Released in November 1993 in Japan and September 1994 in North America, Illusion of Gaia is an action RPG by Quintet. Part of the Soul Blazer trilogy, the player takes control of Will, a latent psychic who must embark on a quest to destroy a comet at the request of Gaia. It has an NPC with a pet pig in it.
Nitrodon - for teaching me probably 80% of what I know about Illusion of Gaia speedrunning.
Halamantariel - for making the Illusion of Gaia 100% TAS that was most helpful at learning optimal routes through towns/dungeons.
Dessyreqt - for discovering the Fisherman's Jewel RNG manipulation, without which I'd probably be looking at dozens of resets between attempts.
Darkwing Duck, PJ, romscout, fisherrob86, Mecha Richter, RaneOfSoTN, Dragondarch, djtifaheart - for all of the encouragement to keep working on this run on the SDA forum, IRC/Skype, my practice streams, in person, etc.
All SDA Admins – for all the countless things they do for our great site and community.
Last but not least, all of my other great friends in the SDA community (Essentia, Mike Uyama, Mercury.Com, Lag.Com, UraniumAnchor, Carcinogen, Emptyeye, Poxnor, Caracarn, and many others). You all make gaming the social and fun experience that it should be!
Illusion of Gaia was actually the first game I ever speedran, starting in early 2010 after the Classic Games Done Quick marathon inspired me to become more active in the SDA community (before that I'd been watching the runs posted on the site and occasionally lurking the forum since probably 2005 or so). I didn't make it very far in 2010 (just to Freejia or so), but meeting Nitrodon, PJ, and other IoG fans at the first Awesome Games Done Quick marathon in 2011 and talking speedrun strats both at AGDQ and online over the following year motivated me to pick the game back up; and sometime in early 2012 I finished my first 100% run (well over 3 hours and with many deaths). It's certainly been a long journey both fun (especially running IoG for Summer Games Done Quick 2012 with an awesome couch commentary crew) and frustrating (not the least of which was getting a 2:17:30 run a few days ago that I would have submitted if not for a video capture issue)!
Now, on with the run comments!
General Comments/Speed Tricks:
- 100% in Illusion of Gaia is defined as getting all 50 Red Jewels and defeating Solid Arm in Gem's Mansion.
- Illusion of Gaia is one of those rare games where the North American version plays considerably faster than the Japanese version, ironically due to text speed differences. In the JP version all dialogue boxes draw out 1 character at a time over 1 or 2 seconds, whereas for most text boxes in the NA version the entire box draws out in 1 frame. Since the Attack/Talk, Item/Cancel and Not Used buttons can all be used to advance text, mashing 2 buttons (I generally use B and A) allows you to fly through most of the game's cutscenes in under a minute.
- I use control type 2 as it's similar to modern North American Square-Enix games and I find it more comfortable for cutscene text mashing (A and B for type 2 as opposed to A and Y for type 1).
- Running is done through double-tapping the d-pad, which makes running short distances of 1 or 2 tiles slightly slower than just walking. When running there's also a bit of lag between letting go of the d-pad and Will actually stopping, so when running towards a 1-tile area like most staircases in the game, I let go of the d-pad about half a tile away so Will won't overshoot it.
- Damage dealt to bosses is completely fixed based on Will's form rather than his STR stat - normal Will does 1 damage, Freedan does 2, and Shadow does 3; and special attacks (Psycho Slider, Dark Friar, etc) do not do any additional damage.
- Every time you defeat a boss, Will gains all HP/STR/DEF boosts missed up through that point (with the exception of stat boosts obtained from Gem the Jeweler or found in towns). Because of both this and the fixed damage mechanic for bosses, no stat grinding is needed to complete the game or to be able to quick-kill bosses.
- When selecting a destination on the world map, inputs can be queued starting about a second before the selection box actually appears (around when the map finishes zooming out).
- During world map movement sequences, after Will and friends disappear into the destination, pressing Start as the camera starts to zoom out will skip the rest of the zooming animation and save about 3 seconds each time (thanks to dar_sic for telling me about this during one of my IoG streams).
- 'Orb Cancelling' - each dungeon has a number of barriers/obstacles that are opened by defeating a certain nearby enemy (who releases a light orb that destroys the barrier). Once the orb appears on-screen though, if you press the Select button twice to go in and out of the item menu, when the game reloads the map, collision detection will already be disabled for the barrier (allowing Will to pass through before the explosion animation finishes).
- Will can only hold 16 items at once, which means inventory space needs to be managed in 100% runs due to needing to get the Red Jewels. Equipping and using a Jewel removes it from Will's inventory and sends it to Gem the Jeweler, so when I have to enter the Item menu to use the Orb Cancel trick, at some points I'll also equip a Red Jewel so I can keep my inventory from filling up.
- 'Attack Rhythm' - Tapping the attack button in a fixed rhythm (I believe around 18 frames) allows for slightly faster attacks compared to straight mashing. This is primarily used for bosses.
- 'Guard Dashing' - while Will is running, releasing the d-pad, pressing the L or R button, and then immediately pressing and holding the d-pad in the same direction Will was running will cause him to run and guard at the same time. I mostly use this trick to play around while waiting for time-based event triggers; but there are a few places where it's actually useful either for saving time or for safety.
- 'I-Frame Dashing' - while Will is in Freedan or Shadow form and running, releasing the d-pad, pressing the attack button, and then immediately pressing and holding the d-pad in the same direction Will was running will cause him to attack without losing run speed. As enemies in IoG do not have hitboxes during their invincibility frames after taking damage, using this trick allows me to pass through enemies without either taking damage or having to stop to knock them away.
- I-Frame Dashing can also be done in normal Will form, but is much more difficult as Will normally does his jump attack when the d-pad is pressed forward after an attack, so that jump attack needs to cancelled by pressing the d-pad in a perpendicular direction before pressing forward (all within a tight window). My success rate at I-Frame Dashing with Will is pretty low and there are few places in the run where it would be useful for saving time (I've only found one in Edward's Prison and one in Mu), so I didn't attempt it in this run.
- 'Ramp Boosting' - while Will is in normal form, if he runs onto the northernmost tile of a horizontal ramp's base and does a jump attack, he will instantly build momentum as if he ran down from the top. This is used to save time in the Incan Ruins, Diamond Mine, and Sky Garden.
- 'Death Warping' - when Will dies with under 100 Dark Gems, he will respawn at the entrance to the dungeon, in normal Will form, with full health. This is used extensively throughout the run to skip backtracking and quickly transform Will back to normal form when needed.
- 'Aura Attack Cancelling' - when Will is in Shadow form, attacking and then cancelling the attack animation by using the Aura item will allow Will to continue attacking (while completely invincible) during the Aura melting animation. This is used at a few points during the Pyramid for safety (to knock enemies away if they're in bad positions after I melt through floors), and during the Vampires refight in the Tower of Babel.
Area-specific comments - The Story of Will and his many misdeeds:
South Cape/Edward's Prison - Wherein our hero cheats at cards with his friends
- Big, big thanks to Dessyreqt for discovering how to manipulate the South Cape fisherman, which would otherwise be one of the most annoying random elements in the 100% route. By resetting the console, starting a new game, getting the 1st/2nd South Cape jewels, and then going directly to the Seaside Cave, the fisherman will always appear after the 7th trip in/out of the cave.
- Getting past the first set of spiked balls in Edward's Prison without having to stop and wait is somewhat difficult, as you need to basically have perfect movement around all of the corners, moving the statue, and dodging the bat. I was quite happy to nail that in this run.
- Getting past the spear drop next to the Red Jewel room door without having to stop and wait for it to disappear is quite important, and was a source of many resets. Not only does it take the spear several seconds to disappear, but that also gives the nearby spiked balls time to block the way forward, wasting more time.
- It's actually possible to Orb Cancel into the Dark Space where Will first becomes Freedan, though if you do so the Freedan statue will be missing and you'll have to leave/re-enter to get it to appear (this trick would however be useful in a segmented run).
- It's fortunately possible to I-Frame Dash through certain invincible enemies like the spiked balls, so I do so after becoming Freedan.
- Messed up the I-Frame Dash on the skeleton in the final room (the skeletons' hitboxes extend into the tile north of the one they're standing on but not south at all, so I would have made if I'd just kept running), but fortunately got a health drop from the final brown skeleton to make up for both that and the bad RNG I got from several of the bats running into me.
Itory Village/Incan Ruins - Wherein our hero makes fish feel pain
- Entering/exiting the southwest house in Itory warps Kara and Lilly to the stairs next to Lilly's house, and is slightly faster than waiting for them to catch up before triggering the cutscene with Bill and Lola.
- When jumping back to the main village after getting Incan Statue A, since it's impossible to make it to the top of the long horizontal ramp, I have Will run into the wooden post next to the ramp's base in order to kill his momentum.
- The battle in the Moon Tribe Cave is one of the bigger RNG hells in the run, as the caterpillars can either be gracious (line up in a nice horizontal row waiting to be Psycho Dashed) or sadistic (move in opposite vertical directions). As the caterpillars will roll at Will if he lines up with one in a straight horizontal or vertical line, I approach the group diagonally (as if one of them rolls to the south I stand a good chance of losing from running out of time), try to catch as many as possible in a Psycho Dash, and then mop up the stragglers. Had so-so caterpillar RNG this run - been able to kill the last one with 9-11 seconds left on the timer in better attempts.
- The diamond-shaped block can be used from the tile above the hole, allowing me to skip killing the shooting head covering it. Will is unable to move during the animation of the ruins shaking before the bridge forms, so I kill the northwest shooting head during my 1st visit to the room as it would otherwise hit me during Will's paralysis.
- By attacking while running, Will has just enough range to hit the statue head that the game normally expects you to become Freedan to kill, allowing me to skip the whole part of the dungeon leading to the Freedan Dark Space.
- You don't need to either learn or play the Melody of Wind in order to activate the door switch leading to Castoth (as long as you know where the correct switch is), so I skip that section of the ruins as well.
- Castoth can be beaten in 1-cycle with solid execution (near-perfect attack rhythm for all 20 hits) and good luck (Castoth opening its eyes near the end of Freedan's 1st attack animation, and firing its 2nd fire crystal in a pattern that doesn't require you to move to dodge it). My attack rhythm was pretty good in this run, so I might have had a chance at the 1-cycle kill if I didn't have to dodge the 2nd crystal.
- On Day 7 of the Drifting sequence, the trigger for advancing the story is for Will to be at full HP, with each fish restoring 1 HP. I use the herb I picked up in the Incan Ruins as the detour to the herb chest is on average about 5 seconds faster than catching 8 fish.
Freejia/Diamond Mine - Wherein our hero sells out an escaped slave for a bounty
- I grab the HP Jewel in Freejia as there's no real detour; and there are several places in the Sky Garden and beyond where having 1 more HP can make a difference.
- I pick up the herbs in Freejia and the Diamond Mine to use in Mu, as being able to tank hits in the last section and against the boss saves a lot of time.
- I death warp back to the mine entrance after getting the 1st elevator key, both to save a bit of backtracking and to allow me to be much more aggressive in the section of the dungeon leading up to the key. I then don't need to save any health for the backtrack and 2nd half of the Diamond Mine (Will is unable to move while the wall surrounding the trapped miner is exploding and can be a sitting duck for the nearby lizard man unless I spend time knocking him away first, and damage boosting through the worm in the room leading to Dark Friar gives the nearby purple eyeball I need to kill fewer chances to turn to stone before I can get to it).
Neil's Cottage/Sky Garden - Wherein our hero mocks the hard work of the game designers
- Due to the 2 horizontal ramps in the Southwest section being only 1 tile wide, by using the Ramp Boost trick I'm able to jump over them, completely skipping the puzzles that normally need to be solved in order to clear the path from the eastern ramp to the Crystal Ball chest.
- After killing the orange golem guarding the Crystal Ball in the Southeast section and using the Orb Cancel trick, opening the chest while the explosion animation is in progress will crash the game. It's completely safe as long as the chest is opened before the animation starts though.
- It's possible to just walk around the statue guarding the Crystal Ball in the Northwest section; but as doing so without jumping off the ledge (which would be a reset due to the amount of backtracking required to get back to the chest) is pixel-perfect, I just kill the sword and move the statue.
- I fight Viper with Will since by my testing it's about 10-15 seconds faster to Death Warp after getting the 4th Crystal Ball than to backtrack out of the Northwest section and fight Viper with Freedan. Death Warping also guarantees I can survive 1 hit from Viper if I mess up the timing for the jump attack during its swooping phase.
Seaside Palace/Mu - Wherein our hero robs from the graves of Mu
- Mu is home to one of the most dangerous regular enemies in the game - the teleporting wizards. Their spawns are completely random and they can/will appear directly in front of Will as he's running. Fortunately Will's stats got caught up after defeating Viper, so I can survive quite a few hits compared to most of the previous dungeons.
- There are 2 types of stone golems in Mu - one that wakes up when Will walks within a few tiles of it, and another that only wakes up when attacked. One of the latter golems is at the top of a vertical ramp shortly after placing the 1st Statue of Hope, and the game expects you to use Freedan's Dark Friar to wake it up so it moves out of the way. Fortunately there's a sliver of pixels between the golem and the top of the ramp that the game considers as regular ground instead of part of the ramp; so I'm able to use that to attack the golem with Will and pass through as it's waking up (Mu golems have no hitboxes while they're waking up, and I also exploit this when getting the 2nd Rama Statue). If I move the bounce ring right up against the base of the ramp I'm usually able to get the golem skip first try, but in this run my attack timing was a bit off and it took a few attempts.
- Ideally I can make it through a run without healing in any Dark Spaces (aside from the start of the Pyramid where you're required to talk to Gaia), but if my HP is too low after getting the Psycho Slide, I'll take a heal so I'm not in danger of being OHKO'd by wizards on the way to the 2nd Statue of Hope.
- Psycho Slide is probably the most useful ability in the whole game, as it does good damage, can hit twice per slide with the right positioning, and gives Will invincibility while sliding.
- Fighting the Mu Vampires as Will without any of the HP/DEF boosts from Mu is probably the ultimate Illusion of Gaia challenge; and is unfortunately necessary in a speedrun due to lazy programming. The game can't handle having both an ability statue and a Will/Freedan transformation statue in the same Dark Space, and since the Dark Space on the way from the Rama Statues to the Vampires has the Psycho Slide statue, a roughly 2-minute detour would be required to go to/from the other Mu Dark Space.
- By sliding through the trigger for the cutscene of the Vampires appearing, I'm able to start the battle right next to one of them and get several free hits before they start moving. I choose the male vampire as his movement pattern is wider ranging and less predictable than the female vampire (the Vampires' room is a grid, and the female vampire moves 1 grid position horizontally or vertically, whereas the male vampire can move to any position he wants).
- As the Vampires themselves do not deal contact damage, the key to victory is to get inside their hitboxes and use Will's jump attack to get hits and avoid their shots and shields (Will is invincible while jump attacking). Ideally they will overlap on top of each other at least once during the battle and allow for double hits, though it's often impossible to avoid taking damage when they're that close together unless their attacks happen to be in synch (which is where the 2 herbs I picked up earlier come into play).
Angel Village/Ishtar's Studio - Wherein our hero rescues his selfish/demanding girlfriend rather than other imprisoned ladies
- Angel Village is the first town where no detour is required to visit Gem the Jeweler, so I talk to him to clear out the Jewels in my inventory and get some stat boosts plus the Psycho Dash upgrade (which allows Will to 1-shot the lizard door guardians in Ishtar's Studio).
- Took a lot of damage in in the wind tunnel due to messing up Psycho Slide positioning and grabbed the HP jewel for a health refill. This room is probably the 2nd biggest place for me to save time in future runs (after Dark Gaia).
Watermia/Great Wall of China - Wherein our hero cheats at Russian Glass, murders his opponent, and steals his inheritance
- When sliding through the Great Wall archers, I try to start the slide as close as possible so Will goes all the way through during the faster part of the slide animation. If I start the slide too far away then the slide will hit the archer twice instead of once - this is usually a good thing; but since Will's STR stat isn't high enough to kill archers in 2 slide hits, it just ends up wasting time since the extra knockback from the 2nd slide hit pushes the archer in front of Will (in which case I need to either knock it away with Will's flute or do a 2nd slide to kill it).
- For the archers in front of the staircase leading to the Red Jewel, I intentionally hit one of them twice with Psycho Slide, since then the 2 archers are farther apart and easier to run past after getting the Jewel.
- In the 3rd section of the Great Wall, by holding down the attack button after jumping over the 2nd ramp, Will Psycho Slides into the 3rd ramp and lose momentum. This allows early access to the Freedan Dark Space, which you normally need the Spin Dash to reach. It's very important not to press the attack button early though, as if Will slides into the 2nd ramp then he's stuck between the 1st/2nd ramps with no way out other than resetting.
- After killing the archer in the 5th Great Wall section with Freedan's Dark Friar and opening the way forward, I then go back to the 4th section and use the Spin Dash Dark Space to transform into Will (which can only be done when actually learning Spin Dash - in future visits the Will statue does nothing). This allows the 6th Great Wall section to be skipped completely, since I'm already in Will form and can Spin Dash over the ramp without needing to visit the Dark Space at the bottom of the 6th section to transform.
- Sand Fanger (also known as Troll Fanger) is the easiest boss in the game as none of its attacks are particularly threatening with the right positioning. Unfortunately though, this battle is also the biggest RNG hell in the entire run as Sand Fanger's attacks are completely random, and the egg laying pattern (which allows for up to 8 hits compare to 2 for the horizontal and vertical dive patterns) only has a 25% chance per cycle. Getting a 'perfect' Sand Fanger battle would require 5 consecutive egg cycles (1/1024 chance- not happening outside of a TAS unless either some sort of realtime RNG manipulation or a means of bring Freedan to the battle is discovered), so I consider 3 egg cycles over the course of the battle to be pretty good RNG.
- After completing the Great Wall and leaving Luke's house I have to wait for the lilypad leading to the Russian Glass raft, so I use that free time to grab the 1st Watermia Red Jewel. Entering the casino to get the 2nd Jewel would reset the lilypad's position, so I save that one for the Watermia revisit during the Euro section.
Euro/Mountain Temple - Wherein our hero chastises his friend Neil for mourning his parents' murder
- The first Euro Red Jewel requires a short fetch quest of getting 3 apples from the Euro marketplace and giving them to Ann the maid in the Rolek Mansion. I make the 1st 2 trips at the start of Euro, then get the 3rd apple and move on (giving it to Ann when I return to the mansion with the Teapot).
- After returning to Watermia to get Lance's Red Jewel, I get the final Watermia Jewel in the casino and talk to Gem to clear out my Jewels and get the Dark Friar upgrade, which will allow me to skip part of Angkor Wat.
- For areas where Will has to move forward in a straight line for a lengthy distance (several screen lengths), using Spin Dash allows for faster movement despite the charge-up time.
- Made a misstep near the 1st Mushroom Drops and ran down the wrong vine - only cost a few seconds, but still kicking myself over making an execution mistake like that at my level.
- The man in the hidden house near the Euro shrine gives me a STR jewel, which makes most of the regular enemies in Angkor Wat & the Pyramid take 2 fewer hits - the time actually saved on killing required enemies vs. time spent getting the jewel is probably a wash, though giving the laser orbs in the Pyramid fewer chances to break out of stun-lock is worth it to me.
Natives' Village/Angkor Wat - Wherein our hero has a major craving for bacon
- The payoff for getting the Dark Friar upgrade from Gem is the Earthquaker Skip - by splitting a Dark Friar at the right point it will combo the guardian golem to death before it can wake up and become permanently invincible. Since stopping that golem from becoming invincible is the only 'required' use of Freedan's Earthquaker, that ability can be skipped completely in the 100% speedrun (I have yet to find a reliable way to do it in the Any% route, as the Dark Friar upgrade from Euro is weaker than Gem's upgrade and the shots split when they hit enemies instead of when the attack button is pressed).
- The 'Road to Main Hall' area is a checkpoint that Will respawns at even without Renew power from collecting Dark Gems. I use this to my advantage by activating the checkpoint, backtracking and getting the nearby Red Jewel, and then dying to respawn at the checkpoint as Will (whose Psycho Slide is needed in the next section of the dungeon). Unfortunately, this checkpoint also means that Death Warping out of Angkor Wat after finding the Gorgon Flower isn't possible (though if needed a death warp can be done for a health refill at basically no time cost).
- The Dark Crystal Glasses are not required to get through the crystal light room - I get around the first 2 corners while I can still see, then use the screen scrolling (or lack thereof) to tell where I am by when Will runs into walls, along with the positions of the enemies.
- A humorous side-effect of using the World Map Zoom Skip when entering Angkor Wat is that the Mode 7 zoom effect also gets skipped during the futuristic city cutscene after getting the Gorgon Flower.
Dao/Pyramid - Wherein our hero immolates a mercenary and burns the very flesh from his bones
- Since the Mu Vampires, the difficulty of the run hasn't been particularly high as with the Psycho Slide Will can become invincible whenever I want him to; and his HP and DEF have been high enough to survive several hits. This all gets thrown out in the Pyramid though, as the game requires you to use Shadow for half of the Pyramid chambers, the map layouts for those areas require I-Frame Dashing to get past many of the enemies quickly, and Will is so underleveled at this point (not having fought a boss since the Great Wall) that a failed I-Frame Dash or stun-lock can often lead to death.
- The order I complete the Pyramid chambers in is designed to minimize the number of times I need to enter the Dark Space and transform into Shadow form. Shadow is required for the 2nd, 3rd, and 5th chambers (due to floors that need the Aura to drip through), Will is required for the 1st and 4th chambers (due to ramps that need Spin Dash to pass), and any form can be used for the 6th chamber (I use Will so that I can use Spin Dash for faster movement).
- Death Warping after getting a Hieroglyph tablet is faster than using the teleporters, as after a death Will respawns at the entrance to the same chamber (allowing me to go directly into another chamber), whereas the teleporters go back to the Pyramid entrance and can mean either an extra Shadow transformations to return to the 'hub' room, or extra Will transformations before entering the Pyramid chambers that require Spin Dash.
- The 3rd Pyramid chamber (affectionately referred to as the 'fun room' among IoG runners) is by far the most difficult non-boss segment in the game, due to the large groups of laser orbs and the ease with which their shots can combo me to death if I fail an I-Frame Dash or stun-lock badly enough. The first group of 4 orbs in the chamber I find to be the most difficult set to get by quickly - in this particular run I attempted an aggressive strat of using a diagonal I-Frame dash on the 2nd orb that often gets me past with only 1 hit. I got hit by too early though and got knocked back, and then switched to a slower but safer strat of killing the 1st orb, despawning the 3rd orb's shot, and then I-Frame dashing through the 3rd orb.
- Credit to PJ for developing the strat I used on the set of 6 laser orbs guarding the final elevator switch in the 3rd chamber (also known as the 'Killer 6-Pack') - I run along the top row of tiles until the 1st orb spawns, then shift to the bottom row to close the rest of the distance and start a stun-lock before the bottom set of orbs can start firing.
- The Mummy Queen is a pretty simple boss battle overall, with the main challenge being that Will dies in 2 hits from any of her attacks. After getting the 1st hit, I'm able to manipulate the location she reforms, which lets me stay relatively safe from the spreading ghosts and get another hit as soon as she reforms again.
- After the Mummy Queen is below 50% HP, her AI changes and the RNG can rear its ugly head - after every hit she now has a 25% chance of doing the spreading ghost pattern and a 75% chance of doing the ghost ring pattern. The ring pattern is much faster if I can hit the solid ghost right as the circle forms, so in a 'perfect' battle she does that after every hit. If the boss does the ring pattern several times in a row though, the battle gets more dangerous as due to the blocks in the middle of the 1st floor, if she fires an energy ball immediately after reforming, I won't have room to dodge it without giving up my chance to hit the solid ghost as the next circle forms (assuming she does the ring pattern again that cycle).
Tower of Babel/Gem's Mansion - Wherein our hero makes snakes feel pain
- Since after defeating the Mummy Queen Will's stats become maxed out (except for the 1 HP from the Euro potion shop that requires waiting in line for 2 1/2 minutes), none of the boss refights in the Tower of Babel are especially difficult or dangerous.
- Castoth Reloaded - winning as quickly as possible in 1 cycle generally requires taking a hit from one of the crystals unless they're both on the same 'track'.
- Viper 2nd Ignition - blink and you'll miss it.
- Vampires Redux - the only refight that differs significantly from the original battle. In order to get hits quickly without taking a lot of damage myself (which is important as I want the health refill after the Pyramid + any herbs I have left to last me through the end of the game), I use the Aura Attack Glitch. Since after getting hit the Vampires stop moving and deploy a shield, I get in front of one of them and set up the glitch, which if executed well enough will leave his/her HP low enough that regular attacks will finish the job before he/she can do much else.
- Troll Fanger Mk. II - since Shadow's attack deals 3x as much damage as Will's to bosses, RNG is much less of an issue here than it was at the Great Wall. With 2 back-to-back egg patterns (1/16 odds), a 2-cycle Sand Fanger refight is possible, though I consider 4 or less to be pretty good luck as well.
- Mummy Queen 2: The Revenge - exactly the same as the Pyramid battle, only easier as there aren't blocks in the middle of the 1st floor and Will no longer dies in 2 hits.
- My current personal best at Snake Panic is 103 (only 30 are needed to get the 2 Red Jewels).
- Gem's Mansion is pretty straightforward as the enemies that can't be avoided die quickly to Psycho Slide, but is also the only area in the game where lag is an issue (due to the high # of enemies on-screen at once). To cut down on lag I try to kill as many of the floating eyeball enemies as possible in the area's tighter passages (especially if they group together).
- Solid Arm is quite easy to beat quickly thanks to Will's flute having enough range to hit him over the conveyor belt. The main challenge is in moving Will as close as possible to the conveyor belt without actually stepping onto it, which allows for 4 consecutive attack cycles before blocking his shots pushes Will out of range and I have to move again. Doing the battle without taking damage is also challenging as Will's movement gets locked out after dealing the final blow, but he can still take damage from any projectiles still on-screen (requiring a well-timed jump attack to avoid Solid Arm's final shot).
Chaos Comet - Wherein our hero rearranges the continents and ends life as everyone knows it
- Dark Gaia's comet form can only be damaged once per cycle. The falling lasers are random, but easy enough to dodge or Aura through. I use the Aura Attack Glitch to get the final blow on the first frame that Dark Gaia becomes vulnerable.
- Dark Gaia's true form can be beaten in 3 cycles as long as I get 5 hits on at least 2 of the cycles. Standing as far to the north as possible so the firebirds have less distance to travel (thanks to djtifaheart for that tip) and getting a good Attack Rhythm helps me get the 3-cycle battle fairly reliably, but sadly my timing was off and it took 4 cycles this run (costing about 26 seconds - definitely the biggest place to save time from better execution in future runs).
I would definitely like to eventually improve this run to a 2:15-2:16 (barring discovery of any new tricks/glitches/sequence breaks) by going for a better Moon Tribe Cave battle, cleaning up the few rough execution spots like the Ishtar's Studio Wind Tunnel, possibly skipping one of the herbs, and getting a 3-cycle Dark Gaia battle. All in all though, for a run of this length with the level of RNG some of the game's battles have, I'm satisfied enough with this time for a 1st SDA submission of the game.
Thanks for watching!