Released in December 1991 by ZOOM Inc., Lagoon is an action RPG in a similar style to the Legend of Zelda. The player takes control of Nasir, a nordic-looking hero with the worlds smallest sword, as he attempts to get to the bottom of the most terrible mystery imaginable: someone has made the water of Lakeland muddy. The bastards.
Best Single-segment Time: 1:22:11 by Patrick 'PJ' DiCesare on 2015-12-06
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Wow. Well, here we are again. I know I promised that I wouldn't improve my old run, but there were just too many new route changes too ignore. I need to give a really big shoutout to ZELLLOOO for really lighting a fire under me and giving me some route ideas. Lots of people over the years have said that they would be learning Lagoon to challenge my time, but he is the only one to have actually followed through and learned the game. He gave me some really valuable direction on where to save time over my PB, most notably encouraging me to be more idiotic on the Ella fight. I probably would not have taken as many risks otherwise, so thanks for that!
I also want to give a shoutout to OmnipotentEntity, the TASer of this game. His TAS gave me loads of ideas for my initial route which carried over into this one. While I was doing attempts and practice, he also periodically showed up in my stream and gave me some encouraging words. This game knows how to tear a man down, so any encouragement meant a lot to me, especially from the person who knows better than most how brutal this game can be.
This run is 6.5 minutes faster than my old deathless run from 2013! This run is cleaner is every respect, and uses a MUCH more ambitious route. This also finishes without a single death (and no accidentaly saves!), making it my second-ever deathless run. My sum of best splits is about a minute faster, almost entirely due to the Lagoon Castle segment of this run. I cannot be happier with how this turned out and it will definitely take a significant new development to force me to return to this category. I would like to investigate other categories of this game, but they are a bit less well-defined.
I like my old comments from my other submission, so I'm going to pull a few things from them. There are a few tricks/strats in this game that are probably worth noting, if for no other reason than posterity and making sure it is still documented.
1. Stutter stepping: the only means of regaining health and MP in this game are by standing still or using items. I only collect 3 healing items in this game and no MP refilling items, so I must rely on natural regen for healing. Instead of standing still, I can just stutter for a few frames while walking. That is enough of a pause to count.
2. Power Ring glitch: the stat-boosting rings drain MP in exchange for a massive stat boost when they are equipped. Once your MP reaches 0, the ring becomes unequipped. However, the game will not recalculate your stats until you reenter the equipment menu or level up. Therefore, I can run my MP down to 0 but still benefit from the +30 strength bonus of the power ring. I can even refill MP with the power ring bonus active since it is unequipped. This is extremely limited in usefulness, but it does come into play in a few situations.
3. Damage formula quirks. Here is the damage formula, as dumped by OmnipotentEntity:
If Nasir Attack < floor(Enemy Def/2)
Damage = 2
Damage = floor((Nasir Attack - floor(Enemy Def/2))/2.5)
What this means is that if my attack is sufficiently low, the game will round my damage to 2. Otherwise, it will apply that damage formula. There is a range of attack values very close to enemy def/2 that will yield damages of 0 or 1, in which case it is more advantageous to switch to a weaker sword and get the sympathy 2. More importantly for this run, I was able to calculate how many hits each boss would take at each level and with different equipment. I used this to try to justify more/less leveling and skipping equipment.
4. Stunlock bosses. Every time you connect with a boss, it briefly stops/delays their AI. If you time your swings so that they get hit before that delay is over, they don't get to take action. The duration of the delay changes for each boss. Samson and Red Gargoyle have very long delays, but Natela and Battler don't delay very much when they are hit. The TAS can stunlock basically every boss, but in real time it is only feasible to rely on stunlocks for Samson and Red Gargoyle.
There's a lot to mention about this run and route. I have to level at least a little bit in order to survive the middle and end game, but choosing when to level and how much to level is an issue. In the end, what I decided on was the following guideline, which varies slightly from the original:
Samson: Level 3
Natela: Level 7
Eardon/Turdlecano: Level 13
Duma: Level 16
Thimale: Level 19
Ella: Level 20
Battler: Level 25
Final boss gauntlet: Level 26
This is only slightly different than my original route. I gain one extra level in Philips castle from more efficient killing, and an extra level in Siegfried Castle for the same reason. This means I'm an extra level for Thimale and Ella, and need to kill fewer enemies in Lagoon Castle to end at 25. I take much more efficient routes for killing enemies and scooping up experience along the way instead of using designated grinding locations.
I'll give some of the more detailed differences segment-by-segment, but it would be best to just watch the run with audio commentary. I believe I describe many of the differences there, and many more notes about the run itself.
Beginning through Samson:
The main difference here is that I buy a healing potion in town instead of gathering it from the Gold Cave. I have 400 gold, which lets me either buy all 3 pieces of equipment, or healing pot, sword, and shield. By choosing the latter option, I save approximately 25 seconds in exchange for a substantial amount of survivability. Until I get to Siegfried Castle (about 50 minutes into the run), I have only level 1 shield for protection. This makes a really big difference.
My general plan here is the same as before: reach level 2 on the first screen of Gold Cave, then scoop up what experience I can along the way. After recruiting Giles, kill everything that I possibly can without losing time. I need level 3 before Samson.
Philips Castle and Natella:
This segment is more or less the same, as far as route goes, except I try to kill more enemies along the way. My execution has improved greatly in the 3 years since my PB, so I gained quite a lot of time. The most notable single improvement is committing to killing Natela with the full stunlock instead of the safe loop. For more details on Natela's pattern (mostly for posterity), I will quote my old comments:
"Natela herself is one of the biggest stumbling blocks of the run. Rather, she WAS. GameroftheLost approached me with a new strat for fighting her that makes this a lot easier. I used to have to kill her with one stunlock which required nearly frame perfect hits and good luck on her fireball pattern. However, now I only have to get her into desperation mode (under ~40% health) and then attack safely from the sidelines which allows me to use much more flexible timing on the stunlock. I wouldn't have even continued attempts if it wasn't for this strat because I was losing like every single attempt on her. I lost motivation pretty quick. So yea, this let more runs get past her, which let me optimize the rest of the run more. Thanks so much, GameroftheLost!
Some more info on Natela's behavior for those interested (skip ahead to next heading if not): when she is not in desperation mode, her behavior is really simple. If you are in front of her, she will charge at you, and if you're off to the side she will shoot fireballs. If you are only slightly off to the side from her, she will move to line up with you. The fireballs are interesting though. Natela seems to operate off a specific "AI cycle" I'll call it. If she shoots two fireballs in a row, she will continue to shoot fireballs until that AI cycle is over. If she ONLY shoots fireballs, the cycle will last 6 shots. She can charge during this time though, which reduces the number of fireballs she can shoot. She pauses very briefly between each cycle. With the old strat, I used to wait for the pause between cycles, wait for the second fireball so she is commited to 4 more, and then charge in for the kill. With the new strat, I bait a charge at the very beginning and then run right in. It's not enough time to kill before her cycle ends (which would mean a charge attack and death), but it's enough time to get her to ~40% health.
In desperation mode, she has no more AI cycle. She will fireball whenever you're far away and immediately charge when you line up with her. This makes head-on attack impossible. GameroftheLost found that you can hit her from the side during her charge though, so this is suddenly a good pattern. Haha."
Dwarf Cave and Turdlecano:
This cave is one of the more major changes to the old route. First off, I die much faster now because I don't have armor, but I also routed the cave to include more fire dragons along the way. I kill as many fire dragons as I possibly can with my sword, and once I grab the wind crystal I kill nearly every dragon. My old route used to reload the final room to farm the two dragons near the door, but that was rather slow. This new route is extremely efficient, but almost always kills me. This run had very good trips through Dwarf Cave.
Sadly, my Turdlecano fight was not great. He partially broke out of the AI loop early, and fully broke out later. I don't know what causes that, really. I have also been fighting him much more aggressively since my old PB, aiming for 4-5 hits per cycle instead of 3. That helps make up for some of the time loss from the escapes, but not entirely.
Siegfried Castle and Duma:
This is mostly the same as old PB, except I am MUCH more aggressive in the basement and take a much more ambitious route. I am more comfortable with killing enemies while moving now, which is a really big timesaver, and doing so in the Siegfried basement also means much less lag when I have to group multiple enemies. This basement route, lack of menu errors, and a good Duma fight account for a large amount of the time savings over PB in this segment.
Ice Cave and Thimale:
My combat efficiency has improved tremendously, have I mentioned that? Haha. I am much better now at killing enemies without slowing down, which also means I don't take as much damage on the way to bosses. I don't have to wait at all before Thimale, and Thimale himself gave me GOD luck. I literally saved about 15-20 seconds over an average segment here. This was unbelievably good.
Alright. So this is close to a minute faster than my PB, and it is all because I am much more aggressive in the fight and fighting her in the middle of the room for most of the fight instead of retreating to the safe corner. This strat is super scary in a single-segment run because it only takes a few bad teleports to completely end your chances of finishing the game. Anyways, not only is this a minute faster, but I also save the life ball! Absolutely phenomenal fight. I killed her at the very end of her FIRST iteration of 93977993. Good luck to anybody wishing to compete against this. For posterity again, I'll add notes about Ella from my old PB:
"Ella has two phases. They are both more or less the same but with one minor change. Haha. Her only action is to teleport to a random location in the room (RNG changes every time you take a step, so it is impossible to manipulate in real time) and then shoot 8 fireballs in a clockwise pattern starting from the right. She teleports faster and faster as you damage her, to the point where it is pointless to even try to dodge/react. Kirkq found that can only teleport to 16 "locations", but her actual position at each location can vary by a significant number of pixels so she'll never be on the same exact pixel twice in a row. Due to the nature of the hitboxes, if she teleports to a high position and you are hitting her, she can teleport to the same location with a slightly lower position and get a free 1-2 hits on you. It's extremely cheap.
Her hurtbox appears before her sprite actually changes locations, so it is legitimately impossible to dodge her teleport if she decides to spawn on you. The only two spots that are 100% safe from her teleports are the upper left corner of the screen and the upper right side of the screen. I choose the latter because there are 4 teleport locations around that hiding spot and it puts me in a very nice spot to react to most of her fireballs (since they will fire upper-right last).
In the first phase I just try to hit her as many times as I can without being too reckless. This was an extremely good first phase in this run. I hit her a lot and barely took damage in return. Once she pauses in place longer than normal, I know that she has begun phase two.
Phase two is interesting because there is where she gets to the insane teleport speeds. Fortunately, the game designers knew it'd be impossible to hit her at this point unless she stood in place for a moment once in awhile. So, they took pity on us and added just that. The critical pattern is 93977993, where each number in that sequence represents how many times she will teleport before pausing. The pattern repeats. So, once I know she began phase two, I begin counting each teleport and charge on the teleport that will pause."
Lagoon Castle and Battler:
Again, the improvements here mostly come from better experience management and learning to kill enemies more efficiently. Since I kill Ella at level 20 instead of 19, I need to kill fewer enemies here to reach level 25. This is also convenient because I skip the Moon Shield in this run, which is about a 90-second detour with a lot of enemies. The other major change here is that I skip the Curing Ring (and bright stone, if I used to collect that before). This means I can only heal during the final boss gauntlet using an elixir or a life ball if I saved one from Ella. It is really dangerous to try this in a single-segment run, but skipping the curing ring saves 40 seconds.
Unfortunately, this is also the worst segment in the run. I'm honestly not really sure where I lost most of the time, but this split wasn't good. The Battler fight was like...5 or 6 teleports instead of an ideal 1 teleport, but it was a great fight given the luck I had.
Final boss gauntlet:
I don't have curing ring, so I can't do the old damage boost strat for Thor. Instead, I try to kill the bear boss as centered as possible so Thor's spawn damage boosts me directly in front of him and I can kill him there without getting knocked out of range. After killing Thor, I tank the damage boost off of Thorbird and resume the traditional boss rush strat. With this setup (no curing ring), if I don't kill Thor immediately, the run is likely over. I don't have curing ring to refill my health and approach him a second time, and I don't have enough health to do it without healing. It is a really stressful boss rush, but I nailed it here (with the exception of bad bear luck). Really, really happy with this final segment.
Overall, this run is outstanding. The new route came together really well and there are only really minor mistakes throughout the course of the entire run! I got really good luck where it mattered and I was able to actually capitalize on it. I am fully satisfied with this any% run now, and it would take a really serious route improvement or sequence break to get me to come back to attempts on this.
I hope you all enjoy it! ^_^
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