch, I believe I only documented with a screenshot that got taken down later. Basically, the normal sprite of Riou in the world map is replaced by the sprite of Riou from a non-world map, so you can run/walk in the actual world map! You can also run inside the lake and access other area where you probably shouldn't be able to go. By the way, this glitch doesn't involve any major graphic glitch like the third video link from this post.

It's really shame that I didn't documented this glitch further. Tho, I could probably recreate the glitch if there's an interest. Yet, at the same time, as Omnigamer stated sequence break are quite tricky to setup. Also for an any% run, getting a castle level 3 isn't probably worth it... despite someone find a way to trigger a major sequence break. But so far the only sequence break possible is the zombie skip in Tinto.

Now about the rerouting issue for any%, the subject is a bit too deep to look at. But first, how lucky the guy from this run is? What are the key difference with your 5:57:37 run?

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Re: Open Problems in Suikoden II Speedrunning

Postby ninjaluc79 » Sun Nov 06, 2016 5:03 am

Maybe that sequence break glitch is useful for a 108 SoD speedrun?
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