Released by Squaresoft in 1991, Final Fantasy Legend II is actually the second entry in the SaGa series, but was given the Final Fantasy name in the states to help with sales. You control a group of heroes trying to gather the 77 pieces of a force called The Magi that have been spread across nine worlds and also locate the party leader's long lost father.
Best time: Single-segment 0:34:26 by Ryan 'Poxnor' Vogt on 2012-12-06.
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First, I would like to thank everyone who helped make this run possible:
There are four character classes in the game from which you choose each of your four characters: humans, mutants, robots, and monsters. Humans and mutants get stronger by randomly gaining stats at the end of a battle (they're very similar, except they gain stats at different rates, and mutants can also learn magical spells at random). Humans and mutants are useless in a speedrun. Robots and monsters, on the other hand, don't gain stats from winning battles. Robots gain stats simply by equipping new weapons or armour. For example, equip a bow on a robot and it gains +9 HP and +2 agility. Unequip the bow and those bonuses vanish. Monsters become stronger by eating the meat that randomly drops from killed monsters. There's a very complicated table that determines what family a monster transforms into when it eats a piece of meat (based on its current family and the family of the dropped meat). Which monster within that family (i.e., what "level" of monster) that your monster becomes is more-or-less based on max(LC, LM), where LC is the current level of the monster eating the meat and LM is the level of the monster that dropped the meat. In short: eating the meat of strong monsters makes you stronger; and, if you play your cards right, once you're strong enough, eating the meat of weak monsters won't make you weaker (it will just change the family of monster you are).
I take a party with one monster and three robots. The monster is essential for two reasons: the poison skill (which will trigger an insane glitch) and the Teleport spell (which returns you to previously visited locations, and saves a tonne of time). The robots are essential because I transform all of them into invincible killing machines via the aforementioned poison glitch.
The battles in the first cave are manipulated so that I get the proper meat drops to transform my monster into a Red Bone, which has the poison skill, and to give me enough money to go shopping in the town just beyond the cave. In town, I unequip the robots' weapons. I sell them to purchase a shield for each robot, plus a total of 13 bows which I equip onto the robots. The shields are helpful (not technically essential, but in practice essential in a single-segment) for triggering the poison glitch (more on that shortly). The 13 bows give me an agility boost, so I can run from everything until I trigger the poison glitch.
In Ashura's base, I burn off a few random encounters by touching the zombies. I need an encounter with exactly 11 enemies, and I burn off useless encounters until I get that 11-enemy battle. Normally, I would only touch the zombies on the final floor, but I get trolled by the zombie movements on lower floors and wind up touching a few there. Luckily, the there are no negative consequences to the PRNG from these encounters, and it costs me less than a second. Before the 11-enemy encounter, I throw all the bows away, since I need my robots to have low agility (so that they act last in any given round of battle).
The final random encounter in Ashura's base is, to say the least, weird. Here's how the poison glitch works: you need a total of 16 participants in battle (11 enemies, my four main party members, and the one guest party member make for 16 total participants). Then, you need someone (an enemy or a party member) to die of poison at the end of a round (poison damage is always assessed at the end of a round). In the round in which someone dies of poison, you need the last action in that round to have no target (e.g., defending with a shield or doing nothing, as opposed to attacking an enemy with a weapon). If all these conditions are met, the high-order bit of a whole bunch of bytes in memory will be set to 0. So, e.g., in your inventory, a 0xFF (empty space) will become a 0x7F (seven-sword). Also, my low-level monster, a Red Bone (0xA6) becomes a high-levelled SandWorm (0x26) for the remainder of the battle. I manipulate a meat drop in the battle from the low-levelled Fungus, which is really important because when a SandWorm eats Fungus meat, it transforms into a high-levelled BlackCat. So, instead of my monster transformation only lasting for the remainder of the battle, by eating the meat I carry my monster transformation through outside of battle.
To conclude the first world, I transform my robots into invincible superheroes. The poison glitch transformed each robot's oPa/Po (immune to paralysis and poison) ability (0xEC) into a laser sword (0x6C). However, this glitch never applied the bonus that a robot receives for equipping a laser sword: +63 HP, +14 agility. Each robot has 42 HP and 5 agility, and the game is more than happy to subtract 63 HP and 14 agility as I unequip the laser sword from each robot, underflowing both of those stats. Each robot now has 65515 HP (two unsigned bytes) and 247 agility (one unsigned byte). The HP makes them invincible, and the agility allows them to run from any non-boss encounter until the final dungeon (where you can never run).
In the second world, I purchase a sabre for each robot. The sabre gives a bonus to a robot of +36 HP and +8 agility. I have to equip the sabre in place of a seven-sword on each robot (to remove the seven-sword's HP bonus, otherwise I'd overflow each robot's HP to a tiny value). Each robot now has 255 agility, and the sabre is an agility-based weapon (the damage it does is based on the agility of the wielder).
In the tower, I manipulate an eagle meat-drop from a random battle. The BlackCat eats Eagle meat to become a Giant. This transformation is important, since the Giant has the Teleport spell, which saves a tonne of time. Teleport is very much so an end-game spell that you certainly shouldn't have access to at this point. It's only because the poison glitch created that BlackCat for me that I can have access to Teleport so early.
Everything is pretty straight forward until Apollo's world, since I basically just destroy everything in my path for the next while, while teleporting to save time.
In Apollo's world, I finally collect enough MAGI to reach a total of 29 MAGI collected. 29 in hex is 0x1D, which is also the item code for a cure potion. Additionally, the spot in your inventory that is occupied by the trash can (for throwing away items) while you are outside of battle is occupied by each character's equipped MAGI while you are in battle. Due to some programming errors, this design choice allows me to use my trash can as a cure potion several times. However, once my "cure potions" are used up, that spot in memory is replaced with 0xFF, indicating an empty inventory space (as would happen when you use up any consumable item in your inventory). As such, my MAGI count jumps to 0xFF = 255. All those locked doors in the Pillar of Sky through which to pass you need a certain number of MAGI? Not so much of an issue anymore.
I walk past a good portion of the game, descending into the dragon-racing world.
Dragon-Racing World and the Finale
Keep in mind that you're not supposed to have the Teleport spell at this point in the game. I rent the second-fastest dragon (the fastest one is simply too hard to control, and in practice wouldn't save me any time), then teleport away while riding a dragon. Being mounted on a dragon outside of the races not only creates crazy graphical glitches, but it also allows you to pass over spaces you normally wouldn't be able to walk over.
After teleporting, I burn off the last few random encounters of the run. I need to be able to walk a large number of steps without a random encounter in order to reach the final boss, since you can't run from anything in the final dungeon.
Using my graphically glitchy dragon, I fly directly to the end boss. Using those sabres, he's easy picking. Starting with my monster casting ice then switching to bash is an idea courtesy of Nitrodon, as it manipulates when I pass the HP trigger that starts Arsenal's longer attack animation (saving a few seconds).
Overall, I'm very pleased with how this run went. Short of the route being improved, I believe this run could only be improved by a second or two: better zombie luck in the first world, and slightly faster execution in places like the menus and with flying that stupid dragon (the relationship between myself and anything you can ride in FFL games is not a happy one).
When I started seriously routing this game, I though sub-40 would be a submittable time. I never expected sub-35, and I'm very grateful to everyone who helped and encouraged me along the way! Now, perhaps I'll have to go back and actually play FFL2, since I don't even remember the parts of the game that I so casually bypassed.
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