Released by Enix in 1994, Brain Lord is an often overlooked action RPG for the Super Nintendo. You take control of Remeer, a Dragon Warrior looking for clues as to what happened to his long lost father. Amazingly innovative plot aside, the game offers a wide variety of weapons and an interesting power up system using monster called Jades.
Best time: 1:19:20 by Damien 'Dragondarch' Moody on 2011-08-28, done in 25 segments.
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God, it's been entirely too long since I've submitted a run here. Realistically, it should have been Ogre Battle or Air Fortress since those are long overdue, but instead I give you Brain Lord.
History of this run:
This was supposed to be a quick project to help maintain my sanity after trying to game Ogre Battle's RNG for so long. I started working on this back in January, figuring it'd be a relatively painless game to try and run. I started recording what I'm going to call v1.0 in March. I managed to get to Abell Ruins 4F before realizing that I could have optimized the first segments better and could have easily shaved 30 or seconds.
v2.0 was started in April. After restarting I swore I wouldn't restart again because of how much RNG manipulation there is, and difficult the early segments are due to having to constantly bunny hop. This version included said optimizations, and made progress as far as Ice Castle B3. When working on the boss fight there (The Ghost trio), I was trying to figure out exactly how many hits I would need to kill each one. I was doing this to try and figure out when the optimal times would be to use the Power Capsules I had on hand. After some fairly extensive testing, I found that Power Capsules are broken...and not in a good way. I mean broken as in they don't work - period. So now, I sat there with another unoptimized run, but I dreaded the thought of restarting again. This was roughly late-May/early June.
At this point I went back and started doing some more testing. This time around I was testing enemy HP values, minor RNG manipulation, and how much time is lost for each enemy I would kill. Recording re-commenced late July.
v3.0 came after my testing showed that I could shave a few minutes off my time by further optimizations along with better purchases, less shop trips, better money management, and skipping all healing items. This version proceeded to Abell Ruins 4F, where I briefly paused to test out just how I was going to approach the Ghosts fight in Ice Castle. Originally I had planned on using 2 Drops of Protect at +3 each, grabbing the Warrior's Helm, along with using one healing item. This would allow me 2 hits leeway. v2.0 had used 3 Drops of Protect and also grabbed the Helm, and the Ghosts each did 3 damage per hit. For v3.0 I wanted to test out whether grabbing the Plate Mail in Ice Castle (and equipping/de-equipping it) would be faster than grabbing 2 Drops of Protect and using them. In addition I wanted to know If the plate mail would grant me enough defense to reduce the damage taken by just enough to allow 2 hits without a healing item. The Plate Mail has +10 Defense, and 3 Drops of Protect were only +9.
After I figured out that grabbing the Plate Mail was ever so slightly faster than grabbing the Drops of Protect (and also less RNG manipulation - YAY!), I decided to try my luck at getting a battle without taking any hits. Within 20 minutes I managed a hitless fight, and threw out all the testing I just did. With that knowledge in hand, I started recording again, planning skipping all defensive items, along with any healing items.
I had a slight snag in the segment with the Ghosts fight, mainly because the fight I had gotten in practice was retardedly lucky. I had to find a new strategy for the fight. The plus is that I found a faster way to do it, by about 3-5 seconds.
After that only Droog was any real problem, and that was 90% trying to figure out how the Silent Stones rooms worked. Platinum was actually pretty easy compared to the rest of the run.
Tricks Used (in no particular order):
Bunny Hopping - The Bread & Butter of most FPS runs. Bunny Hopping in this game is superior to walking due to the increased speed when in the air. In addition you can start charging a spell while in mid-air without having to attack with your weapon.
To be honest, I think this is probably the hardest trick to perform perfectly due to how much you're at the mercy of it. Long and short jumps have to be done correctly to change directions and not end up running into anything. I found that most of the time one missed hop or one slightly delayed hop could ruin an entire segment.
The one thing I actually like about Bunny Hopping, however, is that it's fairly easy to measure distance - measuring by number of hops I mean. Thus I spent most of the first 9 segments counting hops.
However, once the Cape is obtained on Abell Ruins 4F, Bunny Hopping becomes more or less obsolete. Walking with the Cape equipped is faster than Bunny Hopping, except when forced to move against a conveyor belt of some sort.
Edge Jumping - This is when you jump over a gap while moving diagonally. I refer to it as "Edge Jumping" due to the fact that you have to be pretty close to the edge of a platform before actually jumping, and you'll land pretty much on the edge on the other side.
In some areas it's just more of a convenience, barely shaving even fractions of a second. In others it's used for shortcuts and skipping the intended route.
Corner Jumping - Similar to Edge Jumping, except you're jumping from one corner to another. It doesn't have a lot of applications, and out of all the times I do it, only 2 really have any significant time savings.
I actually found this to possible by complete accident. I was screwing around on Abell Ruins 3F near when you use the Invisible Key, trying to find the entrance to that one chamber on 2F that no one knows how to get into. I jumped diagonally (down-right) from the corner with the intention of falling in the hole. Lo and behold I made the jump across.
This trick is actually rather painful to do. The positioning to make the jump is rather tight - you have to practically be on the very corner just to make it. This is all compounded by the fact that all the best uses of Corner Jumping are in segments where I'm still Bunny Hopping, so I have to land in just the right spot on the last hop to be able to make the Corner Jump.
Jump Canceling - This is when you jump after pushing a block to remove the push animation. Saves a lot of time considering just how many things need to be pushed in this game.
You can also control the direction of a jump in this manner, making it easy to set up the next push if you need to change directions.
There's also an interesting bug that theoretically could be used, but I think would only be feasible to do consistently in a TAS. If you Jump Cancel on the same frame you push a block, the block will move 2 spaces instead of 1. In addition the direction of the block/ball can be manipulated somehow. I don't know the specifics on how that works though.
You won't see any of the above mentioned bug in this run. I swear that every time I actually had it occur, it was always when I DIDN'T want it to move 2 spaces.
Returning - Self-explanatory. Using the return command to get back to the entrance to a room is faster in some rooms than walking back. It also seems to have an effect on the room counter when dealing with the RNG.
Shield Bashing - This is simply raising your shield to push enemies out of the way. Used most often in Ice Castle.
In addition Shield Bashing can be used to exploit the invulnerability period for enemies. More on that in a second.
Enemy Invulnerability Period Exploitation - When an enemy is hit, there a short period where it will flash, and no damage can be done to it. However, the enemy also can't do any damage to the player during this time, making it possible to run "through" them on occasion.
While it isn't 100% possible to run through most enemies, this trick is abused to hell in the final gauntlet in Ice Castle. The moving water (conveyor belt wannabes) aids in the ability to get through them. Most of the time it requires 2 Shield Bashes to pass through them. It's still much faster than actually killing them.
The RNG - Semi-Explained:
I don't know all the specifics on how it works, but I DO know there's some sort of a room counter factored in to it. The easiest way to test this is to grab a Source of Power/Drop of Protect, and save the game. Upon loading, use the item - what you get this time will be what you get every time you load the game if you use the item immediately.
Now try moving one room away and using the item. The bonus is gives may change (it doesn't always). Do that a couple times. What you get in there shouldn't change unless there's a mob of enemies on screen as soon as you enter the room.
That's where my knowledge of the RNG stops. I know enemies call it, and I know NPCs call it for their movements as well. The Silent Stones in Droog also call it a retarded number of times.
I was able to at least manipulate it enough to get enemy movement patterns that were favorable (if possible) and to get +3s on both Sources of Power I used.
I found the Boomerang to the weapon of choice for speedrunning purposes (and for that matter, it's my personal favorite). The range is the dominant factor here, plus being able to have 2 on screen at once helps too. However, the Boomerangs can occasionally get "stuck" and will circle the player until they move to a position where it can't actually arc to the player. The creators apparently put a limit on how sharp it can turn, which causes this problem. I call it "Retarded Boomerangs."
There's only one Fairy in the game that's worth grabbing: Power. The bonus to attack power allows me to shave hits off bosses and normal enemies alike. The only issue with this is that the Fairy needs to be leveled - not too much of a problem since it's easy to mark down which enemies have EXP Orbs and only kill them.
With the time factored in to actually buying the Power Jade, along with the time spent actually killing the enemies for Orbs, I estimated that not getting the Power Jade would be around 20 seconds faster. Note that is only an estimate, and is only applicable with perfect luck on bosses.
The game won't let you load a file with less than 6 HP. If you save the game with less than 6 HP, it will set your HP to 6 upon loading. This allows me to skip any and all healing items since I can get around enemies in other ways. Using a healing item takes about 7 seconds. That's 7 seconds more than I want to spend.
In addition to not healing, I also completely ignore my defense. I have the starter armor for Tower of Light, but sell it when returning to Arcs so I can afford all the crap I need for Abell Ruins. Until Fire Drake grants me the +10 at the end of Droog, my defense sits at a whopping value of 1. Pretty much anything in the game can one-shot me with a defense that low.
I never bother increasing my HP through the use of Hearts, either. Same reasons as above, plus I don't need the healing it provides.
Enemies in this game have no defense value of their own. They only have Power and HP stats, and probably some sort of speed stat. I have a full list of HP values for every enemy in the game that I can provide if anyone wants it.
The damage formula is simply your Power Stat + Weapon Power = damage done. By changing weapons of various power levels, I was able to derive enemy HP.
It would also seem that the damage done from a Shield Bash is simply your Power Stat without the Weapon Power.
I have no idea how the player's defense stat actually works. Nor does it matter since it's irrelevant for speedrunning purposes.
This run ends up being pretty minimalistic. I obviously grab all necessary keys to progress, but other than almost nothing is grabbed. The exceptions will be discussed in the audio commentary.
Warp Gates are used liberally to get around. In a few cases, they don't save a lot of time. There's also 2 points where I could have used a Warp Gate but chose not to that it would technically be faster. I'll also touch on this in the audio commentary.
Time spent in the inventory needs to be kept to a minimum. Using ANYTHING in this game takes much longer than it should due to a fairly slow menu.
Any enemies killed in this run are for one of 3 reasons:
1) It drops something that I want - usually EXP Orbs for my Fairy.
2) It's in the way and there's no way to get past it without killing it.
3) Money. This is only a factor in Tower of Light.
Segment by Segment breakdown:
Listen to the audio commentary.
Stats (Wasn't keeping track for segment 1, so it's an estimate):
~1h 10m Recorded
21.429 Attempts per Hour
4:13.854 Real Time
4h 19m 30s Recorded
49.249 Attempts per Hour
3:42.856 Real Time
3h 6m 29s Recorded
38.609 Attempts per Hour
4:50.057 Real Time
1h 9m 34s Recorded
50.024 Attempts per Hour
2:19.450 Real Time
1 Attempt (Yes, I actually got this segment first try)
3m 52s Recorded
15.517 Attempts per Hour
3:25.706 Real Time
1h 59m 50s Recorded
32.045 Attempts per Hour
3:42.556 Real Time
1h 10m Recorded
30.857 Attempts per Hour
4:31.104 Real Time
1h 44m 16s Recorded
42.008 Attempts per Hour
3:08.655 Real Time
31m 2s Recorded
17.401 Attempts per Hour
5:14.915 Real Time
1 Attempt (Once again, got it first try)
6m 30s Recorded
9.231 Attempts per Hour
6:03.229 Real Time
46m 25s Recorded
34.901 Attempts per Hour
2:31.284 Real Time
1h 1m 48s Recorded
36.893 Attempts per Hour
2:46.132 Real Time
1h 25m 46s Recorded
32.88 Attempts per Hour
5:34.667 Real Time
6h 41m 56s Recorded
38.514 Attempts per Hour
3:46.659 Real Time
1h 14m 33s Recorded
23.34 Attempts per Hour
2:31.217 Real Time
6m 4s Recorded
89.011 Attempts per Hour
0:24.290 Real Time
21m 20s Recorded
75.938 Attempts per Hour
0:41.375 Real Time
36m 1s Recorded
59.972 Attempts per Hour
1:17.010 Real Time
4m 13s Recorded
71.146 Attempts per Hour
0:25.725 Real Time
1h 49m 59s Recorded
22.913 Attempts per Hour
6:23.283 Real Time
6m 47s Recorded
35.381 Attempts per Hour
2:03.056 Real Time
17m 17s Recorded
41.659 Attempts per Hour
3:13.327 Real Time
3m 8s Recorded
38.298 Attempts per Hour
2:01.488 Real Time
8m 55s Recorded
20.187 Attempts per Hour
3:32.046 Real Time
2h 7m 10s Recorded
24.535 Attempts per Hour
2:33.153 Real Time
32h 12m 25s Recorded
36.98 Attempts per Hour
1:20:58.094 Real Time
Random other stuff:
First and foremost, the main character is named "Rane" so I can collect RaneofSOTN's bounty.
As is the case with most RPG speedruns, so long as HP > 0, you're good to go.
This game was poorly localized. Snicker as you read the dialogue.
NOT HAVING A SOFT RESET SHOULD BE A CRIME PUNISHABLE BY DEATH!
Having to wait 26 seconds to start playing every time I had to reset makes Baby Jesus cry.
Retarded Boomerangs would make a good blooper reel.
For a final dungeon, Platinum is stupidly easy compared to the rest of the game.
Enemies' hitboxes are pretty messed up.
Defense is overrated.
Only one kitten was harmed in the making of this run...and it deserved it.
I'd like to thank all the staff at SDA (Flip, Dex, Breakdown, VorpalEdge, Moooh...and even Mike Uyama even though he's no longer the evil dictator) for hosting this and all of my other runs from the past. I'd also like to thank ZenicReverie and RaneofSOTN for creating the Brain Lord topic in the Casual Speedrunning forum, which had a few tidbits of info that I had never known. In addition I'd like to thank you, the viewer, for actually taking almost an hour and half to watch this. Considering how many hours it took to complete, the 1.5 hours you just spent watching it is nothing =P
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